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. []
Categorized as Geek

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


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