As many of you probably know, Annewiek and I ran a Computer shop for over 20 years and one of the main issues that always caused huge problems is data loss. And in essence it’s not that hard to prevent. That being said, everyone (including me of course) have suffered data loss over the years, the thing is to keep it at an absolute minimum and most of all the easiest way possible. But later more about that.
In this blogpost I’m going to take a look at the Transcend 4TB external harddrive (StoreJet 25M3C), and let’s be honest… a review about a harddrive doesn’t sound interesting right? what is there to say? well actually quite a lot, and that’s why I decided to combine the review with some tips you may or might not have thought about when buying a drive.
First off all let’s see what’s important when buying an external drive.
It goes without saying that this is absolutely vital when buying any kind datastorage.
When buying lose drives for a NAS/DAS we always advise to buy the drives from different suppliers/stores, or at least ask the seller to give you varying serial numbers. When we sold drives for this purpose we would automatically give the customers drives from different batches. The reason is simple, although harddrives have improved a lot over the years there is always a chance of defects. In our experience when something goes wrong, it often happened that we got more drives back from that one batch. So although this could be 100% bad luck we always advise to spread out your drives when buying drives to backup data in one device.
Do remember that when one drive fails in a NAS/DAS it’s not a real problem, but when 2 fail you are into trouble (depending on the RAID setup of course).
For external drives you don’t really have any control about what’s inside the housing so I would always advise to buy from a reputable company. As a consumer we have no idea what sellers/manufacturers can do with hardware/software manipulations, there are several examples about USB sticks and external drives where the 512GB versions only can store 128GB safely. So don’t try to save money the wrong way, you are better off getting a 2TB from a company that you trust instead of a 4TB at the same price from “Photographers top gear” (fake brand (I hope)).
Transcend goes without saying is a brand that fits in the “we can trust” category.
Don’t be fooled.
A housing is not…. just a housing, there is a lot going on.
Just think about it.
Of course we have the harddrive (generating loads of heat), but also the interface, seeing there are no USBc harddrives. So besides just enclosing the interface and harddrive there is also the problem of heat dispersion, but also (with spinner drives) some damping is needed because an external drive is of course very easily moved, or someone moves/hits the table and although a drive also has it’s dampers the housing should really be designed to take some hits. And finally it also has to be small, sturdy and feel good.
Let’s be honest we don’t want drives that look they went to war after a month, but we also don’t want to drag around a brick. And finally… something that’s slippery is never a good idea, but you also don’t want it to be a dust magnet (we all know the material that feels great but looks like some worn-out rubber after a few weeks)
I think the Storejet will please even the most critical people.
The material feels very nicely, it’s firm but still a bit flexible, I really like that for a harddrive, it often means the material is pretty scratch resistant, but it also keeps the drive stay nicely in its place on the table and you can wipe dust off easily without it sticking to the housing. I do have to add that in about a month I will update this part if something chances in the test period.
Ease of use
As you can see in the images there is a button on the case, so why is it there?
When you buy the StoreJet you get some really nice software, it’s already on the drive so the first time you connect it you can install the software (make a backup) and format the drive after that to the preferred format.
There are two apps
The first one is RecoveRx and is aimed at recovering Photos you might have deleted by accident or from corrupt drives. But don’t be fooled by the label Photos you see at the splash screen, this is a full data recovery package including photos, videos, documents etc. I always really appreciate it if recovery software is delivered for free with a drive or card, it can happen very easily by a failing battery or a full card while using video that something goes wrong with your files and in my experience this kind of software is always very successful in recovering data.
Transcend Elite is aimed at backups.
And this is also where the button comes into play.
One of the things that we always experienced with customers in the computer store was that they often knew they had to make backups but….. there was always an excuse, but it always boiled down to the fact that there were too many things they had to do for a backup to start (and even when we automated it for them…. well when you have ever worked in IT you know what I mean).
Now this is where the button is used for.
In the software you can create a task, and when the button is pressed it will start that backup task automatically, you can create several ones and assign them to the button in the software, it works really easily and it makes it possible to create the tasks for someone that is able to switch the tasks but not to create them. This makes the backup process incredibly easy, oh and if you don’t want to press a button… there is also a scheduler available, so they got you covered.
At the moment I think it’s easy.
We need a USBc type connection.
But also here there is a difference between external drives.
When buying a drive always look at the quality of the connectors used, also the enclosed cable also tells you a bit about the kind of quality you buy.
The Storejets USBc connector looks very solid, the enclosed cable is a bit short but is from a thick and sturdy quality.
The reason I mention this is the fact that most external drives are connected and disconnected several times per day during a shoot or when traveling, and every time you put some stress on the port. A well designed port will take this abuse without any problems but (trust me) there are also ports that literally already start to bent after a week and before you know it the USBc cable (which is a pretty solid connection) starts to wiggle and the problems with data corruption and disconnects start. So please always check the quality of the ports.
In all honesty this will vary a lot per person.
When we travel I use the external drive as a backup for my laptop but also for movies/comics/magazines which I can copy to my iPad to watch/read. So the 4TB means I can take everything with me I would ever need during the trip and still don’t have to worry about running out of space. If you just use it as a backup 2TB should be more than enough for most people.
Part of the data protection you can do yourself by making backups and buying external drives like this one from a reputable source. And with a reputable source I mean the store you buy the product, there are several examples online where people think they buy new products but end up with refurbished drives or even worse the housing from the brand they ordered but inside a much cheaper interface and memory sticks instead of a SSD, so please beware of where you buy.
When you buy the StoreJet you already get recovery software, an automated backup workflow, a one touch backup button so you already know they take data protection serious and this is also translated into the housing itself, according to Transcend we could drop the drive from up to 2 meters and nothing would happen to the drive or data…. I uhh….. just take their word for it.
Ok we are almost there, I hope so far you enjoyed the review and the tips. But we have one thing left of course, how fast is the StoreJet.
Now I have to be honest.
For me the speed isn’t the most important thing, if you really want speed get an SSD version (and of course also pay SSD prices) but I also don’t want to wait forever of course. In use the StoreJet feels fast enough for an external spinner drive, both large and smaller files copy without any problems on or around max speed.
But the test is always better 🙂
I’ve given several tips about what to look for when you want to buy an external drive, and the StoreJet actually fits those topics very well so in my honest opinion I think Transcend has an awesome external drive solution for anyone that needs a reliable external drive with loads of storage where you don’t have to stress out when it drops on the floor.
I do want to add one more tip
During longer trips there is a moment where my laptop is full.
This would mean that my external drive is the only backup, this is why we always travel with 2 external drives, one 4TB and one 2TB
The 2TB is just for photos and videos we shoot, the 4TB also contains other data that we took from home. This is a pretty secure solution especially when combined with for example Lightroom CC and an Adobe subscription. But make sure that you don’t store the drives and laptop in the same bag (yes it happens).
The transcend StoreJet was send in for review, the review is however my honest opinion.