Another Reason to be Wary of External Hard Drives

by Lynnette Nolan | Feb 24, 2009

External hard drives definitely have their place for doing backups. But most people don't realize that inexpensive consumer-grade hard drives fail just as frequently as the hard drives built into their computers. And, if they are right next to your computer, they will typically share its fate in the event of theft, fire, power surges, etc. Now here's another thing to worry about: firmware bugs.

IDG news service reported last month that several models of Seagate's popular Barracuda and DiamondMax external hard drives have faulty firmware that is causing the hard drives to "freeze" under certain conditions. The article that I read refers to this condition as "bricked," a term I hadn't run across before but which is amusingly descriptive of what you can do with a frozen hard drive. Seagate is a great company, so I'm sure they'll fix this problem, but there's only so much you can do when there is a single point of failure.

As I've said in the past, any single hard drive is going to be much more vulnerable to data loss than the RAID arrays that Carbonite uses (which are 36,000,000 times more reliable than a single hard drive because of redundancy). So while external drives are a good and inexpensive way to store big files such as ripped movies or TV shows, I wouldn't consider them safe enough to store my irreplaceable photos or financial records.

Dave
CEO, Carbonite