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history1 03-14-2020 04:21 PM

Need help deciding on a backup HDD for my fairly limited old computer
Hello everyone. I am looking for a good external HDD to backup digitized videos. The computer I will be making the backups from only has USB 2.0 and Firewire 400. I've gone over the forums and found out it's best to get a drive with USB 3.0 and eSATA but I can't exactly get those for this old computer (USB 3.0 yes but with only 2.0 speeds). I can add new cards to the computer but it only has PCI slots, not PCI Express, and I can't get very far with that. So exactly what drive should I get, or should I get a good one (like a Fantom Drive many of you get) with an adapter cable?

BW37 03-14-2020 08:25 PM

USB 2.0 is awful slow for moving large files.

There are PCI (not just PCIe) SATA cards out there both on Amazon and eBay.
They seem less plentiful on Amazon than I remember even last summer but they're still available.
PCI has enough bandwidth for SATA1 so these will work for capture with an old IDE only motherboard. I have 2 that are based on the SIL 3114 which is old but works fine with WinXP and SATA1.

You may need both a card and a separate eSATA adapter with SATA cable if you can't find a card that has the eSATA port on the card itself.

Amazon card

Amazon adapter

Then you should be able to use an external drive with eSATA and USB 3.

my :2cents:


lingyi 03-14-2020 11:24 PM

How much data do you have to backup? The current sweet spot for external hard drives are 8, 10 and 12TB WD externals at ~$15-20/TB in the U.S. The caveat is that (as I've said dozens of times here and at is that the USB interface is cheap and prone to failure. Fortunately, you can easily decase the drive and put it into a third party enclosure or use it internally.

PCI USB 3.0 expansion cards are rare, here's one: The catch is that it's much more expensive than a PCIe card and you're not getting anywhere near the speed USB 3.0 is capable of. Personally I'd just stick with USB 2.0 and allow the backup to run overnight.

Alternately, you may want to consider using a removable drive bay, assuming you have a spare 5.25" bay available. This will allow you get the full SATA transfer speed. You can decase a cheap WD external, possibly voiding the warranty, or buying an internal drive.

Factor in the cost of at least two drives as a single backup drive is good, but a second backup is much, much better and part of the 3-2-1/1-2-3 backup strategy. Three copies of your data, two as backup, one kept offsite.

Edit: Having going through dozens of external drives over the years and having many of the cheap interfaces fail, I'm currently using a combination of removable drive bays and multi drive external USB 3.0 enclosures. I mostly buy WD externals and immediately remove them from their cases to use as internal drives as even if I void the warranty, it's still cheaper than an external. I live by the motto that it's not if any hard drive will fail, but when.

history1 03-16-2020 03:28 PM


Then you should be able to use an external drive with eSATA and USB 3.
I would like to get a Fantom Drive. Those seem to be quite suggested here at The Digital Faq. 2GB is what I'm looking for, but any with eSata seem to have more negative reviews than without that port, at Amazon. Here are a couple with eSATA i've found:

and one without eSATA:

Also is refurbished good for these kind of drives?

Any particular drives to recommend? How about 1GB drives?

BW37 03-16-2020 05:45 PM

Have you considered the "build your own" option for an external drive?

I have more experience with that route. Pick your enclosure, pick your drive...

A few enclosures options:

Possible drives:

I can't really make a recommendation. Sourcing and quality control seem to be all over the place. What used to be a good brand might not be today... It also seems that there are always more negative reviews on products I'm interested in than I'd like to see but I guess you just have to pick your poison and take a chance. Another reason to have multiple back-ups I guess.

1TB drives are fine if they hold what you need on a single drive. It depends on your storage needs but you won't save much $ for a 1TB vs 2TB.


history1 03-16-2020 10:36 PM

This is a preety excellent and lower cost option, and being able to custom pick a hard drive with high excellent ratings. :D

The Hard Drive I think I will be picking will be the Seagate one you recommended to me. Now do you think that will be compatible with Windows XP? My capture computer has Windows XP on it. If it will be compatible, after formatting for it, will it work on my Windows 10 computers?

lingyi 03-16-2020 11:32 PM

Contrary to what many believe, external drives all have regular internal drives (no special run of drives for external use) from the handful of manufacturers. The reason the eSata Fantoms get lower ratings is because of the drive inside, which may vary according to what's cheapest at the time.

The advantage to buying a third party external vs WD or Seagate is because as I mentioned above, the USB interface on them is necessarily cheap to keep the cost down (below of the cost of the exact same drive as an internal).

Win XP has a 2TB (actually 2.2TB) limit and must be formatted as NTFS or FAT32 (with a 4GB single file size limit). NTFS is recognized by all versions of Windows after XP.

Of the two drives recommended above, the Seagate is the better choice because it's 7200RPM vs 5400RPM for the WD. In terms of reliability, in theory there's a slight advantage to a 1TB drive because it's a single platter versus 2 or more for larger drives. But as stated above, a 2TB drive is the better deal.

Buying refurb is fine as long as the shorter warranty is worth the savings to you. As I stated above, accept that it's not IF your drive will die, probably at the worst time, but WHEN. Be repaired with a second backup and/or a spare for that inevitability.

I'm running a personal test with a couple 10TB WD Gold drives (5 year warranty) versus my decased WD externals with a two year warranty. It will be a couple more years before find out if the extra I paid for 3 additional years of warranty was worthwhile.

IMO, stock up on drives now as prices aren't likely to go much lower and it's likely the prices will start to go up as factories start to run out of components from China.

BW37 03-17-2020 12:11 AM

I just got two of those Seagates and the "trayless" StarTech case (last one above). I'll be capturing direct to them via eSATA and then loading the files onto my "main" PC for further work.

The only issue I'm having is that newer Seagate drives are thinner than "standard" 3.5" drives by about .2 inches (5mm). This is no problem when they are mounted by their sides in a case as normal, but when they are loaded into a closed external enclosure, there is nothing (or not much) to keep the drive from flopping up and down. I don't like the idea of the drives electrical connectors being the only thing holding the drive in place... I'm still working on the best solution but I'm probably going to add some kind of removable boss(s) entering through the enclosure top (goodbye warranty) that the thinner drives will just clear when loaded.

The "toaster" style external "enclosures" (drive(s) vertical) have a spring loaded door that will help locate the thinner drives but you can also add a spacer to provide more support. That's not as easy on fully enclosed enclosures (that's a mouthful). On the StarTech, the opening is smaller than the space in the housing so adding a spacer is not as easy. I want it removable because I also have standard thickness drives I hope to use in that enclosure. Still working it out... :hmm:

If you format the drives as NTFS on your XP machine they will work fine on later Windows OS's. If you format it on Windows 10 make sure select NTFS - MBR. GPT won't work with Win XP.

Cross posting with lingyi I see. Are the drives I linked refurbs? I did not think so and apologize if they are. Just looked again and I don't see any reference to refurb :question:


lingyi 03-17-2020 11:27 AM

You links aren't to refurb drives, but the OP was asking about refurbs.

BW37 03-17-2020 01:22 PM

Thanks! I missed that.

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