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usb hard disk for recording

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ferchis, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. ferchis

    ferchis Active Member

    are usb hard disks slower than normal sata2 ones for recording? I mean, if I buy a portable hard disk to record into so as not to use the internal, system one, will it be slower (due to the usb cable as opposed to the sata2) in its transfer rate? does it depend on anything else besides its own speed (i.e. motherboard, etc)?
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well...it doesn't have much to do with the cable itself, but the protocol.
    Yes, USB hard drives are significantly slower than SATA hard drives.

    Here are a few things to consider:
    1 - if we're comparing an external USB 2.0 hard drive with a 7200 RPM drive inside versus an internal SATA drive that is not only the storage drive, but also the drive where the operating system is located, then the external USB wins hands down!

    2 - If we're talking an internal SATA that is separate from the OS drive versus any USB external drive, then the SATA wins without question.

    3 - An external USB hard drive should meet the following requirements or it need not apply:
    A - it MUST be a 7200 RPM or higher drive (no 5400RPMS!)
    B - It SHOULD be USB 2.0 (both the computer's port and the drive should both meet this requirement. Though it's possible to write streaming audio in limited quantities to a USB 1.0 drive, I sure would be hesitant!)
    C - If you're unsure about the spec's in regards to requirements A and B, it's probably not the right drive.

    It's generally better to build a quality external drive using a good external enclosure and a quality HD than to buy a stock one from the likes of folks like Maxtor, Seagate, WD, etc. However, some companies such as Glyph make great external drives. I do have an "Audeum" drive that I've had nothing but problems with...just a word to the wise.

  3. ferchis

    ferchis Active Member

    you know, the other day I went to a guy's recording studio, and he was actually playing back 20 tracks simultaneously while we recorded additional ones and it was all done on a 500gb external usb disk!!!!!

    my guess should be that you can, then, record with no major problems on an external drive...

    am i wrong?
  4. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I use a 500GB WD 'mybook' drive with my laptop for live recording: that drive has firewire and eSATA ports as well as USB2.0... my new laptop has an eSATA port, but I have yet to remember to buy an eSATA cable for it, and so I have been running the drive from a USB2 port. I have had no problems recording the 18 inputs I have available on my mobile rig (24 bit / 44.1 KHz resolution) and have managed playback track counts of 40 or 50. I would probably buy the eSATA cable before attempting to record all 18 inputs at higher sample rates, but I haven't needed to do that yet...
  5. ferchis

    ferchis Active Member

    exactly my point! so you CAN after all record normally with an external drive...
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Yes, with an external drive that is 7200 RPM. Internal 7200 rpm SATA on its own bus (non-OS) is the most ideal.
  7. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    afaik external SATA (eSATA) is exactly the same as internal SATA.

    I can't test that myself until I buy that cable however...
  8. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    I think it also depends on whether your soundcard is USB or not. If your interface is not USB then all Cucco says applies. If you have the choice to go eSATA (like on most new notebooks) that would be the smartest move. And yes eSATA is as fast as internal SATA. On some desktop motherboards you can connect from an internal SATA to an eSATA bracket. I think with an onboard eSATA the manufacturer did the same thing.
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    My experiences with eSATA have been mixed. Much will depend on the eSATA enclosure itself. The read times seem to be pretty good generally but the write times are the ones that vary a bit.

    Another little quirk at least with some of the Seagate Freeagent drives, the connector port is too deep for some cables. The easiest solution is to cut 1/16" off of the plastic housing enabling the cable to insert far enough for secure connection. I have not purchased any eSATA enclosures in over six months so perhaps this has been fixed.
  10. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    eSata = 1.2Gbps, methinks.
    Sata = 3.0Gbps.

    Mostly though, I agree - it's the drive, not the protocol.
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Technically eSATA is the 1st generation SATA (very minor differences). The external port is specified to be different in order to prevent the use of unshielded cables more or less.

    1st generation SATA is 1.5 Gbit/s theoretical and 2nd generation SATA is 3.0 Gbit/s theoretical. Throughput of course is different than what the name implies. Flash drives can out perform the SATA 1.5 specification....in theory-again actual application may vary significantly.
  12. Gerkass

    Gerkass Guest

    okay,,,,so has anyone got their own specific preferencee when it comes to an external harddrive?
    please attach some links to products,
    like for instance would this hardrive be good one to buy and insure no delays are anything?
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    This is not suitable. It is a 5400rpm drive. If the drive you are looking at does not specifically say 7200rpms then it is not.

    Typically the best preassembled drives for audio are from Glyph. I assemble my own from Seagate 7200 rpm SATA drives (3.5" usually) and Vantec enclosures.



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010150014 50001305 1035507776 1035915133&name=SATA 3.0Gb/s

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