Which 4TB portable HDD to get?

21
Found 4th Oct 2017
I'm so confused by all the options. I need a decent, reliable, 4TB portable HDD that preferably doesn't use encryption and has a standard SATA connector internally, so that if the enclosure fails I can at least remove the drive and connect it to my PC.

I'll be backing up the portable drive onto a 4TB internal drive in another PC offsite, so it's not the end of the world if I have to send the portable drive back for repair/replacement. I'm more thinking of if the enclosure fails after the warranty expires, that I would like to be able to still use the drive rather than have to throw it away.

From what I've read it seems Seagate is disliked and WD is OK but can you help me narrow down the different models to ones that meet my requirements please?
Community Updates
Ask
21 Comments
If you want WD then your only option may be to buy a separate HDD and caddy as allot of their models now use an integrated USB adapter from what I've seen.

Just remember to check the height of the HDD.

I can confirm Seagate 4TB portable does have a separate USB-SATA adapter.

Another option may be HGST but I dont know if they're integrated or not.
Every drive I've had the encryption has been software based. I've got a few 3TB My Passport Ultra's and they have been faultless, they don't have separate internal sata though, but when it comes to hard drives failing that's the last thing I would be worried about.
Edited by: "4Real2016" 4th Oct 2017
I don't know if the risk is really much greater is it?

After all, it's not a seperate USB to SATA connector welded on, it's the drive board of the hard drive that's been changed. It's no more likely to fail because it's got USB than if it had SATA. If anything the drive as a whole will be more reliable because you've eliminated the SATA to USB converter.

The only downside I can see from a reliability perspective is that the drive connector is now exposed and potentially easier to damage.
EndlessWaves15 h, 36 m ago

I don't know if the risk is really much greater is it?After all, it's not …I don't know if the risk is really much greater is it?After all, it's not a seperate USB to SATA connector welded on, it's the drive board of the hard drive that's been changed. It's no more likely to fail because it's got USB than if it had SATA. If anything the drive as a whole will be more reliable because you've eliminated the SATA to USB converter.The only downside I can see from a reliability perspective is that the drive connector is now exposed and potentially easier to damage.



I think having a separate USB to sata converter gives you a buffer between the USB cable and the HDD. The ground voltage difference between the USB hard drive PSU and the device you're plugging into could be crazy high and admittedly at a very low current but just enough to kill the interface if you're unlucky. This is one of the reason why people complain about their HDMI sockets not working.

You can see this if you unplug a printer usb led from your PC and run it against the metal chasis of your PC case. It's pretty but you know you're going to pay for it some how.
kester766 h, 27 m ago

I think having a separate USB to sata converter gives you a buffer between …I think having a separate USB to sata converter gives you a buffer between the USB cable and the HDD. The ground voltage difference between the USB hard drive PSU and the device you're plugging into could be crazy high and admittedly at a very low current but just enough to kill the interface if you're unlucky. This is one of the reason why people complain about their HDMI sockets not working.You can see this if you unplug a printer usb led from your PC and run it against the metal chasis of your PC case. It's pretty but you know you're going to pay for it some how.


He's after a portable HDD without a seperate ground connection though.
EndlessWaves1 h, 2 m ago

He's after a portable HDD without a seperate ground connection though.

Chances are with a decent 3.5" drive he'll go for an enclosure with a separate psu. All devices have a ground even if they don't have an earth cable.
Original Poster
4Real20164th Oct

Every drive I've had the encryption has been software based. I've got a …Every drive I've had the encryption has been software based. I've got a few 3TB My Passport Ultra's and they have been faultless, they don't have separate internal sata though, but when it comes to hard drives failing that's the last thing I would be worried about.

I'm sure I've read comments about enclosures with hardware-based encryption, which made it impossible to read the drives outside the enclosure.

It's not the HDD itself failing that concerns me as such (if that happens there's nothing you can do) but if the interface fails prematurely and the drive can't be separated from the enclosure/interface that's could be a pain. If it's still in warranty I can return it for replacement but it might be less hassle/quicker to just put the drive in a new enclosure.
Original Poster
EndlessWaves4th Oct

I don't know if the risk is really much greater is it?After all, it's not …I don't know if the risk is really much greater is it?After all, it's not a seperate USB to SATA connector welded on, it's the drive board of the hard drive that's been changed. It's no more likely to fail because it's got USB than if it had SATA. If anything the drive as a whole will be more reliable because you've eliminated the SATA to USB converter.The only downside I can see from a reliability perspective is that the drive connector is now exposed and potentially easier to damage.

The enclosure as a whole might be more reliable by eliminating a separate USB to SATA interface but it won't make the drive any more reliable. The on-drive board must still have to convert the USB signal to the drive's native SATA and this conversion board could fail and leave the drive unusable, so I'd prefer a separate board that can be removed to allow the drive to still be used.
Original Poster
kester764 h, 56 m ago

Chances are with a decent 3.5" drive he'll go for an enclosure with a …Chances are with a decent 3.5" drive he'll go for an enclosure with a separate psu. All devices have a ground even if they don't have an earth cable.

I'm not after a 3.5" drive with separate PSU. It's too much hassle having to plug in a PSU every time I want to update my backup but even more so when backing up the backup to the off-site internal drive, where there's no easily accessible power sockets.

Arguably 2.5" drives can last longer due to generating less heat anyway, maybe at the expense of raw speed but that's not critical for backups.
Original Poster
tech34754th Oct

If you want WD then your only option may be to buy a separate HDD and …If you want WD then your only option may be to buy a separate HDD and caddy as allot of their models now use an integrated USB adapter from what I've seen.Just remember to check the height of the HDD. I can confirm Seagate 4TB portable does have a separate USB-SATA adapter.Another option may be HGST but I dont know if they're integrated or not.

Ugh typical! The one drive I want to avoid has the enclosure type I want 🙄

Is it possible to buy a 2.5" WD drive and USB powered enclosure that will support it?
doveman0076 h, 57 m ago

Ugh typical! The one drive I want to avoid has the enclosure type I want …Ugh typical! The one drive I want to avoid has the enclosure type I want 🙄Is it possible to buy a 2.5" WD drive and USB powered enclosure that will support it?



On amazon, I can only seem to find 3.5" versions in that size for wd
Original Poster
tech34752 h, 21 m ago

On amazon, I can only seem to find 3.5" versions in that size for wd

That's strange. I could have sworn I'd seen 4TB portable USB drives, which must be 2.5" as USB wouldn't be able to power 3.5" drives.
doveman00751 m ago

That's strange. I could have sworn I'd seen 4TB portable USB drives, which …That's strange. I could have sworn I'd seen 4TB portable USB drives, which must be 2.5" as USB wouldn't be able to power 3.5" drives.



They do make them, I just couldn't find a regular SATA one and I don't know if their portable line will not have an integrated USB adapter.

Looks like Seagate is the only option if you want it to have a SATA port.
Original Poster
tech34752 h, 1 m ago

They do make them, I just couldn't find a regular SATA one and I don't …They do make them, I just couldn't find a regular SATA one and I don't know if their portable line will not have an integrated USB adapter.Looks like Seagate is the only option if you want it to have a SATA port.

Yeah I guess they might only make them for their USB enclosures.

Also, one of the WD portable models says on its spec page that it uses hardware encryption, which I'd rather avoid but I'll check the other models. Certainly don't wanna go with Seagate.
kester765th Oct

I think having a separate USB to sata converter gives you a buffer between …I think having a separate USB to sata converter gives you a buffer between the USB cable and the HDD. The ground voltage difference between the USB hard drive PSU and the device you're plugging into could be crazy high and admittedly at a very low current but just enough to kill the interface if you're unlucky. This is one of the reason why people complain about their HDMI sockets not working.You can see this if you unplug a printer usb led from your PC and run it against the metal chasis of your PC case. It's pretty but you know you're going to pay for it some how.



I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.

doveman00713 h, 8 m ago

I'm sure I've read comments about enclosures with hardware-based …I'm sure I've read comments about enclosures with hardware-based encryption, which made it impossible to read the drives outside the enclosure.It's not the HDD itself failing that concerns me as such (if that happens there's nothing you can do) but if the interface fails prematurely and the drive can't be separated from the enclosure/interface that's could be a pain. If it's still in warranty I can return it for replacement but it might be less hassle/quicker to just put the drive in a new enclosure.



Yes there are hardware encrypted drives but they are crazy expensive.


doveman00712 h, 55 m ago

The enclosure as a whole might be more reliable by eliminating a separate …The enclosure as a whole might be more reliable by eliminating a separate USB to SATA interface but it won't make the drive any more reliable. The on-drive board must still have to convert the USB signal to the drive's native SATA and this conversion board could fail and leave the drive unusable, so I'd prefer a separate board that can be removed to allow the drive to still be used.



I'm not sure this is actually true of native USB drives. Seems silly to me to assume a USB drive board is less reliable than a SATA drive board.

FYI - It's not that hard to spot native SATA drives with a USB converter as they tend to be longer in length than the native USB drives.
Edited by: "4Real2016" 6th Oct 2017
4Real20167 h, 21 m ago

I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes …I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes there are hardware encrypted drives but they are crazy expensive. I'm not sure this is actually true of native USB drives. Seems silly to me to assume a USB drive board is less reliable than a SATA drive board.FYI - It's not that hard to spot native SATA drives with a USB converter as they tend to be longer in length than the native USB drives.

Protection diodes normally have a finite amount you can shock them so I probably wouldn't rely on that.
kester761 h, 30 m ago

Protection diodes normally have a finite amount you can shock them so I …Protection diodes normally have a finite amount you can shock them so I probably wouldn't rely on that.


I'm pretty sure manufacturers use the correct rated TVS diodes, I had a PSU self destruct in style and take out pretty much everything including two hard drives, both hard drives had clamped diodes as expected, replaced two diodes and both drives were fine, cant say the same for the mobo though
Original Poster
4Real20169 h, 55 m ago

I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes …I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes there are hardware encrypted drives but they are crazy expensive. I'm not sure this is actually true of native USB drives. Seems silly to me to assume a USB drive board is less reliable than a SATA drive board.FYI - It's not that hard to spot native SATA drives with a USB converter as they tend to be longer in length than the native USB drives.

The hardware encrypted drive I was referring to is this My Passport Ultra which is on sale (for recertified drives) for £65-£75 wdc.com/en-…tml

I don't know whether drives with built-in USB boards are any less reliable than those with SATA boards but it seems to offer an extra layer of protection to have an external USB-SATA board as it insulates the drive somewhat from the environment and if the external-facing board gets damaged the drive is still usable.
doveman00751 m ago

The hardware encrypted drive I was referring to is this My Passport Ultra …The hardware encrypted drive I was referring to is this My Passport Ultra which is on sale (for recertified drives) for £65-£75 https://www.wdc.com/en-gb/products/wd-recertified/my-passport-ultra-new.htmlI don't know whether drives with built-in USB boards are any less reliable than those with SATA boards but it seems to offer an extra layer of protection to have an external USB-SATA board as it insulates the drive somewhat from the environment and if the external-facing board gets damaged the drive is still usable.



lol, I said at the beginning I have a few 3TB versions of that drive, if you don't run the software and set a password then its no different than any other drive.

You seemed to have made your mind about about something that's come out of thin air, yes if that part fails you can take the drive out and use it somewhere else, but who knows why that part may have failed, it could be a million reasons.

Good luck.
4Real20163 h, 20 m ago

I'm pretty sure manufacturers use the correct rated TVS diodes, I had a …I'm pretty sure manufacturers use the correct rated TVS diodes, I had a PSU self destruct in style and take out pretty much everything including two hard drives, both hard drives had clamped diodes as expected, replaced two diodes and both drives were fine, cant say the same for the mobo though

That must of been one dodgy PSU as most shutdown if they go slightly out of tolerance. Did you surface mount the new diodes ?
I've not had to look to far into this as the only drive failures I've had have been the samsung HD103 that had a high failure rate due to
being cheap tat.

So are both the sata power and data lines protected ?

Also I've read that some seagate drives contain an additional inductor which can catch fire which is a bit alarming. One thing I didn't realise was that the drives with only a TVS and no additional protection can short and cause the PSU to go into over current protection mode.

I'll have to look futher into this as it doesn't explain connecting a grounded hdd to a device with a floating ground where the voltage is applied across the ground.
4Real201618 h, 17 m ago

I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes …I'm pretty sure most drives have TVS diodes these days to protect them.Yes there are hardware encrypted drives but they are crazy expensive. I'm not sure this is actually true of native USB drives. Seems silly to me to assume a USB drive board is less reliable than a SATA drive board.FYI - It's not that hard to spot native SATA drives with a USB converter as they tend to be longer in length than the native USB drives.



From my experience, when Ive had portable hdds die in the past it was usually just the adpater which broke and not the hdd.
Post a comment
Avatar
@
    Text

    Top Discussions

    Top Merchants