Category Archives: Hard Drive

Upgrading My NAS…Yawn



Hard DriveLast weekend, I upgraded my NAS from 2 TB to 4 TB and it was all too easy. The NAS is a Buffalo LinkStation Duo but as the drives are mirrored, I only get half the total 2 TB capacity, i.e. 1 TB. I was getting pretty close to having the full terabyte of data on the unit, so I decided it was time for a storage upgrade. However, the last time I upgraded another model of NAS, it involved much chicanery and re-installing of firmwire via USB, so I proceed with trepidation.

Not so this time. It was mostly lots of waiting interspersed with a few minutes of activity, followed by first time success. Disappointingly little geekery was required.

Step 1. Buy a pair of SATA 2 TB hard-drive. The LinkStation already had Seagate drives installed, so I played it safe and bought some Seagate Barracuda drives. Wait a couple of days for drives to arrive in post…

Step 2. Backup the data from the NAS to an external USB drive. My favourite tool for this is rsync because it simply copies files (no archives or zip files) and you can stop and start the backup as you like. You can even keep using the NAS up until the last minute before running one final rsync to copy the latest changes over. Leave the backup to run overnight…

Step 3. Shutdown the LinkStation via the web interface.

Step 4. Remove hard drives, insert new ones.

Step 5. Power up the Linkstation and log on via the web interface.

Step 6. Format drives in turn. Configure as RAID 1. Wait for best part of a day while array synchronises….

Step 7. Restore data from external USB hard drive. Leave to run overnight….

Step 8. Job done!

It was pleasantly straightforward to upgrade the NAS and a big change from the last occasion I had to swap a disk. For sure it takes a couple of days to do the swap, but the time is spent shuffling data around, not actually working on the unit. Definitely a recommended upgrade.

[Disclosure: this is my personal NAS and not a review unit.]


WD TV Live at The Gadget Show Live



WD TV LiveWestern Digital’s TV Live series of media players has been around for a couple of years and they’ve gained a sizeable following with over 3.5 million devices sold. The 3rd generation WD TV Live has been released recently and Daniel Mauerhofer was kind enough to give me an interview at The Gadget Show Live.

The new WD TV Live model introduces wi-fi connectivity which was absent on the previous model and it’s now been localised for the UK market with the inclusion of iPlayer and Spotify. Coming in two models, one without an internal hard drive (£99), which is available now, and a second which will have a 1 TB drive and will be available later in the year (approx. £129).

As ever, there’s a complementary remote control app for Android and iOS devices, which looks pretty useful; it’s certainly more than just a button-for-button replacement of the IR remote control.

My personal pet peeve in this area was that media players seemed either play from the local network or stream from the Internet but it was a rare device that could do both. The WD TV Live does both so it’s a thumbs up from me.


Rocstor AES 256-bit Enctypted Hard Drive



Rocstor has unveiled a new portable external hard drive that practically guarantees that your data won’t be stolen.  The hard drive, which comes in capacities up to 1 TB, has a slot for a smart card.  Enter the card, punch in your code (which you choose), and you unlock the drive and all of the data you have stored on it.  The drives are FIP certified and ship with multiple cards.  For users that need additional cards, they can be purchased blank and inserted into a unit to be programmed to work with it.  PIN Numbers can be changed an unlimited number of times as well.

These hard drives are probably not for average consumers, but more for business and government.  They are designed to protect highly-sensitive data and eliminate those stories that are always in the news these days about stolen laptops filled with account and credit card information.  The drives retail in the $400-600 range and are available now from Rocstor.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kingston HyperX SSD



Kingston is known for their memory, but now they are branching out into the world of hard drives and, more specifically, solid state hard drives, or SSD’s as they are commonly referred to.   The HyperX is the top of the Kingston line when it comes to this technology.  The SSD is a much-hyped technology that has remained a dream for most consumers because of their price-point, but they are starting to come down into the realm of the affordable, although still top-end, drives. The SSD provides much faster speed than the traditional HDD, plus they are much smaller in size, which is driving the new Ultrabook craze, which was also capturing  the media at this year’s CES.

The new HyperX comes with an external drive bay that you can plug into your computer and software to clone you current drive to get you started without any down time.  The new Kingston drive may still be out of reach for the average user, but that’s okay, because they know it’s for the enthusiast, who knows how to get inside a PC and change out hardware, clone drives, and use all of the hardware and tools that come along with a project such as this.

Currently for the 120 GB version seen in the video below the price is coming in at a little over $200.  To find out more be sure to check out the video and visit Kingston.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Verbatim SSD Drives



Verbatim One of the categories that you will see a lot of at CES 2012 are Solid State Drives (SSD). With the price of regular hard drives going up due to the flooding in Thailand. (Although the price of standard hard drives seem to be going back down at this time.)  As SSD drives becoming more reasonably priced they increase in popularity among consumers. Verbatim a leader in the data storage business since 1969 will be introducing some new SSDs at CES 2012. They will be introducing both new SATA II and SATA III drives. They will be bundled with NTI Echo smart cloning software which will allow an individual to copy their entire hard drive including operating system without having to reinstall drivers. It is simple to use and secure helping to eliminating the lost of data. There will also be a casing included that will allow you to convert your current internal drive into an external drive for extra storage. Also available will be a 3.5 bay adapter which will allow a desktop computer to be updated also.

What makes the Verbatim SSD drives special is the fact they have no moving parts are shock resistance and run silently.  The SATA II SSD comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. They have read speeds up to 270MB per second and write speeds up to 225MB per second. SATA III drives can reach both read and write speeds up to 500MB per second. SATA III drives use Sandforce 2281 controller. Garbage collection algorithms which help to maintain stability and reliability. There is also have advance wear leveling. The SATA III drives come in 120 GB, 240GB and 480GB capabilities. These drives will work with Window 7, Window XP, Mac OX 10.4 and greater and Linux 2.4.0 and higher. Verbatim will be showing off these drives and other products at Booth MP25374 in the South Hall at CES 2012.


OWC Mercury SSD Drives



OWC Mercury DriveOther World Computing (OWC) will be introducing their newest Solid State Drive (SSD) line called Mercury Extreme. It is 3G with a combination of Sandforce Dura Class technology and Tier 1/Grade A NAND. Tier 1 (Grade A) is the top of line chips and are laser etched with a serial number. This combination produces data rates over 275MB. It is reliable and relatively noiseless. It has near bus saturation speed. Unlike regular SSD where the write speed tends to slow down after regular and constant use, OWC Mercury Extreme SSD drives do not. They use Block Management and Wear technology instead of the traditional OS Trim Management to help prevent that slow down. MacPerformance confirmed that Mercury SSD removes almost all slow down in data speed over time. The Sandforce Dura Class Technology also offers 100x the data protectin compared to ordinary SSD. They do this by the combination of 7 percent over provisioning, the highest level or error correction and Sandforce Raise (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements).

You can get a 30 GB drive starting at $67.99 MSRP. It is available through OWC and selected retailers. There is a 30 day risk free guarantee and 24/7 live chat support. The drives are compatibility with any desktop or external drive that uses 2.5” drives. You can also get adapters for as low as $3.00, which allow 2.5” drives to be placed in 3.5” bays. OWC Mercury SSD are available with a capacities from 30GB up to 480GB starting at $67.99. OWC will be showing off these hard drives and more at CES in the North hall at Booth 5231.


Monster Digital Will Be Showing off its LeMann SSD Drive at CES 2012



Monster Digital Back in November Monster Cable license their brand name to SDJ Technologies a Simi Valley based technology business creating the company Monster Digital. At CES 2012 Monster Digital will be showing off several of their new products, including an Ultra Speed SSD, Hybrid Hard Drive, Standard Drives, Micro SD Cards and high performance flash. They will be showing off the Ultra Speed SSD called the LeMann Series. The LeMann Series SSDs are some of the fastest drives on the planet. They support read and write speeds of 550MB/s-515MB/s and are SandForce based. They are  shock proof , waterproof, magnetic proof and super durable. Monster Digital has also been working with Seagate Technology to create a Hybrid Hard Drives (HDD). These drives increase a computer’s speed and performance with a simple upgrade. Monster Digital will also be showing off their SD, Micro SD cards and high performance Compact Flash.

Monster Digital will be showing off its products at Booth 13013 in the Central Hall. Monster Digital is committed to provide unparalleled user experience. Each of its product categories offers best in class performance. They are rigorously tested to meet the highest standards of durability and performance. Jay Tandon, former CEO of SDJ Technologies and now the CEO of Monster Digital® will be present at CES 2012 and will be available for interviews, upon request.


Buffalo DriveStation Velocity Review



Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo DriveStation Velocity is a 2 TB USB 3 external drive, and given the size and the interface, it’s aimed at people who want lots of data and want it quickly. Let’s get the external features of the device out of the way and then check how quick it is.

In the box, there’s only the drive, the power supply, USB 3 cable and the usual paper flimsies for getting started and warranty. There is no driver CD as the files are all on the disk, but more on this later. The drive housing itself is black plastic, with a matte finish on the larger sides and glossy piano black on the thinner side, with a disk activity light that glows blue when on USB3 and green on USB2. The unit can either stand upright or be laid on its side and stacked: I couldn’t decide what orientation I preferred but it seemed to spend most of its time lying down.

Buffalo DriveStation Velocity

Round the back it’s fairly sparse with a USB3 connector, power socket and Kensington lock socket. Observant readers will also spot that there’s no fan so the Velocity runs quietly with only the hum of the hard drive itself, possibly making this a good choice for the living room.  Even while the disk was being thrashed during the read and write tests, the case never got more than lukewarm.

Buffalo DriveStation Velocity Rear

Time for the speed tests. Connected up to USB 3, the Velocity recorded the following data rates:
– hdparm gave 133 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
– dd gave write speeds around 92 MB/s.
 bonnie++ gave 75 MB/s for writes and 137 MB/s for reads.

Under USB 2, the figures were obviously slower but still fine for a USB 2 device.
– hdparm gave 32 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
– dd gave write speeds around 37 MB/s.
– bonnie++ gave 33 MB/s for writes and 38 MB/s for reads.

Wow! The read speed of 137 MB/s makes the DriveStation Velocity the fastest single USB3 unit that Geek News Central has tested, which is pretty impressive.

As mentioned earlier, the driver and utility software comes installed on the disk rather than on a CD. Generally, this is great and cuts down on CD-waste, but it would be wise to take a copy of the software in case the disk needs to be re-formatted…

…which brings us to the included utility for whole disk encryption. It’s very handy for keeping your data from falling into the wrong hands in the event of theft or other loss, but the utility completely erases the disk as part of the encryption process! So it seems to me that there’s a bit of a problem here for a drive that includes encryption as a feature but then deletes the utility off the disk as step number one. There either needs to be a CD in the box or else the encryption utility needs to make a backup copy of the software locally.

Other than this small issue, I liked the Velocity. I had no trouble getting it to work, the styling was satisfactory and it performed well. In summary, if you need a quiet drive with lots of space and great transfer rates, then put the DriveStation Velocity on your shortlist. Just remember to copy the drivers and utilities off the disk before enabling encryption.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the DriveStation Velocity.


Thailand Flooding and the Price of Hard Drives



If you are thinking about getting a hard drive you may want to wait. Thailand has been hit by terrible flooding during the yearly monsoon season. Up to 500 have died and whole areas have been devastated including areas where the majority of the world’s hard drives are manufactured. Companies including Western Digital and Toshiba have been hit hard. As reported by the NY Times Bang Pa-In, Thailand which produces one-quarter of the worlds sliders a vital hard drive component is almost completely under water. Piper Jaffray believe that the supply of hard drives may run dry by the end of November. Prices may rise anywhere from 10 to 60 percent. There maybe a shortage of up to 60-80 million hard drives in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the shortage may only get worse. Full recovery of the market isn’t expected until late 2012.

Just in time for the next monsoon season. Climate change may only increase the flooding next year unless Thailand figures a way to control it. Unfortunately the very rice fields that helped to control the flooding in the past have been replaced by the factories that manufacture the hard drives. Companies may think of moving some of the processes outside of Thailand but that will take years and a lot of money. Companies may decide that the cost of moving is greater than the cost of dealing with flooding and choose to stay.

The hard drive shortage is already being felt by small businesses who sells or purchases hard drives. They are having trouble getting the hard drives they need and their prices are going up. The longer the problem continues the more the problem will spread to anything with a hard drive in it. Which includes desktops, laptops, gaming systems, and more. Not all hard drive companies were hit equally Seagate whose plants are in the highlands of Thailand was not effected by the monsoon directly, however it says it will have difficulty getting some parts. SSD drives are not effected either. Gus Richard an analyst at Piper Jaffray believes that there was an over reaction to the economic impact of the Japanese disaster and an under reaction to the Thailand disaster. This is at the time when large data centers are being built, data centers which require more and more hard drives. So the shortage and higher prices will most likely continue until late 2012.


Buffalo Gets Extreme



Buffalo Technology has announced the launch of the MiniStation Extreme, a ruggedised USB3 portable hard drive. Conforming to the US Military’s MIL-STD-810F 516.5 Procedure IV, the shock protection on this drive means that it will survive a fall from over 2 m or 6 ft.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Portable Hard Drive 

And if securing your data against physical damage isn’t enough, the MiniStation Extreme also comes with 256-bit AES whole/full disk encryption to prevent unauthorised access to your data. There’s an integrated USB3 cable which snaps in and out of the Extreme, keeping it all neat and tidy.

Paul Hudson, Sales Director for Northern Europe at Buffalo Technology said, “The MiniStation Extreme is a prime example of Buffalo’s commitment to product innovation. This latest addition to the MiniStation family is ideal for globetrotters who travel with their PCs and portable HDDs and demand a robust, fast and secure high performance portable storage device. The MiniStation Extreme can withstand free-fall drops of up to 2.3m making it the most robust MiniStation ever.”

The MiniStation Extreme is available in 500 GB and 1 TB sizes at £78 and £113 respectively, and comes in piano black, silver and red. No white yet for the iPhiles.