Hard drives are still the most widely used form of storage to date. Many would argue that no other form of storage has the capacity to cost ratio as a standard drives. With the variety of manufactures available today, and the constant change in technology it can be quite difficult to choose.
G-tech EV Drive
Although the G-Technology EV Drive has been around for a few years, this portable drive is still used by many professionals. There aren’t any frills or add-on software included but these drives have enclosures that are built to last. I have used G-tech drives since I started video production back in 2005 and although the ride hasn’t been smooth the drives have been very reliable. I edited my last documentary on 2 EV drives — one was used as a backup the other as my active editing drive — and they both performed flawless. An alternative to the EV drive would be the Buffalo MiniStation with a similar approach to g-tech, Buffalo keeps the packing and the setup simple. The only difference is the Buffalo doesn’t just include USB 3.0 but thunderbolt, this provides more room for additional peripherals by leaving one usb port free and gives more head room for speed when connecting multiple drives. The EV drive has an add-on to give it thunderbolt speeds but we will discuss that in another article.
Western Digital Studio
The Western Digital Studio is my personal choice for those on a budget who need a good drive that has a great warranty (Limited 3-Year Manufacturer Warranty) and a clean and simple setup. With the addition of usb 3 and a metal enclosure these drives are good for storage in a fixed environment. I wouldn’t recommend taking a high capacity drive on the road, that’s what portable drives are for. A slight set up from the Studio drive would be the G-tech G1 Drive the main advantages are a stronger case and and a power switch, not much of a difference but some folks care about the small details.
Samsung 850 Pro
The invention of the Solid State Drive (SSD) can be traced all the way back to the 1950s and today we see them readily available at reasonable prices. Some argue that the SSDs are reliable due to their rewrite life — the fact that they are rated at about 100,000 writes and then they are dead. However note that each drive listed should have a purpose and no one drive should be the cure all for every storage situation. In the case with the SSD I use these for speed. Typically when I need to render a movie from my editing suite to the web or if I need to edit a ton of photos in Lightroom and export them, the Samsung 850 Pro solid state drive would work quite well at speeds of 550MBs reads / 520 writes. I wouldn’t look at storing sensitive data on a solid state with hopes that nothing will ever go wrong and if I do I will have a back up.
Thunderbay Raid Array
With many cameras today recording at 4k many work stations require multiple drives working in sync to harness the speed needed to playback these high streams of video (with an SSD the drive sizes aren’t enough for hours of Ultra HD content). The Owc Thunderbay Raid 5 Enclosure while a bit expensive for most consumers / prosumer is quite reasonable for the professional. The enclosure has 2 thunderbolt 2.0 ports as well as quiet fan to keep this 4 bay enclosure cool. The setup above contains 20 Terabytes of storage and gets speeds up to 581MBs for reading data and 680MBs for writing that’s great for both speed and storage.
Choosing a bare drive
Many will say any hard drive will suit your needs and then there are those who say stay away from Seagate or even Western Digital. However my personal experience is no matter the manufacture, always backup your files every drive can die. Now I understand for those who cannot afford a second drive right away what do you do when you have 2-3 Terabytes of data? Well you can still back up the most important files online using a service like dropbox or google drive. Obviously 1 google account won’t be enough as they only give you 15gigs of storage but remember that each google account is free so picking up 2 or 3 won’t cost you anything.
Western Digital Black Caviar
I have purchased about 10 Western Digital black Caviar drives over the past 10 years and I cannot remember the last time one of those drives died on me. From my 1st purchase these drives have been fast, somewhat quiet and reliable I’d recommend then to anyone in need of a simple setup. It seems that Western Digital doesn’t place these black Caviar into their Studio or desktop enclosures (most times it’s Green drives) I could only assume they are looking to keep their cost down. When purchasing these drives you are either putting them into a Raid array similar to the Thunderbay or into a single enclosure like this one from Akitio. Hard drives have been around for quite awhile and I don’t see them becoming obsolete anytime soon. DVDs and Blurry discs are cheaper buy they don’t have the capacity and speed of drives—Hence why I never converted my storage over to bluray discs. Use this article as a guide when picking up your next drive but study carefully your needs and choose the drive best suited for you.