IBM invented the hard drive, way back in 1956. Over the years, the price of hard drives has plunged from millions of dollars to something closer to a decent lunch, and the capacity has grown from thousands of bytes to thousands of billions of bytes. The largest hard drives currently available are two terabytes – two thousand billion bytes. For most of this long history of soaring capacity and plunging cost, IBM was the technology leader.
When IBM sold its drive manufacturing to Hitachi in 2003, it wasn't clear what would happen to IBM’s legacy. But today Hitachi's drives are just as well regarded as they were with IBM's label, and are tops in the field.
Over the years I’ve tended to favor Seagate drives. Their Barracuda series hard drives have a stellar reputation for durability, plus a five-year warranty. Western Digital’s Caviar Green drives are just as robust, but use roughly half as much power. When I needed a hard drive, I tended to get Seagate or Western Digital Caviar Green drives, and have been happy with the result.
But when I needed some more capacity in a hurry late last year, I was tempted by a special offer for Hitachi 1 terabyte Deskstar drives. The Deskstar series was started by IBM in 1994, aimed at corporate desktop workstations, but the Deskstar drives today are many times the speed and capacity of IBM’s original model. Hitachi has worked hard to maintain the reputation IBM developed, and these new high capacity drives work perfectly in a Mac OS X system. Pop them into a Power Mac G5 or a Mac Pro, format them, and you’ll greatly expand your capacity with less than 15 minutes work. If you have an external 3.5” SATA case, the Deskstar is a good candidate to fill it, giving you impressive storage via a FireWire or USB cable.
Do note that these drives are packaged with instructions for Windows, which is misleading. Most Windows computers can’t even use drives this large, due to limitations in Windows XP and the less than impressive architecture of most Windows computer chassis. The same drive should work just as well in a Linux computer, or a Windows 7 computer, as on a Mac OS X machine; remember to format the drive appropriately.