Drive Reliability - 3.5" vs. 2.5"

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I am needing to update a trio of 2TB external drives that store my images and backup copies as they are almost full. For budget and space reasons, I am looking at some 4 or 5TB USB 3.0 Type A drives as replacements. The main drive I am replacing is a 7200 RPM WD Black Caviar that I initially bought for speed and reliability. It is housed in a metal enclosure that has a fan, as I have always operated under the assumption that heat is an enemy of hard drives. I could buy a 3.5" 4TB WD Black or similar for the speed, but it is my understanding that drives like the WD Red series run at 5400 RPM for reliability. I can also purchase a USB-powered 4 or 5 TB WD 2.5" drive which saves me both space and the need for open plugs for wall wart power supplies. These drives are also 5400 RPM, but as they are built for laptop use, they are thought to be somewhat more durable in design. I believe that I can live with the 5400 RPM speed, but all of the 2.5" drives that are sold come in sealed cases, and that makes me wonder about heat. I would love to reclaim some desk space and outlets on my power stick by switching to the 2.5" drives, but am wondering if a lack of venting negates some of the durability of the drives, or do the cases effectively transfer the heat away from the platters. Any thoughts?

--Ken

P.S. SSD's are too expensive for the amount of storage that I need, but I do use them as internal drives and working drives for active projects.
 

Growltiger

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I don't see how slow 5400 rpm drives connected by USB can possibly make an acceptable work environment nowadays. I wouldn't dream of living like that.

My approach is completely different. I have 8TB 7200rpm drives internal (I'm using the Seagate Pro drives). Fast interface to the motherboard. Just one or perhaps two of those is probably all you need. (I have SSD for the system drive).
Then for backups I buy the WD 8TB USB connected drives - these are slow. But I don't care, the backups can run when it is convenient for me.

If your computer can't take those internal drives, buy a new case that can.
 
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Design.
A fast 7200 RPM drive could last longer than a slower 5400 rpm drive.
It comes down to how it was designed, and the manufacturing.
A drive designed for use in a server or NAS, will typically run 24x7, so likely have a longer designed life than a drive designed for a home computer.

I don't know if you can really live with slow data xfer.
At my nephew's weding, I only did limited editing on my laptop, to give them a few pics. This was because the data xfer to/from the drive was painfully SLOW.
The larger the files, the worse it will be.​
I waited till I got home to do the majority of the editing.

One important figure is "sustained data transfer rate" (SDTR). But this is not always published, and may take digging to find.
A denser platter at a slower RPM could be able to do a higher SDTR than a low density platter at a fast RPM.​
But, this is subject to "it depends." As the drive platter is usually divided into zones, with each zone having a different record density, and number of sectors. This stuff got pretty complex after I left the business.​
If I am shoving large data to/from the drive, the SDTR is a number that I would look at. And image files are getting bigger all the time.

But old habits are hard to change. I would generally go for the FASTEST non-premium $$$$ drive I can get, which right now is about 7000rpm. The 10,000rpm drives still command a $$$ premium.

My system drive is a SSD, with a 7000rpm data drive.
I recently upgraded my data drive from a 4GB drive to an 8GB drive, to give me room to grow.
Taking pics at the school just eats drive space.​

And as @Growltiger said, put it INSIDE the case. The PC case is "usually" designed to properly vent the heat out.
Stuff on my desk usually gets covered up, and when that happens, the heat is trapped (not good). The case needs air flow around it, to remove the heat.

Warning.
For portable USB drives, you NEED to research the specs on the drive.
I've seen 3.25 and 2.5 inch portable drives advertised as "FAST USB-3 drives."
Well the interface is USB-3, but the drive they put inside is some/many times a low cost SLOW drive. So you don't get the performance you think you will get.
This is OK for a backup drive that you will run overnight, but not for a daily use data drive.
 
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I am using an HP ProDesk desktop that I tweaked with 24GB of RAM and a Samsung 850 Pro SSD so a case upgrade is not really an option, nor is a full upgrade to a more modern system with NVMe drives and the like. I believe that I could squeeze one 3.5" drive in the machine, but I am not sure how large the power supply is, so I do want to be careful not to overburden it. Much of my work takes place on the 850 Pro or one of my Samsung T5's, so I am not really lacking for speed on a lot of my work. The drives I mentioned contain my LR images and two backup copies. Yes, speed is always welcome, especially when doing other chores, but as I do my culling of images prior to importing, it is workable for now.

I do have two 8TB drives from WD that have re-badged Reds in them, so they are fine for backup work beyond my images. I will try to find out how large a power supply HP put in this box. I am suspecting they save money and find the smallest that works, but I could be wrong.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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I dug up the specs and the machine has a 200w power supply. Given that I am running with onboard graphics (no card) and an SSD, I am hoping that this is sufficient for adding a 3.5" 7200 RPM drive.

--Ken
 
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I dug up the specs and the machine has a 200w power supply. Given that I am running with onboard graphics (no card) and an SSD, I am hoping that this is sufficient for adding a 3.5" 7200 RPM drive.

--Ken
I think you are OK.

Next to look for are the drive connector specs for the system board.
You want to put the drives on a SATA-3 connector.
I have one computer that only has ONE, SATA-3 connector :( bummer
 
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I think you are OK.

Next to look for are the drive connector specs for the system board.
You want to put the drives on a SATA-3 connector.
I have one computer that only has ONE, SATA-3 connector :( bummer
I know it is SATA as I changed out the OEM drive for the Samsung, and I believe there is a second connector for a second drive, but I do need to confirm.

Thanks,

--Ken
 

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I agree, you should be OK. The case is designed for two drives.
I have only once had a catastrophic power failure, that was when adding a graphics card to an older machine whose power supply must have deteriorated. After the smoke cleared a new supply was easily fitted to replace it.
 
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For portable USB drives, you NEED to research the specs on the drive.
I've seen 3.25 and 2.5 inch portable drives advertised as "FAST USB-3 drives."
Well the interface is USB-3, but the drive they put inside is some/many times a low cost SLOW drive. So you don't get the performance you think you will get.
This is OK for a backup drive that you will run overnight, but not for a daily use data drive.
Yes, a good reminder as I have had my share of USB 3.0 drives that barely run faster than older 2.0 models. I cannot remember what one needs to look for in the drive specs when using a program like CrystalDiskInfo to see if the actual drive is going to be slow. Any thoughts?

--Ken
 
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Yes, a good reminder as I have had my share of USB 3.0 drives that barely run faster than older 2.0 models. I cannot remember what one needs to look for in the drive specs when using a program like CrystalDiskInfo to see if the actual drive is going to be slow. Any thoughts?

--Ken
BEFORE you buy it, the number I used to look for was "sustained data transfer rate."
That eliminates the cache from masking the true data xfer rate to/from the platter.
But as I said, that number is not always easy to find.

On CDI, I would look at the Transfer Mode, You want SATA/600
But that is only drive interface spec, not actual data xfer rate.
A slow drive could have a SATA/600 interface.

I would use CrystalDiskMark, to give you a real test of your drive.
I think with CDM you will test the entire chain. A slow interface will slow down the read/write speeds of a FAST disk.

BTW, it is interesting to run a CDM test on your flash sticks.
It validated my observation that copying large numbers of files to some flash sticks was SLOW.
 
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You mentioned the WD Red series. You should know that WD has come under fire for switching the 2TB-6TB WD Red NAS drives to shingled magnetic recording technology without any notice or warning to consumers. Apparently this is in the process of being rectified (not sure how), but know what you're buying and why.
 
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You mentioned the WD Red series. You should know that WD has come under fire for switching the 2TB-6TB WD Red NAS drives to shingled magnetic recording technology without any notice or warning to consumers. Apparently this is in the process of being rectified (not sure how), but know what you're buying and why.
Yes. I did read about it. Anything that is 8GB and above in size is not impacted, but the silent change by WD did cause a stir.

--Ken
 

Growltiger

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Yes, a good reminder as I have had my share of USB 3.0 drives that barely run faster than older 2.0 models. I cannot remember what one needs to look for in the drive specs when using a program like CrystalDiskInfo to see if the actual drive is going to be slow. Any thoughts?

--Ken
CrystalDiskInfo gives you the transfer mode and the rotation speed - see this example:
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

If the rotation speed is 5400 instead of 7200 then it will be slow.
 
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Quick follow-up question. I picked up two 8TB WD drives in addition to the current WD 8TB drive for backups. The original drive and one of the new drives appear to be rebadged helium-filled WD reds. Both appear to be quiet and both seem to run quite cool, hovering around 31 Celsius at idle. The last drive appears to be a rebadged air-filled HGST Data Center drive. In general, I have no objections to air-filled drives (or HGST which are great drives), but this drive runs hot, and the model has been called out on the web as such. It idles at about 45 Celsius, and people have reported that under load it hits the mid-50's. So, my question is would you feel comfortable with a drive that idles at such a high temperature, given that heat is an enemy of drives? Folks have speculated that the data center drives tend to run hotter because they are designed to work in a cool, climate-controlled environments. I can try to exchange it for another drive, but my local store is out of stock at the moment, and there is no guarantee that I will get a new model with a different mechanism.

--Ken
 
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Quick follow-up question. I picked up two 8TB WD drives in addition to the current WD 8TB drive for backups. The original drive and one of the new drives appear to be rebadged helium-filled WD reds. Both appear to be quiet and both seem to run quite cool, hovering around 31 Celsius at idle. The last drive appears to be a rebadged air-filled HGST Data Center drive. In general, I have no objections to air-filled drives (or HGST which are great drives), but this drive runs hot, and the model has been called out on the web as such. It idles at about 45 Celsius, and people have reported that under load it hits the mid-50's. So, my question is would you feel comfortable with a drive that idles at such a high temperature, given that heat is an enemy of drives? Folks have speculated that the data center drives tend to run hotter because they are designed to work in a cool, climate-controlled environments. I can try to exchange it for another drive, but my local store is out of stock at the moment, and there is no guarantee that I will get a new model with a different mechanism.

--Ken
What are the RPM specs for both drives?
If the WD Red is a 5000rpm drive and the HGST is a 7200 rpm drive, that is likely a good reason for the temp difference.

The other is the air flow around the drives in YOUR case.
Here is the question/issue. If the case/power supply fan is temp controlled, it "may" turn off, when the sensor temp is low, allowing the drive to HEAT UP. I say this, because the fan in my laptop will turn OFF below a certain CPU temp. I've never checked this on my mini-towers, as I ***-u-med that with AC power, the case/power supply fan would be running all the time.
In a server or drive array, the fan would be running all the time, to cool the drives.
 
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What are the RPM specs for both drives?
If the WD Red is a 5000rpm drive and the HGST is a 7200 rpm drive, that is likely a good reason for the temp difference.

The other is the air flow around the drives in YOUR case.
Here is the question/issue. If the case/power supply fan is temp controlled, it "may" turn off, when the sensor temp is low, allowing the drive to HEAT UP. I say this, because the fan in my laptop will turn OFF below a certain CPU temp. I've never checked this on my mini-towers, as I ***-u-med that with AC power, the case/power supply fan would be running all the time.
In a server or drive array, the fan would be running all the time, to cool the drives.
Both drives are listed as 5400 rpm, although there is some thought that these may be binned 7200 rpm drives relabeled and cased. What's weird is that I used Crystal Disk Info to help me identify the drives, and I initially did not pay attention to the temperature readings if the various drives at idle. I then noticed the one drive was about 10 degrees higher but was still at idle the whole time and sitting near the other drives. There was a YouTube video about this drive mechanism, as people like to shuck WD drives to save money when building their RAIDs, and the guy called out the drive for its high temperature. I did not put two and two together until I looked more closely and also read some comments about the heat. Since the drive is in an enclosure, there is not much I can do about controlling the fan, and that was why I was wondering if I might be better served if I can find another drive with a similar mechanism to the other two which seem to run cooler.

--Ken
 
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Are these additional external drives in cases, used for backups. I assume so since they are 5400.
If that is the case I wouldn't worry about it since you won't have them plugged in for long.
Yes, they are. I initially wasn't going to worry for that reason, but since the drive idled so much hotter than the rest, I was not certain how it would be if I was adding many GB of new images, which I do periodically. Some folks reported that the drives initially transferred data quite fast, but on occasion throttled down by about 50%, so I did not know if this was due to a temperature sensor (since these capacity drives are not supposed to be PMR, not SMR). I am hoping to try to move some data on the drive and see how hot it actually gets under load. Perhaps it just idles hot?

--Ken
 

Growltiger

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Yes, they are. I initially wasn't going to worry for that reason, but since the drive idled so much hotter than the rest, I was not certain how it would be if I was adding many GB of new images, which I do periodically. Some folks reported that the drives initially transferred data quite fast, but on occasion throttled down by about 50%, so I did not know if this was due to a temperature sensor (since these capacity drives are not supposed to be PMR, not SMR). I am hoping to try to move some data on the drive and see how hot it actually gets under load. Perhaps it just idles hot?

--Ken
I would fill the whole drive with data while monitoring the temperature. I wouldn't be worried in the least by anything under 60. Many drives are made to run from 0 to 60 nowadays.

(I used to have a system with inadequate cooling where I ran the i7 CPU at 100 degrees for days at a time - it throttles at that temperature so you can be sure it won't melt. Bad but it does the job.)
 
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