Tag Archives: hard drive

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 Unfortunately the very rice fields that helped to control the flooding in the past have been replaced by the factories that manufacture the hard drives.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.


Seagate Momentous XT Hybrid Solid State Hard Drive



Want to give your tired old computer a speed boost? Listen up — this is a good one!

A few days ago my 17” MacBook Pro shut down a couple of times due to overheating issues, so I ended up taking it to the local Mac dealer to get it cleaned out – a truck is a surprisingly dirty operating environment. The machine was full of dust, which was preventing the internal fans from functioning properly.

When I dropped the Macbook off, almost as an afterthought I decided I would have them install a larger hard drive and clone the data over while they had the machine opened up. I ended up buying a 500 gigabyte Seagate Momentous XT Hybrid hard drive as the replacement drive. It was somewhat more expensive than a non-hybrid solid state drive, but the sales pitch on the outside of the retail package touting greatly-enhanced overall performance of this hybrid drive convinced me to give it a try.

The Seagate Momentous XT 500 gigabyte solid state hard drive comes with a 4 gigabyte solid state drive, with the rest of the storage being a conventional 7200 RPM 2.5” SATA laptop hard drive. The drive contains some built-in intelligence that automatically copies the most frequently-accessed computer files that will give the most boost to overall performance, including significantly faster boot-up times.

Does it work? All I can say is “Wow!” I am amazed at the performance boost. The machine boots quicker, and overall it has a much more snappy feel. The Seagate Momentous XT 500 gigabyte hard drive is worth every penny as an upgrade.

The old adage about speeding up a computer by maxing out RAM is still true. However, now there’s a new performance-boosting item that can be added to the list: add the appropriate hybrid hard drive for an even greater performance boost. With the addition of this drive, this 17” Macbook Pro is exhibiting better performance than ever.

Needless to say, I’m impressed. If you’ve maxed out your computer’s RAM, get one of these drives: I promise you that you won’t be disappointed with the performance boost.


OWC — Other World Computing — High Performance Aftermarket SSD Drives



Grant Dahlke from Other World Computing aka MacSales.com introduces Sandforce processor-based high capacity, high-performance SSD (solid state drive) hard drives for computers such as Apple’s Macbook Air that are up to three times larger and up to 22% faster than the drive than Apple’s OEM drive. They also have a line of drives for older IDE and ATA machines, which enables much better performance from older computing hardware due to the much faster read/write times of solid state drives as opposed to the performance of conventional spinning hard drives.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

Please Support our CES 2011 Sponsors

Get your 14 day Free Trial of Audible Gold to start Listening to great Books!
Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.
Sponsor: The New Luxor, Las Vegas Deals Start @ $40.00 best rates guaranteed


Freecom Mobile Drive CLS Review



Freecom LogoFreecom announced the Mobile Drive CLS concept back in July as a new way of storing and organising the vast amounts of data that all of us now seem to collect through our daily digital lives.  The CLS stands for Collect, Label and Store and fundamentally it’s about using 2.5″ portable drives to store data according to type or use.  One Mobile Drive could have photos, another video.  Or they could be arranged by topic with one Mobile Drive storing all the photos and videos from a trip to Europe and another holding the material from a new house you built last year.  I’m sure you can grasp the possibilities.

It all reminds me a little bit of the SyQuest EZDrive and the Iomega Zip drive, and the drive even comes with a translucent plastic case with a paper insert where you can write the contents of the hard drive for future reference. It’s so old skool….

But enough reminiscing.  If you buy into the concept, what do you actually get?  There’s two parts, the first being the Mobile Drive CLS, a 2.5″ hard drive enclosed in a black soft-touch rubberised case and with a label strip down the side.  The second is the CLS Dock, a docking station that takes three of the Mobile Drives.

Mobile Drive CLS

As the Mobile Drives come with standard mini-SD connectors, you can just use the drives with a cable if you want.  Power is supplied via the USB cable.

Alternatively, the Dock makes using them much more convenient. You simply slot the Drive onto the Dock, which can take up to three of the CLS Mobile Drives.  Cleverly, the mini-SD connector is slightly offset from the centre so it’s obvious which way round the drive has to go.  There’s also an additional standard USB port on the Dock for a memory stick.

The Mobile Drive seemed to fit snugly into the Dock and obviously the review unit was new but I’d be fairly confident you wouldn’t need to worry about wear on the connectors anymore than you’d worry about any external unit.

There’s been a bit of care here too with the USB leads.  The supplied leads are a cut above the average USB cable and there’s a short one supplied in the storage case, keeping drive and lead together.

Performance-wise, the disks were pretty much as you’d expect from an external USB2 drive.  Using hdparm -Tt, I got around 1640 MB/s for cached reads and 30 MB/s for buffered disk reads.

Cost-wise, the Mobile Drives come in four sizes from 250 GB (£60) up to 640 GB (£85).  The CLS Dock costs £16.  Comparing the price for the Mobile Drives against similar units, there’s a price premium of £10 at the smallest capacity which gradually reduces as the capacities increase.

I liked this product as it’s well designed and convenient.  I think this product will appeal to the “laptop generation” – those people who live in lofts and apartments and use technology primarily for their own entertainment. Eventually the laptop hard drive fills up with photos, music or films and this is a clever and attractive way to keep files without cluttering up the internal disk.

It might also appeal to people who just want a convenient way to transfer data between home, work and school.  Use the dock at home and the cable while on the road.  And the label strip on the side of the Mobile Drive can easily take a name and mobile phone number in case of loss.

Frankly, I’m surprised it doesn’t come in white…

Thanks to Freecom for the review unit.


Updated Western Digital DVR Expander



For those of you with a cable or satellite DVR or TiVo, Western Digital has updated their My Book AV DVR Expander hard drives.  Among other things, is the addition of a USB port, to the already existing eSATA port.  That means the drives are now compatible with the Sony PS3 and other media devices such as camcorders.

This is TiVo’s one and only “official” method of hard drive expansion.

The capacity has not changed – it’s still 1TB, but I think we can expect that to be expanded on in the near future.  Although, 1TB is an awful lot of HDTV recording.  I never came close to filling the 500GB drive in my DirecTV HR23.

One thing to watch out for, at least for DirecTV users (and I have no idea if this applies to other DVR’s) is that this drive replaces the internal drive.  The good news is that it replaces, but doesn’t overwrite.  In other words unplug this drive and reboot to the original internal drive and all of your previous recordings are still there.  It would be nice if it added to, instead of replacing, but beggars can’t be choosers.  And, since most cable DVR’s have ridiculously small drives, this is a no-brainer of an upgrade.

So, what do you pay for this convenience?  It retails for $149.99, but Amazon already has it for $119.00.  This is what we should have from our TV providers to begin with, but, for now, we  have to pay extra for.  And this is, by far, the best extra you can add to your DVR.


How I’m installing Windows 7



I have been really pondering this issue since the beginning. I have a relatively new machine that I installed less than 2 months ago: It’s working pretty nice in Windows XP land. However, it was a futile effort, because it was going to be assimilated to the new version once it came out. So the preparations were taking place since day 1.

The biggest thing was to back up the system. Now the old machine was cleaned up, and now it serves as part of the backup process. I also use an online service to backup important files off-site. It does the backup in the background and like I said – It’s off-site, so if the drive dies, or anything happens in the home, I can restore that data.

Finally, I used an Imaging program to make a duplicate copy of the C: drive as it is. The C: drive is only the Operating system. The data is on the D: drive, which is backed up via the off-site and old machine. This will just allow me to bring the computer back to the last thing I did on XP.

However, there is one more step here: I will switch out my C: drive with a fully blank hard drive. A SATA 80 GB drive is where the OS gets housed. By swapping the drive, I will have a clean drive separate from the XP partition. Further, I don’t want Windows7 to do anything to the XP side just yet – therefore I will be disconnecting that hard drive completely.

There is another partition I have, and that is a Ubuntu setup. Next week, the newest version of Ubuntu will be coming out, therefore I will be creating a new partition at that time. 3 separate hard drives for 3 Operating systems.

Now you might have a different setup, or don’t care to do 3 Operating systems, but I would highly suggest that if anything – get another drive to replace the one in your computer. It’s a great way to keep your old OS intact and when it’s all done, it can be added to another machine as a spare hard drive.

There is one more thing about this install – 32 bit or 64 OS. The new version of Windows7 comes with both. I got a computer that will work in 64 bit mode, the reality will boil down to whether the programs and hardware I run will work in the 64 bit OS. I will be starting with the 64 bit version and make the assessment to whether it will satisfy my need. Further, if I put on the Virtual XP mode, I should be able to run the programs that don’t work right in Windows7.

This process will be happening in the next 24-48 hours, once all the scheduled events will be taken care of. I don’t foresee any problems, but if I do have them, I have a full backup system in place. I also have a way to get back to normalcy if I need to.


Disk Inventory X



After we use our computers for awhile the hard drive starts filling up with all sorts of files and application. The problems is trying to figure what files are filling up the hard drive. Until you know what you have it is hard to organize and delete those you don’t need. If you have a Mac, there is a program that is called Disk Inventory X that gives a great visual representation of what is on your computer or any hard drive on the network. You can have it scan your whole hard drive or a specific folder. It is a free download although they do ask for donations.

Disk Inventory X.png

As you can tell from this picture it is really easy to read. Each color represents a type of file and the bigger the block the bigger the file.  On the right side it shows the size of folder and the number of files. It also tells you where the files are located.  If you click on desktop on the list on the left side. There appears a yellow highlight around the files that are on the desktop.   If you find something you don’t need you can delete directly from Disk Inventory X.   For example, I have a Imovie project that I no longer need.  I simply click on the purple color, it confirms the file. I hit command delete and its sent to my trash.  This is all that Disk Inventory X does, it just shows what’s on your computer or hard drive, but it does it very well.   It is one of those applications that I don’t use very often, but when I need it I am glad its there.