Vantec NexStar MX enclosure review

5 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 26 2008

So, when I bought my NAS I started transferring over everything I wanted to keep on it. But then I realized that 500 GB would not be enough room to store everything. Instead of returning the NAS and getting a bigger one, which I did not have money for, I decided to keep the 500 GB NAS for only the things that I really wanted to have available on my home network (pictures, music, and videos). The other stuff that was more just there for storage (program installs, backups) could be put on a external hard drive. So I headed back to Fry’s looking for a USB hard drive enclosure. Here is the one I ended up with.

I bought the Vantec NexStar MX HDD enclosure from Fry’s for 3 reasons.
1. The price: I got the unit for $30. Not sure if it was a sale or if they were making way for the new NexStar with eSATA. Either way I feel like it was a good price for the features.
2. Dual SATA enclosure. Most enclosures I found in this price range would either only hold 1 hard drive, or would only use IDE hard drives. I had 2 SATA drives sitting in my closet that I needed to use. So this would let me use both of them without buying two enclosures.
3. Build quality. The whole unit is brushed aluminum and the enclosure alone seemed thick enough to stop a bullet. Well maybe not bullet proof but it felt good enough to hold my monthly backups.

I don’t feel like re-inventing the wheel with the review so I am just going to link to a couple much more thorough reviews than I could have ever done and tell you my thoughts.
Here are a few reviews for you to read on your own time. Virtual-Hideout, thinkcomputers, and futurelooks.

Overall, I am completely satisfied with my purchase. The drive is a little bit loud but I rarely have it plugged in anyway because it is only for occasional backups and long time storage. If you are looking for something that you want on all the time I would spend the extra money for a unit with more than just USB and something quieter. But if you have a couple extra SATA hard drives and need some long time storage than this is probably the device for you. The software it comes with is Windows only so I didn’t care for it but I was surprised to get any software at all for $30. The price on amazon is $70 and that is probably more than what I would pay for this enclosure. I feel the enclosure is easily worth $50 though if you can find it in that price range.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or what your experience with your external enclosure was like.

How I stay digitally organized: downloads and files

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Nov 21 2008

I was inspired by download squads post on getting a hard drive organized and I thought I would post how I keep all my many computers organized. I hope to follow this up with a couple other posts about how I keep my cloud life organized and how I keep my media files organized but, first lets tackle local files.
To explain how out of hand my files can get, here are the computers and storage devices I use regularly: work laptop (with 2 OS’s), work desktop, home desktop, MythTV computer/NAS, wife’s laptop, wife’s desktop, numerous memory cards, 2 external hard drives, a home NAS, network drives at work (8), backup CD’s, a original xbox (which stores more than you’d think), and obviously this website/server and more email addresses than I want to admit to (or even know exist).
So lets start with how I keep my files organized on the computers I use the most. My work laptop and work desktop.
The first thing I always try to remember on my work computers is anything and everything on my work laptop and work desktop are counted as files I can lose at any time. I do not keep them backed up as often as I should because I use these computers mostly for work purposes. If I lost my job or either of my hard drives failed all of the files would be gone and I am fine with that because all of my important files are backed up somewhere else. Both of my work computers are running Windows Vista and I had to create some extra folders in my user profile to stay organized.
The first folder I make is install. This is where I keep my most used program installers that are not updated too often. Programs like Firefox, Filezilla, and Pidgin are all updated far too often for me to keep installers for them but more random/large installers I want to keep around for future use so they go in this folder. Inside my install folder I have the following subfolders: Backup, Game, Hardware, Operating System, Software, and Windows Mobile. The backup folder is not where I store backups from the local computer but usually backups for other computers/memory cards. This folder structure is almost identical to one of my external hard drives. The external hard drive keeps a much more permanent set of installers and backups but my laptop is just for programs I install often. The other folders in my Install folder are pretty self explanatory.
The second folder I create is a scripts folder inside my user folder. I have debated naming this projects because it is where I keep scripts/programs I am writing and general tools that I make for myself. For now though I just put scripts in that folder.
The last folder I make is my work folder under documents. This folder is simply for work related documents (pdfs, spreadsheets, etc.). I don’t keep a lot of work documents on my laptop because they are generally stored on my network drives at work. This folder is just for documents that relate specifically to me such as expense reimbursements, system logs, and checklists.
The last set of folders I make are in my downloads folder. Inside downloads I create a Firefox, torrent, FTP, and dropbox folder (the desktop and Starcraft folders in the screenshot are only specific to my laptop and are there for quick access). I then tell each appropriate program to put the freshly downloaded files in the correct directory (dropbox is a writable samba share folder). Once I have all the folders created I add a toolbar to the Windows taskbar for easy access because this is probably my most used folder. This is also usually my biggest place of disorganization because I download things frequently. I have found, however, with this organization it is very easy for me to go through old files and delete them with ease. I used to use Belvedere from Lifehacker but I found I did not like my files moving on their own.
My linux computers/partitions have similar folders in the home directory and my wife’s computers she keeps organized as she wishes but usually keeps important files on the NAS at home. I will go over organizing media files next.