Recs for a Good Solid State External HDD?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC (HTPC) & Media Servers' started by slipperybidness, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

    slipperybidness
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    I'm looking at buying a new external HDD.

    I'm thinking 500Gb minimum, but in reality, I will probably go with 1 Tb.

    I'm thinking a good solid state drive is the way to go. I want to re-rip most of my CDs onto it in FLACC or other lossless format and have this as my central music, video, pic drive. Probably put some computer backups on there too.

    Is there any conceivable reason that I would want to go with a moving HDD over solid state?

    Any pleased customers with a particular brand or model of SS drive?
  2. Adam Audioholic Jedi

    Adam
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    The only one that I can think of is cost. A 1TB external 2.5" HD with platters will cost ~$100 or less, but a similar capacity in an SSD will cost several hundred.
    Adam,
  3. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    Solid State drives are not good for storing things. They are good for installing programs and your OS on. They are not as reliable and are more likely to fail than most hard drives.

    I could bore you with the technicals, but just get a normal drive for external use.
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  4. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

    slipperybidness
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    Reeeeaaaalllly? I was just thinking that SS is more rugged and less likely to have a failure 10 years from now.

    Please, bore me with the technicals, at least briefly, or point me to further reading.
  5. its phillip Audioholic Ninja

    its phillip
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    Even if they were a good choice, the only terabyte SSDs I know of are like $2500
  6. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    Solid State stores your information in EEPROM which is a type of flip-flop(aka Memory) that holds it's information even when not receiving current.

    A mechanical hard drive stores data on a magnetic platter which is read/written by heads. Platters are much cheaper to produce than EEProm.

    Memory is generally around 1000 times faster than a hard drive. because it's read/write time is measure in microseconds while a hard drive reads in milliseconds. This is because it takes time to move the head and locate your data. Of course with a hard drive you are limited by a lot of other factors which were built off the hard drive paradigm.

    The primary cause of slow computers is the lack of memory and/or cache.

    Main memory is microsecond fast memory. If you have one hit on the hard drive in(virtual memory-hard drive space used to extend your memory) out of 1000 accesses your machine is 50 times slower. By changing the hard drive to EEProm a type of memory faster than a hard drive, but slower than memory. You reduce the cost of that hit.

    This information comes from my computer architecture and operating systems classes in college.
  7. Grador Audioholic Field Marshall

    Grador
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    In terms of mechanical issues, you can throw around an SSD a little more, but conventional HDDs are pretty rugged too. Electronically though, SSDs are more fragile. That data stored on a magnetic platter is quite safe and rarely does it go away, but there are a few circumstances where the flash memory in an SSD can be lost. SSDs are fairly reliable, but conventional HDDs do have less issues.

    Additionally for the purpose of storing movies and music you'll have very little speed advantage, and in fact could be slower than an conventional HDD depending upon brand. The biggest speed advantage of SSDs are in their seek times (time to start reading a file, which is 0 on an SSD) and many are actually slower than conventional HDDs reading large files that are contiguously written on the drive.
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  8. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    All good points, I'd still point out that solid stage memory is more portable - I carry 32gb on usb stick on my keychain and I saved many many computers and me in situations where I needed to do old skool sneaker net :)

    Long term storage of flash memory (as in not used) - I'm not sure but likely will beat magnetic storage of regular hd.

    There is another issue - getting external storage would mean relying on some sort of common interface. Thunderbolt, eSata3 and USB3 are only ones which could provide sufficient bandwidth for ssd for shine.

    $2500 for 1Tb of ssd is the going rate, but I would use instead 2x500Gb ssd drives:
    Newegg.com - SAMSUNG 840 Series MZ-7TD500BW 2.5" 500GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    and this or similar box:
    Newegg.com - BYTECC BT-M252U3 2.5" Black USB 3.0 2.5" Dual-Bay RAID 0/1 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to Sata External Hard Drive Enclosure
  9. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    You are the tech guy so you probably have a greater idea of the real data for failures on a larger scale I recommend with all hard drives using a raid configuration with data backup if the data is critical. My recommended setup is a solid state for the OS and programs a mechanical for the data. I'm not familiar with data recovery techniques for solid state drives, but I'm thinking they would be harder to get previous states from than a magnet. Which might be a plus if you are doing something you shouldn't be.

    I've had hard drives of both types fail. Certainly solid state is better in a phone, laptop or thumb drive. I'm amazed at how far the technology has come. But we are moving back to the cloud again it seems.
  10. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    yea, back to thin clients and "mainframes" :) How's new is same as old
  11. KEW Audioholic Ninja

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    For media storage and playback, speed is a non-issue.
    I don't think there is a need for ultra compact (both formats are very compact).

    That leaves reliability and money on the decision matrix.
    If it was me, I'd buy two 1TB HDD with one as a back up to the other. Much less $ than 2 each, 500GB SSD, and the reliability of HDD with back-up would far surpass SSD without.

    That leaves the question of how best to backup - RAID or auto-schedule backups? Someone else will need to advise on the pros and cons.
    KEW,
  12. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    A lot depends on the circumstances. To get the most out of raid you need a lot of drives. But it also adds to write times. For ripped music offsite backup may not be an option since it's copyrighted material. If you have the CDs I suggest keeping them in storage as your primary backup.

    Playing off a solid state drive would produce less heat, have faster read times and require less power. In my poorly ventilated laptop a solid state drive is much better for media playback because of the heat factor. Plus if I had my battery still I could play for longer unplugged.
  13. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

    agarwalro
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    Why not NAS?

    For about the cost of a drive, you can have a media server/ backup drive/ personal cloud/ RAID 1.

    QNAP TS-212-US Diskless System All-in-one NAS Server with iSCSI for SOHO and Home Users.
  14. Irvrobinson Audioholic Ninja

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    The only reason to go with rotating media is that it is cheaper, a lot cheaper. 2TB external disk drives are going for about $100. BTW, a lower case "b" in generally accepted industry parlance stands for bits, while an upper case "B" is used for bytes. In storage we're always talking about bytes.

    For SATA or USB drives the effective transfer rates are the same for sequential accesses, since they're limited by the interconnect, and even BD transfer rates are well within what an HDD can do. For random accesses the SSD wins big time, obviously, since there's essentially zero seek time, but for the application you're talking about random access speeds are mostly irrelevant.

    In terms of reliability I think it's a wash nowadays. The latest SSDs are rated for mean time between failures (MTBF) of 1.2-1.5 million hours. Consumer HDDs generally aren't rated in terms of MTBF, but their enterprise versions are typically rated in the 1.2M hour range too. The issue with SSDs is that they're full of very complex firmware, and this seems to make them more error-prone than consumer HDDs in actual use, because HDDs use much simpler programming by comparison. For general computing use SSDs can also have some rather annoying idiosyncrasies that occasionally crop up, always firmware-related in the wear-leveling or error-recovery logic, that makes them run slow, but I've never heard of people suffering from these problems for content storage like you have in mind.

    The only big advantage SSDs would have for your app that I can think of is that they are absolutely silent. HDDs aren't silent.

    Bottom line - if it were for me, and the silence factor wasn't important, I would go with an HDD for your app every time. As for brands, I used to think Seagate had the best HDDs, but I think Western Digital has caught up for consumer drives. I'm not sure I have a preference. The WD external HDDs seem to have more features these days, but for your app you could almost choose a product just based on major brand name, capacity, and cost.
  15. krzywica Audioholic Samurai

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    Wow this thread was hard to read.....lot of misinformation and rabbit trailing...

    1. You said "central" so I assume you want more than one device to be able to connect to the content on the drive

    2. Instead of an external drive you could go with a NAS as suggested for a comparable amount of money - you could also check and see if your WIFI router supports connecting and sharing of USB devices as most do these days. This would allow access to the drives contents 24/7 even when your main PC is powered off, this is usually a much better solution if you want the portability of an external drive combined with the uptime and power savings of not sharing it from a full blown PC.

    3. I think an SSD is a bad idea for an external device for Media storage - you lose most of the benefits you would gain in the speed of an SSD when you combine it with a slow USB bus - even USB 3.0 will negate most of the seek time benefit that is the largest difference between platter drives and solid state drives. The longevity of SSD's vs platters no longer holds water with the exception of extremely high IO loads like Database disks or a SAN, this has been the case for years now as the internal garbage cleanup and the addition of TRIM support as well as optimizations to the storage material itself.

    4. Consider getting a device that supports RAID1 whether it be a NAS or an external USB drive. This creates redundancy which would preserve all of your data in the event that one of the disks fail. This is also referred to as "mirroring".

    5. I'm very pleased with all the SSD's that I own - but they are all for boot drives and virtual machine storage. Price per GB just doesn't make sense to use them for any type of media storage.
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  16. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    All good info. Thanks to all the replies.

    Looks like I've been convinced to stick to the moving platter HDDs. Glad I asked before I went out and wasted money.

    I may go with the NAS route, my router does have the USB NAS option. Otherwise, just HDD and move files to my computers as 2ndary.
  17. Grador Audioholic Field Marshall

    Grador
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    Router based nas is worth a try (its free), but they are really hit and miss on implementation.
  18. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    The rabbit trailing was asked for. I'm not sure what misinformation you are referring too. You just repeated the same things everyone has been saying.

    You'll forgive me if I'm skeptical on SSD reliability. I had an Intel one fail on me months after I got it and that was only a couple years ago.
  19. sholling Audioholic Ninja

    sholling
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    I agree with you SSDs just aren't any more reliable (or as reliable) as spinners yet. The primary advantage is speed and my i7 notebook boots from power on to login in 20 seconds and apps launch almost instantly but reliability has been a major headache. I also have an SSD as the boot in my desktop and the first one died in months due to a bug in the firmware. Buggy firmware and controllers seem to make life with an SSD an ongoing really fast beta testing experience even with the major brands and I wouldn't even consider using anything other than premium brand SSDs at this point.

    My advice to to the OP is to buy a NAS device with RAID1 for home use and then back it up to a 1TB 2.5" 5400 RPM notebook drive in an enclosure for portable use.
  20. krzywica Audioholic Samurai

    krzywica
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    Yeah...on paper SSD's have more reliability than platter drives.....so excuse me if I go based off the MTBF numbers as well as my own experience instead of someone on a forum spouting "yeah this one time I had an SSD and it failed but my HDD's did not". All electronic devices are susceptible to premature failure, generalizing and saying SSD's are less reliable than HDD's just based on your personal experience with them is silly. Its the same argument that I hear all the time about Hard drive manufacturer X is better than manufacturer Y, which is rubbish.

    Also its funny that you responded directly to me about the rabbit trailing.....even though I didn't point you out as a culprit....almost as if you knew it was you...hmmmm......

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