Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive (STBV5000100)
- Easy and simple to use – simply plug in the power adapter and USB cable
- Fast file transfers with USB 3.0
- Compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
Seagate Expansion STBV5000100 5 TB External Hard Drive STBV5000100 Hard Drives – External
List Price: $ 249.99
Price: [wpramaprice asin=”B00JT0EGPW”]
Similar to adding an internal drive. Worry about heat. Product info needs to be more than just “It just works”,
NOTE: Amazon has combined the reviews for the 1TB, 2TB and 3TB versions of this product, with the 3TB version dominating the negative reviews (as of 2012-11-24), so pay attention to which version is being reviewed.
The target market of the Seagate Expansion Desktop line seems to be people who want to add a performance drive, but don’t want to, or cannot, install an additional internal drive, that is, this is a drive they won’t be moving, at least not frequently. For example, a laptop where the extra storage can happily stay behind in the office. Or a small-form-factor PC (mini-PC, HTPC, “nettop”) that doesn’t have space. There are other lines of external drives from Seagate (and others) targeting more transient/mobile uses.
For a range of potential buyers of this drive, the product information provided may be too sketchy. The focus of this review is to fill in some of the missing info, and it is structured to facilitate your skipping details that don’t interest you. Note: At the time of this review, the product information here at Amazon is more than you will find elsewhere, including Seagate’s website (no spec sheets, …).
The drive in the enclosure is the same model used for internal drives in performance desktops (details below).
With USB 3.0, transfers to this drive are slightly faster than the same transfers between the (older) internal SATA drives in my current computer (details below).
The drive has the performance needed to benefit from USB 3.0: In my experiments, USB 3.0 transfers are 60-200% faster than USB 2.0 (details below).
Heat is the enemy and can shorten the lifespan of drives. For a drive that seems intended to be always on, I would have expected cooling to be a significant design feature. The enclosure is passively cooled with holes in the bottom and back. However, this doesn’t seem to be enough to enable real/effective convection cooling (using rising heat to pull cooler air across the radiator). The enclosure is thin plastic (metal would be been a better conductor of heat).
Part of the basic drive is a metal plate that serves as a radiator, and the typical installation positions the drive with the plate on top or to the side to facilitate heat rising off it. Here, the drive is positioned with the metal plate on the bottom to have it close to the vent holes in the enclosure. However, the enclosure’s feet are absurdly thin — the equivalent of 12 sheets of paper thick. Not only does this restrict air flow to the drive through those holes, it also turns the surface that the enclosure sits on into a heat reservoir, further inhibiting cooling. I strongly recommend increasing this gap. For example, I am using the (optional, unused) thick feet that came with another enclosure. And I recommend positioning it where it will benefit from the existing airflow in the room (and avoiding dead spots). Putting the drive on a sheet of aluminum, or other highly conductive material, negates the heat reservoir effect of typical furniture. Aluminum foil also worked, although I wouldn’t recommend it as a longer term measure because the inevitable crinkles will inhibit air-flow.
As an experiment, after powering down the drive and allowing it to physically spin down, I flipped the enclosure upside-down — ventilation holes above the drive’s radiator plate — and the temperature dropped quickly (no surprise). Recognize that there aren’t holes on the top of the enclosure for good reason — to protect the drive from spills and to reduce dust reaching it — so you should consider doing this only if you are going to remember to flip it back in a timely fashion.
STATUS LIGHT has poor sightlines:
There is a small blue LED that is lit when the drive is ready to use. There is a slight delay between the drive being powered on and it being spun-up and ready to use. This light is located on the top of the enclosure at the back. I would have much preferred it being on the front of the enclosure — where it is on most similar products — because it would be much less likely to be obscured. I put the disk next to my monitor stand and my sightline to that light is obscured by the monitor.
Caution: I am 60 years old — younger ears will be more sensitive. In the evening in a typical residential setting during large-scale file transfers, I can hear the drive when my ears are about a foot away, but at two feet, I don’t hear it even when I am listening for it. The whir of the drive tends to blend into the fan noise of most computers. The only time I have been aware of the drive has been when using it with my super-quiet computer in very quiet environments, such as after midnight, and even then it was only vague awareness.
The drive automatically controls power usage (see APM below). User control seems to be solely through the USB connection:…
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(3.5 stars) Back-up your files, now! A good option for backup or other intermittent use,
This drive is large enough and priced low enough that you can backup multiple computers for not a lot of money.
However, if you’re looking for an expansion drive – a second drive to augment a laptop or desktop – that you will use intensively, consider options with cooling and perhaps backup, especially if you will use the drive for your only copy of files.
A DESKTOP DRIVE: This is a desktop drive, not a truly portable drive. You could use it to backup multiple computers around a home or office, but you’re not going to enjoy carrying the drive and the power supply.
A FAST CONNECTION: USB 3.0 really is fun to use, if you have the right port on your computer to use it. No more sitting around watching file transfers – the speeds are similar to those of a built in drive.
KEEP A BACKUP: One of the keys to happiness in modern life is to keep at least two copies of every computer file you need. If you have anything you would rather not have vanish tomorrow, get a hard drive – any hard drive – and make a copy. Right now. Err on the side of caution.
ALL HARD DRIVES FAIL – SO REPLACE THEM BEFORE THEY DO: Hard drives are complex mechanical devices. They will absolutely, inevitably fail. So manage them accordingly.
I replace all my drives after about three to four years (if they survive that long). It’s much easier to replace a drive before it fails – it’s very easy to copy a readable drive. It’s much harder to recreate a drive, especially a boot drive, after it fails – you need to reinstall all the software and settings, and maybe reconstruct the folder structure.
And hard drives are cheap enough to make it not worth the risk to keep drives around longer than that. I can usually get a bigger, faster drive for much less money than the original drive.
Once you start to accept the reality that hard drives will fail, and manage your drives and data appropriately, you can drastically reduce the disruption that hard drive failures cause.
BUY A GOOD MODEL OF DRIVE, THEN KEEP A CURRENT BACKUP: As much as people like to claim that particular brands are better or worse, statistics don’t really seem to back that up. Buy a good model from one of the top brands – Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi, Samsung – and then manage them as described above.
That being said – some drives (or the firmware they are shipped with) have turned out to be real lemons. Most of the big manufacturers make good drive models, and they have made bad drive models. So much like your uncle, who never bought a new model car until they’d worked the bugs out of it – let someone else be at the bleeding edge of hard drives. Buy models that have been tested by other users.
It’s a little soon to tell for the drive installed in this particular model, and some of the early feedback is mixed.
COOLING QUESTIONS: I can’t really figure out why the cooling is so unconvincing on almost all external drives (like this one). A tight-fitting plastic case, with no effective ventilation? Really? While drive temperature isn’t perhaps quite as big an issue as some would make it out to be – that level of cooling just doesn’t seem adequate for a drive that’s running more than a fraction of the time. If your needs fit that description – that is, if you need a back up drive, or an intermittently used expansion drive – then this Seagate external drive may be a good match
FOR AN INTENSIVELY USED EXPANSION DRIVE, CONSIDER OTHER OPTIONS: If you need more space in an expansion drive, and plan to use the drive intensively, consider other options. Perhaps a NAS (network attached storage) or a drive enclosure with more effective cooling, and possibly something with multiple drives and built in backup.
WATCH HOW YOUR DRIVES ARE SHIPPED: One of the key factors in whether a drive will last is how it’s handled and shipped. External drives such as this one are usually packaged somewhat well, although online vendors still don’t seem to really get the concept of filling the shipping box so the product inside doesn’t bounce around on its way to you.
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