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.......:::: - Introduction
I needed a little more storage space and that meant I was on the market for a hard drive. I started off looking for a network drive, so it could be accessed on any of the computers I have at home at any time. Problem was there were all rather more than my budget allowed for. Luckily all my home computers are networked, so I was able to use any drive and as long as the computer it was hooked up to was turned on, any of the other computers could access it also.
When looking for my new drive I found that some internal drives are priced almost identical to external drives of the same size. Now the only difference between these two drives is the casing, inside an external drives case is merely a standard computers internal hard drive - there really is no difference between the core hardware here. The difference is mostly cosmetic and the only real difference is the converters being used to make the drive work on a USB cable and an external power source.
.......:::: - The Product
The product I decided to purchase was the LaCie External 500GB Drive, main reasons being price and size, they were spot-on for my budget. Once I took shipment of the drive I opened the packaged to find little more than a black box and two cables, all I needed to get it going. It was well packaged in a nice cardboard carton and luckily it arrived okay even though it was brought by City Link.
Inside the box there was;
..: - An elegant black box with the words LaCie etched into the top (this was the actual device)
..: - USB plug that connects the unit to my computer
..: - The external power unit (with a UK plug) where the drive gets its power from
..: - A Quick Install Guide.
I hooked it up without reading the install guide and my computer found it straight away, no fuss, nice and simple to install.
.......:::: - Instructions
Looking at the Quick Install guide today it appears very thorough with nice little pictures. Explaining how exactly you hook up the device, I think even a child could do this from this little manual; it does make it fairly simple to follow and is very easy to read.
On the drive there is three folders; Manuals, Readme and Software. The Readme folder explains how you should install Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the Manuals located in the Manuals folder. Inside the Manuals folder is a PDF file that contains the Quick Start Guide in several languages, so if you happen to lose it (like I did) you can print off another copy.
The last folder here is the Software folder. It contains two further folders entitled Mac Utilities and Windows Utilities. In each folder there is another manual for the included software. Upon opening the manual you are greeted with a diagram and guide of LaCie's software called 1-Click backup. After reading the manual it appears this piece of software will when used backup your files and settings directly to your new external drive with only 1-click. It also appears that this will work both on Windows PC's and Mac's which is nice.
.......:::: - Appearance and Design
I find this little black box very classy, it is pretty simple, nice and square with an etched LaCie logo on the top. It has nice little rubber feat that seem to stop any vibration. The only problem I have is with the green LED on the front, this is pretty much on all the time and can be quite distracting (so I stuck a bit of black electrical tape over it).
Unfortunately it does not have an on/off switch so unless you remove the power from this device, there is no real way to turn it off. Personally I have pretty much had it on 24/7, I do not like disconnecting power from any electrical devices, especially things that contain data like an external hard drive.
Now I have disconnected it a few times and had no problem, but I will not disconnect it every night as it really isn't worth the risk. I have no proof to say that it could cause it damage doing this every night, I just think that if it was designed without an on/off plug then why pretend there is one by unplugging the cable.
.......:::: - Using it
When it comes to using this device, I generally just use it as I do with any other hard drive (internal or external). I initially double-click the drive icon in the My Computer window on Windows XP which then opens up the drive and shows me the folders located there. From here I can drag-drop files to back them up or move them to the drive, or I can delete the stuff, rename etc and so on. It works just like any other hard drive which makes it very easy to use.
The speed of this drive seems pretty normal to me. It is not slow nor is it super fast, the other reviewer mentioned he thought this drive was slow with large files, I personally believe this is more a limitation of USB than the drive speed. If you want a fast external drive you are best off looking for eSata drives as they use a much faster connection (6x faster or so I believe).
I had no problem using this drive as I mentioned above - networking it. By going into its properties Windows XP allowed me to enable sharing on this device and it then appeared in my HOME network on all the other computers connected. To enable Home Networking you will have to go Network Connections in the Control Panel and use the Wizard called "Set up a Home or Small Office Network".
I could write another 1000 word review on Home Networking but to be honest I am still getting use to the site and there are a lot of areas I have yet to find/explore. So please forgive me for not going into more detail in this review about networking, once I find the right area to post in, I will write a new article there and then update this one with the link.
When I bought this drive I mainly bought it for more space and although I picked this drive because it was external and portable, I often forget about it. Sometimes transferring things over the network can be troublesome (mainly when wireless connections are involved) and for some reason I always forget about my LaCie.
I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, the fact I forget about it. Considering I use it every day I guess that proves just how much of a good boy this little device is. If it irritated me more often I might remember to use its portable nature when I require it. When I do remember and finally use it, it yet again works like a charm on any and all of my desktop computers/laptops.
.......:::: - Problem Areas
This little box is not without its faults. As the previous reviewer mentioned, this drive can be noisy and it can get rather hot to the touch. After using it for almost a year now though, it does appear that this is normal and not something that people should be worried about.
As far as my understanding of hard drives go, they are designed not to require active cooling (fans) up to a certain temperature (about 50-60c I believe). Touching my drive I would say it is around 30-40c and therefore nowhere near its maximum allowed temperature.
As I mentioned earlier in this review, the hard drive inside the LaCie shell is the same as a normal computer hard drive. Therefore it has been designed to be inside a computer case that can get extremely hot (due to the other hardware, CPU/GPU/etc giving off heat) and not on a desk with a cooler ambient temperature than that of a normal computer chassis.
Back onto the noise issue I must comment that I do not personally find it an issue. Having it hooked up to my main computer which is a gaming rig, it is far noisier than the external drive. To be honest my computer really isn't that noisy either, so unless you are using this on a water-cooled PC that has no active cooling or a laptop that is very silent, I think you would be hard pressed to hear the drive when it is idle. When the drive is in operation it can be a little noisy, but still not loud enough to be irritating.
.......:::: - Specification
Width :-=-: 11.3 cm
Depth :-=-: 19.4 cm
Height :-=-: 4.1 cm
Weight :-=-: 0.9 kg
Enclosure Colour :-=-: Black
Capacity :-=-: 500 GB
Interface :-=-: Hi-Speed USB
Buffer :-=-: 8 MB
Transfer Rate :-=-: Up to 480 Mbps
Transfer Rate :-=-: Up to 35 MB/s
Speed :-=-: 7200 rpm
Connectivity :-=-: Hi-Speed USB
Cables Included :-=-: 1 x USB cable
Power Source Included :-=-: AC adapter
Software Included :-=-: LaCie Backup Software
Compatible Operating Systems :-=-: MacOSX 10.3 or later, Microsoft Windows Vista/2000/XP Warranty :-=-: 2 years
.......:::: - Price and Retailers
I purchased mine from Scan for £50.18 with free postage and packaging almost a year ago, so if you can get it for cheaper than that you got a bargain. Although if I was in the market today I would be looking for an eSata drive, problem is some people reading this may not have a computer compatible with eSata products. You can upgrade your computer to support eSata products if you motherboard supports it, which will have to be something you will have to look into if you decide to follow my advice.
.......:::: - Conclusion
Overall I am very happy with this product, I have not had any problems with it at all. I truly believed I only owned this product for a few months until I checked my emails and noticed it was almost a year old! Even better I just realised this has a 2 year warranty, and there I was worrying about it because I thought I only had a week left.
It could be faster, it could be less noisy but it could also be very unstable and not as portable. So yeah, I really shouldn't and cannot complain, it's worked like a charm and does everything I expected it to do just fine. If I had to buy another and eSata products weren't on the market, I would definitely buy this again.
.......:::: - Final Ratings
Speed :-=-: 4/5
Appearance :-=-: 5/5
Noise Level :-=-: 4/5
Stability :-=-: 5/5
Ease of use :-=-: 5/5
Portability :-=-: 4/5
Instructions :-=-: 5/5
Overall :-=-: 91/100
LaCie is a brand I've never came across before now, so I didn't know what to expect with their external hard disk.
I have huge amount of personal data of my computer hard drive. Ranging from photographs and videos, to university work, and other documents. In the past, I did use an Maxtor 160Gb external hard drive to backup every thing that was worthwhile, but I've outgrown it. This hard drive was actually given to me as a gift from a friend. But personally, part of me wishes he hadn't, as I've had more than a few problems with it.
First impressions were good. It was well packaged, and came with everything I needed to get started (power and USB cable, and instructions.) The hard disk itself looks good. It's discrete, not overly large, and will happy blend in nicely with other objects on your desk. Installation of the drive was quick and easy. I simply plugged in, and windows instantly reconsigned it. Personally when I backup data I'll simply drag and drop what I want to back up. There are other software methods that you can employ (1-Click is provided with the hard drive), depending on what you feel comfortable with.
That's the good, now for the bad. The drive itself is a bit too noisy for my liking, even when idle. When in use it seemed to vibrate considerably on my desk (which I actually fixed by making blue-tak feet and sticking it down.) The casing does become considerably warm after even a short period of time. I don't know how good this is for the long term health of the hard disk inside. There is no physical On/Off switch, meaning after you click that button on the task-bar that says "Safely Remove Hardware" you'll then need to unplug it from the mains. I would leave it switched on - but as I've already mentioned, the noise.
It's actually slower than my previous three year old external hard drive (the Maxtor) at copying files. Both use the same USB2.0 interface. But this LaCie seems to struggle with larger files. It will start out fast enough but around half way into the copying process it will grind to a halt. That "2 minutes remaining" window you see will turn into "8 minutes remaining." It is however perfectly good at copying small files like JPEG's and MP3 which are almost instantaneous. Finally every now and again the hard drive icon seems to disappear from my computer, which then tells me that it's no longer connected (even know it is.) It can only be fixed by switching off the hard drive at the mains, unplugging the USB cable, then reconnecting, and switching back on. This has not yet happened while I was backing up data so I'm thankful for that at least.
Maybe I'm being to kind awarding this product three stars considering the problems, but it's given me peace of mind knowing that my computer's contents are backed-up if the worst was to happen.
When writing this review, the cost of the hard disk on Amazon.co.uk was £55.00, one of the cheapest I could find for the 500Gb capacity. But considering the problems, I can't willingly recommend this to you. If I was actually in the market now, for another external hard drive, I would pay more and get one that's of better quality. Unless your really can't afford anything more expensive, I would recommend you do the same.
Actual Formatted Capacity: 466Gb
Quoted Speed: 7200rpm
Quoted Buffer: 8Mb.