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Portable hard disks and cycling

Old 04-14-16, 02:24 AM
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Shahmatt
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Portable hard disks and cycling

I'm thinking about buying a portable hard disk to store stuff, but I am worried about all the vibrations and jolts that my bike is subject to during my commute. Vibrations and jolts are really not good for hard disks.

So my question is, should I invest in a regular portable hard disk, or should I spend extra on something with a more rugged shockproof outer casing?

One model that comes to mind is the Transcend Storejet 25M3. Link here:

http://www.amazon.com/Transcend-Mili.../dp/B005MNGQ6C
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Old 04-14-16, 02:45 AM
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As a rule, hard disk drives are only vulnerable to shock when running. Odds are you'll have the drive powered down while you ride, and only be using while not riding. So, I suspect your worries are unfounded.

Of course there's always the risk of dropping it on the floor, so a hardened case may make sense for you. But the tougher case won't do anything about your original concern about vibration.
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Old 04-14-16, 03:51 AM
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I did a two-week tour with a person who brought her laptop ... no problems ... though it is true, she didn't use it while riding.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:10 AM
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Or pay more for a solid state drive.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Or pay more for a solid state drive.
This. SSD's are not vulnerable to shock or vibrations.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Or pay more for a solid state drive.
Yep - I came in here to suggest this.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:42 AM
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The smaller external drives use 2.5 inch drives which are designed for laptops. Generally more rugged and less power hungry.
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Old 04-14-16, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by thin_concrete View Post
Yep - I came in here to suggest this.

Definitely the most obvious choice.
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Old 04-14-16, 06:49 AM
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Heads are parked when the drive is not powered, so unless you are doing something incredibly extreme, there probably isn't much worry. I don't know how you are commuting with the drives, but it probably isn't as extreme as you think.

That said, SSD isn't subject to any mechanical breakdown, and really aren't that much more than traditional drives unless you need massive amounts of storage.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:23 AM
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Lots of misinformation here. SSD's are not shock proof. That's marketing junk.

SSD's have no moving parts and so are less vulnerable than traditional hard drives but they can be damaged by shock and vibration just like anything else in the world. They are not shock proof. Ask me how I know... I manage petabytes of NetApp, HP and EMC storage for enterprise customers. Data storage including all flash arrays is what I do for a living.

Having said that, an SSD may be a good choice but I have to wonder whether 1TB is really needed and whether a 128 or 256GB USB stick might be enough. Does the OP really need to carry around 1TB data? That's a lot of data unless he is a DBA or graphic artist or something like that. 1TB is a lot of spreadsheets. I commuted for a decade with a couple of USB sticks in a ziplock bag.

Dropbox might be an option.

Last edited by TimothyH; 04-14-16 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:31 AM
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+1.

1 TB drive has a lot of data to lose if somehow the data is lost. I prefer to compartmentalize. So, I use 16Gb cards for my camera and I carry at least two spares (one in the camera bag and one in my wallet).

I've seen what a corrupted SD card file looks like (a friend's) and I will never put all my eggs in one basket.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:37 AM
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If you're commuting I assume you have internet access on both ends of your commute? Why not use one of the free cloud services - dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, Google, etc.?

I use OneDrive myself, it syncs between my laptop and desktop, and I can access my files from my phone too.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:42 AM
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When the heads are parked ( powered off) it is almost impossible to damage the drive without destroying it.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:50 AM
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Honestly, a regular hard drive should be fine; students bike with their laptops all the time with no ill effects. I'd personally go with an SSD simply because I have a use for something that big, and it's probably the "safest" as far as structural integrity goes. The item you linked to would do just as well.

TimothyH's suggestion of a high capacity flash drive is a good one and something I do when I'm not copying the entire hard drive of my computer. How much storage space do you envision needing?

As others here have said, I would not use this thing as your sole data storage unit. You should use it mainly to transfer your working data between the computers you happen to be working on.
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Old 04-14-16, 08:42 AM
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Most modern drives can handle something like 50g while running, and 500g when off and the heads parked. Forces like that would turn the human body into jelly, so if you show your drive that kind of force, you're going to have other things to worry about. Such as death and dismemberment.
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Old 04-14-16, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
SSD's have no moving parts and so are less vulnerable than traditional hard drives but they can be damaged by shock and vibration just like anything else in the world. They are not shock proof. Ask me how I know... I manage petabytes of NetApp, HP and EMC storage for enterprise customers. Data storage including all flash arrays is what I do for a living.
I do environmental testing on automotive and aircraft electronics for a living. You are right, nothing is shock proof, if you apply enough shock. When worrying about shocks, though, your PCB and electronic components are going to withstand far more shock than a platter and heads. That is precisely why aircraft black boxes have moved to solid state drives.

For absolutely critical data, it is far easier to take a memory chip whose interfacing electronics have been damaged and extract the data, than to deal with platters that have been damaged.
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Old 04-14-16, 09:29 AM
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Thanks to all for the useful comments.

The purpose of this hard disk is to keep a weekly off-site backup of my home working hard disk, in case of fire and such.

So the 1TB is necessary, or maybe 2TB would be a better idea.

In terms of activity it's not going to be worked very heavily. I don't need it to be fast either.

Sometimes I multimode commute with a kick scooter so it might be exposed to more vibrations than a bicycle.

A SSD might be too expensive for such a large capacity. If not then rugged build, followed by any regular casing, in that order?

Or is rugged build just all marketing fluff anyway?
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Old 04-14-16, 10:03 AM
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They make some reasonably priced shock proof ssd's:

https://iosafe.com/store/products-ru...rtable-SSD-buy
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Old 04-14-16, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Shahmatt View Post
Thanks to all for the useful comments.

The purpose of this hard disk is to keep a weekly off-site backup of my home working hard disk, in case of fire and such.

So the 1TB is necessary, or maybe 2TB would be a better idea.

In terms of activity it's not going to be worked very heavily. I don't need it to be fast either.

Sometimes I multimode commute with a kick scooter so it might be exposed to more vibrations than a bicycle.

A SSD might be too expensive for such a large capacity. If not then rugged build, followed by any regular casing, in that order?

Or is rugged build just all marketing fluff anyway?
IMHO, you are overthinking it far too much. For a once a week trip, presumably in a padded bag of some sort, you'd have to strike lightning to abuse any of them to the point that you have a massive concern. I have one portable hard drive that I bought back in 2008 or so, that commuted daily for two years in a backpack in college, that is just now on its way out. Think of how many traditional laptop hard drives survive commuting in the same way on a daily basis for years at a time.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:30 AM
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A traditional mechanical hard drive is fine for what you're talking about, and probably the best compromise between cost, capacity, performance, and reliability. They're not too sensitive to physical shock while powered off since the heads are parked.

As for capacity, if you have any concerns that 1 TB might not be enough, then get a bigger drive. Storage needs almost never decrease over time, so if you're cutting it close now, you could easily run out of space down the road.

As for drive enclosures with "rugged build", how much abuse do you plan on subjecting the drive to? A "ruggedized" case might be more likely to survive falls or being stored somewhere like a tool box where it'll get banged around. But in my opinion, the durability of those rugged cases is a bigger benefit in regard to keeping the enclosure intact than protecting the drive. If you're not subjecting the drive to extra rough treatment, a drive in a typical "non-ruggedized" enclosure ought to be sufficiently protected.

If you have decent Internet connectivity, an online backup solution might be another option that makes sense. For about $60 year (U.S. pricing), something like CrashPlan or SOS Online Backup will give you practically unlimited space to back up your files without you needing to purchase a hard drive or lug it around. Most services will have additional handy features like file versioning (retaining multiple versions of the same file as it's edited) that you'd need a little know-how to set up on your own using a local drive.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:35 AM
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These topics show up in Touring sub forum and here Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets

R.H. , Moisture damage of equatorial Singapore is probably more of an issue than carrying your laptop around on your Bike.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:41 AM
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I've commuted regularly carrying a laptop. An external drive enclosure wouldn't be significantly more vulnerable. You could even build a special padded carrying case, perhaps in a small Pelican Box.

If you're doing offsite backups, buy a few drives. Then you can have at least 2 backups offsite in your rotation.

Another option is to do incremental backups. So, once a month you do your 1 or 2 TB full backup (with redundancy), then periodically back up your changes to the USB Thumb drives.
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Old 04-14-16, 11:19 AM
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Ok. A regular 1 or 2TB drive then. Thanks very much for the advice all.

Much appreciated!
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