Portable Storage Carried to Excess

LaCie Little Big Disk Quadra 1 TB

 The Little Big Disk is the little brother of the Big Disk. The Little Big Disk is the little brother of the Big Disk.

LaCie’s Little Big Disk Quadra is a controversial product. First of all, we have to point out the price of $599.99, which deserves being called “excessive” in the light of current hard drive prices, which have reached $100 for a 500 GB 2.5” mobile unit. That heavy price will get you the Little Big Disk Quadra, which comes in an enclosure that was designed by Neil Poulton.

You get eSATA, USB 2.0, and both types of FireWire interfaces, as well as the option to run the device powered by the FireWire interface. Unfortunately, neither eSATA nor USB 2.0 can do this—USB 2.0 can’t supply sufficient power, and power over eSATA has not been specified. LaCie adds a small power supply for USB and eSATA users, though, and you’d need an external supply for any other storage device that offers 1 TB of storage as well.

Terabyte Capacity Thanks to RAID 0

The terabyte capacity can be achieved by operating the two drives in RAID 0 striping mode, which results in considerably increased read and write throughput when compared to a single hard drive. The result is convincing: almost 100 MB/s of read and write throughput, and a minimum of at least 70 MB/s is not bad, although solid RAID 0 setups using two modern 2.5” drives could probably yield even better throughput. Using FireWire 800 will give you more than 65 MB/s read and 51 MB/s constant write throughput, while USB 2.0 is limited to 33 MB/s reads and 27 MB/s writes. We found that the device supports only RAID 0; a secure RAID 1 array cannot be configured.

Impressive Build Quality and Power Consumption

The aluminum case, with its hard drives built in, is certainly a heavyweight at 645 g (1.4 lbs), but again, we have to compare that to other 1 TB 3.5” solutions, which won’t be lighter. And the enclosure is amazingly well built and makes a solid impression. The rear side includes all of the interfaces, such as eSATA, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0, while the front holds the huge, blue status LED and backup button.

We also liked the power consumption figures: a 4 W idle power requirement and peak power consumption of 7 W is really amazing, considering that it is necessary to power two 2.5” hard drives, the RAID logic and the power supply. Unfortunately, LaCie did not include a physical power switch, which forces users to disconnect the power supply if they want to completely shut down the Little Big Disk.

LaCie Software

LaCie bundles a backup solution with its product, which is nice, but does not particularly add value. It is essentially a copy utility that creates new backups by creating a new folder. Folders are named by the name of the backup paired with an index, and backups are always complete—it’s not possible to make incremental backups, nor to schedule them. The only option is an automated execution of the backup tool at the time Windows starts, which will automatically trigger a backup run.