What hard drive should I put in my external enclosure?

Richard Kirov April 16, 2012

I am going to buy a 2TB hard drive to use in an external enclosure. I am wondering what brand and model to buy. I’m about “sold” on the WD Caviar, because from what I’ve read the Green version is quiet, cheap and runs cool. However it only has a 3 year warranty while the Black version has a 5 year warranty. The downside is that it runs hotter and louder. I’ve heard that the Caviar Green driver has higher failure rates…so is this a reason to avoid it? Which one is really the best?

  1. smayonak
    April 18, 2012 at 2:59 am

    I have read that there's a direct correlation between RPMs and failure rate - faster Faster drives tend to fail on a higher rate than slower drives. However, Google did a study on this and found that the connection isn't as clear as one might think:

    http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/research.google.com/en/us/archive/disk_failures.pdfGreen drives have a feature called "Intellipark" which might contribute to its 3-year warranty. Intellipark takes the reader off the platter of the disc and into a parked position. If I read the information correctly, this results in a slightly higher amount of mechanical wear, which might be why the warranty is lower. By the way, the article itself is about how you shouldn't use a WD Green drive in any kind of RAID array:http://www.instantfundas.com/2011/12/intellipark-makes-western-digital-green.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InstantFundas+%28Instant+Fundas%29 

    My advice is to look primarily at the warranty. WD drives are generally the best when it comes to warranties, by the way. Five years is exceptional for any computer component. Unfortunately, prices right now are really high, thanks to the flooding. :-(

  2. Bruce Epper
    April 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Another item that may influence your decision is how the enclosure connects to your system.  Putting a high-performance drive into an enclosure that connects via USB 2.0 is not worthwhile since it cannot even come close to delivering the transfer rates the more expensive drive is capable of delivering.  If it is USB 3.0, it is less of a consideration (unless the system itself does not support the 3.0 standard).  If it is connecting via an eSATA port, you will get the full benefit of the faster drive so it may be worth the extra expense for you.  If it is a NAS enclosure, you can go either way but the faster your network, the better performance you will normally see.

  3. Mike
    April 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I got Caviar Green running in one of my NAS for almost 3 years now without any issues ~ not a single drive failed so far

    Western Digital used to have some problems some time ago (2 years or so) where a certain production batch failed. Seagate had a similar problem with the 7200.11 drives and the SD15 firmware

    Both manufacturers are a good choices just like any Samsung drive (which used to fail at some time too). Personally, the only drives I can't recommend with confidence are Hitachi ~ I don't trust them, although I have some 2,5" PATA drives which are still working after 8 years.

    As for the choice ~ well, it's just like you said...
    Caviar Green are economic (low power, speed, noise and temperature)
    Caviar Black are performance drives (high power, speed, noise and temperature)

    Personally I would recommend the Caviar Blue but it's only available up to 1TB. 

    Unless you decide to drop your external drive warranty shouldn't be an issue. If it's a manufacturing defect or firmware you will probably notice it within the first year anyway.