One Trillion

Hitatchi Terabyte hard drive installed on my iMac desktop

One trillion is a big number. One million million. I honestly never thought I’d have a trillion of anything other than cells in my body1.

When we got the iMac desktop for our home last January, I knew that 250GB of storage would not be enough. Especially given that we use this as a media (i.e. – video) center as well as storage for my 22,000+ photos (of which roughly eleven were good…). However, the hard drive on this machine is not an easy thing to replace.2 This means no hard drive upgrades are performed in Apple Stores either on new purchases or for future upgrades. Since Angela was in a hurry to get her new 24″ iMac home (yes, she opted for the larger screen size, not me), we walked out with a standard 250GB drive inside. This worked well enough for a while, but it was simply getting overwhelmed. Another 32GB being eaten up with a Boot Camp partition for Windows XP didn’t help. However, the biggest source of glut has become the DV files off of our digital video camera. Making videos of Ainsley to send to grandparents was filling up the drive faster than I could manage things.

I finally figured it was time to upgrade. Of course, if it is a nasty thing to do, you really only want to have to do it once. The best way I could think to ensure I wouldn’t need to upgrade this particular machine again was to just get the biggest 3.5″ drive I could find.

Fortunately, Hitatchi just happened to bring a one terabyte drive to market this year. I was a little apprehensive about using one of the drives with their new perpendicular magnetic storage. However, Anandtech knows a lot more about this stuff than I do and they gave it a glowing review (from their summary):

Our limited experiences to date with the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 have been terrific and beyond expectations. The overall performance of this drive has been phenomenal and is close enough to the WD1500ADFD Raptor drive that we consider it a worthy adversary. The Raptors are still the drives to own for benchmarking but this drive is a better overall performance value. In fact, based upon subjective testing we could seriously consider tossing this drive into the same performance sector as the WD Raptor when utilized in the typical gaming or enthusiast level machine where this drive will likely find a home.

Overall, we think Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000 is the best 7200rpm drive we have tested to date. …we highly recommend the purchase of this drive if you are currently looking for a high-capacity drive with performance to match.

I found a OEM drive for around $350 at NewEgg. I was able to dust off my copy of SpinRite and make sure the drive arrived in good condition3 I did find some articles online about how to replace the hard drive in my iMac. I read enough to know that it was likely to be very risky, if not entirely out of my capability to do. This was nothing like swapping out a SATA drive in a typical desktop tower.

As it turned out, the Apple Store Short Pump recommended that I use Richmond’s local Apple shop, Capital Mac, for the upgrade. I gave them call and the estimated the cost between $109 and $150, which seemed very reasonable for the physical drive swap and data transfer. I dropped the computer and drive off on Wednesday a week ago and they had it done by close of business on Friday (though I didn’t go to pick it up until this past Saturday morning4). Well, it ended up costing me $118 for the work and they seemed to have done an excellent job. Not a scratch on the machine and the drive works great. I would highly recommend Cap mac to do this sort of work to anyone and I plan to use them to upgrade the hard disk on Angela’s G4 iBook in the near future (which also happens to be notorious for being difficult to upgrade).

So far, I’m very pleased with the drive. That is to say, other than lots of storage head room, I don’t even think about it. I’ve had a couple of things go wonky after the swap5, none of which are related to the drive and are more of a function of OS X, I believe.

Now, my big problem is figuring out how to backup a drive this large. I can use some of the smart-backup features of SuperDuper! to keep from doubling all those transfered video files from the TiVo or leftover DV files after editing video of Ainsley onto DVD’s for family. I plan on putting a couple of older Seagate 250GB SATA drives to work in JBOD mode, so that they become one 500GB drive for backup. Given the (relatively) low fragmentation of the HFS+ file system on a mac, it is my guess that JBOD is going to be a better method than RAID 0. I’m not a IT expert by any means, and I’m sure there are as many opinions on this subject as there are people who know what JBOD or RAID is.

So, here’s hoping that 1TB is enough to keep me with plenty of disk space for the next few years.

  1. Actually, most estimates but the number of cells in the human body at between 10 and 100 trillion, but you get the idea. []
  2. The iMac with built-in iSight is a significantly different machine from it’s predecessor. That is, where the G5 iMac had its hard drive just behind the back cover and was quite easy to replace, the hard drive on the Intel iMac with iSight is between the LCD and the motherboard. []
  3. NewEgg has a fairly restrictive 7-day return policy and I wanted to make sure no drive errors were hiding out. 1TB is enough space that I figured it was possible and entire platter was bad and I wouldn’t know about it for months. []
  4. And Ainsley and I were even able to get coffee with Megan and Trey, who live just around the corner from Cap mac. []
  5. the machine doesn’t give the option boot into the Windows Boot Camp partition for one and iWork ’06 no longer work. I’ve re-installed both Boot Camp and iWork to no avail. I’m (foolishly) hoping that Leopard will fix some of this next Friday. []

2 thoughts on “One Trillion”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *