Use FIPS Framework to choose a Hard Drive Case

It is difficult to choose the right hard drive case for me. Therefore, I create a framework to help me compare them. It is FIPS: Fan, Interface, Power, and Solid.

Fan – Smart and Quiet

I preferred to use fan to cool my 3.5″ external hard drive. Fan-less are quiet but make me worry about the life of my hard drive which is more important to me.

If it doesn’t come with a fan, it must have a space for me to install a fax. Buffalo HD-LX2TU3 doesn’t comes with a fan as standard but OP-FAN-ALEM is available as an optional in Japan.

A big fan with smart (rotation speed change with temperature) feature is better than a small fan with fix rotation speed.

I use the Free Hard Disk Sentinel Linux Edition to monitor hard drive temperature. Here is an sample running HDDSentinel -solid in terminal.

amigo@Edge72z:~/Downloads/Resource-Temp> ./HDSentinel
Hard Disk Sentinel for LINUX console 0.08 (c) 2008-2011
Start with -r [reportfile] to save data to report, -h for help

Examining hard disk configuration ...
No hard disk devices found. Please run as "root".
amigo@Edge72z:~/Downloads/Resource-Temp> sudo ./HDSentinel -solid
root's password:
/dev/sda 35 100 1455 ST1000DX001-1CM162  Z1D6LH8B              953870
/dev/sdb  ?   ?    ? Generic-_xD/SD/M.S. MEMORYSTICK-MG             0
/dev/sdc  ?   ?    ? hp______v180w       ?              -137438953472
/dev/sdd 36 100  294 ST9320423AS         5VH405L3              305245 analyze the Safe Range of HDD Temperature and conclude from the Google paper, smaller independent studies and tech forum users:

Hard Disk Temperature
Less than 25°C: Too cold
25°C to 40°C:   Ideal
41°C to 50°C:   Acceptable
More than 50°C: Too hot

Interface – Speed and Reliable

eSATA is reliable and fast but USB are all supported on my device. Therefore, I chose USB for better compatibility.

USB 3.0 B connector feels more solid than A connector.  Most people have problems accessing 2.5″ portal hard drive due to loose USB 3.0 A connector. I didn’t have the same problems with USB 2.0 A connector.

If you need the hardware encryption, please refer to Contents in Secure External HDD is Encrypted. A solid USB 3.0 B connector might be a better choice because you won’t be able to rescue your data by swapping the hard drive in another hard disk case or using a bridge.

skiis explains the USB connector quality is related to the material. He didn’t mentioned about the connector type.

Power – Brand and Current

As mentioned in Match Hard Disk Startup Current with Power Adapter Output Current, I preferred the power adapter may provide output current equal or more than the StartUp Current.

I also preferred the adapter from a professional factory because I don’t have enough knowledge to judge the quality of power output. I rely on the credit of the company.

Solid – Structure and Material

Some plastic material are easy to change due to tension. I preferred a metal material like my LevelOne NAS GNS-1001 which feels cool and solid.

According to skiiks, using metal material helps to cool your hard drive a little bit than plastic. If you may bring the heat on hard disk to the metal case with heat sink, it should improve cooling, too.

A solid case can also minimize resonance caused by hard drives.


  1. Buffalo HD-LX2TU3
  2. Buffalo OP-FAN-ALEM
  3. Hard Disk Sentinel: Hard Disk Sentinel Linux Edition (FREE)
  4. HDD Temperature – What is a Safe Range to Avoid Hard Disk Failure?
  5. Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population, Eduardo Pinheiro, Wolf-Dietrich Weber and Luiz Andŕe Barroso, Google Inc.{edpin,wolf,luiz}
  6. Wiki: Serial ATA: eSATA
  7. Wiki: USB
  8. Wiki: USB: “A” & “B” connectors
  9. Contents in Secure External HDD is Encrypted
  10. Match Hard Disk Startup Current with Power Adapter Output Current
  11. Wiki: Inrush current
  12. IHS GlobalSpec CR4: Inrush Current and StartUp Current
  13. Wiki: Inrush current limiter
  14. LevelOne NAS GNS-1001
  15. Mobile01: 哪個3.5吋外接盒較好呢?
  16. Wiki: Heat sink
  17. Mobile01: 外接硬碟usb界面壞掉的可能性?
  18. Wiki: Resonance

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