Thursday, August 09, 2007

Portable Storage: OWC Mercury On-The-Go

It's funny how things coincide at interesting times. Earlier this week, Derrick Story of Inside Aperture posted a blog entry on his quest for more portable storage. He ended up going with the OWC Mercury 250 GB FireWire 800/400+USB2 5400RPM 2.5″Portable SATA Drive. I have been eyeing this exact same drive but I have decided against it. More on that in a moment.

Oddly enough, Steve Simon, also of Inside Aperture, posted a blog entry which mentioned that he just purchased another OWC drive as well. He was likewise surprised at the timing of Derrick Story's post. His choice was the OWC Mercury On-The-Go 200 GB FireWire 800/400+USB2 7200RPM 2.5" Portable SATA Drive.

I have been using OWC Mercury On-The-Go drive cases since early 2007 and I am very happy with their performance. However, I have put together my own solutions. One thing that I really like about all of OWC's solutions is that you can buy the drive case without a drive for all of their solutions. Instead of buying a pre-packaged deal, I purchased an OWC Mercury On-The-Go Firewire 800/400+USB2 Portable SATA Drive case. This allows me to pick my own drive. Years of using hard drives from different manufacturers has caused me to have some preferences as to what drives I generally use.

When it comes to desktop drives, I generally use Western Digital, Seagate, and Hitachi drives in order of preference. I like Western Digital drives for their RAID editions as well as their great price. Seagate drives have always worked well for me but they tend to be a little more expensive than Western Digital drives. The third option is to use Hitachi drives. I have rarely done this but I am seeing good things coming from them. Their 1 TB drives are pretty attractive for their space.

By contrast, with laptop drives my choices are different. I tend to prefer Hitachi drives and sometimes Seagate drives. I have used Toshiba drives in the past but I have had some not so great experiences with them. They also lag behind in the performance category. Western Digital laptop drives are the newest series of laptop drives on the market and they are not quite up to the same performance and power consumption standards as some of the more established players. Reviews will confirm that recent Hitachi drives seem to have the best performance and definitely the best power consumption levels and those are the two qualities that I am most interested in.

I had to start looking for more storage when my iTunes library grew to the point where it would not even fit on a 160 GB drive. In this situation, I ended up buying the OWC Mercury On-The-Go 200 GB Firewire 800/400+USB2 4200RPM 2.5" Portable SATA Drive. This drive is the Toshiba 200 GB 4200 RPM SATA 2.5" drive. While I do not usually go with Toshiba, this was the only 200 GB laptop drive on the market at that time. I considered buying the case separately but decided to buy all of it together because there was essentially no price advantage. Now my iTunes library has grown to fill nearly my entire 200 GB drive. I only have about 6 GBs of space left on it. Once again, it is time to upgrade.

My first experience with OWC was actually with the same portable case and a Hitachi 100 GB 7200 RPM SATA 2.5" laptop hard drive. This was and continues to be my portable picture storage. It works very, very well and I have been very happy with it. Its only drawback is that there is not quite enough space to do what I want. Although I still have not upgraded my drives, I have already decided which drives I will be purchasing.

I am planning on purchasing two more OWC Mercury On-The-Go Firewire 800/400+USB2 4200RPM 2.5" Portable SATA Drive cases and putting a Hitachi 7K200 200 GB 7200 RPM SATA 2.5" drive in one and a Hitachi 5K250 250 GB 5400 RPM SATA 2.5" drive in the other. I prefer the Hitachi 5K250 250 GB drive to the Western Digital 250 GB 5400 RPM SATA 2.5" drive that OWC uses for their solution that Derrick Story purchased.

I will basically replace my current 200 GB 4200 RPM iTunes library solution with the new 250 GB 5400 RPM drive and I will add a new 200 GB 7200 RPM drive for my image and video storage. The older 100 GB 7200 RPM drive will continue to be used in this same capacity as a backup. I hope by reading through my choices it has given you some additional thoughts and options for yourself.

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