Working in the Studio: BYO External Hard Disk

When I start working with a new studio client at Indecent Music, one of the things that I ask is that each client bring their own high-speed external hard disk.  This allows the artist to keep their own files with them, which gives them the security of a back-up copy should anything happen to their data at the recording studio.  Hard disk failure doesn’t happen very often, but discs are wear-items.  Drives can only keep spinning for so long before they’re going to wear out. The majority of the disk failures happen when a hard drive is spinning up from stationary or spinning down.  If a computer gets hit hard while the drive is spinning the platter (the part of the drive that spins with the data on it) can crash against the stationary parts of the drive. After this happens, the only people that can retrieve your data are pro’s that have a clean-room to work in.  It’s incredibly expensive to get your data at that point and sometimes it’s still impossible.

There are a bunch of manufacturers out there that make external drives, but most of them are not designed to deal with the kind of data transfer that audio (and video!) production requires.  The industries first big manufacturer is Glyph [http://www.glyphtech.com/], which makes hard drive especially for the audio and video industries.  There is no question that Glyph does make some of the best gear out there and they do have a great warranty which is for 3-years with a 1-year overnight replacement clause.  They also have a fantastic basic data recovery service for FREE for the first two years that you own your drive.  There are no guaranties that they will recover your data, of course, but this is better than what the competition offers by far.  Many Glyph hard drives have also been certified to work with Digidesign software which includes ProTools. The downside is that the drives sell for about double the cost of other comparable drives.  You are paying for the name and for the data recovery service.  The best versions of the Glyph drives are as follows:

Glyph PortaGig 320 GB External Hard Drive

Glyph PortaGig 320 GB External Hard Drive

Glyph Technologies

Glyph Technology 500GB Quad Desktop Hard Drive

All Glyph Technology Products

Glyph was the original for-audio drive manufacturer, but they are not the only game in town.  The major advantage to the Glyph systems is the Oxford chip which is the brains of the hard-drive enclosure.  Oxford is pretty much thought to be the best company for many chips that interface an external SATA hard disk to a computer via eSATA, Firewire 400/800 and USB 2.0.

Another company call Icy Dock also makes a fantastic hard drive enclosure line that allows you to put your own hard drives into the enclosure.  This means that you can buy the same drives that Glyph uses (Seagate Barracuda’s) and utilize an Oxford chip without paying a lot of extra dough.  To get a complete package, you simply buy an enclosure (like a Icy Dock MB559US-1S External Enclosure or a Icy Dock MB664US-1SB Screwless External Enclosure) and then you just buy a hard disk.

Icy Dock MB559US-1S External Hard Disk Enclosure

Icy Dock External Hard Disk Enclosure (MB559US-1S)

Icy Dock Screwless Hard drive enclosure (MB664US-1SB)

Icy Dock Screwless Hard drive enclosure (MB664US-1SB)

Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 500GB SATA Internal Hard Drive

Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 500GB SATA Internal Hard Drive

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These Seagate Barracuda drives are extremely quiet at 28 dB idle and 35 dB writing and they have fantastic shock resistance of 63 Gs while in operation. These are the same discs that Glyph uses, so they’re A-O.K.

If you have any questions about other types of drives, leave a comment and let me know!

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