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Apple announces replacement program for 3TB hard drives in some iMac models


Apple today announced a replacement program for the 3TB hard drive included in some 27-inch iMac models due to a concern that some of the components “may fail under certain conditions.” Apple doesn’t mention a specific product number, but notes that affected machines would have been sold between December 2012 and September 2013, which would apply to Apple’s late 2012 iMac model.

Apple notes that it is contacting iMac owners that may be affected, but users can also manually submit a claim through the company’s webpage announcing the replacement program.

Apple said it “recommends replacing affected hard drives as soon as possible” and customers can take advantage of the program through Apple retail stores, authorized service providers, or tech support channels.

Apple adds that “the program covers affected iMac models until December 19, 2015 or three years from its original date of sale, whichever provides longer coverage for you.”

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: 27-inch, 3TB, Defect, defective, faulty, Fusion, hard drive, iMac, problem, replace, replacement program, warranty

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Jordan Kahn

June 19th



How-To: Clean and speed up your Mac with free, trustworthy downloads


“My Mac used to be fast, but now it’s running so slow.” I’ve heard many versions of this complaint, and they’re always factually true, not just opinions: Macs do become sluggish over time, even if all of their chips and hard drives are working like new.

I’ve devoted several columns to hardware solutions — replacing old hard drives with fast new SSDs, adding more RAM, and increasing storage capacity using an external drive — but there are software solutions, too. Even die-hard Apple fans will admit that Macs typically run new OS X versions better (faster, and with fewer bugs) if you start with a clean slate: completely wipe your hard drive, do a fresh install of the latest OS X release, and restore only the files you need. That’s not as hard as it sounds, but it’s a radical and fairly time-consuming solution.

This How-To article offers a simpler alternative. First, find and delete enough files to leave your Mac at least 50GB of free storage capacity — enough room for the Mac to work without pausing to manage its hard drive space. Next, cleanse the cruft OS X builds up in the background as you use your computer. Below, I’ll show you how two completely free Mac programs, GrandPerspective and OnyX, will do all the heavy lifting for you. GrandPerspective offers a highly visual display of what’s taking up space on your Mac; Onyx cleans up the Mac files you’d be afraid to touch yourself…


Step One: Don’t Be Surprised By This OS X Warning

In the name of security (and popularizing the Mac App Store), Apple introduced a new dialog box several years ago, warning users the first time they click on an app from “an unidentified developer.” This warning has probably stopped some people from opening malware, but it also blocks completely safe apps by trustworthy developers who haven’t sought Apple’s approval.


For most people, the right solution isn’t to disable this security feature. Instead, you should manually authorize each “unidentified developer” app the first time it launches. The pictures above show how this is done: after you get the warning dialog, go to the Apple menu, pick System Preferences, select the Security & Privacy icon, and hit the Open Anyway button. Your app will pop open, and you won’t see Apple’s warning dialog again unless you download an updated version of the app later.

Step Two: Download GrandPerspective + OnyX For Free


This is where to download GrandPerspective by Eriban Software. It’s not a beautiful web site, and my link will take you to the most recent version, which is several years old. But the app still works perfectly under OS X Yosemite, and costs nothing. (If you’d rather pay for a prettier and more frequently updated app that does the same thing, DaisyDisk from Software Ambience is $10 in the Mac App Store.)


Here’s the link to OnyX by Titanium Software. Titanium offers individually optimized OnyX versions for every version of OS X from 10.2 to 10.10. As they say, “There is a specific version of OnyX for each major version of the system. Use the specific version, and don’t try to use a non-compatible version.” When a new version of OS X comes out, just revisit the OnyX site and grab the latest release. Every version’s free, and very small, so you aren’t wasting storage space downloading whichever one you need. (A paid alternative to OnyX, Cocktail by Maintain, offers similar functionality for $19.)


Once you’ve downloaded each app, look in your Mac’s Downloads folder (typically next to your Mac’s trash can on the desktop’s dock), click on OnyX.dmg and GrandPerspective-xxxx.dmg, and drag/drop each app icon into your Applications folder. When you double-click on the app to open it, you’ll get the security warning I mentioned above. Follow the steps to authorize them, and you’re ready to start cleaning your Mac.

Step 3: Run GrandPerspective And Free Up Your Hard Drive


While GrandPerspective doesn’t hold your hand through the process of scanning your hard disk’s files, it’s not hard to use. Open the app, go to the File menu at the top of the screen, and select Scan Folder. Under your Devices list, choose your computer’s name, then the name of your hard disk (typically Macintosh HD). Then hit the Scan button — that’s it.


After several minutes, a window similar to this will appear, and you’ll probably wonder what this series of shaded blocks is supposed to mean. Float your arrow cursor over the blocks and you’ll begin to see the line of text below them change as you move. That’s GrandPerspective’s way of saying, “this is all the stuff that’s on your hard drive, sorted by size. The really big things are taking up a lot of space; the really small things (organized by folder) are taking less space individually but plenty of space collectively. That one line of text at the bottom is the name of the individual file the very tip of your arrow cursor is touching right now.” For reference, the giant blocks above are my Aperture photo collections and Final Cut Pro video content. If I deleted them (or better yet moved them to a reliable external hard drive), I could reclaim 350GB of storage space in minutes.


If you make the GrandPerspective window larger, you can see the tens of thousands of files on your Mac even more clearly. But in all honesty, anything that you need to zoom in to see is probably not individually worth worrying about. As its name suggests, GrandPerspective instead gives you a sense of the big picture folders that are taking up space. The beige block above is my Mail folder, and the highlighted collection of boxes to the left are “MobileSync/Backup” folders — backups of iOS devices stored by iTunes. If I wanted to delete old emails, I could save around 35GB of space; deleting old iTunes device backups would save around 45GB. The greenish blocks to the right are backups of iOS applications, taking up over 54GB of space. Of course, you’ll see different types of things on your hard drive.


GrandPerspective can also help you perform practical sorting of your hard drive’s content. Press the Drawer button at the top right of the window, choose the Display tab, and tell the app to “Color by” a filter such as “Last access,” which uses color to show you items that haven’t been used in weeks, months, or years. You can also choose to color by file extensions, folders, or file types, amongst other options, as well as picking the color palette you prefer.


The Focus tab in the Drawer is used in conjunction with the Focus buttons at the top left of the window. Pressing the button with arrows pointing out will change the “how much space is being used” indicator at the bottom of the window and inside the “Selected package” part of the Drawer to focus on folders or top-level folders rather than individual files. Pressing the button with arrows pointing in focuses on the specific file that’s taking up space. You can right-click on any file to “Reveal in Finder” (or do so with the Reveal button at the top of the window), and manually delete it. GrandPerspective disables in-app deletion by default, but it can be turned on under Preferences, either for files alone, or for both files and folders.


It’s entirely up to you to decide what to delete from your hard drive to make space, but if your drive is like mine, you’ll find a lot of files that really don’t need to be there. If you’re an iTunes video customer, you could save space by removing files that you can stream for free from iTunes in the Cloud; users of GarageBand and Logic might be able to get rid of big packs of audio samples that aren’t needed; backups of old iOS devices and easily re-downloaded apps could be tossed out, too. You decide what’s best for your needs.

Step 4: Run OnyX, Your Mac’s Silent Maid


OnyX is to Macs what maids are to hotels: silent restorers of “the way things are supposed to be.” There are hundreds of hidden files on your Mac that you have no idea are being created, changed, and sometimes deleted in the background while you’re working; thousands of other files may have hidden settings called permissions that can be screwed up, and thereby screw up your Mac when you try to open them. OnyX knows how to clean everything up.


Unlike GrandPerspective, OnyX is highly automated. Each time you load it, it will ask to check your hard drive’s structure to make sure it’s OK — if it’s not (a rarity), there might be something wrong enough to consider replacing the drive in the near future. Most of the time, though, it’ll be fine, and you’ll only need to use one of the buttons in the window it creates: Automation.

onyxauto-2There are a lot of boxes to check here, but OnyX is set up by default with safe choices, so all you need to do is hit the Execute button at the bottom of the window. You can play with the boxes if you want, turning things off or on, but the standard maintenance, rebuilding, and cleaning tasks are solid. Leave them be, hit Execute, and there’s nothing more you need to do than let OnyX close your currently-running apps, perform its tasks, then restart your Mac. In some cases, you’ll see a dramatic speed improvement immediately after the restart.


But if you want to dive deeper with OnyX, you can. A Maintenance tab lets you independently run disk verification, permissions, scripts, and rebuilding tasks. Cleaning lets you make granular choices as to what types of cached files get deleted in bulk across your hard drive. Utilities lets you show and hide individual files, folders, and applications, as well as examining installation packages, and easily accessing obscure built-in Mac utilities.

onyx1 onyx2 onyx3

Parameters has some of OnyX’s best features. Using the tabs inside, you can make all sorts of secretly available customizations to the way your Mac boots (say, startup sound or no startup sound), the way apps such as Safari and iTunes work, how screenshots get captured, and much, much more. These are little shortcuts for power users, and if you want to explore them, you’ll find a lot of ways to eliminate dialog boxes and button presses that slow your Mac down unnecessarily.

onyx5 onyx6 onyx4

Just be careful playing with these settings. They’re helpful and can really improve your Mac’s performance, but if you don’t know what a given setting is supposed to do, you’re probably best off not changing it.

More Great Ways To Improve Your Mac

To make the most of your Mac (or pretty much any other Apple device), I’ve written quite a few How-To and Best of guides, as well as reviews of worthwhile accessories. Read more of my guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here (and don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything)!

Filed under: How-To, General, Mac, Tips and Tricks Tagged: clean, free download, GrandPerspective, hard drive, Mac, maintenance, OnyX, OS X, Storage

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Jeremy Horwitz

April 30th



How-To: Reclaim your Mac’s old hard drive or build a new one with an external USB enclosure


Earlier this year, I wrote several guides to boost the speeds of older Macs by swapping their internal hard drives for super-fast solid state drives (SSDs). As readers have confirmed, their older iMacs, MacBooks, and Mac Pros have seen dramatic improvements with new SSDs. But some people were left with a question: what should I do with my Mac’s old hard drive? Throw it away?

A great answer: put it in an external hard drive enclosure and keep using it! My latest How-To shows you how easy it is to reclaim your Mac’s old drive by installing it in a nice USB enclosure such as Akitio’s SK-3501U3 (shown here), which I chose because of its Mac-matching design, reasonable sub-$40 price, and compatibility. External enclosures are also ideal options if you want to choose a high-quality hard drive mechanism for yourself, rather than taking a risk on whatever might be hidden inside a fully-assembled external drive. I’ll explain that, and much more, below…


Photo credit Eric Gaba, Wikimedia Commons user Sting

A Quick Primer On Internal Hard Drives

The vast majority of Macs in homes have mechanical hard drives (rather than chip-based SSDs) inside. Without a computer or another enclosure surrounding them, these hard drives are called “internal hard drives.” They’re small metal boxes akin to old-fashioned record players, with one or more spinning disks (“platters”) that get accessed by a “read/write head” (shown above). Hard drives aren’t all created equal, and they aren’t built to last forever: good drives typically last for around three years of very active use, and great ones for five years. Light use extends their lives.

With over 27,000 drives on hand, Backblaze last year published the most comprehensive independent test results I’ve seen for consumer-grade hard drives. Comparing Seagate, Hitachi GST, and Western Digital disks of various capacities, Backblaze found that Hitachi GST’s drives had the lowest failure rate at any capacity, followed closely by Western Digital, with Seagate ranking a very distant third. “If the price were right,” Backblaze said, “we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives.”


But nothing’s set in stone: Western Digital now owns Hitachi GST, and Seagate has been working to improve the reliability of its drives. This year, Backblaze updated its findings with new failure statistics, noting that it now has over 41,000 drives in use. It found that Seagate’s latest 4TB drives are much better than ones it previously tested — still about twice as failure-prone than Hitachi GST drives, but not 20 times worse (like Seagate’s 3TB drives). Western Digital and Hitachi GST drives otherwise remained excellent.

In short, if you’re pulling a hard drive out of a three- to five-year-old Mac that’s been left powered on for most of its life, you might be better off disposing of it rather than continuing to use it until it fails. But a $40 external enclosure can keep your old drive going as a “just in case” backup, or let you choose the specific brand new internal drive you want from a great manufacturer. Why would you do that? Because if you’re thinking of buying a fully-assembled external drive, you may not know who makes the drive mechanism inside, which can be risky. Here are links to Seagate’s, Hitachi GST’s, and Western Digital’s internal drives, all of which are available in multiple capacities and price points. Just remember, the statistics demonstrate conclusively that cheaper isn’t necessarily better here.

Understanding External Enclosures


When you buy any fully-assembled external hard drive for your Mac, you’re really buying two things: an internal hard drive like the ones shown above, and an external enclosure. To keep costs low, the cheapest external enclosures ($15-$20) often cut corners by using bare-bones chips, cables, and materials. They also may not include power supplies, which means they’re fully dependent on your Mac for power. Buyers consequently sometimes complain about random disconnections, refusals to mount, a lack of Mac compatibility, or other problems.


The Akitio SK-3501U3 enclosure shown here is a very good option for the $35 price. It includes a USB 3.0 cable, a wall power supply, and the screws necessary to mount any 3.5″ hard disk inside. Akitio also sells a 2.5″ enclosure that’s physically smaller and designed solely for laptop drives. (If you instead want to use the SK-3501U3 with an adapter for a smaller 2.5″ laptop drive, the Newer Technology AdaptaDrive Converter is the one I recommend. It’s not needed for 3.5″ drives.)


Akitio’s enclosure is made from thick, solid-feeling aluminum that looks great next to a Mac. As you can see above, it’s a little smaller than the superb G-Tech G-Drive USB I’ve previously reviewed and loved, and its blue data indicator light is off to the back rather than glowing through the mesh front. The light only goes on when it’s connected to a computer and in use. There’s also a bottom-mounted heat sink to keep temperatures down, a design element found on older and larger G-Drives.

akitio-7 akitio-5 akitio-4 akitio-3

Full assembly requires around 15 minutes, one type 0 or sharp type 1 Philips head screwdriver, and zero prior experience. First, four small (and easy to misplace) screws get removed from the enclosure’s bottom, enabling you to slide the hard drive tray out from its center. You flip the tray over, attach four slightly larger screws to the tray and your hard drive, then slide the tray back into the enclosure. After replacing the four bottom screws, you apply four frosted clear rubber feet on top of them. That’s it.


The result is a completely functioning hard drive that’s plenty fast, with modern USB 3.0 connectivity that’s backwards compatible with USB 2.0 computers. Though speeds will vary based on the speed of the internal hard drive you place inside, the Akitio enclosure achieved Blackmagic Disk Speed Test results of 125-127MB/second when my old iMac’s four-year-old Western Digital drive was inside, and a USB 3.0 Mac was connected. That’s nearly as fast as the best speeds I’ve seen with the brand new G-Drive USB I purchased last December.


If your old hard drive will only be needed temporarily, you can consider an external hard drive docking station instead. Unlike enclosures, which are designed to completely cover, protect, and in many cases muffle the sound of the hard drive inside, a docking station such as the $40 Sabrent USB 3.0 dual-dock (shown below) or $23 single dock version can be used briefly to plug in 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives like pieces of bread in a toaster. There are no screws to mess with here; these are completely plug and play solutions. While I wouldn’t recommend them for extended use due to dust and noise considerations, docking stations can be viable alternatives for one-off access to drives you won’t keep using for long periods of time.


On the “easy to difficult” scale, putting your old internal hard drive into either an external hard drive enclosure or docking station is ultra-easy — almost certainly simpler than removing the drive from your Mac. It’s also extremely cost-effective, and there are many times when I’ve benefitted from having an external enclosure around to deal with an older, misbehaving hard drive. Having a 3.5″-sized enclosure with the option of using a 2.5″ adapter strikes me as the right combination for Mac owners with both desktop and laptop hard drives, but laptop owners with 2.5″ drives will be fine with smaller enclosures, and docking stations may work for some people. You can choose the solution that’s best for your personal needs.

Even More Great Options

Read more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here (and don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything)!

Filed under: How-To, AAPL Company, General, Mac Tagged: Akitio, hard drive, hard drive dock, hard drive enclosure, HDD, Hitachi GST, how to, Mac, Newer Technology, Seagate, SSD, Western Digital

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Jeremy Horwitz

April 13th


How to


Review: LaCie’s 4TB Rugged Thunderbolt/USB 3 portable hard drive delivers SSD-like speed at HDD cost

LaCie-Rugged-4TB-USB Plug-Thunderbolt-2

LaCie announced its new 4TB Thunderbolt/USB 3 Rugged RAID portable hard drive ($420 list, $399 Amazon) today, and I’ve had some time to take it for a little ‘spin.’ There are two speedy 7200RPM 2TB portable hard drives RAID-ed together inside to give the device very impressive, almost SSD-like speeds but with the cost savings and huge storage of portable hard drives. At the same time, the package isn’t much bigger than a regular portable hard drive and better yet, it can take a serious beating…

Key Details:

  • Ruggedized housing can survive drops, seals out liquids and dust
  • Two 2TB hard drives are inside, joined via RAID
  • Offers near-SSD speeds but with conventional hard drives
  • Thunderbolt and USB 3 are both supported
  • Thunderbolt cable is integrated directly into the enclosure










The first thing you’ll notice is that the Rugged feels very similar to the rest of the venerable LaCie Rugged lineup, though it is slightly thicker and denser than previous single drive models – as you’d expect.

LaCie has incorporated a built-in Thunderbolt cable which wraps around the edges of the unit and ends up being a foot in length whenfully extracted (see image below). The cable is the thinnest I’ve seen in power-carrying Thunderbolt and the power from a MacBook is enough to power the drives.

LaCie-Rugged-4TB-USB Plug-Thunderbolt

The unit also has a USB 3 port and cable that somewhat awkwardly connects to machines that don’t have a Thunderbolt port (like Apple’s latest 12-inch MacBook and most PCs).

LaCie-Rugged-4TB-USB Plug-wishfull

My 2014 15-inch MacBook Pro’s USB port didn’t supply enough power to spin up the drives; I had to use the included AC adapter which plugs in where the Thunderbolt cable rests. Awkward. See for yourself below:

LaCie-Rugged-4TB-USB Plug

The 4TB Rugged was easy to set up with LaCie Manager as an executable. Putting the RAID together was quick and easy. LaCie also installs Intego Backup Manager for you if that’s what you are into. I uninstalled immediately because I’m a Time Machine guy.

Screenshot 2015-04-07 08.37.46 Screenshot 2015-04-07 08.37.50 Screenshot 2015-04-07 08.37.54 Screenshot 2015-04-07 08.38.13

Partition-wise, the defaults make a PC-compatible 800GB partition and a 3.2TB Mac HFS partition. That use case made some sense so I went with it for the speed tests. I used the industry standard BlackMagic disk speed test which is used to check SSDs and hard drives for video editing on Macs.

I easily saw 250MB/sec speeds when using the built-in Thunderbolt connector. That’s about half of the speed of high end, internal SATA SSDs, but still plenty fast for most regular video editing. If you use USB 3 or RAID 1 redundant mirroring, expect to see speeds in the 130-140MB/sec range.

LaCie Thunderbolt score LaCie-USB3-Blackmagic-score

For the heck of it, I dropped the drive a few times from counter height to see if the RAID configuration was any more vulnerable than a simple hard drive setup. After about five drops from counter height, the drives continued to work fine without a glitch. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on purpose with a RAID drive with important data on it, but it is good to know that you’ve got a good chance of data survival.

Wrap up:

I’ve long loved LaCie’s rugged drives because they are made to be taken on the road along with all of the bumps and bruising that comes along with it. With the 4TB RAID version, LaCie adds incredible size and speed that video/imaging professionals and people with big backups/lots of storage needs will love. The price at $400 is significant but not at all insane when you consider the SSD-class speeds combined with the big 4TB size.

$420,$399 Amazon
Any Mac/PC/Tablet With A Thunderbolt or USB 3/2* Port
Lacie_Rugged Raid_Use-Case LaCie R2D2 3-4 Right LaCie_Rugged Raid_Profile Lacie_Rugged Raid_Lifestyle LaCie_Rugged Raid_Hero LaCie_Rugged Raid_Front LaCie_Rugged Raid_Back LaCie_Rugged Raid_3-4

LaCie Doubles Capacity of Rugged Thunderbolt SSD
CUPERTINO, CALIF. – LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), announced today that its iconic Rugged Thunderbolt™ storage solution will be available in a 1 TB SSD capacity. With double the storage, the new LaCie® Rugged is just as portable with no size or weight increase compared to the 500 GB offering. Plus, it still features the lightning–fast transfer rates of Thunderbolt and is tough in the field with shock, dust and water resistance.

“My expeditions take me all over the globe so I need equipment that’s up for any terrain,” said photographer and National Geographic Expeditions expert Kike Calvo. “The LaCie Rugged is my go–to hard drive because its fast speeds help back up my work quickly, and its toughness has yet to let me down. With the addition of drones into my workflow, I’m creating more content than ever before. So larger capacity in the same reliable enclosure means I can take fewer drives and save valuable luggage space.”

The LaCie Rugged delivers speeds of up to 387 MB/s* — three times faster than a standard mobile hard drive**. With these speeds, creative professionals can transfer 100 GB in less than five minutes. The LaCie Rugged even provides enough bandwidth to review and edit photos or video in the field. With a laptop and a LaCie Rugged, a photographer or videographer has everything they need to back up footage or complete a project on location. This time savings and convenience is key for field–based professionals.

“Wherever digital content is created and wherever our customers want to travel to capture and collect it, our LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drive will go as the ideal companion,” said Erwan Girard, Business Unit Manager for LaCie. “With fast Thunderbolt speeds that save hours in the field and now a 1 TB SSD capacity, our customers can focus on the creative process instead of worrying about transfer times or storage limits.”

The LaCie Rugged is MIL–compliant, which means that data is protected even during accidental drops of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). With its cap in place, the LaCie Rugged is also IP 54–rated for superior protection against dust and water splashing — even during operation. Plus, it is resistant to vibration and shock and is tough enough to be shipped for reliable delivery to clients or partners.

With both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces, the LaCie Rugged is an ideal match for Mac® and PC users. The LaCie Rugged is fully bus powered through the Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables. Plus, the integrated Thunderbolt cable stows neatly when not in use, ensuring that it will never get lost or left behind.

The LaCie Rugged includes everything professionals need for secure backup in the field: a backup software suite and compatibility with Time Machine® and Windows® Backup. It also includes LaCie Private–Public software, which lets users password–protect the entire drive or only certain volumes with AES 256–bit encryption.

See the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt hit the trail: https://youtu.be/c18vI-BYwrU

The LaCie Rugged features a three–year limited warranty that includes comprehensive, complimentary web–based resources, expert in–house technical support, and worldwide repair and/or replacement coverage. It is possible to upgrade this service with warranty extensions and fast product replacement.

The new 1 TB SSD version of the LaCie Rugged, design by Neil Poulton, will be available this month for $949.99 (MSRP) through the LaCie Online Store and LaCie Resellers.

LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX), designs world–class external storage products for Apple®, Linux and PC users. LaCie differentiates itself with sleek design and unmatched technical performance. Find out more at http://www.lacie.com.

Filed under: Mac, Reviews Tagged: 4TB, external storage, hard drive, LaCie, RAID, rugged, Solid-state drive, TB, Thunderbolt, USB 3

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Seth Weintraub

April 7th



The Neobase Is Your Own Private Social Network In A Box

Neobase-Still-COMP-V011815-04 With the growing number of large-scale hacks and revelations of government surveillance still fresh on people’s minds, a company called Neone is introducing a way for families and friends to more privately share content, including files, photos, videos and more, with one another without having to rely on the cloud. Instead, with a piece of hardware it’s calling the Neobase… Read More

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Sarah Perez

April 1st


Review: G-Technology’s G-Drive USB is a pro-grade Mac hard drive at consumer prices, in 2TB-6TB sizes


Professional video editors and filmmakers have raved about G-Technology’s hard drives for over a decade. These users — day-one adopters of Apple’s Mac Pro and MacBook Pro computers — need a lot of hard disk space, fast interfaces, and above all else, reliability. Losing part or all of a project can kill a movie, so nothing is left to chance on the storage side. I’m not a video professional, but as a father, my family photos and home videos are some of my most valuable possessions, and I don’t want to lose them to a hard drive failure. Numerous recommendations led me to Hitachi GST subsidiary G-Technology’s G-Drives years ago, and now there’s a new entry-level model that’s affordable enough for everyone: G-Drive USB ($160-$400, available here for $150 and up).

G-Drive USB offers all the capacity, speed and reliability G-Tech drives are known for, but in a smaller enclosure with fewer ports on the back. I’ve been testing one for the past month, and it’s as excellent as the five earlier G-Tech drives I’ve used since 2006. G-Drive USB isn’t the cheapest hard drive around, but when you care about long-term reliability, it’s worth paying a premium for peace of mind.


I’ve loved the industrial designs of LaCie hard drives for a long time, but from my perspective, if the actual hard drive mechanism isn’t certain to be reliable after a couple of years — a known but somewhat undiscussed issue with many brands of hard drives — the casing doesn’t matter. G-Technology’s desktop hard disks offer the best of both worlds: a substantial-feeling, Mac-matching perforated aluminum enclosure, plus a 7200RPM hard drive inside, backed by a 3-year warranty.


Apart from four clear white rubber feet on the bottom and a glowing white G status light on front, G-Drive USB is completely made from metal, and if you love Apple’s Mac designs, beautiful in its own right. Measuring 5″ wide by 7.7″ deep by 1.26″ tall, it’s a half-inch shorter and 1.5″ shallower than the standard G-Drive, a substantial savings in size that makes the USB version easier to move around if needed. G-Technology has slimmed the unit as much as is practical to house a full-sized hard drive — the only mechanical disk size we’d trust with important files, photos, and videos. Smaller laptop hard drives tend to compromise reliability for size, which isn’t wise for backups or important files.


G-Drive USB currently comes in four different capacities: 2TB ($160, here for $150), 3TB ($180, here for $170), and 4TB ($200, here for $190) models with 165MB/second peak transfer rates, plus a 6TB model ($400, here for $350) with a 226MB/second peak transfer rate. Every model has the same USB 3.0 port on the back, and ships with a USB 3.0 cable that’s backward-compatible with USB 2.0 devices. You also get a slim power adapter that — unlike some G-Drives — only occupies one power outlet.


The USB 3.0 interface is what enables G-Drive USB to sell at $40 to $150 discounts versus older, comparable-capacity G-Drives, which include Firewire 800, USB 3.0, and sometimes eSATA connectors and cables. Yet USB 3.0 can beat Firewire 800 in raw performance. I purchased a 4TB G-Drive USB with the 165MB/second peak transfer rate, and reliably achieved 140MB/second read and write speeds when using a MacBook Pro with USB 3.0 ports. That’s twice as fast as the 69MB/second write and 55MB/second read speeds I get from my older 2TB regular G-Drive using Firewire 800, and still almost twice as fast as my newer 3TB G-Drive (78MB/second read, 73MB/second write). G-Drive USB’s performance drops when connected to older USB 2.0 Macs — I saw 32MB/s read and 26MB/s write speeds — which is to say that modern Macs will get over four times better performance from the same device, though all of these speeds are totally fine for consumer-grade backups. G-Tech notably promises the same 165MB/second peak transfer rate for a Thunderbolt version of G-Drive, which sells for a lot more.


From my perspective, the 4TB version of G-Drive USB is the family’s sweet spot, which is the reason I purchased it over the 2TB, 3TB, and 6TB models. It’s faster and higher-capacity than the Firewire 800 G-Drives it replaced in my office, yet also smaller, less expensive, and quieter — not silent, but whisper-quiet, with half the sound of prior G-Drives. Most importantly, I’ve never had an issue with the reliability of any G-Drive I’ve owned; the units I purchased eight years ago still work after being used for everything from backups to file storage. As Mac accessories go, G-Drive USB is as highly recommended as they come — my personal Mac accessory of the year, and a great entry point into professional-grade backup and storage solutions.

[Note: If you’re thinking of ordering a G-Drive, this is a perfect time to give Amazon Prime a try to save on shipping costs. I’ve ordered G-Drives using Amazon for a long time, reducing the total cost considerably with free Prime shipping and nice discounts on the drives themselves.]

Filed under: Mac, Reviews Tagged: external hard drive, G-Drive, G-Drive USB, G-Technology, hard drive, Mac

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October 2015
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