I got an email from a client asking about LaCie hard drives, as he was pretty sure he’d heard me mention some issue we’ve had with them. Well, we had issues all right, and I let him know about it, but in the interest of letting everyone know about it, I figured I’d post it here…
We have/had about 4 LaCie 1 TB Big Disk Extreme drives, and I think we’ve seen at least 3 power supplies die on them. They use external power bricks, and I won’t lie, we used the heck out of those drives, lots of reading and writing, powered on almost all the time, and occasionally in places where it was probably warmer than it should have been, so I don’t want to fully condemn LaCie for making poor quality components, but the power supplies just could not keep up with us. The drives themselves, all good, no failures there (and that’s the good news) but as for power… argh!
The tricky thing was, at least one of the power supplies didn’t completely die, but just stopped supplying enough juice to get the drive to spin up properly. I’d attach the power cable, turn on the drive, and it would start to spin, then click, and slow down, and start to spin again – this all sounds like a bad disk, and I thought it was – until I tried another power supply, and found out the drive was fine, but the power supply was no longer fully functional. This is something I probably would have never figured out of we’d only had one of these drives. This is another reason I really like to buy multiples of a specific drive model, redundancy!
Luckily LaCie sells replacement power supplies on their web site, but I do wonder how much business they do in power supplies, because we’ve bought at least 3 of them!
I know two other people who have had issues with LaCie drives, but I don’t want that to sway you… Others have had good luck with them, and I’ve still got one LaCie I use for a spare backup drive that has never had an issue. I think it’s always luck of the draw with stuff like this… you’ll find 5 people who say they swear at a specific brand and 5 people who say they swear at a specific brand. Electronics companies seem to always be switching supplies, using cheaper parts, cutting corners, changing components… you never know what you’ll get.
Right now though, if I had to recommend any external hard drives, I’d point you to either Other World Computing’s Mercury Elite or any of the drives by G-Technology. The OWC Mercury Elite drives come in at a number of capacities and price points, and even if you’re budget minded with your crucial data, you should be able to find something that works. The G-Tech drives also come in a variety of capacities and prices, but if you’ve got money to spend, you can get some serious storage…. they come highly recommended.