Mercury Elite-Al Pro Quad Drive | OWC

We all know it and we all fear it. That given enough time, every hard drive will eventually fail.
This digital grim reaper has yet to darken my door, but I have had enough close calls to worry.  With a carefully manicured 130 GB itunes library, ever-growing video files and ten years of photos at stake…well you get the picture.
The price of external hard drives continue to drop, while we salivate at a future of solid state.  500 gig hard drives are now a fraction of what they were just years ago. But these bargains often come with limited capabilities (USB only) and as we all know manufacturers are always looking to reduce costs with cheaper parts. While doing my regular gear rounds recently I was shocked to see that most of the Western Digital line of MyBook external hard drives are now made with entirely plastic cases.  I own a Western Digital MyBook Pro that I got a few years ago that still came with an aluminum case. It’s lack of an on/off switch and louder than average hum was a bit of a turnoff but at least it wasn’t made of plastic.
As you move up from USB into FireWire and eSATA, you quickly learn that speed can really enhance your experience. My itunes library outgrew my Macbook Pro’s internal hard drive a long time ago.  While running the library externally via a USB port, I experienced lags and the more than occasional beachballs.  After moving up to eSATA, the external hard drive runs just like the internal one.
My current advice for anyone needing room to expand is OWC’s Quad interface Mercury Elite-AL Pro series. Available in sizes from 250GB to 1000GB(1TB) and currently ranging in price from $147.99 to $299.99, they all feature USB2.0, FW400, FW800(2) and eSATA ports as well as 7200RPM speeds.  The best bang for the buck comes with the 750GB($219.99) model, of which I own two.  These drives run quiet, cool and really fast. Housed in a sexy brushed aluminum case and equipped with a metal clip stand that allows the drive to rest vertically, it is the perfect compliment to your rig. Aesthetics aside, this is one tough, well made piece of gear featuring all-metal construction and shock isolation. The package includes high quality cables for each of the ports and Prosoft Data Backup software (a $59 value) which I use on my Tiger machine and offers more features and flexibility than Time Machine for Leopard users. For those preferring the simplicity of Time Machine in Leopard, the OWC is the perfect solution.   The drive is already formatted for Mac so it is truly a plug and play experience.  The folks at OWC even include a 1.5 GB gift box full of free-ware (love menumeters!) on the drive which you can pick through and use or delete.

Macworld gave the 1TB OWC four mice last January. Their only criticism being the price and the lack of a security slot. Since then the price of has dropped from $420 to $299.99 making it a real value if you need the added space.  The entire Mercury Elite-Al line comes with a 2 year limited warranty.
Finally, dealing with OWC is truly a joy.  They even have a tech support line manned by competent, friendly mid-western types at their base outside of Chicago.
With the cost of recovering data from a dead drive running well over a thousand dollars coupled with potential horror of realizing your data might be lost forever, you really should do yourself a favor and visit OWC.

*  750GB External OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro “Quad Interface” Drive
* 36″ High Quality Double Shielded eSATA connecting cable
* 36″ High Quality Double Shielded FireWire 800 connecting cable (9-9 Pin cable)
* 36″ High Quality Double Shielded FireWire 400 connecting cable (6-6 Pin cable)
* 36″ High Quality Double Shielded USB 2.0/1.1 connecting cable
* External AutoSwitching 100/240v 50/60Hz Power Adapter
* Intech® SpeedTools Utilities™ OEM (For Mac OS 8.6 – X only)
* Prosoft Engineering® Data Backup for Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later
* NovaStor NovaBACKUP® for Windows 2000 or later
* Over 1.5GB of Freeware/Shareware/Public domain software installed

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