LaCie Two Big 1TB eSATA drive
A terabyte of hot-swappable storage... on your desk
Exclusive Review It wasn't very long ago that having a terabyte (1TB) of storage in a home PC was considered far-fetched. But now just about every hard drive manufacturer has a 500GB drive in its product range, and having a terabyte or more in a desktop PC isn't really a big deal. However, LaCie has figured out a different approach to give you 1TB with the Two Big external Serial ATA (eSATA) enclosure...
The Two Big look smart, considering the fact that it's a hard drive case at the end of the day. It's just a shame that the front and rear are made from plastic, when the rest of the case is made out of solid aluminium and aluminium mesh. The front is removable, so you can access the hard drives, but this is something most users are unlikely to ever do. The Two Big measures a fairly chunky 24.5 x 12.7 x 7.6cm and weighs in at 2.5kg.
Our review model shipped with two 500GB Hitachi Deskstar drives inside. These are hot-swappable - there are no caddies as the SATA standard is hot-swap by design - and quite easy to remove, although the right drive was harder to pull out than the left for some reason.
The rear of the drive case has an eSATA connector, a power jack and that's it, no other fancy interfaces. LaCie could have fitted a USB or Firewire interface as well, but this would have upped cost and complicated the RAID set-up. A small vent is located here which provides an outlet for the rotary fan inside the case. The fan never gets very noisy, but it could possibly be annoying in a particularly quiet room.
There's also a small switch on the back that allows you to set the built-in RAID controller to various modes, along with a small button that activates the new mode. The different settings are RAID 0 (written as Fast), RAID 1 (Safe), Big and JBOD. RAID 0 is for speed, alternately writing blocks of data across the two disks, but providing no failure protection. RAID 1 is for data security, with one drive acting as a full copy of the other - though this halves the overall capacity. Big mode treats both drives as one big disk, but without the speed benefit of RAID 0. Finally, JBOD bypasses the on-board controller and lets your PC or Mac run the two disks. Once you've changed from one mode to another you need to reformat the hard drives for them to work, although swapping from RAID 0 to RAID 1 or vice versa also requires a repartitioning.