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Best external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro

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Tamra WalkerBest external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro
by on Dec 8, 2009 at 3:19:39 pm

Hello all,
My question is two-part...
1. Which external 1.5 TB hard drive is most compatible with my MacBook Pro(split platform with 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo)? Time machine accidentally reformatted and (temporarily) erased years' worth of digital photo files on my Lacie external drive. I say "temporarily" because after I had a quiet panic attack, all of the files magically appeared when I reconnected it to my Mac four days later. NOW, I want to back everything up to a reliable drive.
I noticed the specs on the Seagate Free Agent Desk said "Windows", but also mentioned Mac OS system requirements. Do they make one specifically formatted for the Mac?? I use the Mac platform for all my photo files. Any suggestions for either the Seagate or another manufacturer would be greatly appreciated.
2. Since I have both platforms on my Mac (I use Windows XP for my work-related Quickbook program), is there an external drive that I can use for both, or do I have to choose one over the other - or get two separate hard drives altogether???
Thanks, in advance, for all your assistance!!! -Tami

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Micah McDowellRe: Best external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro
by on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:08:42 pm

Hard drives themselves are generally the same for either platform, so I wouldn't worry about what is "most compatible" with either PC or Mac as long as it has the interface you need. Results with Lacie drives are varied; I used to use one and it would also disappear and magically reappear occasionally, but for the most part it was satisfactory. I've usually had good results with Western Digital and Maxtor over the years in the really cheap external drive category.

Since you are using both XP and Mac OS, you will need to format the drive so both OSes can read and write to it. Both can read and write to the FAT32 file system (you can format it in XP if it isn't FAT32 from the store). The only problem is that FAT32 has a file size limit of 4GB. That's an annoying limitation for most video professionals, but you're using it for digital photography, where you may never encounter files that size. If so, that's your best solution by far.

If you do need >4GB file support, you have a couple options; you can format the drive NTFS from Windows and install one of several programs on OS X to make it readable, or format HFS from the Mac and install software on the PC side. From past experience, few of these software solutions are especially reliable or elegant, but that may have changed in the past year or so.

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Tamra WalkerRe: Best external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro
by on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:19:27 pm

Micah, Thank you so much for clarification here. I will look into the drives you mentioned, and 4 GB should be fine on my XP platform since I don't use that one for digital photos at all. Thanks also for responding so quickly! Best wishes for a joyous holiday season. -Tami

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Pasi KoivistoRe: Best external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 3:13:36 am

If you're willing to spend some more dime and want just a little bit more protection have a look at Drobo and Netgear ReadyNAS. Both of them offer protection from a drive going bad.

The ReadyNAS is also a Network Attached Storage device so it will act as a network server and be accesible from both XP and OS X. To the Drobo you can buy something called DroboShare which will do the same thing. If you need performance the Netgear one is the better choice and the Drobo is very nice from a ease of use point.

That said the really paranoid people who are serious about backups also suggest a "off-site" backup (meaning a copy of everything in another location). The easiest solution would be to use something like Carbonite, Dropbox or similar.

My 2-bits.

Editor, Colorist.
Mac Pro, 4x3 Ghz, 8 Gb ram, ATI 1900XT, KONA 3, Sony PVM20L4, Tangent Devices Wave.

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Tamra WalkerRe: Best external 1.5 TB hard drive for MacBook Pro
by on Dec 13, 2009 at 5:05:56 pm

Thank you, Pasi. I will check out these two as well as what was suggested earlier-I need to do something about this ASAP. Thanks to both you and Micah for getting back to me on this!! Best,-Tami

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