USB Powered External Hard Drive - Advice/Deal Request

Found 28th Sep 2008

I hope someone can assist as my brain is starting to ache deciding what to do and I need more memory quickly now as there's only 5Gb left on my interal drive.

I'm looking for a small usb powered external hard drive with 320Gb - 500Gb.
My prioirities are speed and reliability.
I've looked at the following:

Seagate Free Agent Go
Western Digital My Passport Essential and Elite
Fujitsu Handidrive 320Gb
Buffalo Ministation Turbo 500Gb
LaCie Little Disk 500 Gb
Various Freecom mobiledrives and toughdrives

or alternatively I would consider buying a Samsung 2.5" drive and separate enclosure.

I keep reading that Samsung are the best drives - do any of the above use them?

Do any such drives you know of have eSATA connection as an option? I thinkk the DIY option allows me to achieve this though I would need to also buy an express card/eSATA adapter for my Dell Inspiron 9400 and don't know if it's worth the bother.

Any help/pointers appreciated and I guess hopfeully useful to others on here.




You'll be lucky to find a usb powered device that size as most will have greater power requirements than the standard port can supply, unless anyone knows different.
Try this eSata & usb ]http//ww…al/

Original Poster

Does anyone know which make of drives Medion use?

There are plenty of USB powered drives this size (all above) but they are all 5400 speed (or less). I don't know of any with an eSATA connection though but you can buy a housing and add your own drive - I think when using eSATA you then connect a power only usb cable to power it.

I don't know about 2.5" drives but samsung aren't anything special for desktop 3.5" drives.

Most brands just buy whichever hard drives are cheapest or best value at the time, I would expect the only ones to be consistant are the companies that manufacture their own drives like WD/Seagate/Maxtor.

Plextor do the PX-PH500US 500GB drive with eSATA as well as a PX-PH320US 320GB version.

Original Poster

Thanks, the Plextor 320 looks decent value.

Are Plextor any good?

If making my own, can I use a 7200 drive or are these unsuitable due to the power requirement, heat output (with no fan) or other reason?

It seems you can pick up a housing with USB and eSATA interfaces for £20 or so and there seem to be many decent drives available including the Seagate with the freefall sensor.

Any thoughts? or anywhere else I could try for advice?



Plextor were well known for their optical drives but I don't know what the quality of their enclosures are like.

WD do freefall sensor drives too.

LaCie do 7200RPM drives in their portable rugged drive so it's obviously possible but I don't know how much luck you'd have putting one together yourself.

Have you got a firewire port? It's fast and provides more power than USB so it might be a better choice.

Original Poster

I do have a firewire port - maybe I could use a firewire to power adapter and just use it for power as I intend to go the expresscard/eSATA adapter route. That said, if I can't get USB, eSATA and firewire all in one, I should be ok with a USB Y adapter to power it.

I've asked technical support at MISCO what they think as they're pretty cheap for the drive and enclosure and at least if they've advsed me on the suitable drive I should have some comeback if I buy from them.

I'll report back how I get on. ExpressCard 54 to eSATA adapters don't seem cheap though.



Original Poster

Is is true that ExpressCard 34 card fit ExpressCard 54 sockets?

I'm pretty sure I'm going to build my own external drive now - just waiting a bit of technicial info from one enclosure maanufacturer as although MISCO have been quite helpful they didn't know the answers to all my questions.


Is is true that ExpressCard 34 card fit ExpressCard 54 sockets?


Original Poster

Just an update if anyone's interested.

I've ordered a Startech Infosafe 2.5" eSATA and USB SATA drive enclosure as well as a Startech EpressCard to two eSATA adapter and a lead - all from Lambdatek.

The drive I've gone for is a Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320Gb 16Mb Cache SATA 2.5" with the drop protection. I would have got this from Lambdatek as well but they are not due to get stock for a few weeks so I have one on order from CCL who are supposed to be getting some tomorrow.

Once I get it up and running I'll let you know how it is. My logic is that although I could have got a 320Gb drive and perhaps a 500Gb for the same price (ignoring the eSATA adapter), what I am getting should be a much faster and higher spec drive which given that I shall be using it all the time is important to me. It is also important to me that I don't need an additional power adapter - I just hopes this works ok with the USB power lead provided.

Original Poster

I received the bits today. The drive arrived a few days earlier than expected but on checking the serial number I realised why - despite the order confirming the correct serial number the drive I received had a g missing and therefore is not the g force shock protection version. Being impatient I decided to use this drive as I can't be bothered with the hassle of sending it back though I will ask for a refund of the price difference.

Putting it together was simple - slot the drice in and then two screws with a screwdriver being provided. Please also note that an eSATA cable is included with the enclosure as well as a USB and a USB to power cable (this wasn't clear on all sites).

The only slightly more difficult bit was setting up the drive. I had a problem with my express card bay on my Dell 9400 - but I sorted it following a search on google and having found out the lead on the inside of the computer has a tendancy to come loose. It took me an hour taking my laptop apart to get at it but I managed it all myself :-).

To set up the drive I had to go into disk maintenance. It wasn't difficult once I found out to do. I found instructions on the technical pages of seagate and after that it took 5 minutes max.

I tried it out and the transfer of photos from my existing hard drive to this indicated about 27mbs which I suspect was limited by my existing hard drive rather than the new one (although it is a 7200).

Overall I'm very pleased. I wouldn't have got as fast a drive (especially with eSATA) that is usb powered and so small ready made or for the money.

That said I am now wodering whether to put this drive in my laptop and use the drive in my laptop as a portable thought I shall have to look into exactly what this involves. (I doubt it's as simple as copying the c drice to the new drive and plugging it in!)
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