I’m looking to backup my data. I’d love to hear comments from the peanut gallery
Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • From the many many reviews I’ve read, Maxtor One Touch external drives have serious reliability issues. Don’t use.
  • LaCie external drives are likely a good bet. Seagate too.
  • My safe should be able to protect an external hard drive during a fire.
  • Truecrypt partition encryption might be very good. It’s open source.
  • Drivecrypt might be very good. It’s closed source and costs $50-$150.
  • Boxbackup is a fine online backup system. The server must run linux and internet transfer speeds can be a significant limitation (IE 10KB/sec = 25 GB/month backed up) that can be somewhat overcome with product like rsync.
  • Devco has some good recomendations for on-the-fly-encryption.
  • More good encryption recomendations.
  • No-name drive enclosures and brand name hard drives can pair up well. I might just go with that.
  • (3-8-07 update) another interesting product is Foldershare

What does this all mean? I have to go back to Staples and return the Maxtor One Touch I just bought. I stood there torn about getting the extended warrantee. I mean, if my backup drive dies with all my data on it, a $200 drive is a drop in the pond next to all my writings and family photos and such.

Friggin Staples ONLY carries Maxtor One Touch external drives (which have serious reliability issues) and “consumer” Maxtor drives, which also have reliability issues.

There are some serious marketing brain-farts here. All they have to do is sell the two drives in retail stores as “fast with a 1 year warrantee” and “slow with a 5 year warrantee”

update 6-8-05 I just bought via mail-order a Maxtor MaXLine Plus II 250G 7200RPM 8MB ATA-133 8MB Cache Hard Drive – 7Y250P0. It’s a “high reliability midline” internal drive. I’ll stick it in an enclosure I have lying around.I’ve played with Trucrypt and it looks excellent.

update 6-9-05 Wow, the new Maxstor MaXLine Plus II drive is incredibly quiet! I’m formatting it right now and if it weren’t for the flickery light and the progress indicator, I’d say that the only thing powered-on in the drive enclosure is the itty bitty fan. Yes, I made sure to get an enclosure with a fan. It’s a bit oversized too. Lots of room for air movement.

update 6-9-05 about an hour later I don’t understand why it takes so long to format a 250 gig drive. I mean, it’s only 2,000,000,000,000 binary elements.


  1. Dan says:

    I am surprised at the anti Maxtor sentiment I hear.
    Occasionally I hear it, but not often.

    Of the 28 I have worked with (I purchased myself and some I purchased for other people) I have had a problem with only one. And that one came to me out of it’s original packaging. I have a couple Maxtor drives from 1997 that are still working. In fact only one of them has died but that was due to faulty household wiring and the entire computer was fried. All of the broken drives I have come into contact with have been Western Digital and Seagate. I bought two western digital drives because they were on sale once. both of them ran hot to the touch. hot enough to change the color of my skin when I touched them but not quite hot enough to burn me.

    I have been running a striped Raid array using 4 maxtor HDs for a couple months and they are the fastest things I have ever used. according to SiSandra’s benchmark they are 14% faster than two striped SATA HDs. They are so fast i don’t get any overtime anymore, so I am starting to second guess the advantages of speed.

    anyway thats my two cents.


  2. Lee says:

    I’m thinking that there is some design flaw that comes up every so often in the One Touch line. Maybe (and this is conjecture) it’s that heat doesn’t dissipate well from their enclosure.

    I’ve found a lot of One Touch failure complaints and far fewer complaints about other similar products. For example:

    Amazon: 2 comments 1 drive failure: Maxtor One Touch II 200 GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (E01E200)

    Amazon: 4 comments, 1 drive failure: Maxtor One Touch II 300 GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (E01H300)

    Amazon: 11 comments, 7 drive failures Maxtor E01G300 OneTouch II 300 GB External Hard Drive

    1 Epinions 1 review, 1 drive failure

    CNet 30 reviews, 13 drive failures Maxtor OneTouch 160GB

    There are more but I got bored of copy-pasting…

    Yes, it’s possible that the competition is playing dirty and planting these comments. But I don’t think that’s the case.

  3. WTL says:

    My back up system consists of a couple of levels.

    Level 1 – from each machine is backed up onto other local machines.

    Level 2 – I have two 80 GB 2.5″ USB2.0 drives in rotation with my safe deposit box at my bank. Once a week I move copy my latest backups onto the drive I have at home and then bring it to the bank.

    Why not just get a personal firesafe? They are designed to keep paper safe, not digital media, which doesn’t really care for high temperatures – paper’s flash point is around 450ºC (842ºF). The other reason is the safe can be crushed. If it gets crushed, it won’t protect the drive from heat, now will it?

  4. Lee says:

    It looks like my system has a lot in common with yours.

    I already back up my primary PC onto my secondary PC with Rsync and Cygwin.

    I’ll have my first external 250 gig drive in a couple days. That drive will live in my fire-resistant theft-resistant safe. It’s rated at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 hr. The Maxline II+ drive is rated for a non-operating temperature up to 160 Farenheit. Sure, I’d love to offer better temperature protection but I got my safe for $150 and a small locking 2 hr “media” safe costs $1-3k. I’d do better putting that money into other backup plans.

    To correct your comment, paper’s flash point is around 450 (or 451 if you believe some book titles) degrees Farenheit or 230 degrees Celcius.

    I’m also backing up the most essential 5 gig on remote internet connected computers.

  5. WTL says:

    Ha! My mistake. I remembered 450º, and just plain forgot that that was in Fahrenheit and not Celsius and converted the wrong way. ;-)

    I feel better having my backups in the bank’s vault. A friend of mine lost *everything* even tough they had everything stored in onsite “fire safes”. The structure was destroyed, and the the fire department wouldn’t let anyone into the building because it was going to fall down on itself (which it did).

    I pay about $80 (Cnd) for my box there (aprox 12″w x 4-6″H x 24″D).

    It is easy for me, because I’m frequently out walking around and pass the bank often enough.

    We all have to do what we feel comfortable with. If there isn’t a bank near by, it becomes a pain in the ass, which means you won’t do it unless you absolutely have to.

  6. Lee says:

    You’re right, that issue of convenience is huge. If it’s too much of a pain, I won’t do it.

    I had a safe with a dial combination on it once. It took a full 30 seconds of concentrated effort to get into it. I dumped that for an electronic keypad, but quick.

    I still don’t floss.

    And I rarely pass by my bank (at least not during banking hours). That’s $80/year, right?

    Your fire story is sobering….

  7. WTL says:

    Yes, $80 per year.

    Oddly, I enjoy flossing – but I don’t do it every night. Is there a bank that is close to you? They might rent safe deposit boxes to people who don’t have accounts there. I guess we’ll see once you are finished moving in at your new place. Exciting!

  8. Dan says:

    hehe when I first got our USB backup drive I formatted it on a PC that I _THOUGHT_ had USB2.0 capability but it didn’t. THAT was the LONGest format of my life and it was only 80 gigs. (we only need about 40 to backup everything at my place of work)

  9. Lee says:

    I recently signed up for an excellent backup service for Windows and Mac called Mozy. I’ll give you $10 free money if you sign up with my my referral code. Go here to find out more about Mozy and the discount.

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