Why I Carry 3 Portable Hard Drives When I Travel


People are always asking me about backup strategies and while I usually discuss my home/studio backups I rarely discuss my “on the road” backups. My MacBook Pro has a 768GB SSD internal drive. While SSDs tend to be more reliable than old school rotating platters, I’m still as paranoid as I’ve always been. I don’t back it up any less than I did before SSD. I’ve had two major data scares while traveling on business. The 1st was on a trip to Toronto several years ago to do a seminar. I was the main/only presenter and I had an audience of about 400 people. My presentation was going to start at 10AM and I was in the hotel connected to the event hall. I woke up that morning and did some work on my laptop before heading over to the hall. I closed my laptop and headed over giving myself just enough time to get there and plug in to the projector. I got there, plugged in and opened my laptop to a “blue screen”. I immediately thought “oh my God, if this thing doesn’t come up I’m screwed!” Although I had my files and fonts on a drive at the time and I could have used a colleague’s computer it would have taken no less than 30 minutes to get everything loaded and setup. It could have easily taken an hour or more if they didn’t have the right applications loaded. Luckily everything came back after a forced reboot. But what if it hadn’t?

Hard Drive #1: A Bootable Clone Backup


A USB 3 and Firewire 800 Portable External Drive

After my experience above in Toronto I realized that simply having a backup of the data was not good enough. I need to be able to be up and running in 5 minutes or less in the event of a total drive failure. From that day forward I started carrying an external portable hard drive that was an exact clone of my internal drive. I update this clone before heading out on each trip. I use SuperDuper!, which is a fantastic utility to clone your drive from one to another. In the case of a blue screen or total drive failure I could plug in the clone backup drive and reboot directly from that drive. Since it’s a recent clone it would have all of my applications and demo/data files. Continue reading “Why I Carry 3 Portable Hard Drives When I Travel”

Firewire 800 vs USB 3.0 – Which is Faster?

Now that both the MacBook Pro Retina Display and MacBook Air ship with USB 3 I was curious to find out which was actually faster? Going with my existing Firewire 800 drives and the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter or USB 3 drives. I did searches online and really didn’t come up with much in the way of current data or test. Most of what I found was comparisons to USB 2 or tests done before Macs had USB 3 built-in. Since I couldn’t find the data I wanted, I decided to do my own tests.

Making it fair

I wanted this to be as fair as possible. That meant that I didn’t want to use two different drives. Ideally I would want to test the same drive that has both Firewire 800 and USB 3 built-in. That configuration isn’t as easy to find as you would think on a portable drive. I found two: LaCie’s Rugged 1TB (which I’ve used in the past with no issues) and the Oyen Digital Mini Pro. Since I was looking to have a smaller enclosure, I decided to give the Oyen Digital a shot. It was also a few bucks cheaper.

For the benchmarks I went with the Free App – BlackMagic Disk Speed Test.

Get it here .

I recorded my results in the video above.

LaCie Rugged goes 1TB

It still amazes me when I think about the fact that we've reached a point where we can carry around 1TB drives in our pockets. I typically carry an external drive or two in my laptop bag for carrying extra files, Windows 7 Images for Parallels, bootable backups and to backup my shots after my shoots before I leave the studio. Until the 1TB 2.5" drives came out this meant carrying two or three drives to accomplish this. Now I can carry one! I got the LaCie Rugged 1TB to put to the test. I wanted one drive that I could partition into three partitions and of course I wanted one that was bus powered over Firewire 800 (and USB when needed).

The LaCie Rugged meets those requirements. It has a triple interface with Firewire 800, 400 and USB 2 ports on back. Although it's bus powered, they even supply a USB to power cable for those situations when your single USB port isn't providing enough power, you can plug this cable into a second USB port to power the drive. They also provide FireWire 800, 400 and USB 2 cables.
Although the bright orange color stands out (you'll have no problem seeing it in your bag or maybe even a dark room), I ordered the optional 3 pack of sleeves to change the color of the drive.

You get black, silver and purple in the sleeve pack. Even the purple/blue is a little more subdued than the orange.

So far so good

In my short time of using this drive it seems fast (5400 rpm speeds) and quiet. I had no problems cloning my boot drive to one of the partitions that I made and loading up the other two partitions with the files I need to carry. Also they call this drive "rugged" for a reason. It's meant to be traveled with. It has a rubber outer case (the sleeves) and it's one of the only drives I've ever seen that advertises a maximum "drop distance" although they clearly state that you should avoid dropping it while it's running (duh!).


Maximum Drop Height :  up to 2.2 meters in non-operating mode (dropping is not recommended in operating mode)

While this is not the first LaCie Rugged drive I've purchased (I got my daughter one for her Time Machine backups when she went off to college), it's the first one that I've gotten for me.

You can get the 1TB LaCie Rugged here for $199

You can get the 3 optional sleeves in Black, Grey, Purple here for about $17