LaCie Power Supply Tips
Drooping voltages may cause drive failures.
By Chris and Trish Meyer | January 31, 2008
We own several of the LaCie Big Disk Extreme external hard drives (view on Amazon), which is part of their "d2" line. They provide RAID 0 speed in a very quiet enclosure, which is important to us. We use the FireWire 800 interface, which we find to be faster than internal SATA in many cases.
However, others have reported problems with these drives failing. One problem is no doubt heat. These drives are tightly packed with a small fan, so they're going to need a little help to keep them cool. This means try to place them with good airflow all around, and not buried inside a hot enclosed space. We tend to place them on the back sides of our desk (again, to further buffer the noise, but also to get them away from the hot computer), and run their FireWire and power supply cables out under the desk to them.
Another problem has been pinpointed by fellow user Danny Grizzle. He has found that LaCie's d2 and Big Disk drives can have an issue with their power supplies. They supply 12 volt and 5 volt lines to the drive. However, the 5 volt line may drop in voltage with age. If it drops too far, the drive will become increasingly unreliable until the drive eventually dies.
If this concerns you enough to become proactive, get a voltage or multi meter (Amazon sells a bunch - click here to see a selection) and measure the 5 volt line. Look at the connector diagram printed on the power supply's case, and measure Pin 1 (make sure the probe doesn't touch Pin 1 and anything else - it will short out the power supply) against ground (Pins 3 or 4). If it starts drooping below, say, 4.0-4.5 volts, replace the power supply before you start experiencing troubles.
LaCie offers replacement power supplies for sale on their web site. The hot tip here is to buy the Bigger Disk power supply rather than the normal d2 power supply: It costs the same and supplies the same voltages, but has a much higher power rating, which gives you a wider operating safety margin. LaCie has verified that this will work fine; just don't use the smaller d2 power supply on the more power-hungry Bigger Disk line.
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