Sub-Terabyte External Hard Drives


Compared to many external hard drive products we have reviewed over the last years, these four models are rather sophisticated. They all perform well, they all offer 750 GB or 1 TB storage capacity, they all come with versatile backup solutions, and they can all be handled even if you aren’t an expert. Buffalo focused on a thermally efficient design, Maxtor emphasizes ease of use, Seagate offers a plethora of interfaces and SimpleTech want to convince through its Pininfarina design Compare Prices on Terabyte Hard Drives.

When looking at the performance results, Buffalo’s DriveStation Turbo USB and the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus squeeze out the maximum USB 2.0 can deliver : 32 MB/s read throughput. We could not confirm Buffalo’s claims of being able to deliver up to 37% better performance via USB 2.0. Seagate’s FreeAgent Pro and SimpleTech’s SimpleDrive disappoint at USB 2.0 performance, both staying clearly below 30 MB/s, but they get very close to 40 MB/s via Firewire 1394a. The FreeAgent’s eSATA interface seemed to be bottlenecked at 40 MB/s as well. By way of comparison, all 750+ GB hard drives available today are capable of moving 75+ MB/s on and off the physical medium.

If you are looking for an external USB 2.0 hard drive for 24/7 operation, Buffalo’s DriveStation Turbo USB is a good choice due to its additional fan. Seagate’s interface flexibility comes at the expense of reduced performance over USB 2.0 and eSATA, and you have to change the interface module if you want to switch from eSATA and USB 2.0 to Firewire. SimpleTech’s SimpleDrive looks great and has the visual capacity meter, but still is wrapped in simple plastic and will only perform really well with Firewire 1394a. Maxtor’s OneTouch family was one of the first external hard drive products, hence it didn’t come as a surprise that the fourth generation aims at perfection. It cannot be stacked or operated horizontally, but we liked the software, the finishing, the five-year warranty and its high USB 2.0 performance.

Finally I don’t want to forget to point out that all interfaces with the exception of eSATA (if it isn’t bottlenecked) should be considered too slow if you need to move large amounts of data. The transfer rates of 30-40 MB/s off an unformatted medium translate to several megabytes per second on FAT32 or NTFS. If you do the math you’ll find out quickly that these drives cannot transfer more than 15-20 GB per hour, depending on the file sizes. Power users should especially keep that in mind before making a choice.

Drive Comparison Table

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ModelDriveStation TurboUSBOneTouch 4PlusFreeAgent ProSimpleDrive
HD ManufacturerHitachi
HD SeriesDeskstar 7K1000
HD ModelHDS721010KLA330
HD Size1000 GB750 GB750 GB1000 GB
Firewire 400noyeswith alternative interface moduleyes
Firewire 800nononono
Hardware Power Switchyesnonoyes
Smart Power offyesyesyesno
Weight1440 g1200 g1240 g980 g
Price$ 425$ 250$ 240$ 385
Warranty2 years5 years5 years1 year

Join our discussion on this article !

  • brett_30
    I'm surprised that the waterproof and fireproof ioSafe Solo didn't make it onto this list!
  • I need the driver for this external hard drive, Im out of town and need to use it. Any ideas?