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I want to buy an internal hard disk and use a docking station along with it for backing up important data. The size will be around 500GB to 1TB.

I have a budget and several models fit into it. So far, they only seem to vary in size, speed and brand. These are the only things I can compare from the specs.

I guess asking for which brand is best is completely subjective so I won't do that.

I want my disk to have long life and be reliable. Doesn't matter if it is somewhat slow.

Size: Should I go for the one with highest size within my budget? Will higher density cause problems? Or should I go for a moderately sized one? Does the number of platters have an impact?

Speed: I do not want high performance. I want it to be reliable and last long. I am definitely not going to choose the expensive 10,000 rpm ones. Should I go for 5400 or 7200? Do these numbers affect longevity and reliability?

Are there any other technical and objective factors that I should look for?

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3 Answers 3

Throughout the years, I have gone through many brands/models and there is just no way to tell.

I find a (very) high rate of failure amongst many brands, but the good news is that typically, I find that if it lasts past the first two months, they usually go on for years to come.

Speed, this usually now comes down to personal preference. 7200RPM drives are faster but if you have a rubbish/slow dock, it probably would not take advantage of a 5400RPM drive at full speed! Also, typically 5400RPM drives you less electricity/get called "green" drives. Again, this depends on your dock, many use the same amount (can't think of correct word... Amps?) electricity no matter what, whilst some use less when the drive requires less.

Size, I would go for the cheapest £ per GB, at the moment, this is typically 1TB drives, but there are sometimes offers on 2TB drives which make them cheaper.

Also, just remember, it isn't backed up if you don't have more than one backup. Also, possibly take a look at online backup solutions, or simply once a week making a backup of the backup drive and store it with a friend/family.

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Just to add to what Wil said, Try not to get the biggest newest drive, I have found that the leading edge(size-wise) seem to have a shorter life than a drive size they have already had time testing, I usually buy one size down for the biggest they have. Another thing you can check is what companies like EMC use for drives in their servers, they have scientific-insights that common-folk like us dont have, they go through quite impressive testing sessions before they stick a drive into their servers –  madmaze Feb 3 '11 at 15:28
    
@madmaze I was also not very enthusiastic about buying the latest. Now I have decided to definitely not buy the leading edge high capacity ones that no one I know has.. –  user57813 Feb 3 '11 at 17:51

What I look for is redundancy — don't get one disk, get an enclosure with two disks that you can mirror using RAID 1. Note that the link here is just an example.

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I have seen too many RAID 1 consumer level enclosures fail... I would like to add that any sort of standard RAID device should just be used for maximum uptime, if it is important/yo want a backup, you still need to keep it in two places! –  William Hilsum Feb 3 '11 at 16:01
    
Which ones fail?... I've got two: Netgear ReadyNAS Duo and D-link DNS-323 –  Rolnik Feb 3 '11 at 20:03

Build your own, choose an enclosure, then choose your hard drives, this gives you more control of the overall end product and when drives fail, and all of them do eventually, you can just replace the drive and not the whole enchilada.

I like Sans Digital Raid 1 Enclosures and WD Green drives.

Its hard not to make a brand buying recommendation when you build your own.

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