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Why I bought and returned a LaCie 2TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt drive

August 22, 2012

I’m in the process of migrating my personal computing from an iMac to Macbook Pro. Since MBP doesn’t have the luxury of a 2TB secondary HDD like the iMac had, I looked at external drive options. Thunderbolt looked like a good idea, and specifically, I went for the LaCie 2TB drive.

I tried it out for a few days, and then took it back to the store for a refund. Didn’t work for me.

Here’s the things I didn’t like about it.

Expensive. 500$ for 2TB comes down to $250/TB. That’s just a lot of money.

No bus power. Maybe I’m stupid, but the very fact that there’s a power supply included with the disk tells you something. The disk wanted to have two cables—Thunderbolt to your computer, and separate power cable for wall power. That’s just annoying. I don’t like wall power and cables. USB and Firewire drives are bus-powered (meaning they get their power from computer from the same cable that transfers the data), so why can’t Thunderbolt do the same?

2TB actually means two 1TB drives that you must configure for RAID. Yep, there were two 1TB devices in the enclosure, and I could set them up any way I want with Disk Utility—1TB mirrored, or 2TB serialized, or a bunch of other configurations. Honestly, I don’t care. I handle backup outside all of this nonsense, and I just want one disk, so why do you make me think about the configuration at all?

No advertised speed. One of the advertised benefits of Thunderbolt is that it is crazy fast. I happily admit that I am an idiot who is not able to use these devices as they are supposed to—I just did not see any of the advertised speeds. I saw plain boring old 10MB/s or so, which is achievable with any USB or Firewire drive.

Thunderbolt ONLY. Apparently that is a thing. There is no multi-interface. I used to have a LaCie drive that was Firewire 400, Firewire 800, and USB. No dice with Thunderbolt. You are Thunderbolt-only and can’t connect it to older computers without it.

I put all these items together and decided that I am simply too dumb for Thunderbolt drives at this point in time, or it is too early for the technology, or both. I took it back to the store. (Kudos to Apple Store’s 14-day no-questions-asked return policy.)

Instead, I got some 1TB USB3 drives from Seagate and Toshiba, for about 90$ each, or 5 times cheaper. They are crazy fast with my Retina MBP, and acceptably slow with my old iMac (but hey, I can at least connect them, which is not the case for Thunderbolt drives).