Latest Stop on the Quest for Portable Storage

by Derrick Story

I'm an laptop-on-the-go photographer who likes to have a big library of images with me at all times. When I land at my studio or my office at O'Reilly, I immediately hook up to big FireWire drives and back up my Aperture library. The challenge is finding portable storage with enough capacity to haul around my library of Raw files.


I have been using the FireLite 160 GB FireWire Drives lately, but have outgrown their capacity. So the quest for bus-powered storage began again. This time I found the OWC Mercury 250 GB FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0 2.5" Portable SATA Drive and ordered it. I've used OWC products before and had good luck with them. This model provides me with two FireWire 800 ports and one USB 2.0 connector. It spins at 5400 RPM which is decent enough to run an Aperture library.

I was really tempted by the 200 GB model that spins at 7200 RPM and has a 16 MB cache instead of the 8 MBs I get with the 250 GB drive, but quite frankly, I need the raw storage capacity, plus the 7200 RPM model cost $50 more. Either drive has two FireWire 800 ports, so I can use one to connect to the MacBook Pro and the other for my SanDisk FW 800 card reader. That should make for fairly speedy uploading of Raw files.

I should be up and running with the new set up this week. I'll let you know how things go.

Oh, and if you want to see the complete line up of OWC portable drives, this page provides a good overview.


David Day
2007-08-06 08:16:04
Derrick - so you're gonna use the second FW800 port for the card reader? is there an advantage to connecting it there, rather than directly to the MBP? I know the FW bus is daisy-chained, but will image transfers (using this config) NOT involve the CPU once they are started?? Interesting concept...

thanks for all you do for we Ap folks!! who anxiously await 2.0 :-)

2007-08-06 08:27:30
You would have seen a huge difference in the 7200rpm drive Derrick. I was amazed at the performance boost going from a 5400 to a 7200. I opted for a 100gb lacie rugged. I know I'll outgrow it but it's tiny and that's what I needed in a bus powered drive.
2007-08-06 09:10:29
Speaking of Portable devices, do you have a advice for a storage device that does not need a computer (like Jobo products for example) ?
2007-08-06 13:32:52
I decided to make the jump to a SATA external connection for speed's sake. For around $180 I got both a MacAlly SATA + USB enclosure with a Seagate 500GB SATA drive.

Disadvantages are 1) you have to purchase an Expresscard SATA adapter, since pretty much no laptop (including the Macbook Pro) have built-in external SATA connectors; and 2) this particular enclosure is not bus-powered, although that is theoretically an option with SATA.

If I'm backing up a lot of stuff, I plug in the SATA adapter and go that route. If it's going to be a smaller transfer, I just use a USB cable.

2007-08-06 14:15:05
Couple things to respond to here. First, for David, yeah, I only have one FW800 port on my MacBook Pro, so I have to plug my card reader into the second port on the hard drive.

And to Greg, I have the 7200RPM drive in my MacBook Pro, and it's sweet, but I don't notice a huge difference in performance over the 5400. Although, granted, it would always be my preference if all other things were equal.

And for Frederic... check out the Epson portable device. I thought it was pretty sweet.

Michael B.
2007-08-06 16:36:57
Yeah, OWC is nice. What I'm thinking of doing (being a have a MacBook) is to buy the enclosure and use my current interal HD when I upgrade it. OWC sells that enclosure for $90 w/o a drive and so if you buy the 250GB drive for less than $210 you can save some money. ( sells them for $190) Derrick, so what are you doing with all you drive that you out grow?