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View Full Version : External HDD - USB Powered Safe?


ThatGeekGuy
04-09-2009, 03:47 PM
As I'm putting my toolkit together I've debated over purchasing a 2.5" usb only powered drive for portability, but have wondered how safe they are in terms of constant power compared to one with an AC adapter. I've heard of a few horror stories of these drives crapping out during writes when the power from the USB port dropped.

Opinions?

btw, first time poster, love this website.

MHCG
04-09-2009, 03:50 PM
I only buy USB powered portable drives. Who wants to be looking for an open power plug? Never had a problem and I use them daily.

ThatGeekGuy
04-09-2009, 03:51 PM
I only buy USB powered portable drives. Who wants to be looking for an open power plug? Never had a problem and I use them daily.

Which brand? I've been eyeing up a WD passport or WD Elements (seems to be cheaper per GB).

arrow_runner
04-09-2009, 03:53 PM
I have seen USB to IDE adapters not work correctly on non-motherboard USB ports. I'm referring to the ones that run up to the front of the case from a cable.

One specific situation, I had just bought one of these for a friend. We hooked a customer's hard drive up to it and then hooked it up to the front of his tower. I wouldn't work right. I think it just kept clicking. I suggested moving it to the back USB ports and it worked fine.

MHCG
04-09-2009, 03:56 PM
Which brand? I've been eyeing up a WD passport or WD Elements (seems to be cheaper per GB).

I have several WD Passports that I use.

usacvlr
04-09-2009, 04:27 PM
Use them many times. Agree with the above posted about front port issues though. They seem to want to be on the priority USB ports which in my experience always seem to be the ones mounted directly to the board in terms of desktop cases.

ID10t
04-09-2009, 04:55 PM
I only buy USB powered portable drives. Who wants to be looking for an open power plug? Never had a problem and I use them daily.

Ditto. And I only use Seagate HDs. too many failures with others and they have a great warranty program.

Marius
04-09-2009, 05:48 PM
If you have a good STRONG Power Supply, no prob. If you take it 2 a friend's house or something...you "might" have a prob...The one's with the adapters are always ( for safety sakes) the best.

MHCG
04-09-2009, 05:55 PM
If you have a good STRONG Power Supply, no prob. If you take it 2 a friend's house or something...you "might" have a prob...The one's with the adapters are always ( for safety sakes) the best.

You'd have to have a seriously weak power supply for that to happen. How much power does a 2.5" hard drive draw and what manufacturer doesn't provide enough wattage to power all the USB ports that come standard with the system?

arrow_runner
04-09-2009, 05:58 PM
I think it has more to do with how much the motherboard puts out than the power supply. I've seen it happen on 2 different computers, an HP, and a whitebox. After that I just stopped bothering using the front ports.

DanF
04-09-2009, 06:44 PM
Hwne I used to work in a local computer store as a sales person, they told me that only 160GB portable HDDs or less will work without a power adapter. Can someone confirm this please?

arrow_runner
04-09-2009, 06:49 PM
That makes no sense. I would think a 7200rpm 80gb hard drive would take more power than a 4200rpm 160gb drive.

ID10t
04-09-2009, 07:32 PM
Hwne I used to work in a local computer store as a sales person, they told me that only 160GB portable HDDs or less will work without a power adapter. Can someone confirm this please?

the physical size and case that the HDD is in is what decides whether or not it requires external power. its not the amount of storage space that determines that. I never saw a 3.5 inch drive that ran on USB power and I rarely see a 2.5 that needs external power.

MHCG
04-09-2009, 07:37 PM
There's no specific GB size that requires external power, it's completely dependent on the power requirements of the drive. There are 500GB 2.5" Western Digital Passport drives that run off of USB power right now on newegg.

frostbyte5014
04-09-2009, 09:39 PM
I have used portable usb hard drives for years and have not had any real problems. The only thing I can recommend is to buy a good quality enclosure and a good laptop drive like Seagate , Toshiba, Fujitsu. I'm sure someone can recommend a few others but I don't like Hitachi or WD.

With the prices of Solid State Hard Drives dropping like they are, you might want to look into one of those. No moving parts! Plus you won't need and enclosure if you get one with the mini usb connector built in.

DanF
04-10-2009, 08:55 AM
Oh thanks for that :eek:

Now this is supposed to be the best computer store on the island... and in the UK as well :rolleyes: Now I know the truth :)

Thank you!

frostbyte5014
04-10-2009, 11:18 AM
I can't see how the size of the drive has much to do with it, but I could be wrong.

dhrandy
04-10-2009, 03:27 PM
I use a powered external hard drive for backing up clients data and a USB to IDE/SATA cable for connection a client's hard drive to my laptop.

I connected a client's USB powered external drive and a 2.5 hard drive (IDE so it didn't require power) with the adapter and found out that if I had 2 things plugged into the same side USB inputs on my laptop that it didn't have enough power for both and I would get an error. I switched one drive to the other side (I have 2 USB ports on each side of my laptop) and everything was fine.

Marius
04-10-2009, 03:33 PM
You'd have to have a seriously weak power supply for that to happen. How much power does a 2.5" hard drive draw and what manufacturer doesn't provide enough wattage to power all the USB ports that come standard with the system?
Not really...depends what you have IN it...Ppl, especially kids nowadays PACK their pc's with lights and stuff, its unbelievable...and that uses power
http://www.journeysystems.com/?power_supply_calculator

oztrailrider
04-22-2009, 04:07 AM
I have never had any issues with regards to 2.5" external drives. I have a 250GB WD Elements and it's been good. I don't like to use them on the front ports either though.

usacvlr
04-22-2009, 06:10 PM
usb ports are limited to a about 500ma at 5volts last I knew. Some of the enclosures will not function on ports that are not mounted directly to the board as for some reason those tend to be priority ports and the front ports are hub ports.

sys-eng
04-25-2009, 05:19 PM
I use a 3.5" drive because I want 7200 RPM. These require a power adapter. Most USB powered drives are slower.

I have two external disk drives and both have power adapters. I just like their perfomance better.

MHCG
04-25-2009, 07:05 PM
It doesn't matter how fast your hard drive is when it's running in a USB enclosure.

sys-eng
04-27-2009, 01:31 AM
It doesn't matter how fast your hard drive is when it's running in a USB enclosure.

The enclosure has nothing to do with it. The discussion is about opower source. The fact is that 7200 RPM drives need more current than the USB ports can provide reliably. All of the external USB enclosures that I have seen using USB for power specifically say not to use 7200 RPM drives.

sys-eng
05-01-2009, 09:41 PM
sub ports are limited to a about 500ma at 5volts last I knew. Some of the enclosures will not function on ports that are not mounted directly to the board as for some reason those tend to be priority ports and the front ports are hub ports.

You may notice that the front USB ports on many PC's are actually powered by a single internal USB port. So even though an external drive may have a split USB cable to get power from two USB ports, both of those ports are actually powered by a single port inside the case; therefore, the external drive is not receiving all the current that it needs.