Should you purchase an Xbox 360 without a hard drive?

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Before I go into the details I’ll state that I think it’s best to purchase an Xbox 360 with a hard drive if you’re a hardcore gamer. You certainly can use one without a hard drive but you’ll be restricted on what you can do with the system. You can purchase a drive at any time but you’ll probably end up spending about the same amount that you originally saved up front anyway.

Microsoft has offered an Xbox 360 model without a hard drive for a long time. They may have been available since the system was released but since it’s been several years now I don’t remember for certain (I think they originally only came with hard drives until Microsoft added the ability to store content on external, USB storage devices). Around the holidays these systems are usually heavily promoted. Typically, they come with some form of storage, most likely just a flash drive around 4GB in size.

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Mediasonic ProBox 2.5″ SATA HDD Hard Drive Enclosure – USB 3.0 (H21-SU3)

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I had a 2.5″ SATA drive just sitting around unused, which I pulled out of a failed ASUS netbook a while back. The drive was in good condition so I decided to order a USB enclosure to stick it in and make it more useful.

This initiated my usual process of visiting Amazon, viewing products, and reading several reviews. Ultimately, I settled on a Mediasonic ProBox 2.5″ SATA HDD Hard Drive Enclosure – USB 3.0 (H21-SU3). I wasn’t looking to spend very much and it seemed like a good buy at about $15. In addition, it also supports USB 3.0 and my 13″ MacBook Pro has USB 3.0 ports.

I’ve only used it a couple of times but it seems sturdy and I haven’t had any problems with it. I can’t make any claims about how good the USB 3.0 support is since I haven’t really done very much with it. The case is plastic but it feels sturdy and with only one screw it’s very easy to open and close.

Updated 05/22/2013: I bought two more of these after upgrading my MacBook Pro hard drive and my wife’s for use with the old drives.

Updated 07/18/2013: All of these cases are still working great.

Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition & iMac Standby Issues

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Several weeks ago I installed Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition on my iMac. I chose it because I was somewhat familiar with Sophos and I knew that I needed a working malware program (I was using an older version of McAfee Security on my previous iMac but that version wasn’t compatible with Lion).

Since I installed it I began to notice odd issues with bringing my Mac out of standby. It could have been a coincidence but the only other changes I’ve made to the system were some recent system updates.

Today, once again, the system didn’t wake. Previous issues also included the system partially waking but the mouse cursor would change to a spinning wheel and I couldn’t do anything except move the cursor.

After I restarted the iMac the system offered to send a crash report to Apple. I went ahead and let it but I viewed the details before sending. While I didn’t read the information closely it looked like it was possibly caused by the Sophos updater process.

To try to work around the problem I changed some Energy Saver settings. My iMac is on a UPS and I noticed the UPS configuration options were a little different from the standard power options. I disabled the option to allow the hard drive to sleep and then saved the changes.

With those changes in place it’s now just a matter of waiting to see if it happens again.

A Bad PS3 (Hard Drive)

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For the past several months I’ve had various problems with my Playstation 3. On a regular basis it would show corrupt file and disk warnings and then spend several minutes restoring the file system. I’ve tried formatting the drive but while downloading updates or trying to launch or play a game it would freeze. I followed several suggestions from various forums that recommended using the built-in recovery tools for the PS3.

Finally, I decided to put the original hard drive in it and remove the 250 GB drive I had installed. The original drive has worked perfectly since. The larger drive passed one scan test using a third-party program but showed a bad sector after scanning it with chkdsk in Windows 7. For now I’m just going to leave the original drive installed – I use the PS3 so infrequently these days I’m not sure if I’ll need a larger drive anyway.

Updated 07/12/2011: Based on my experience I’m left to conclude that either the PS3 file system is not capable of marking bad sectors and ignoring them, or the implementation is very poor. Essentially, this may mean that it doesn’t matter whether or not you run chkdsk in Windows. When the drive is re-inserted it will be formatted by the PS3. Since the marking of bad sectors appears to be a file system task then the information collected in Windows (or another OS using similar utilities) may simply be lost or ignored and the PS3 will continue to access the bad sector.

The 250 GB drive I was using only had one sector detected as bad, but it was enough to cause numerous problems when installed in the PS3.