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For the Mac Musician: Two Hard Drives That Will Have You Set For Life

written by: Austin•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 6/28/2011

If you use Pro Tools on your Mac, you've probably noticed that your song files become massive very quickly, and if you don't have a huge hard drive, you'll need a place for them. Answer: Better Mac pro hard drives for Pro Tools.

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    Why Isn't My Hard Drive Good Enough?

    Getting into the music industry is a hard skill (though it's not so much skill as it is luck), but having great equipment can bring your chances up just a little bit. If you're using the popular program "Pro Tools" to make your music, there is one piece of equipment that can bring your functionality and efficiency up to an even greater degree: Hard drives.

    "But Austin," You ask, "Why isn't my poor little hard drive good enough for you and your evil article-writing?"

    Now hold your horses, I didn't say that. But I did say that you can do better, especially if the hard drive you're currently working with is the default hard drive for your system. Still, I encourage you to check your specs against the ones of the drives I'll be talking about in a moment to make sure you don't accidentally downgrade (though I seriously doubt that will happen).

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    The Important Factors: Speed and Size

    So what do you suppose the most important thing is when it comes to hard drives and making music? Is it the size? Is it the shape? How about the price? Musicians are incredibly poor, after all! But nay, it is none of these things; the most important thing when it comes to music-oriented hard drives is speed. How fast you can copy and load files to and from it is important because it means you can instantly take that track you made last week, load it up, and in seconds get that great idea recorded before it leaves your brain.

    So, how does this translate into hard drives? Well, let's get some perspective for a second: Most hard drives that come with computers transfer at around 300MBPS. This is about 100 songs (NOT project files) per second, or a few thousand text files. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Now, imagine you can triple that and get a speed of 1GBPS (1000MBPS). This is incredibly fast, and if you have a hard drive that is this fast, you should feel very happy about that.

    The second most important thing with hard drives? The size. Most built-in hard drives of computer from 2006-2010 have about 500GB of storage space. This is more than enough for most practical purposes like storing music and recording videos, but as musicians, we need something more. Double the 500GB average and you get 1TB (equal to 1000GB). This is about as big as anyone, musician or not, would ever need. Keep this in mind as we go through the list options.

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    Western Digital WD Caviar Black 1 TB SATA

    Screen shot 2011-06-26 at 7.02.04 PM 

    First up on this list is the Western Digital 1TB hard drive. Let's check out the specs:


    Like I said, the average size of a hard drive now is about 500GB, and this drive doubles that, giving you a full 1TB of space to play around with. Definitely enough to go around.


    This is where this hard drive absolutely decimates the competition in a lot of ways. Remember how I said the average write speed for something is about 300MBPS? This hard drive takes that, multiplies it by twenty and then gives it back to you. Yea, twenty. The write speed for this hard drive is 6GBPS. In English that translates to somewhere between "Really really fast" and "Faster than you ever thought possible."


    Another great thing about this drive? It isn't even that expensive. You'll shell out just $90 for this one, depending on where you buy.

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    Seagate ST32000641AS Barracuda XT Hard Drive

    Screen shot 2011-06-26 at 7.01.54 PM 

    The other hard drive here that will have you set for life if you're using Pro Tools is one from the popular company "Seagate". It's the Seagate ST32000641AS Barracuda XT Hard Drive (Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?), and even standing next to the other one on this list, it comes out on top.


    The Western Digital drive on this list was 1TB in size, which (like I said) is going to be more than you can probably ever fill up even if you completed an entire song every day for the next ten years. This Seagate drive, however, tops even that. It gives you twice as much storage space, clocking in at 2TB.


    The other factor in this race is speed, and Seagate has you covered on that front as well. Matching what is without a doubt the fastest write speed I've seen on a hard drive, this one ties for first at 6GBPS.


    The only front that this little guy loses on is pricing, because it is a handful of dollars more expensive than the aforementioned drive. You'll be shelling out around $140 for this one, if you choose it. Less than twice the cost and you get twice the storage space? Not an awful deal, as far as I'm concerned.

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    References/Purchase Links

    Images and information come from products' respective product pages.

    Purchase Links

    Western Digital Drive

    Seagate Drive