I bought this hard drive in March 2009 as my music/film/work collection had ballooned beyond what my laptop hard drive was capable of holding and it served me very well for a good 4 years. It comes in a neat silver casing that does look pretty stylish.
I purchased the version with 1TB capacity and have filled it with all sorts of stuff. Once you take out the operating software built in you have 931GB of empty space. This may sound like a lot but a few series of TV programmes can quickly accumulate and soon you've got a couple of hundred of GB of data. I'd recommend going for the 1TB version over something smaller as the price increase to upgrade from 160GB to 1TB is insignificant compared to the price of a new hard drive when you fill up 160GB.
The condition/state of the hard drive is represented by an LED light visible at the top left of the picture. Red means there is an error with something, blue means everything is good, flashing blue means it's working. It's pretty simple to understand!
There are a few downsides to this hard drive. Firstly, its size. This is a pretty big hard drive that really stands out on your desk. It wasn't too much of a problem for me as I had a relatively big desk but really is quite chunky which can also be an issue when it comes to transporting it, although the strength of the casing is a much more pressing concern. My hard drive failed after four years of use and I'm convinced that it's lack of protection from the casing had a major part to play in it.
A second issue is its requirement for an external power source. Newer external hard drives are capable of drawing their power from the USB connection but this old chestnut can't. This is annoying and reduces a laptop's portability but if you're just going to leave it plugged in to your PC tower, I guess it's fine.
These days I'd argue against this hard drive as for similar money you could get something like a WD My Passport that has a similar storage capabilities but is a fifth of the size and is powered by the USB connection. Unfortunately for Toshiba, this hard drive was great a few years ago but as with all technology, it has quickly become dated.
We all know that we run out of storage space too fast! Luckilly Toshibas drive is large enough to handle a LOT of data.
The drive is an external drive with only a USB connection. If you've come across external hard drives then you'll have a good idea of how big it is physically. The drive is also mains powered so you will need an additional socket to run it from, it's not powered from the USB port.
The drive is enclosed in a metalic looking plastic with a front bezel with flashing LED. A useful enough addition as you can tell what state the drive is in. It flickers when accessing the data (blue) and goes red if there are any connection errors.
The drive also has a base for vertical storage, not something I use as the base is quite a bit wider than the drive (and doesn't feel that stable). I've also found the front bezel has come loose after not much usage, not a problem for me as I don't care for looks for a hard drive but would make me consider a more solid-body enclosed drive for the future.
I don't use the supplied software as I use the drive for archives so I can't comment on that.
In the age of broadband internet hard disk space is becoming more and more disposable, with vast quantities of high quality music, videos, photographs, software and games running through our phone lines in a thick, steady stream. In the past an 8GB hard drive would have been sufficient housing for your operating system, installed programs/games and personal file and document storage. Nowadays 8GB would barely be enough room for a single game, let alone the infrastructure required for running it, i.e. your operating system.
I decided to buy a 1TB (1024GB) external hard drive thinking it was high time for expanding my virtual real estate whilst also having the option of easily and conveniently disconnecting and transporting the drive to and from other systems, which would make sharing very large files much less troublesome. 1 terabyte sounded like a ridiculously superfluous amount of hard disk space, but shockingly the drive was already half filled within the space of a few weeks. I think, psychologically, knowing that I had all of this storage available to me led me to download things I might not have normally downloaded, the rationale apparently being "I may need it later, and it's not like I'm short of hard disk space".
I browsed Amazon.co.uk for the cheapest 1TB drive I could find which also had the best customer reviews and, at the time, the Toshiba 1TB USB 3.5" External Desktop Hard Drive more than satisfied my criteria. Almost a year has passed since I paid a reasonable £75 for this device and my experiences in that time have been largely positive.
~ [ Processing/Quality ] ~
The first thing I noticed about the Toshiba external hard drive when I took it out of the box was its silvery aluminium finish; plenty of protection from knocks and the overall weight of the product remained acceptable in spite of it. The enclosure is rugged yet smooth and streamlined, and is stood in a upright position (as pictured) which obviously leaves you with more room on your computer desk. There is a single blue indicator light on the front of the drive which flickers red when the drive is being accessed (that is, read from or written to). The light remains on permanently when the drive is powered up, and some reviewers have complained that it's too bright and distracting. It is indeed very bright. However, if you have the drive facing you at all times you do get used to it, and if it bothers you that much you can simply put a little strip of insulation tape over it, or just point it away from you.
The cables are of high quality and show no signs of fraying or other degradation in the year I've been using them, and I tend to move the drive around a lot for the purposes of sharing large files with other systems, so there's a lot of plugging and unplugging of cables going on, none of which has had any adverse effect on the materials that I'm aware of.
When plugging the cables into the back of the device they feel as if they go in too easily, and are therefore insecure. That said, they've never popped out unexpectedly nor have they shown any signs of looseness which would generally result in significant problems with the drive's functionality, with data loss and corruption being a major factor.
Overall I would consider this drive to be solid, secure and of good quality.
~ [ Reliability ] ~
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I've had bad experiences with external USB hard drives in the past, resulting in massive data loss and corruption after just 6 months or so, but the Toshiba is apparently made of sterner stuff that of my previously-bought disasters, evidenced by its flawless and consistent performance for a solid year. I always have the drive switched on - that is, it's powered up and operational 24/7 - because my system acts as a media server for the rest of my network, and the external hard drive holds much of that media. So, 24/7 uptime over the course of a year, with fairly constant file accesses from several other computers, and not one single piece of lost data, and not one error ever found when I run weekly maintenance checks. Impressive.
The speed of the drive is equally impressive, given its size, cost and the fact that it's an external USB drive. Copying 4GB of data to/from the drive takes around 2 minutes, depending on the speed of the hard drive/optical media which serves as the sender/receiver of said data. My old Western Digital 500GB external USB drive would have taken three or four times as long, and that particular drive gave up the ghost after just 6 months of use.
~ [ Noise ] ~
This hard drive is so quiet that the only sign of it having been powered up at all is its powerfully bright blue light on the front panel. The drive is fanless, which means it won't start whooshing and vibrating when you start moving some large amounts of data to/from it (presumably the aluminium enclosure acts as its cooling system; it never feels any hotter than room temperature when touched). Every hard drive I've used in the past has made some sort of noise when the drive is in use, ranging anywhere from somewhat audible clicking to unnerving grinding; the Toshiba external USB drive barely draws the focus of your consciousness at all. It's extremely quiet, extremely quick and extremely dependable.
~ [ Conclusion ] ~
£75 is no small potatoes, but for a drive as solid as this it seems too good to be true - but it isn't. After a year of constant, 24/7 usage I haven't encountered a single problem with the drive itself or the data stored on it; I've never had any problems with the cables or the enclosure's heat management; while I back up my important data regularly I've never had to restore it; the drive works immediately out-of-the-box on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, including the x64 versions of those operating systems (more than can be said for the aforementioned Western Digital 500GB external drive I used to own). Toshiba is a well-respected manufacturer of electronic devices, and if this hard drive is anything to go by I'd say they clearly deserve the reputation.
Before you go about buying an external hard drive, you need to be sure that you are getting value for money, and that the device you buy is right for you. There is no point buying a 160gb device if you are going to be backing up all of your CDs or downloading TV shows. Before you know it, you have filled the little box on your desk and now have to pay out for another one.
The Toshiba 1TB hard drive is immense. I bought one of these in April 2009 and I still have over 100GB of free space. There must be almost 3 weeks worth of video data on there, not to mention backups of all of my 400 CDs. You could fit Mount Everest in this thing and still have room for two cups of tea and a choc-ice!
The device works fine with PCs and Macs alike (They DO work on Macs despite what some reviewers claim on Amazon). It is quiet by comparison to some Western Digital drives, and the speed of upload is really only limited by the speed of your computer. You can also connect it to your Xbox 360 or PS3 and play your content through your console, although some video/audio content will require a seperate (free) download from Xbox Live or the PS Network.
The device itself is about 5 inches tall, 1.5 inches thick, and about 8 inches long (give or take). It comes with a 24 inch USB connector cable, and a long AC power cable. It will sit quietly beside your computer or console and you will bearly know it is there - except for the light.
And therein lies the only drawback. The indicator light on the front of the drive...is blue. And I don't mean that blue is a horrible colour. I mean the light is BRIGHT blue. The light is SO bright in fact, I have had to partially shield my eyes from it while I turn the device around to face the wall. This light can actually provide you with enough illumination to read a book at night with all other lights off. I kid you not, it is BRIGHT!
Overall, this is a fantastic device. One that has given me no problems in the 9 months I have owned it. If you are heavily into downloading, you may possibly want to think about the 1.5TB version, but believe me when I say it will take some dedication to fill this thing.
It is, without doubt, a fantastic piece of technology.