I'm looking for a tough (drop resistant, etc), small USB + eSATA external hard drive specifically for backups that will be taken off-site and potentially stored over long periods. Size 500GB and up.

There are so many products out there, and I'm having a hard time identifying which might be best suited for this purpose.

Edit: I'm not looking for one drive, I'm looking for a brand/model of drive that is well suited for frequent off-site transport and storage.

closed as too localized by Skyhawk, Mark Henderson Dec 1 '11 at 4:41

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  • I think the superuser guys will offer a better answer to this one, but I may be wrong – Chopper3 Dec 31 '09 at 18:45
  • This is specifically for backing up servers and NAS devices onto HD media that is durable enough to be taken off-site on a frequent basis, and / or stored under unknown conditions for long periods (3 years). – Boden Dec 31 '09 at 19:05
  • Have you considered just using several cheap external usb drives instead of worrying about how rugged one particular drive is? That's what I do right now and it works pretty well. – Phil Hollenback Jan 1 '10 at 3:27
  • Because they'll get tossed around a bit as they're shuffled on and off site...or into a safety deposit box. If the difference between a "cheap" external drive and one that can withstand drops, heat, water, etc isn't a whole lot...then I'd rather buy the tougher model. I'm surprised this question didn't generate a few quick recommendations with external HD backup becoming more popular. – Boden Jan 2 '10 at 4:35

I'd recommend you store the drive offsite in a Turtle Case or Pelican Case:

Turtle Cases Pelican Cases

They might seem expensive but they are designed and built for this purpose e.g. they have fittings for padlocks/tamper evident seals that you might want to use for the offsite store.

I once saw some tapes which were damaged by a leaking toilet above the room where they were stored in a bank branch. Had they used the above they would have had some smelly cases and good tapes inside.

Updated: Heard about the "Travelling Terabyte" project on a podcast this evening. They put tv shows on a disk rig and ship them out to troops in Afghanistan/Iraq:

Travelling Terabyte Project

All the specs and equipment they use are listed there.

  • Great suggestion. I definitely look into them. – Boden Dec 31 '09 at 19:07
  • Thanks for the update! The hard drive enclosures used by the project are from CoolGear. – Boden Jan 12 '10 at 16:41

I've stopped using physical off-site backups for a number of reasons: - HDDs are not rugged - Someone needs to physically do work (swap hard drives) - HDDs fail.

I'm now using Super Flexible File Sync to send all my customer's data to Amazon S3. Benefits for me are: - Improved reliability over HDDs with 99.999999999% durability - No-one has to do any physical work - I get e-mailed every day that the backup was successful and what it did, a missing e-mail means I need to check the server - Super Flex is infinitely configurable, I set it to keep 30 file versions and keep 60 days of archive history - Unlike a HDD in a staff member's bag, the backup is secure as it's transferred via SSL & Super Flex password protects the files in Zip.

The increased cost of S3 over a number of delicate HDD is well recouped in the improved flexibility and reliability. Plus they drop the price every 6 months, and if you only need 99.99% durability it's half the price.

The disadvantage is large backup files (such as Exchange databases) which are difficult to transmit.

As for HDDs, I went exclusively Seagate for reputation and ease of purchase. I've since had almost every single Seagate Enterprise drive I installed fail, so I've been swapping them all out for Western Digital.

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