The official external ENCLOSURE thread

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I will keep this updated. Here is the first shoot. I will/can answer the following. Please feel free to ask new questions. I will leave space for those no one can answer for sure Thanks for your participation. Hopefully we all can learn from each other's experience!

1. Why do I need to consider buying an external enclosure?
1) your computer is running out of slots for your new drives.
2) you want to carry your drive around to share data or burn CD/DVD at any computer without buying a new one.
3) your laptop needs larger storage space or better burners.
4) you want to save electricity bill by turning off unused drives off.
5) you want to hopefully let the drive live longer by turning them off when not being used.
6) those retail external drives are too expensive
7) or it just simply looks cool

2. Which size should I choose?
2.5" is for notebook Hard Drive (HDD).
3.5" is for desktop Hard Drive (HDD)
5.25" is for optical drives like CD/DVD-ROM, CDRW, DVD-RW drives
Multi-bay enclosure comes in both 3.5" and 5.25".

* with adaptors, 2.5" notebook HDD can be fit in 3.5" or 5.25" enclosures. But you will have a hard time to fix it in the enclosure.
* Many 5.25" enclosures have holes on the bottom for 3.5" devices. However, not all of them are like this, in particular some aluminum enclosures. In this case, with 3.5" to 5.25" brackets, you can put a 3.5" HDD inside any 5.25" enclosures. They brackets usually come with Maxtor retail HDDs, 5.25" HDD coolers or other 5.25" front panels. Or you could buy it from local stores.

3. Which interface should I choose, IEEE1394a(firewire400) 1394b(firewire800) USB2.0 or SATA?
Check your PC. Whether there is a firewire/IEEE 1394, USB 2.0 or SATA port? If you only have one and do not want to spend extra, the choice is clear. If you have none or want to play with others, read below.

3.1 Firewire 400 Performance wise, firewire beats USB2.0, although USB2.0 claims 480Mbps versus Firewire 1394a's 400Mbps. This is from the benchmark of my devices (16X DVDRW and 7200rpm WDC drives) and some reviews I read from tomshardware.com. It may not always to be true. FYI, RightHere provided a different opinion here and here.
-Firewire gives more consistent transfer rate, meaning that your average HDD performance or CD/DVD burning quality is better.
-Firewire uses less CPU power, meaning that I/O of you external devices will less interfere with or be less interfered by other ongoing tasks.
-You do NOT need a firewire hub! Firewire allows you to daisy-chain devices. For example, from your PC firewire port to drive A, from your drive A to drive B and C, B to D, C to E and F, whatever you like. RightHere and SickTeddyBear mentioned some potential problems one may need to pay attention:
RightHere: Too many hops may result in device errors and poor performance. Also, it's difficult to find out the speeds that the devices operate at. You wouldn't want to plug an S400 device downstream of a S200 device. I can't think of any S200 devices off the top of my head, but I know most camcorders are S100. Doesn't really matter in this case since few camcorders have a port for daisy chaining.

SickTeddyBear: There's nothing wrong with daisy chaining as long as you are chaining the same type of devices. Firewire 400 hard drives with other Firewire 400 hard drives, etc. I don't recommend that you mix-and-match, and you should especially never chain hard drives with anything other than hard drives.

(More technically, 1394 devices are daisy chainable meaning you can plug one device into another device and so on. The signal is repeated from one device to the next. Each device has a unique ID and every device in the chain is notified of every other device as it is plugged or unplugged from the chain. Devices can be hot-plugged and unplugged. Since 1394 devices can be connected to other 1394 devices, you can have several device branches of devices. You can have up to 16 devices linked or daisy chained in any one branch and a total of 63 devices connected.)

3.2 High Speed USB2.0 USB2.0 is cheaper. Easier to find a host to plug in when you carry around your device.
Or maybe just buy a firewire/USB2.0 combo to make sure you are on the safe side. Usually a combo just comes extra $10.
SickTeddyBear’s comments on FW/USB2:

2. On a Macintosh, you can boot OS X from an external 1394 port, but you can't from a USB2 port.
3. On a PC, you can boot Windows from an external USB2 port, but not from a 1394 port.


3.3 firewire 800What is up with firewire 800 ( 1394b )? It is a promising future with 800Mbps transfer rate. Problems are: first, It is still very expensive; second, the host card usually works in 64 bit PCI-X slots (mostly only available on server motherboards) and switches to 400Mbps when they are used in regular 32 bit PCI slots. We are expecting PCI-E (PCI Express) versions to come out soon, hopefully. Note: using firewire 800 devices in firewire 400/1394a mode may give even worse performance than native 1394a set up. Has anyone tried a firewire 800 toy? Please provide your experience.

3.4 SATA SATA is the fastest interface at 1.5Gbps. This comes at a cost: you only can connect one device to one port. No hub, no daisy-chain is possible. Has anyone tried a SATA set up? Please provide your experience.

4. Which type should I choose, plastic or metal/aluminum, no fan or with fan?
In summary, get aluminum enclosures for your data safety. For 3.5/5.25", having a fan is very preferred.

For 2.5/3.5" enclosures, aluminum/metal cases are always preferred. This is mainly for heat dissipation. Heat is the No.1 killer of Hard Drives, in particular for 7200rpm drives. In 2.5" and 3.5" enclosures, there is virtually no room between drive and the case thus cooling due to air flow is minimum. 2.5" usually does not have a fan and a small fan in a 3.5" enclosure does not help much. !!!Your hard drive relies on the enclosure as its heat sink!!! If you use your drive not very often and only copy several hundred MBytes each time, it may not be a big problem. If you leave you hard drives on for hours, copy several GBytes each time, you really should worry about your data safety. Usually aluminum case is $10 more than plastic ones, this is a worthwhile investment.

For 5.25" enclosures, aluminum enclosure is not a must for hard drives since hard drives do not really have a close contact with the enclosure and now cooling mainly depends on air flow. Thus a fan at the back panel is desired. If your AC is around 70F, this usually is good enough for 24/7 operation. Higher than 80F? You¡¯d better get a 5.25" front panel hard drive cooler (basically 2 or 3 more fans in front of your hard drive).

How about 5.25" used with optical drives, in particular burners? Well, heat is not likely to kill your burner. But after consecutive burns, burning quality decreases due higher temperature inside, according to my test on 52X CDRW. Bad burning quality, again leads to shorter media life, poor playback and reading speed. I expect the same thing to happen with DVD burners. If you burn a lot CDs DVDs, get an aluminum one with a fan!

5. Does chipset matters?
The answer is YES. It is probably the most important factor that determines whether your drive will work properly or how well it will perform. HOST is the controller on your PC side, for example, your PCI firewire/USB adaptor, your onboard firewire/USB controller or your laptop¡¯s PCMCIA firewire/USB cardbus. CLIENT is the the controller on your enclosure side. You should see the chip when you assemble your external drive. Information on both of them can be found in Windows System Information and Unplug or Eject Hardware tray icon.
5.1. What are good firewire 1394a hosts?
Most users report happy experience with TI, NEC. Via and Ali are not bad. Performance wise, they are close. However, some report compatibility issues with Via and Ali. I myself can NOT update firewire client firmware through Via but can do so through TI. Anyway, host chipset usually is not as important as client chipset.
5.2. What are good firewire 1394a clients?
Oxford seems to be the No.1 player here. They have a line of chips OX911, OX911+, OX912(fw800) and OX922(fw800+USB2.0). In US market, OX911 is very popular. It is a solid performer. I would recommend OX911 to be used with all drives EXCEPT 16X DVD BURNERS! I have not tested other OXFord chips myself yet but I heard they all work well with 16X DVD burners.

Prolific PL-3507 currently attracts a lot of attention since it may be the only chipset on the US market that support 16X DVD burners. It can be found in many enclosures like Bytecc ME-320U2F and ME-340U2F(or any ME-320U2F, ME-340U2F. All OEM, made in China anyway). You need update its firmware at least to Nov.2004. Later versions are similar but improve hard drive performance.

Initio firewire chip also supports 16X DVD burner and performs very well, as reported by a few users. Not very popular in US. I only saw it in a WDC retail external hard drive.

Ali is not as good as OXFord. It is slow on hard drives and have problem with 16X burner as well.

Cypress is not recommended. A lot of problems.

5.3. What are good USB2.0 hosts?
Both NEC, Intel and VIA are good and popular. ALI, in particular its firewire/USB2 combo seems to have a lot of problems when installed with Windows. This could be just a driver issue. However, it is a headache to work around as the proper driver is hard to find.

5.4. What are good USB2.0 clients?
SickTeddyBear: Cypress is not recommended as a FIREWIRE chipset.
However, Cypress is the INDUSTRY LEADER in QUALITY and RELIABILITY in USB chipsets.
Cypress is WIDELY recommended as the best USB2 client, hands down. The better manufacturers combine an Initio or Oxford FIREWIRE chipset with a Cypress USB2 chipset. That is the winning combination in the higher quality single-drive enclosures.


5.5. What client chipsets support my large HDD(>137GB)?
Large drive support is a.k.a. 48bit LBA. For internal drives, this requires a compatible BIOS and proper Windows update and registry hack (If you do not want to do it manually, there is a tool that can be found on Maxtor website). If your motherboard is too old, a safe solution is to obtain a ATA card. For Windows version below 2000, it is recommended to have partitions smaller than 137GB.

As for external drives, most new enclosures should support 48bit LBA. Many retailers list this feature in the product description explicitly. I am not sure whether BIOS and Windows update are still necessary. But it would be safe to have them. Old enclosures may not support 48bit LBA but with firmware update they may be able to do so. For example old Oxford 911-TQ-A firewire chipset should support 48bit LBA starting firmware 3.8.

Different hard drives also behave differently. Maxtor large drives are generally safe even in old enclosures due to their interference implementation. Western digital seems to have most troubles in old enclosures.

Anyway, do a test for yourself is the safest answer. Try to see whether you can make a single partition on a large drive and format and fill the whole disk without problems. I had a WDC 160GB HDD which can be formatted correctly but still corrupted the files when the data reach 137GB threshold.

5.6. What client chipsets support my 16X DVD burner at real 16X speed?
This is now the most annoying problem. You want your 16X burner to really burn at 16X. If your hardware fail to achieve real 16X, even if you can choose 16X in the burning software, the drive will give you a zigzag burning curve and lead to poor burn quality. All the following conditions have to be satisfied in order to have your 16X burner burn at real 16X:
    firewire. USB2.0 usually is only fast enough for 12X. Having a few USB2.0 devices on makes it even worse because they share the bandwidth.



    a fast enough host card like onboard ones or PCI adaptor. Most laptop PCMCIA cards are not fast enough.



    proper client chipset with right firmware. Prolific PL-3507 rev A,B and C all work well but require firmware version no later than Nov.2004. This is the most popular solution you can find on the US market. I heard Initio, Oxford 911Plus, 922 work too. But these are hard to find. Popular Oxford 911 currently can only support 10X burn. Same problem with Ali and others.



    proper DVD burner firmware. Some drive have bug in the firmware, for example Plextor 716A firmware 1.04 to 1.07. Some drive¡¯s firmware has different versions for internal and external, for example BenQ1620.


6. Why my devices are not recognized by Windows?
6.1 Power supply
This is a common thing with 2.5 enclosures. When using bus power (power by USB or firewire interface, no external AC), it may not be sufficient for your hard drive. Dell computers are know to be weak on their USB port. You need special Y cable to get some extra power from another USB, firewire or PS2 port.
6.2 Jumper settings
Read the instruction to make sure you have the right jumper setting. Some require Master, some require Cable Select and some even require Slave.
6.3 File system
Make sure you drive is partitioned and formatted. In addition, Windows 98 and Me and old versions will not recognize NTFS file system. Here is the detail info on setting up new hard drive. Thanks to DragonsLore:

For Windows 2000 & XP, you need to do this

- 1) Connect the cable to the computer
- 2) If USB - Drivers need to be installed (Windows may or may not have them already)
- 3) Go to Administrative Tools > Computer Management
You will see two window panes - On the left will be management options

Select "Disk Management" - Two new window panes will appear on the right

Top Right will be the list of "Actual" Drives
Bottom Right will be the "Physical" Drives - The new drive should show here.

Physical drives which is the actual hardware will show in the list as "Disk 0" "Disk 1" and son on.
You will recongnize your new drive because it will either have NO drive letter associated with it
or the drive letter will be one that previously was not on your system. Also, the physical size of
drive will show here too.

- 4) Once you find your external drive listed here, select the drive by clicking on the wide bar
you see there. All operations are performed by right clicking in this area.

Now, keeping this simple, ((MAKE SURE you are not selecting your C:\\ Drive)) you will want to
delete any partitions that may be present on this drive. After this, you will want to
create a "Primary Partition." While doing this, there will be an option to Format the
drive. Make sure this option is NOT checked. The reason for this is it's faster to use
Windows Explorer to format the drive than it is useing the Disk Management Consol.

- 5) In the same window pane, where it says the disk number, make sure there are "no warning marks."
I forget whether the mark would be yellow or red. If there is one of these marks in this
area, then you need to either right click or double click on the warning mark, then in the
context menu that pops up, select "Initialize Drive" If you don't see a warning mark, then
you are good to go.

- 6) Close the Computer Management Consol, then open Windows Explorer and click on the Plus sign
to the left of My Computer. You should see the new drive listed here. Right click on the
new drive and select "Format Drive" Before you do this, you can always click on the drive
letter to be sure you're not doing the wrong drive.


7. Why my hard drive is not fast enough?
There are speed differences among different combination of host-client chipsets. It also depends on whether your host is onboard or plug-in or PCMCIA on laptop. These usually lead to negligible difference in performance. Here refers to those extremely slow performance.
7.1 firewire enclosure
Most likely your enclosure's client chipset is configured conservatively. For example, some old enclosures have their UDMA mode turned off. You need tools to turn on the support for all UDMA modes. Tools usually can be found on online enclosure retailers, see below.
7.2 USB2.0 enclosure
Maybe you have too many USB devices. Maybe you connect through only a full-speed USB2.0 hub instead of a high-speed USB2.0 hub.
7.3 File system
I heard sometimes, FAT32 is very slow in some enclosures. I did not meet this problem. Anyway, NTFS is recommended.

8. Do I need to update firmware and how?
8.1 Update client chipset's firmware for the enclosure.
Usually you can only do so for firewire chipset.
    Make sure you connect the enclosure through the firewire port. (For PL3507 firewire/USB2 combo, you must connect via USB2.0 port.)



    Make sure only one enclosure is connected. Most firmware uploaders are not smart enough to deal with multiple nodes.



    Make sure you choose the right firmware and right uploader.



8.2 Update CD/DVD drive's firmware.
Here is how to update drive¡¯s firmware in their enclosure. Thus Windows utility is required. Most drives can use their internal firmware version even in an external enclosure. BenQ 1620 however has different versions for internal and external use.
    Have a clean boot Windows



    Close all applications



    Make sure no disc is inside



    Make sure the tray is close.



    You should understand updating to unofficial firmware voids your warranty.


9. OK, I have heard enough. Where to buy???
www.cooldrives.com
www.fwdepot.com
www.eBay.com
www.Dealsonic.com
www.newegg.com
www.PCMicrostore.com
www.acortech.com
www.geeks.com
www.monoprice.com

See quick summary for recommendations on good products ( thanks to SickTeddyBear)

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Recommendations (bold indicates highly and widely recommended):

NOTE: Links are for reference purposes ONLY, and are directed to the manufacturer's web site whenever possible. No endorsement of where to purchase a product is implied, intended, or should be assumed. In other words, shop around!


Network

Linksys NSLU2 (External USB2 -> Ethernet)


Adapters

CoolGear SAG-120AIDE (USB2/Cypress)

Bytecc BT-200 (USB2/Unknown)

DriveCase SS-USB2-100A (SATA/NEC)

Image HY-USB20-IDE (USB2/Myson)

PCMicroStore PCMS-IDE2USB (USB2/Genesys)

TMG SATAtoUSB (SATA/Unknown)

TMG SBT-UI235 (USB2/Unknown)

USB-Ware USBW-SATAPLATE1 (Internal SATA -> External SATA)


Special Items

ioSafe Disaster Ready Drive S1 (Fireproof/Waterproof/Theftproof/Disasterproof)


External Enclosures


1.8"


2.5"

Macally PHR-250CC (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio/USB2/Cypress) latest generation uses single Initio chipset for both FireWire and USB2

Other World Computing OWCMOTGFW (1-Bay/Acrylic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford)

Other World Computing OWCMOTGPRO (1-Bay/Acrylic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

A-Power AP25-C (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

Acortech Super Slim (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Myson)

ADS Technologies DLX-188 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

AL Tech MG-25 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Video/Audio/MP3/OTG/USB2/Unknown)

Athena SNT-2216B2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Baynetek BNT2.5HDEU (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Bytecc ME-930U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Bytecc UFE940/ME-940U2F (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

CoolMax HD-211-COMBO (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

CP Technologies CP-UE-205 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Firestack A-USBIDE-25-14P (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/12.5mm/USB2/Unknown)

Firewire Depot Speedzter2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Macally PHR-250A (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Cypress) <-- not correct (or there are versions with different chipsets). I (Stereodude) own a PHR-250A with a Genesys Logic GL811E Purchased from Newegg in August 2006.

Macally PHR-250CE (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio/USB2/Cypress)

MacPower CL-FRU2OCS (1-Bay/Acrylic/Fanless/12.5mm/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Mapower KC21 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Cypress)

PCMicroStore PCMS-2.5USB2.0-BLACK (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Sabrent SBT-ESU25 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

SanMax HD-231-U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

TransIntl F400-USB-P (1-Bay/Acrylic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Vantec NST-250U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Vantec NST-260U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)


3.5"

AcomData HDEXXU2FE3 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio/USB2/Cypress)

American Media Systems DS-2316B2BK (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/80mm/USB2/Cypress)

American Media Systems DS-2316CBK (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/80mm/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Apricorn EZ-BUS-DT-KIT (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/80mm/USB2/Cypress)

Apricorn EZ-BUS-DTC-KIT (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/80mm/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Macally PHR-100AC (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio/USB2/Cypress)

Macally PHR-100ACB (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire800/Initio/USB2/Cypress)

Macally PHR-100AF (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio)

Mapower MAP-AE31 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/80mm/USB2/Genesys)

Rosewill RX30-U2FA (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Rosewill RX30-U2FAB (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400,800/Oxford/USB2/Oxford)

Adaptec ACS-100 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Genesys)

Adaptec ACS-200 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Genesys/USB2/Genesys)

AddLogix FX2U2-EB2-35 (2-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/RAID-0/Firewire800/Oxford/USB2/VIA)

American Media Systems DS-2316SU2S (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/80mm/SATA/Unknown/USB2/Cypress)

American Media Systems DS3R (2-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/RAID-0,1,JBOD/Firewire800,400/Initio)

Apollo AL-35U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Genesys)

Argosy HD360C (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

Argosy HD360U (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Cypress)

Argosy HD363N (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Ethernet/CIFS/SMB)

Athena SNT-2319B2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Cypress)

Bytecc ME-740U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Ali) <-- not correct (or there are versions with different chipsets). I (Stereodude) own two ME-740U2 (black) both with a Cypress Chipset one I got from Monoprice.com in January 2006. The other from Newegg in June 2006.

Bytecc ME-808 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/One-Touch/USB2/Unknown)

Cintre CI-330U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Genesys)

Cintre CI-335U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/One-Touch/USB2/VIA)

Cintre CI-345U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/One-Touch/USB2/VIA)

CoolDrives DK-XU2F (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/InternalPS/Removable/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

CoolGear 355-IDE (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/InternalPS/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

CoolGear CG-800U2SA (2-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/RAID-0/Firewire800/Oxford/USB2/VIA)

CoolGear KMD-911PLUS-X (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

CoolGear KOM-911+U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/InternalPS/Removable/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

CoolMax CD-310-COMBO (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

CoolMax X2-U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Cosmos 350U2-SL (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Fanless/USB2/Ali)

CP Technologies CP-UE-308 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Unknown)

Firewire Depot EF3-Q (4-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/RAID-0,1/Firewire400/Initio)

Firewire Depot FWB2ATA35D (2-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/RAID-0/Firewire800,400/Oxford)

Galaxy 3500SGC (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/One-Touch/USB2/Prolific)

INOi HD363N (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Ethernet/CIFS/SMB)

Koutech EEU323 (1-Bay/Acrylic/Single-Fan/USB2/Unknown)

MacPower IC-FRU2OCS (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

MacPower PD-FRU2OMS (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Myson)

Mapower KC31C1 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Mapower MAP-KC31 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/SATA/Unknown/Firewire400/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

Metal Gear Box 780U2FL (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

Nspire/Mwave NSP-352C (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

OKGear OK650 (1-Bay/Acrylic/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Other World Computing MEFW911UPL (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Rosewill RX32-U2-SK (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

Safecom SUSB2-F35CAF (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

Sarotech FHD-353 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/InternalPS/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Oxford)

Sarotech FHD-354 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/InternalPS/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Oxford)

Stortecc PM-350C2-EPS (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

StorTecc PM-350E2-EES (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/Video/Audio/MP3/OTG/Karaoke/USB2/Unknown)

StorTecc PM-350F2-EOS (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/Firewire400/Oxford)

Syba SD-U2PLA-35 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Ali)

Syba SY-U2F-3SL (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

Syba SY-UEN-3MYS-W (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Myson)

Thermaltake A2292 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Cypress)

TMG HD-3.5BL (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/USB2/Unknown)

TransIntl F400-USB-D (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Fanless/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Triton TRINSS001 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Ethernet/CIFS/SMB)

Vantec NST-370GX (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Unknown)

Welland/Bytecc ME-705U2 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Cypress)


5.25"

Macally PHC-500BC (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire/Initio/USB2/Cypress)

Thermaltake A2173 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Cypress)

ADS Technologies DLX185 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

American Media Systems DS-2512B2BK (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Cypress)

Argosy DW-567C (1.5-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

CoolDrives 2BAY-INI (2-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire800,400/Initio)

CoolGear BCICE-2B1 (2-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire400,800/Initio)

INOi DW567U (1.5-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Unknown)

Lindy 42909 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/NEC)

Link Depot DW-525U2 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Ali)

Macally CB-800 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Initio)

Mapower MAP-5081D-01-98 (8-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Dual-Fan/RAID-1,5/Firewire400/Oxford)

Mapower MAP-KC51 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Unknown/USB2/Unknown)

Neo N525U2-BK-NEC (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/NEC)

Plumax PM-525C2-MTS (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/60mm/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

Plumax PM-525C2-PPB (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Prolific)

Plumax PM-525C2-PTS (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Oxford/USB2/Cypress)

StorTecc PM-525U2-ACS (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Cypress)

StorTecc PM-525U2-ECB (1-Bay/Aluminum/Dual-Fan/USB2/Cypress)

Syba SD-U2PLA-525 (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/USB2/Myson)

Syba SD-UEN-525 (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Myson)

TDK IndiDVD (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Fanless/Firewire400/Initio/USB2/NEC)

Triumph TT-336F (1-Bay/Aluminum/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Oxford)
notes (kknd1967): No front cover. No 3.5" drive mount. OX911 chipset can only can support 10X DVD burning speed. Recommended for CD-RWs, 8X/4X DVD-RWs, and HDDs if you have your own 3.5" drive mount.

Welland/Bytecc ME-320F (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Oxford)

Welland/Bytecc ME-320U2F (1-Bay/Plastic/Single-Fan/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Ali)

Welland/Bytecc ME-340U2F (1-Bay/Aluminum/Fanless/Firewire400/Prolific/USB2/Ali)
notes (kknd1967): Comes with front cover and 3.5" drive mount. Fully supports 16X DVD burning speed with most popular 16X DVD-RW drives. Highly recommended!

xPCGear UE325BK (1-Bay/Aluminum&Plastic/Single-Fan/USB2/Ali)


Additional Notes/FAQ:

How do "external DVD/HDD" products sold as an all-in-one package compare to the solution of taking an internal DVD/HDD burner and putting it in a quality enclosure?
1. Prepackaged usually are more expensive.
2. Prepackaged usually have shorter warranties on the drive.
3. Prepackaged usually are only USB2.
4. Prepackaged usually have no info about the chipsets.
5. Prepackaged usually are more difficult to upgrade.
6. Prepackaged usually has lesser quality internal drives.
Do I really need to go on? As you can see, there is nothing better about a prepackaged drive if, and I want to emphasize the if, if you know what you are doing. Prepackaged works fine for most people, but for the rest of us, we go with our own solution. (quoted from SickTeddyBear 10/8/2006)


What about using adapter cables as a permanent solution (no enclosure)? Is this recommended? It seems like it would provide flexibility to swap out all the different drives and really leverage hard drives that you might otherwise not want to dedicate to an enclosure. Is there a drawback to this solution?
Adapters are usually for sysadmins doing tech support, troubleshooting, and system setups, who need to use a lot of different drives on a temporary basis. Very few people need to do that much swapping. If you do, then get one, otherwise, stick with enclosures. The drawbacks are quite self-evident. Static electricity from touching an exposed drive at the wrong moment. Spilling liquid on an exposed drive. Dust and other contaminants getting on an exposed drive. Etc., etc., etc. An enclosure is just that, an enclosure and protector, and if you want your data and devices to be safe, put them in an enclosure. An adapter is not a solution for regular use. (quoted from SickTeddyBear 10/11/2006)
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Uh...you don't need adapter brackets to mount a 3.5" hard drive in a 5.25" enclosure. They have screw holes for mounting hard drives.

Nice.

RebateMonger said: Uh...you don't need adapter brackets to mount a 3.5" hard drive in a 5.25" enclosure. They have screw holes for mounting hard drives.

Not all of them do, but yeah, the vast majority.

thanks for the input. slowly updated

If you search posts I've made over the last three years or so, you'll find
I've replied with plenty of information that can be used for this thread.

Also, don't forget, there are SATA and FireWire 800 enclosures out there.

SATA is the fastest out there and is only limited by the speed of your drive.
If you search for articles on SATA, you'll find there is a dramatic drop in
the use of the processor.

Here is a site that sells all of the various types of enclosures out there.

Cool Drives.com



You might consider writing the parts of this article in MS Word so you can proof
read it before posting, especially seeing as this thread is going to require a lot
of work to put it together.

Good Luck

thanks Dragonslore.
I am not familar with SATA and only played with fw800 in fw400 mode. Any interesting experience with SATA and FW800? Oh, I know they should be very fast

SATA external connections just recently got certified. They should get more common and I bet take over from USB as most common in a few years. USB is royalty free, that impacts why it is more common to some extent. Firewire requires a license fee, thus more expensive for the manufacturer. Also, firewire support is lots less common in PC's than USB, which is almost universal now. SATA is royalty free too, and more future proof. Also, while firewire's throughput is arguably superior to usb 2.0, I use a LOT of different enclosures on a LOT of different systems, real life the difference is negligible. But then, I don't have any issues with chipsets either. Maybe my experience is atypical.

Here is a 0.9a version Hopefully I got most items right. Did I miss anything?

Banshai, chipset usually does not matter. But sometimes when there is a problem with it, it is very anonying and usually hard to solve. I usually end up with buying a different one. For example the 16X burn support. You may not really notice it unless you do a CDSpeed scan after each burn. But once I realize that my 16X burner only burns at 12X or even 10X, I am very uncomfortable and really want to get this problem solved.

Banshai said: SATA external connections just recently got certified. They should get more common and I bet take over from USB as most common in a few years. USB is royalty free, that impacts why it is more common to some extent. Firewire requires a license fee, thus more expensive for the manufacturer. Also, firewire support is lots less common in PC's than USB, which is almost universal now. SATA is royalty free too, and more future proof. Also, while firewire's throughput is arguably superior to usb 2.0, I use a LOT of different enclosures on a LOT of different systems, real life the difference is negligible. But then, I don't have any issues with chipsets either. Maybe my experience is atypical.

Actually, chipset does matter because there are incompatability problems between some chipsets.

The problem is usually betwen the chipsets in the controller card and the enclosure.
But in some instances, it could be between the chipsets in the drive and the enclosure.

There is a known chipset incompatability between "certain" Maxtor drives and controllers.



Another aspect of the chipsets in the enclosures would be support for larger drives as
not all chipsets support drives larger than 137 GB.

I actually always have this question:
for 48bit lba support, do the PC's BIOS and Windows still matter?

I guess Windows version and update do matter especiall for a single large partition, right?
PC's Bios may not matter any more?

DragonsLore said: Actually, chipset does matter because there are incompatability problems between some chipsets.

The problem is usually betwen the chipsets in the controller card and the enclosure.
But in some instances, it could be between the chipsets in the drive and the enclosure.

There is a known chipset incompatability between "certain" Maxtor drives and controllers.



Another aspect of the chipsets in the enclosures would be support for larger drives as
not all chipsets support drives larger than 137 GB.

I really wouldn't be able to answer just how much the BIOS of one's system is relavent
to the use of external enclosures. Although I would hazard a guess that the LBA setting
would still apply.

In external enclosures, the chipset will determine if it can support a drive that is
larger than 137 GB and even then as mentioned, (I've never checked this out for myself)
I've heard that it does depend on your windows version. So it's a combination of the
two.

To find out anything further in this regard, you would need to look up the information.

OP, if you renamed the thread to "The Official...." it would probably triple the amount of views. Also, this should be made a sticky, or atleast part of the Computers sticky thread at the top of the page.

Thanks for the suggestion.
I was kind of busy last a few days. Will update with more links and make it "official"
But I think I don't have the permission to make a thread sticky, right?

SeriusBlack said: OP, if you renamed the thread to "The Official...." it would probably triple the amount of views. Also, this should be made a sticky, or atleast part of the Computers sticky thread at the top of the page.

Sticky!!!

So if I only plan to use my external HD for weekly/monthly backups, meaning it will only be on once a week and be transferring for a few hours should I just go with USB 2.0 rather than Firewire. I figure it wouldn't make much of a difference.

I'm thinking of picking up the USB 2.0 enclosure from CompUSA in Hot Deals.

Thanks for the thread its really helpful!

Unfortunately there's one problem. I've been looking through the hot deals forum and seem to hit a brick wall when actually looking for a good external enclosure. I had a few criteria when it comes looking for an external IDE to USB enclosure...

1) It works with my drive
2) Really good heat dissipation so my HD doesn't burn up if I leave it on for a long time
(prefer Alumnimum case + fan)
3) quiet
4) Easy to put in and take out HD
5) under $30 shipped
6) sleak looking is a plus, but not 100% necessary.

I'd like to buy it ASAP, but there just seems to be so many crappy enclosures out there!

CRyPT99 said: Thanks for the thread its really helpful!

Unfortunately there's one problem. I've been looking through the hot deals forum and seem to hit a brick wall when actually looking for a good external enclosure. I had a few criteria when it comes looking for an external IDE to USB enclosure...

1) It works with my drive
2) Really good heat dissipation so my HD doesn't burn up if I leave it on for a long time
(prefer Alumnimum case + fan)
3) quiet
4) Easy to put in and take out HD
5) under $30 shipped
6) sleak looking is a plus, but not 100% necessary.

I'd like to buy it ASAP, but there just seems to be so many crappy enclosures out there!


#2, 3, and 5 are pretty conflicting. It's rare to find an aluminum case with a fan. It's also hard to find an external enclosure w/ a fan that is quiet. It is nearly impossible to find an aluminum case with a quiet fan for less than $30 shipped.

yup, which is probably why I'm having such a hard time Any recommendations for under $30? There are a few in the Hot Deals forum, but some people don't seem to fond of 'em. The fan is not necessary, but it would nice if the case is cool enough without a fan.

I just bought the Mad Dog 3.5" enclosure from CompUSA for $30. No fan, aluminum, USB 2.0. Looks sleek and works. Not sure about heat dissipation since I didn't keep it on for longer than 1 hour.

What is a decent enclosure for a notebook drive? I upgraded my notebook but still wish to keep the old hard drive for backup. Thanks.

I just bought an Hitachi 160 GB. I need to format it nefore first use, right?
I inserted the CD that has disk manegemnet software, but can't install on my windows XP system. some volume label errors. The computer recognizes it as a Hitachi storage device, But no further information can be found.

What do people do with a brwand new drive?

Thanks for the many advice. I am so new at HDs.

For Windows 2000 & XP, you need to do this

- 1) Connect the cable to the computer
- 2) If USB - Drivers need to be installed (Windows may or may not have them already)
- 3) Go to Administrative Tools > Computer Management
       You will see two window panes - On the left will be management options

       Select "Disk Management" - Two new window panes will appear on the right

       Top Right will be the list of "Actual" Drives
       Bottom Right will be the "Physical" Drives - The new drive should show here.

Physical drives which is the actual hardware will show in the list as "Disk 0" "Disk 1" and son on.
You will recongnize your new drive because it will either have NO drive letter associated with it
or the drive letter will be one that previously was not on your system. Also, the physical size of
drive will show here too.

- 4) Once you find your external drive listed here, select the drive by clicking on the wide bar
       you see there. All operations are performed by right clicking in this area.

Now, keeping this simple, ((MAKE SURE you are not selecting your C:\\ Drive)) you will want to
       delete any partitions that may be present on this drive. After this, you will want to
       create a "Primary Partition." While doing this, there will be an option to Format the
       drive. Make sure this option is NOT checked. The reason for this is it's faster to use
       Windows Explorer to format the drive than it is useing the Disk Management Consol.

- 5) In the same window pane, where it says the disk number, make sure there are "no warning marks."
       I forget whether the mark would be yellow or red. If there is one of these marks in this
       area, then you need to either right click or double click on the warning mark, then in the
       context menu that pops up, select "Initialize Drive" If you don't see a warning mark, then
       you are good to go.

- 6) Close the Computer Management Consol, then open Windows Explorer and click on the Plus sign
       to the left of My Computer. You should see the new drive listed here. Right click on the
       new drive and select "Format Drive" Before you do this, you can always click on the drive
       letter to be sure you're not doing the wrong drive.

I hope this helps.

The chipset really matters very much.

I have a cheap un-branded enclosure which uses Myson Chipset. This chipset is not compatible with most of the DVD burners for 'burning'. I have an NEC 2500A housed inside. I can read CDs and DVDs fine with the drive in enclosure. But I cannot write any. I just get coasters.

The problem is a related to a combination of USB drivers in XP (and Windows 2000) and the Myson chip.
This chipset issues a 'bus reset' when DVD writer issues many 'queued' responses. And while this is a valid USB response (according to specifications), it is unimplemented in the default USB drivers. The USB Drivers incorrectly report to the higher layer (DVD burning program like Nero or roxio) that Bus has been reset and no further data communication with the DVD writer is possible.

Surprisingly, I do not have a problem with my 200GB Seagate HDD inside the enclosure.

So the chipset is very very important.

I have another no-name burner using the NEC chipset. And it works flawlessly with my DVD burner and the harddisk.

Has anyone tried the new Intio 2430L chipset?

That was some great and helpful information. Fantastic thread. Nice work, kknd1967!

I'm searching about for an enclosure to go with my NEC 3540A 16X DVD Burner. Anyone have an enclosure that is compatible with that? Thanks.

Excellent thread Answered almost all my questions. Thank you for putting this together kknd1967.

Now I've just got to decide what is the best Firewire solution for my Seagate 160 GB HD on Windows 2003 Server. Any suggestions??

It would be nice if individual installation configurations were posted in the Quick Summary along with a review of the results.

Thank you for putting together this resource. I learned a lot and it has been helpful. Would anyone be able to offer any specific recommendations for a brand new 200GB Seagate drive I just purchased? Based upon this thread I should look for something with a fan, aluminum, and compatible with my WIN ME & XP systems.

Thank you.

1. Initio is very popular in the U.S., it's just that it's much more popular and known in products intended for the Macintosh market. On the Mac side of computing, Initio rules. The performance and reliability of Initio chipsets is on a par with Oxford, and beats the pants off Prolific and other ghetto chipsets.

2. On a Macintosh, you can boot OS X from an external 1394 port, but you can't from a USB2 port.

3. On a PC, you can boot Windows from an external USB2 port, but not from a 1394 port.

4. A fanless enclosure is OK as long as it is completely made of aluminum with a snug fit for heat dissipation, with no plastic touching the drive. The Macally PHR-100AC combo enclosure would be an example of that.

tashayar said: Thank you for putting together this resource. I learned a lot and it has been helpful. Would anyone be able to offer any specific recommendations for a brand new 200GB Seagate drive I just purchased? Based upon this thread I should look for something with a fan, aluminum, and compatible with my WIN ME & XP systems.

Thank you.


I bought the same thing and I would also like 2 know this.

Since this is the office thread are there specific recommendations?

thanks.

darkprince85 said: tashayar said: Thank you for putting together this resource. I learned a lot and it has been helpful. Would anyone be able to offer any specific recommendations for a brand new 200GB Seagate drive I just purchased? Based upon this thread I should look for something with a fan, aluminum, and compatible with my WIN ME & XP systems.

Thank you.


I bought the same thing and I would also like 2 know this.

Contribution to the FW community deleted.

Sorry I have been overwhelmed by job relocation. Will gather some time in next a few weekends to update this thread. My apologies

OP and others who have added comments, many thanks for taking the time to put together this excellent post -- it's very helpful.

I have about 4 extra hard drives with one external enclosure....i'm tired of swapping all the time but I dont want to spend $75 on 3 more enclosures....is there any kind of enclosure that holds more than one harddrive? or is there a way to fill up a seperate computer case with hard drives and connect it to my pc?

anybody know which brands are reliable?

Just bought an IDE to USB from eBay and it works great. Got it for $17. Come with an addon so you can use Labtop Hardrive and Regular Hardrive and also you can use it for DVD Burners.

BigMike497 said: Just bought an IDE to USB from eBay and it works great. Got it for $17. Come with an addon so you can use Labtop Hardrive and Regular Hardrive and also you can use it for DVD Burners.

Had one to come in today's mail as well, and am anxious to figure out how to use it. I want to put together a burner/hdd enclosure together as well, but use the USB IDE adapter for quickly imaging drives for backups.

I used to to put my backup of PS2 games in by PS2 hardrive. Alot faster and easy to use. Well Well worth the $17 dollars. Didnt even have to install drivers.

Skipping 1137 Messages...
Hi, well, seeing that everyone is way beyond my level of tech-savyness, i'm a bit afraid to ask a stupid question. But desperate times call for desperate measures..

So ...one of my staff, managed to cook her computer, meaning being a Chain smoking expat in China, she ran the darn thing 24/7 and then the fan died, and being a Chinese Cheapo Computer (I have nothing against Chinese computers... just this was bottom of the barrel) it just merrily trundled along until something got hot, really hot by the smell of it and it died...

So we took it to our IT guy, who speaks no English, and I only a smattering of Chinese, and he assured us that there was no way to fix it.
But I watched him doing it s, and he wasnt trying different Jumper configs, so I releieved him of the Drive and am now trying to open in to salvage the reports my staff was supposed to have on my desk last week.

So at first the drive wasnt recognized, but then I read this thread and saw that I had to hook it up in a different order(excellent advice thank you), and Presto! I could now see the Max 40P in my device manager.

But to my dismay.... the drive is "unreadable" I of course know thats bad, but the question is my friends "is it a catastropic setback in my near holy quest for the lost reports"

Hoping some one can point the way.

Cheers



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