External USB/Firewire drive recommendations?

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: Mar 29 2005

I am looking at buying external storage for DV, so I can access footage from two different computers ... one a PC(Windows), the other a Macintosh (G3). There are drives out there that CLAIM to be able to do this plug-and-play, with no problem.

Since I've only worked with video stored on an internal drive, I need to know-

- How truly multi-platform is video storage in practice?
- Are there any problems or performance issues when using USB/Firewire to access video on an external drive?
- How well adapted are external drives to being moved around? I don't plan on abusing it, but I'd like to swap computers daily.

Thanks much!

Joined: Jun 27 2003

HyperTyper - I have FOUR of the Lacie D2 "Big Disk" external drives: 1 x 120GB, 2 x 320GB and 1 x 500GB. Each needed formating to NTFS before use for video work.

Although they are triple interface devices (Firewire 800, 400 & USB2), I have only ever hooked them up via USB2.

They are all regularly swapped around between my Desktop and laptop PCs with no problem at all. I use them to capture video footage (mini DV, DV-CAM and analogue via a Canopus ADVC 100 analogue/digital converter), to edit that material via Premiere 6.5, and to author the material via Ulead DVD Workshop 2, burning the completed project to my desktop's internal Sony DVD RW DW U-12A writer. I also use them to archive DVD disc image files.

I've found them to be totally reliable and as flexible as it claims on the box (although I've no experience of plugging them into a Mac - I can't see any problem as long as you are accessing cross-platform compatible files). The 120GB drive is now around 2 years old and has been given a punishing workload on an almost daily basis without complaint.

Particularly useful is the ability to let the laptop take care of lengthy video encoding work on a finished project using a Lacie drive, freeing up the desktop for other work.
Hope this helps!

Joined: Aug 31 2002

Although Mac OSX 10.3 can read NTFS drives it cannot write to them - no other OS apart from Windows can do this, because Windows can't cope with another OS altering the file structure, and may well trash files added by the other OS (or its own files it no longer recognises). OS 9 or early OS X Macs can't read NFS at all.

Macs can read/write FAT32 drives, but with a 4GB max file size limit, which can be very limiting for video files. Also some 'real-time' Mac applications streaming video or audio files off a FAT32 drive can suffer stability problems, which can lead to data loss.

So the only tried-and-tested cross-platform solution is to format FireWire drives as Mac OS HFS+ (extended, with Journalling disabled if using OS X 10.3), and install either MacDrive www.mediafour.com/macdrive or MacOpener www.dataviz.com/products/macopener

Formatting a FW drive is simple with OS X. Under OS9 you probably need a utility to format the drives, such as Silverlining Pro, which used to come with LaCie drives. Otherwise you have to temporarily install the drive internally in the OS9 Mac to format the hard drive, which will probably invalidate the warranty of a new external FW drive...