Thoughts, as they do, have been whirling around inside my head lately. The one that a few minutes ago bubbled it's way up to the top is the question of Mini-HardDrives.

As I'm sure some of you have noticed from my recent posts, I'm planning on doing some traveling in the next few months. Further, I fully intend to work while I'm at it. Part of my plan is to do extensive recording absolutely everywhere I go. This means that I'm going to need some external storage, since the HD in my laptop is only 250 gigs. I'm not going to have space for a big bulky enclosure, and every pound is going to count, so it'll have to be a 2.5" drive (maybe two).

I've seen those rugged little orange rubber encased Lacie drives being used by a lot of people. But I'm wondering what else is out there. As far as data storage goes I don't care about the price. Mics, cables, interfaces, shoes, and deoderant, I am more than happy to scrimp on, but if a drive goes down, so does my entire catalogue of sounds and projects, essentially my entire working life. Not going to happen.

For those of you who do a lot of travelling, backpacking, &tc., what makes/brands of mini harddrives are up to the task?


I would put in a vote for a G-RAID mini, essentially 2 x 2.5" drives in raid array so your stuff is double backed-up. It runs off the firewire power of your computer so the cords you would need are just that, no power supply needed (for most computers).

plus it is fairly heavy duty with aluminum enclosure.

  • Yeah, I was looking at these. Pretty damn snazzy. It's just a smidge bulkier than I'd like, but still a great option. Thanks.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 3 '11 at 1:31
  • Wow, I think I need to start saving up for one of those, obviously with the 7200RPM drives! Just two concerns come to mind in terms of bus power for something like this: As far as I know this only works with a 6 pin firewire connector and most laptops only have the 4 pin "mini-DV" type. Running two drives on bus power will put quite a drain on the bus. Most laptops barely handle the drain of a single drive so you might have reliability issues.
    – Bluesman69
    Jun 3 '11 at 7:12

My opinion on HD's is to buy the drive you want and then find a housing for it, you then know exactly what the manufacturer of the drive is (Seagate, Western Digital etc) and which model. Personally I like the Seagate Momentus drives with the GeForce protection, I have a number of these and about to get another one. I also use enclosures from Akasa, they are well made and have never let me down.

If I were doing a trip like yours I would keep the drives separated, have one in one bag and one in another. Or give one to another person in your party (if there is another person), make sure they are synced, but if you drop a bag, or it gets stolen you still have another copy in another 'location'. You might also want to look at getting a couple of small Pelican cases for the drives.

Also burn DVD's every so often and post them back to yourself, they are available everywhere so you don't need to carry a supply and light enough that it won't cost you a fortune in postal costs.


If you can afford it I suggest purchasing an uncased solid state drive and then putting it in the smallest case that you can find. It might also be worth swapping out your internal drive as SSDs are more reliable than moving platters. If you were willing to lose your CD/DVD drive then both can be mounted internally.

I would also highly recommend cloud storage so that if the worse happens you still have access to all of your files.

  • I like the way you think. Aren't they crazy expensive though?
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 3 '11 at 10:23
  • They are very expensive but really are worth it for the improved file access times, battery life and reliability. A 256GB drive is £385 ($500) and a 512GB is £740 ($1000).
    – user80
    Jun 3 '11 at 10:54

The Iomega eGo (Mac Edition) run fairly well. We use those as our backups drives out in the field, because they have USB 2.0, Firewire 400, Firewire 800 and are bus powered. Great for dumping to off of the 744T or Deva, and then still accessible on the laptops we bring with us as well.


Forgot to mention, I've dropped one onto pavement before. Other than some minor chips to the paint/enamel of the case, it was completely unphased. Still runs like a champ.


Aside from portable drives, you might want to look into some cloud based storage, assuming you'll be able to find internet coverage here and there. Maybe something like dropbox or, to save cash, you could use a free large file transfer service like largefilesasap.com and have a friend back home take it down for you.

Even if you can't get a hold of acceptably fast internet connections, this could be a good extra measure of protection for anything amazing you might happen to record. Because drives do occasionally go down, and it's always infuriating if you're not backed up.

  • @Roger, Good point. Part of my plan though is to have a blog/website up before I go, so I should have a bumble-ton of server space. Thanks!
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 3 '11 at 10:10

Finding a drive that is reliable will obviously be important for travelling. I'm pretty happy with my LaCie Rugged 500GB. It's small, compact and so far seems to have been very reliable on all my travels (touch wood).

Personally, I would take Si's advice in keeping a backup drive in a separate place. The safety of your kit will vary greatly depending on where you travel, but precautions should be taken all the time. I spent 6 months travelling around Asia and was ultra careful with my stuff 24/7. As it turned out, I never had any problems, nor did I here from other travellers of things being stolen. Perhaps a reflection on the region, but it's still no excuse not to be careful. You never know.

I would also look into using an online storage solution such as those offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Another option would be to use one of the paid-for Soundcloud accounts. Using this option will guarantee against theft, loss or damage of your drives. Again, where you intend to travel will also influence your access to Internet, as well as the connection speeds you'll likely have access to and this will need to be taken into account.

To conclude, my advice would be take all the precautions you'd normally take with your studio storage and them some. You will most likely find at the end of your trip that these precautions have all been unnecessary, but you'll be forever grateful if you do encounter some issues and have your work backed up elsewhere.

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