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External HDDs questions

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July 21, 2012 6:40:40 PM

Hello,
I have 2 Western Digital "Element" external hard drives, 2 TB drives. They both get very, very hot when in use. I have seen temperatures as high as 48C, which is about 120F. Heat is a major factor in HDD failure, or so I've always believed. These drives are enclosed in a plastic fixture with no cooling fan.

Does anyone know if these drives are just regular SATA drives? I want to break the case open on both of them and install them in a different enclosure. I know this will void the warranty but I would rather lose the warranty than to lose 4 TB of data.

I also have a Seagate "Expansion" external drive. It's a 3TB, USB 3 drive. While I love the performance, this drive also gets very hot, even hotter than the WD drives. I have the same question about this drive, can I open it and install it in a cooled enclosure?
I was thinking about buying a Mediasonic HF2-SU3S2 ProBox 4 Bay Hard Drive Enclosure with USB 3.0 & eSATA to put all 3 drives into IF they are just standard SATA drives. The Mediasonic box has room for 4 drives so I may also purchase a new drive to fill it up! : )

If anyone could help me out by answering my questions, the help would be greatly appreciated. And, as always, TYIA!

Best solution

a b G Storage
July 21, 2012 7:58:32 PM

Any consumer drive in an external enclosure is just a normal sata drive. You should be able to remove either of those and put it in a different case if you wish. Sometimes it is fairly difficult to open the external enclosures though.

I'm not really sure what a decent range for HD temps is without googling a bit, but I assume you looked those up and they are in fact higher then normal.
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July 22, 2012 6:34:03 PM

tomatthe said:
Any consumer drive in an external enclosure is just a normal sata drive. You should be able to remove either of those and put it in a different case if you wish. Sometimes it is fairly difficult to open the external enclosures though.

I'm not really sure what a decent range for HD temps is without googling a bit, but I assume you looked those up and they are in fact higher then normal.


Yes, I got the specs from Seagate and Western Digital. Both drives are within their range. But I've seem temperatures of up to 62C (144F) on the Seagate and up to 57C (134.6F) on the WD drives. To me, this is way too hot for comfort, possibly shortening the life span of the drives. By comparison, my internal HDD runs between 31C (88F) and 32C (89.6F).

I just ran a test on my USB drives. I have all 3 hooked up to a power surge protector so I can shut them down when not in use. When first turned on, they were running at 24C (75F). I cut and pasted 32.9 GB of data from the USB 3 drive to a USB 2 drive. It took 19 minutes and the Windows box was reporting a transfer rate of 25.5 MB/Second to 24.9 MB/Second. The heat was then at 42C (107F) on the Seagate USB 3 drive and 34C (93F) on the WD USB 2 drive. Then I cut and pasted 32.9 of different data from the USB 2 to the USB 3 drives. It took 21 minutes and the Windows box was reporting a transfer rate of 27.2 MB/Second to 26.1 MB/Second. The heat was then at 51C (123F) on the Seagate USB 3 drive and 40C (104F) on the WD USB 2 drive. If I were to let them run for an hour or so, they would get much hotter, just like I've seen before.

Most of the reading I've done says a "normal" temperature is 35C to 50C (104F to 131F) with 40C being optimal. No wonder this USB 3 Seagate only has a one year warranty. They know it's going to fail with heavy use under these temperatures.

One thing I did read that surprised me is a HDD can be too cool, making for as just as bad of a condition as too hot. I never knew that, but it makes sense. I also remember reading, years ago, that at times, people have had luck getting data off of a dead drive by putting it into the freezer.

Anyway, I'm going to buy that enclosure for all 3 of my external hard drives. It's about $120.00 or so but the price means little compared to the thought of losing 7 TB of data. (if I ever fill them up). I'll lose the warranty by opening the drives up, I understand that. I just want the data there for when I need/want it.

I did a youtube search and sure enough, there's videos on opening up both of these drives without damaging them. Looks pretty easy and I'll answer my own question;

Yes, they are just regular SATA drives in these plastic cases.
I wonder if it's a special plastic that doesn't melt. LMAO.

From Google;

Various melting points of different types of plastic:

The melting point of HDPE (High Density Polyethelyne) is about 130 ºC
The melting point of LDPE (Low Density Polyethelyne) is about 110 ºC
The melting point of PET (Polyethylene terphthalate) is about 250—260 ºC
The melting point of PP (Polypropylene) is about 160—170 ºC
The melting point of PS (Polystyrene) is about 70—115 ºC
The melting point of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is about 75—90 ºC
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a b G Storage
July 24, 2012 1:11:02 AM

Sounds like you made up your mind on this, and aren't really looking for advice. By all means buy another enclosure and move the drives if that's what you would like to do.

External drives IMO are much more prone to failure because of the movement they go through vs an internal drive. Higher temps obviously aren't good for a drive, but you are certainly not removing the possibility of losing 7TB of data by moving them into that enclosure. Again just an opinion, but I think you are doing very little to reduce the possibility of losing the data and would be much better served spending the $120 on a backup service such as Crash Plan etc to keep the data actually backed up.
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July 26, 2012 6:36:50 PM

tomatthe said:
Sounds like you made up your mind on this, and aren't really looking for advice. By all means buy another enclosure and move the drives if that's what you would like to do.

External drives IMO are much more prone to failure because of the movement they go through vs an internal drive. Higher temps obviously aren't good for a drive, but you are certainly not removing the possibility of losing 7TB of data by moving them into that enclosure. Again just an opinion, but I think you are doing very little to reduce the possibility of losing the data and would be much better served spending the $120 on a backup service such as Crash Plan etc to keep the data actually backed up.


I agree a Cloud service would be best for a back up plan. I'm not really sure how they work, but if it means uploading, it would take months to upload 7 TB, if I even had that much data to protect.

I did go ahead and order the Probox. I removed the external HDD from their plastic enclosures (it was really, really easy). I then put them in this box. And, with 4 settings on the fan, these drives are staying nice and cool. Even when moving 500 GB or so of data, they stay right around 30C to 32C. Much better than the 50+C I was seeing when they were in their plastic, unvented enclosure.

While I agree an internal drive has less chance of getting knocked around, this box is very, very sturdy. And instead of 3 separate enclosures, I now have one. I couldn't stack the others (because of the heat) so they were taking up a lot of room. And with Probox, all 3 drives are now USB 3. Speed is great, drives are cool and it won't be moved around. For the price, this box is outstanding. Very well built, quality through and through. This isn't a sales pitch, if I didn't like it, I would blast it. As it is, I'm going to order another 3 TB drive to fill the 4th spot.
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August 5, 2012 6:18:43 PM

Best answer selected by bruceinmich.
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October 11, 2012 9:41:28 AM

bruceinmich said:
Best answer selected by bruceinmich.

n
nHello bruceinmich,
n
nI am considering buying the same item as you purchased to house my external hardrives. My question for you is: Is the seagate expansion 3tb being recognized without having to reformat?
n
nI have a thermaltake blacx duet 5g and it will not recognize my 3tb, it does however recognize anything that is 1tb and smaller. http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1346&ID=20...
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October 11, 2012 6:14:22 PM

socialite said:
Hello bruceinmich,

I am considering buying the same item as you purchased to house my external hardrives. My question for you is: Is the seagate expansion 3tb being recognized without having to reformat?

I have a thermaltake blacx duet 5g and it will not recognize my 3tb, it does however recognize anything that is 1tb and smaller. http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1346&ID=20...


With my Windows 7 PC (Windows 7 Professional), it recognized the 3GB drive without formatting. Depending on your drive, it may work for you. It does keep the drives very cool. And with USB 3, it's really fast!

I had data on my 3GB drive. I backed it up before installing the drive just in case it had to format. But all the data was there, no problem. But, IMO, back up your data (if possible) before installing the drive(s).
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