Hard drive selection. Everyone's favourite topic

I bought a WD My Passport drive which was externally powered and it worked great until the drive failed twice. (Once I formatted it in ext4, the other time, in exFAT)

I left my drive to be written on overnight wiht my rsync scripts then when I checked it in the morning df -h the drive was mysteriously unmounted, it said something to do with bad sectors.

I will be sending it back to Amazon and I will select another drive. My question here is that, am I able to get away with using hard drives which are not externally powered such as:


And if so, which filesystem should it be in? In all my distros on my laptop, I’ve ever only used ext4.

Why do you want to go with a none external power harddrive? Just adds another uncertainty and surely when using the Pi or the Vero would mean you need a powered Hub.
If you want a “reliable” drive that you can use permanently go with a 3.5" instead of a 2.5" HDD.

Well the “ext” series of filesystem is know to be stable and well designed. So it should be stable for what you want. Surely also BTRFS is always an interesting choice if you look for new features like COW

I use BTRFS on my laptops running Linux Mint, and have for years without problems. For external drives I’ve been using EXT4 because not all NAS support BTRFS well. If the drive is to be connected to a Pi/Vero then BTRFS would be my personal choice.

I agree with @fzinken about power. Use a externally powered drive.

Isn’t a My Passport a small USB powered drive? The My Book series are the full sized externally powered drives.

Which OSMC device are you planning to connect these drives to?
Regardless, I’d recommend a drive with an external power supply or using a powered hub.


(typo corrected, the Quantum Bigfoot drives were not reliable at all :grin:)

This 100%. Sure it is nice to not have an extra power brick and a form factor that is easy to deal with but the small drives in those cases have to make a lot of compromises to keep them in that form factor, weight, power draw, cost, etc. Personally I have been happy with the WD My Book and Easystore drives in the larger sizes (most of mine had red’s and white label red’s in them) but a bit less so with the WD Elements I picked up recently (with Ultrastar drives). It is probably best to avoid any that advertise encryption so you can recover your data if the USB to SATA adapter craps out.

Well I still life in the past :slight_smile:
Corrected in my post :wink:

Agree on the WD Elements, they are cheap and good if you use the drives outside of the enclosure. If you use them in the enclosure and the USB board dies no recovery possible unless you have another WD Elements (as I have 4 I am safe :wink: )


Absolutely! It might help to just look at the cheapest price per terabyte; here some actual values in Germany

Spinning disks:

  • external 2,5 USB: 21 EUR
  • external 3,5 USB: 16 EUR
  • internal 2,5 SATA: 30 EUR
  • internal 3,5 SATA: 20 EUR

Consumer SSDs

  • external USB: 112 EUR
  • internal SATA: 99 EUR

there might be some web sides also in your country showing the price per terabyte as well. So here, the 3,5 external USB spinning disks have (currently) the best price per capacity ratio … and have an own power supply. But … we’re talking about 6 or 8 TB disks models with that good price/terabyte ratio.

(Source: https://geizhals.de/ (German view) -> Hardware -> Festplatten & SSDs )

Thanks for the advice. The reason why I was looking into a different hard drive was because I don’t want to get the same one from Amazon that I will return, it doesn’t work well with linux.

@JimKnopf, thanks for the break down of prices, that really helps me visualize.

@sam_nazarko, I have the Vero 4K+

Which external hard drive (with power supply) do you guys use? Perhaps you could show me and I’ll be the same one.


For video material and backups I use “Intenso Memory Center 3TB” blocks, first bought in 2013, last in 2018, all error free and passes smartctl long test (2 -3 times a year) without any sector re-allocation. Inside are TOSHIBA DT01ACA300 spindles, I also use for some PCs as internal data disks. I am happy with these hard drives but there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Wait for other suggestions to come.

As exchanged above, a cheap good option to go is WD Elements 6 or 8 TB gives best space/cost ratio

Hey guys, I bumped into the same problem with my new hard drive, I got a Toshiba one where the reviews says it works with Linux on ext4.

So when I first plugged it in, it was recognized and I see that it was automounted. Then I umounted and formatted.

sudo mkfs.ext4 -L "Blackbox" /dev/sda1

Then I set up rsync and everything is fine, the drive is still connected. When the rsync finishes, it is unmounted and when I try to mount it, I get this:

sudo mount /dev/sda1 /media

mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sda1,
       missing codepage or helper program, or other error

       In some cases useful info is found in syslog - try
       dmesg | tail or so.

This is the second time this has happened, I returned my previous hard drive because I thought that that was the issue, this time I bought this one:

Any ideas?

Are you externally powering the drive?

I would try creating a partition table.

umount /dev/sda1
sudo apt-get install -y parted
sudo parted -s /dev/sda mklabel gpt
sudo parted -s /dev/sda mkpart primary ext4 4M 100%
sudo partprobe
sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1

Yup, I am externally powering it. I got myself a usb hub.

Okay, I will try to do it again after partitioning/formatting it.

So, I tried your way and so far the drive is freshly formatted and attached. I do notice something that is different:

Now it is mounted in

With a hard to type uid and it is owned by root. Is this an intended consequence?


When you created the EXT4 fs, you probably didn’t include the -L option to name it, so it mounts with the UUID.

You should be able to add a label by doing this:

sudo e2label -L MyLabelName /dev/sda1

(of course make sure it’s sda1!)

Or if you haven’t added anything just run the mkfs.ext4 with the -L option.