When we first got the Myshare into the Lab, we were a bit taken aback by its simplicity. There’s no fancy software to accompany the 500GB device; it’s actually two 250GB drives striped using RAID 0. If you want to access the Myshare, you have to go through Windows Explorer, just as you would with any other network drive.
SSD’s have been hyped up lately, but it’s not exactly a new concept. My first experience with flash-based storage was the then revolutionary Hewlett-Packard Ominbook 300. The Omnibook used a combination of ROM cards and an optional 10MB PCMCIA flash card for storage almost 14 years ago. That 10MB optional flash drive set you back $1,200 and performance wasn’t exactly stunning.
We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Hitachi’s Deskstar T7K500 hard drive, with an easy-to-remember 500GB of storage, is unremarkable. More than that, it underperforms when compared to similarly featured, similarly priced (if not cheaper!) products.
This month, WD joins the 500GB party with its Caviar SE 16 drive. Because the 400GB model is already our favorite 7,200rpm drive, we expected big things from its four-platter successor—and we were mostly satisfied.
Most people don’t keep up with the backup drive game, and we don’t blame them. It’s about as exciting as a “You’ll never believe what happened to me last night in Oblivion” story. The Cliff Notes overview is that WD’s Dual-Option Media Center drive has ruled the roost for a long time. We loved its high capacity and somewhat-easy-to-use software, but what really set it apart from the competition was its front-mounted USB port and 8-in-1 media reader.
As seekers of all-out performance, it’s only natural that we’d covet super-fast RAM for storage duties, but there have always been obstacles to this fantasy scenario. The first is cost, as RAM is crazy-expensive per gig compared with hard drives. Second, RAM is volatile memory: When it loses its electric charge all the data goes bye-bye, so if you put your OS on a RAM drive and then unplug the machine—D’oh! Simply put, RAM drives just aren’t very practical. Still, the idea is intriguing, and Gigabyte’s i-RAM actually works extremely well and overcomes the aforementioned obstacles, but we do have a few complaints.