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ATPM 14.08
August 2008




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by Mark Tennent,

Rowing Through Roquefort

Perpendicular storage: who would have thought we needed it? We can remember turning our old Mac IIci’s on their sides, and our external drives run upright. Surely that’s perpendicular enough for any man or woman?

Perpendicularity, and what it could do for us, was the main reason for considering replacing one of our herd of G5s. Although the computer had twin internal drives, they were only 160 GB each—just about enough space to store the average iTunes library plus the occasional movie or two that, according to the latest research, 38% of us Brits are pirating. Then Snow Leopard was announced, and it looks likely to make all G5s obsolete.

Hanging off all our computers are a variety of gadgets on the USB and FireWire circuits: DVRs, scanners, printers, and a whole load of external drives daisy-chained together. Two old Maxtors have never given us problems, but newer ones, such as Western Digital MyBook Pros, proved completely unreliable with a 60% failure rate.

We find it amazing that they get awards and best-on-tests from the computer press in much the same way motoring writers admire Ford cars. They rate them highly but never buy them. It’s almost as if the collective noun for journalists is a “corruption,” one even wrote this article. FireWire and USB are also not without some problemettes, but the speed of FireWire 400 and 800 makes working with USB 1 and 2 seem like rowing through roquefort. You could do it, but why bother?

Not Such Hot Stuff

The new Mac Pros running Intel chips don’t need all the fancy internal cooling the G5s have. Apple stripped out umpteen fans and pipework to discover an almost empty case to play with. Their designers made it simple to bung in up to four SATA drives. If you’ve never seen inside a Mac Pro, the drives are screwed to drawers that slide in and automatically connect drives to power and data sockets. Better still, the drawer’s screws are firmly attached, with no likelihood of dropping inside the computer’s internals. That used to be one of those “Oh @#$%^&!” moments followed by an hour of trying to retrieve the darned thing before resorting to turning the computer upside down.

Seagate 44s: Not Seen, Not Heard

Most hard disk manufacturers make drives to fill the empty slots, but one stands out with a five-year guarantee and good reports for its drives: Seagate Barracudas, currently £41 at DABs for their 500 GB versions. Not quite the speediest, but definitely the quietest drive we’ve not heard, and they run cool, too. Their 32 MB cache is larger than the entire first hard disk we owned.

The drives arrive with a tiny 2×4mm jumper making them only SATA1. This is recessed deep inside a slot. It took a long, thin pair of pincers to pull them out.

Now all we need is a copy of Windows-something to install on one of the drives, and we’ll be able to experience how the rest of the world lives, marveling at how insane they must be to accept their lot. Or is that just a Mac fanboy being smug?

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Reader Comments (1)

Mr. Peabody · August 6, 2008 - 15:27 EST #1
Honestlyy sir, I don't think it's an either/or choice - You're right about Windows users and their lot, and you most certainly are a Macfanboy. So keep up the good work.

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