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Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Impression Review Of Iomega Prestige 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive

This hard disk was bought for $110 plus taxes. I ordered on the Amazon.com website, but the order was fulfilled and shipped by Dell. Because of that I was charged state taxes. Now, the hard drive is still available from Amazon.com, but at a higher price than I paid, and is being sold and fulfilled directly by Amazon.com. The disk is still available for $110 from Dell.com, so I don't know why Amazon.com is no longer offering the option of buying it for that price from Dell.com.

I had signed up to be notified by email when the order was shipped. I placed the order on the 8th of September, and I finally got an email, saying it had been shipped on the 9th, but that email was sent to me only on the 12th! In any case, the disk was delivered to me on the 13th. So, the order turnaround was quite fast, but the late sending of the email did make me wonder about the overall process.

It came in a brown cardboard box, inside which was the actual retail package in which the hard disk is normally sold. The outer box was about 1 or 2 inches bigger than the retail box in all three dimensions, and there was no padding around the retail box, so the smaller box must have rattled around quite a bit inside the bigger box. Sloppy packaging, for sure.

But the retail package had good padding where it mattered, so everything inside that package was in place and in good shape when I opened it up. Inside the box was a user manual, a power supply (a wallwart with 5 or 6 foot long power supply cord), a 3-foot long USB cord, a stand that allows you to put the disk up vertically, and the hard disk itself. The hard disk is quite sleek, and very heavy (over 3 lbs).

The wallwart can take in any input voltages from 100 to 240V, 50 or 60 Hz. So, you don't need any kind of transformer to use it in a foreign country if you travel with it. It produces an output of 12V at 1.5A.

Iomega Prestige 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard DriveThe contents of hard disk package. The hard disk itself, plus the user's manual, power supply and cord, USB cord and stand.

There is a small label on the hard disk that has the serial number of the disk on it. Note this down before you put the disk where it is hard to get to. You will need this to register the product on the Iomega website. Registration extends the warranty on the hard disk from 1 year to 3 years. The Iomega website also has the user's manual for download and allows you access to backup software (EMC's restrospect) and a choice of anti-virus software. I already have backup software I am used to, and free anti-virus software so I did not bother downloading these pieces of software through Iomega.

Iomega Prestige 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard DriveView of the hard disk mounted vertically in the stand. The label with the serial number is visible on the right hand side of the photo.

The warranty allows you to get a replacement if the hard disk fails during the warranty period, but the warranty does not include data recovery from the failed disk. Never keep a single copy of any data that is not replaceable, on this hard disk or any other hard disk. Always have at least one backup, and preferrably more than one backup in more than one physical location.

The user manual is about 25 pages long, but only because the instructions are repeated in two dozen languages. The actual instructions in English would barely cover a single A4 sheet of paper. It is very basic, and it does not have to be any more complicated because the disk comes preformatted (in NTFS). For Windows computers, it is completely plug and play. You can start using it as soon as you power it up and hook it up to the computer using the USB cord. If you own a Mac, there are instructions in the user manual on how to reformat the disk to make it fully compatible with Macs.

When you hook up the hard disk to your computer, your operating system will probably report the disk to be 1.81 TB in capacity. The discrepancy between the advertised size of 2 TB and the reported size of 1.81 TB is explained in this earlier post. The disk actually has a little over 2 trillion bytes in capacity.

Looking up the hard drive properties in the Windows XP file explorer revealed the disk model number to be ST320005 42AS. A little googling revealed this to be a Seagate Barracuda SATA2 hard drive. So, now, my laptop internally has a Fujitsu hard drive, my 500 GB external disk has a Samsung hard drive, my 160GB external drive has a Western Digital hard drive, and this latest acquisition of mine has a Seagate hard drive. None of my hard drives has ever failed on me (though one Fujitsu hard drive in an older laptop of mine developed a few read errors after a couple of years of use), so my basic theory that all of the hard drive manufacturers produce high quality drives has held up so far. Depending on the durability of this external hard drive, my opinion about Seagate might change!

The disk enclosure has a milky-white light that lights up when the disk is powered on, and blinks when the disk is being accessed for reading or writing. The enclosure also an on/off switch, which is very nice because I don't have to plug it into a power strip with a switch or resort to plugging and unplugging it from the wall to turn it on and off. Most other hard drive manufacturers have done away with on/off switches on their enclosures. This can be quite annoying if you don't want to leave the disk running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The disk can either be laid down horizontally, or you can mount it vertically in the provided stand. The enclosure has the power supply connection, USB connection and on/off switch at one end, and a grill at the other end. There is no fan in the enclosure, so there is no air being forced out of the grill, but I am sure the grill is there for ventilation. The user manual does not mention this, but I would be careful not to use the disk with this grill plugged up.

Iomega Prestige 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard DriveIomega Prestige 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard DriveViews of the two ends of the disk enclosure. The first photograph shows the grill with ventilation holes. The second photograph shows the other end of the enclosure which has the power supply and USB connections as well as the on/off switch.

The disk itself is completely silent when it is running, whether it is being accessed or not. You can hear the disk spinning if you put your ear next to the enclosure, but otherwise, there are no noises whatsoever. There is no vibration of the enclosure or the disk inside either.

The disk is quite fast in terms of read and write speeds. I was able to transfer files to it from my Windows XP computer at about 14 to 16 MB/second when transferring several gigabytes of data. This is fast enough to play media files like videos and music directly off the disk when connected to a computer rather than having to copy the files to the computer's hard drive before playing them. There are no lags or stutters when playing media files off the external hard drive.

I use the disk for my nightly backups, and I found that after a full backup that took over 8 hours, the hard disk was barely warm to the touch. I was surprised at the low levels of heat generated by the disk because most newer disks that run at high speeds get quite hot after continuous use. This disk did not get hot at all, indicating that the enclosure is well ventilated in spite of not having any active ventilation in the form of a fan or something like that in it. This is also very good news for the longevity of the disk because heat is one of the primary killers of hard disks over the long run. The wallwart does not get hot or even warm after prolonged use either.

Overall, I am very pleased with this hard disk. It is hooked up to my computer at night for backups and is in the same room as I sleep in. Its silence is good from that point of view. It has good ventilation and does not get hot even after continuous heavy use. That is good from the point of view of expected longevity of the disk. I also like it that the enclosure comes with an on/off switch that enables you to control the status of the disk without having to unplug it from the wall everytime you want to turn it off.

Moreover, the hard disk comes completely empty with no junkware installed on it. You don't have to reformat the disk just to get rid of annoying software that can sometimes not be uninstalled any other way. You can get access to backup and other software on the manufacturer's website after you register the hard disk, but the disk itself is completely uncluttered and pristine! In short, there is pretty much nothing to complain about as far as this disk is concerned. The value for the price paid is unbeatable at this time (only $55 for a terabyte of storage).

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