2 TB Western Digital portable hard drive for $70

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/27/2-tb-western-digital-portable.html

These drives are great for local backups. Do monthly backups of your computer on one of these and keep it in a fireproof safe (but not in @beschizza’s safe if you ever want to see it again).


I agree. I have the 1TB one and carry it around with me, and I have one backing up things I don’t want on cloud storage.

They are priced well, are fast enough for my uses, and it doesn’t force a ton of software on my computer.


I’m just trying to wrap my head around how big a terabyte is. My old Smith-Corona word processor had floppy disks that held, if I remember rightly, 32000 bytes. Once I sat down just for fun and filled one with pages and pages of gibberish (random thoughts, song lyrics, every film and TV quote I could think of).

If I tried to do the same thing with one of these I’d be there a while.


If you want to give it a go, I have an infin… I mean, a large number of positions available for that kind of work.


are external HDDs with a mandatory software install a thing? I never saw one not using the normal storage method for USB

at least weekly if your paranoid like me

or use two - the most current backup lies on my desk at work, the second one has a place in my backback. so I’m sure that a - more or less fresh - backup is all the time a few kilometres away from my computers (if both places are destroyed at the same time I have more urgent issues than my porn files)

so all stuff one loses over time ends in his safe? at a guess: the box is FULL of single socks


I’ve had WD drives that forcibly installed their proprietary backup software on my computer before with no warning on the package, so it is definitely a thing.


Whats to get its just roughly a million 3.5 inch floppies in the palm of your hand.

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If you were random (and lucky) enough to create a chapter out of Borges could you be sued by the rightsholders?

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This is also a great way to get a new internal drive for your laptop. A bare 2.5" 2TB laptop drive will cost you more than this. 2 weeks ago I bought a 2tb Seagate USB drive just to get the drive to put inside my macbook pro. Cost me $85 and I thought that was a good buy. At $70 this is a steal.

I have 4 Toshiba USB drives. The early ones came with some pre-installed backup software that was mostly crap. I just use the native windows mirroring software. The last 2 I bought, 1T USB3 drives, had clean drives.

Uh, why wouldnt you get the Western Digital 3TB drives? They only cost $114.

You have/had autorun enabled. Turn that shit off.

ETA: The $70 deal is exclusively for Amazon Prime members.

EATA: The 4GB version is $139, and not Prime-exclusive.

There are two problems with this approach:

  1. An external drive usually sees less stress and frequent use than a main drive in a laptop. Thus, the drive you get inside the external case is likely to be rated for lighter duty (read: constructed more cheaply), which is of course why you are paying less for it.

  2. Some manufacturers are now saving money and space by eliminating the internal SATA interface and just making drives that have the USB interface built directly into them. These drives will not fit in a standard laptop. The smallest of the new WD external drives are likely to have this ‘feature.’

As a general rule, when choosing a main drive for your laptop, I think it’s best to check the reviews and ratings and be prepared to pay a bit more for a better-rated one. When you buy an external drive, you don’t know what you’re getting under the hood.

Eh, I’ve taken to buy enclosures or drives that can be easily opened, so that i can replace the disks. Last one I got was a Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt: opened, taken away the bog-standard 5400rpm disk, replaced it with an SSD, sold the spare drive on ebay. Cost £200 less than buying an equivalent thunderbolt+ssd product… I can see why they’d be trying to block this sort of thing by removing the internal interface.

Just an FYI for anyone considering one of these:

I have a few, and they’ve worked fine so far for me; but they are not suitable for popping open and using as internal storage(as can be tempting, since vendors sometimes sell HDDs in plastic cases with USB bridge hardware for less than they sell similar drives bare; for reasons that baffle me).

The drive is 15mm high, rather than the more usual 9.5mm or 7mm, so it won’t fit in basically anything expecting a consumer 2.5in HDD(15mm heights are common for SAS and nearline SATA; but if you have such a bay you probably already know this).

Perhaps much more importantly, it’s a native USB HDD. I’ve done some poking around and heard a few bits and pieces to the effect that there is actually a USB bridge, just onboard, and that the SATA signal lines can be accessed by soldering the correct test points and bodging on the connector yourself; though you still need to power it via USB; but unless that sounds like fun to you, it’s a USB device.

(Sorry about the quality, had to resort to grabbing a frame from a dodgy webcam to get an image of the drive I optimistically popped open. The drive itself is model “WD20NMVW” and the PCB is “2060-771961-001”)

My guess is that this is the slightly less loved sibling of one of WD’s nearline SATA offerings in terms of design and drive mechanics; but with a different PCB that has the USB bridge integrated.


As noted above, this particular one isn’t a good candidate for that plan. In case anyone wants to follow through with that plan anyway; I can say that the “Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive” (Model SRD00f1) is a suitable candidate and often available for similar prices.

I tore into a few recently when filling out a storage array (they have these great drive cages that give you 6x hot-swappable 2.5in bays in a single 5.25in case slot!) and these contain ordinary notebook HDDs. My sample size is obviously too small to comment on quality or reliability; but none have dropped dead yet; and at least they fit.

If you don’t plan on popping one open, the WD @frauenfelder mentions has served me just fine; but it’s an external-only(or internal-with-atypical-mounting, if that’s your thing) option.

Western Digital now owns Hitachi/HGST, but I’m guessing that their branded devices are still pretty reliable. A HD is the last thing I want to fail, so I ended up paying a bit more for one.

I certainly don’t want to advocate buying shoddy product; but it is my moral duty, as your friendly neighborhood obnoxious IT guy, to belabor this point wherever it seems relevant:

You cannot buy a hard drive(or any remotely mainstream/cost effective mass storage device) that is reliable enough to trust. They just don’t exist. Better reliability can save a lot of hassle if you are managing a large deployment; but all the reliability numbers(with a few exceptions like the infamous ‘deathstar’ series that helped hasten IBM’s selloff to Hitachi; and basically anything OCZ made before Toshiba bought them) are decent enough that they fall into the noise if you are just operating a handful of drives for a normal computer lifespan; but lousy enough that any data you care about should never, ever reside in only one place.

Please don’t take this as a lecture at you specifically, @haystack, it’s more of a PSA. I’ve just had to break the news to too many people that, yes, all the data on that device is gone, I’m sorry for your loss; and it has been my experience that, in modest numbers(probably ~5,000 units over the past few years) drive reliability is a crapshoot. That antiquated box in the corner that does…something… and has a 15 year old low end HDD? Working perfectly. The fancy fiber channel SAN? Two warning lights on array 1, one on array 3.



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