Hardware

Computer | Storage

Long-term Practical Test: 27.05.2020–12.06.2021


LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 TB

External Hard Disk in solid Aluminium Housing

Photo: LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 TB external hard drive, original carton front.

Photo: LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 TB external hard drive, original carton front – Back side with product description after mouse click on the photo

18.05.2020: Ordered Apple MacBook Air i5 1.1/16/1 TB (2020) received from Apple. Massive changeover from Windows 7 Pro to macOS 10.15.x!
27.05.2020: Bought this LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 with 6 TB as a replacement for the soon to fail small mobile USB hard drives.

Because I wanted to finish this test report quickly, I had to make an effort and retrain quickly.
It wasn't possible to simply stop if something didn't work as desired and try again at some point.
Computer work is completely different with Apple's macOS than with Windows 7 Pro. I first had to get used to that …

But now the time has come – my first test report created with an Apple MacBook Air is online! smiley
I hope you enjoy reading this and that I can help you with your purchasing decisions.

Addendum 12.06.2021: the device is already defective after 381 days! What a pity.
So I already have to get a new supply ...

Buying Process

Hard drives have an average life of about 2–5 years, so I make sure I get a replacement in time and find out what's on offer.

Favourite Shop Saturn Electro Frankfurt, Zeil 106–110

Another reason for a new hard drive is usually that the capacity of the existing one is no longer sufficient. So I visit my favourite electrical shop again. It was closed for weeks because of the Corona pandemic. Without the pandemic, I would have been back there long ago.

Photo: LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 TB External Hard Drive, original box backside

Photo: LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 TB original packaging back – box contents after clicking on the photo.

27.05.2020: Only a few LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3s with six terabytes of capacity are on the shelf! Five minutes later, one of them is mine. laugh
The price: 459.00 EUR. – Not a bargain, as I realise afterwards, but for that this hard drive was not exposed to the stresses of parcel shipping, but as a pallet shipment together with many parcels most likely arrived at its shelf place without much vibration. That's worth it to me! I pay contactlessly, securely and quickly with Apple Pay. Cooler Smiley

Box Contents

  • LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3
  • external power supply unit
  • Thunderbolt 3 Cable (USB-C with 40 Gbit/s)
  • USB 3.0 (USB-C-to-USB-A) Adapter cable
  • Installation instructions

Photo: opened box of the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive, showing the hard drive and the inner box, which contains the connection cable and power supply unit and on the lid of which the quick start guide is printed.

Photo: opened box of the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive, with the hard drive on the front right and the inner box on the left, which contains the connection cable and power supply unit and on whose lid the quick start guide is printed, which is easier to see in the next photo:

Photo: Inner box = cable box with quick install guide on the lid

Photo: Inner box = cable box with quick install guide on the lid

Now I'm unpacking!

Photo: Original box of the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive, front of box

Photo 1: Original box of the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive, front of box

Photo: Unpacking the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

Photo 2: Carefully opened – what kind of construction is this?

Photo: Unpacking the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

Photo 3: Oh, now I understand …

Unpacking the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

Photo 4: upper black part removed – LaCie d2 is revealed

Unpacking the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

Photo 5: View into half-empty box …

Unpacking the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

Photo 6: LaCie d2 in front on the right, cable box on the left. This contains the connection cable and the power supply unit and the QIG is printed on the lid (see below).

Photo: Inner box with information material, connection cables and power supply unit

Photo 7: Inner box as cable box: Isn't that nice? Quick Install Guide (QIG) captive printed on the lid of the box!

Photo: Inner box with information material, connection cables and power supply unit

Photo 8: Inner box with information material, connection cable and power supply unit (still hidden under the information material)

Photo: Inner box with information material, connection cables and power supply unit

Photo 9: Inner box with information material, connection cables and where is the power supply unit?

Photo: Inner box with information material, connection cables and power supply unit

Photo 10: Inner box with info material, connection cables and finally the power supply unit can be seen …

Photo: Power supply for the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive

Photo 11: Close-up of the power supply unit for the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 – made in ShenZhen

Photo: my hard drive zoo

Photo 12: Hard drive zoo welcomes new arrival (not in picture: mobile SSD LaCie Porsche Design P'9223 and desktop hard drive LaCie P'9230)

Tech Specs

Capacity: 6 TB (also available with 8 and 10 TB)

Interfaces: 2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB 3.1 (USB 2.0 compatible)

Transmission rate of the interface:

Thunderbolt 3: up to 5 Gbit/s

USB 3.1: up to 5 Gbit/s
USB 2.0: up to 480 Mbit/s

Dimensions: 217 x 60 x 130 mm

Weight: 2,2 kg

Software:

LaCie Private-Public (protects data with AES 256-bit encryption – only available via download and not available in Russia).

LaCie Backup Assistant (easy setup of automatic computer backups).

Energy-saving mode (reduces power consumption by up to 77 % (2.6 W instead of 11.3 W) when not in use through automatic standby).
This can vary depending on the capacity and from hard disk to hard disk.

System requirements:

  • Computer with USB-C (Thunderbolt™ 3 or USB 3.1) or USB Type-A port
  • latest version of macOS® X 10.12 or higher / latest version of Windows 8 or higher
    (Windows 10 or higher required for Thunderbolt 3)
  • recommended minimum free space on the hard disk: 600 MB

Photo: Original LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 box, box page describes technical specifications, system requirements and box contents.

Photo: Original LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 box, box page describes technical specifications, system requirements and box contents.

Configuration/Setup

The Quick Install Guide (QIG) is very useful here, as it is printed on the cable box and cannot be lost:

Photo: Inner box with information material, connection cables and power supply unit

Photo: this box contains all connection cables and the power supply unit

After setting up and connecting the hardware according to the brief instructions (see above), the software setup follows as with any hard disk.

  1. Windows users can use the software that is already supplied on the hard disk for this purpose
  2. macOS users simply use macOS Disk Utility

Tips accordingly to:

  1. backup files immediately somewhere else because you might want to reformat the hard disk with NTFS right away?
  2. Reformat as “APFS with encryption and upper/lower case” right away

Practical experience since 27 May 2020 until 12.06.2021

Operation also worthwhile on older computers

Photo: LaCie hard drives in practical use

Photo: above side by side two LaCie P'9220 with 1 and 2 TB, below barely visible the much larger P'9230 with 5 TB. My old Sony VAIO Z12X9E/X notebook, which I no longer use, does not have USB 3.0. I could not use the maximum speed of these hard drives with it, but they were still useful. It's the same with the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3: if you're upgrading/replacing your computer later but need more storage right away, buy such a desktop hard drive right away.

Ideal backup medium for photos and videos

I bought this desktop hard drive with six terabytes of storage capacity because the warranty period of my previous hard drives has long since expired and therefore failure is expected soon (manufacturer's warranty corresponds to the minimum expected service life). The storage space on the LaCie Porsche Design P'9230 Desktop Drive I bought years ago would not last much longer either.

My old notebook was the bottleneck for copying, but for backup copies, photos and videos, USB 2.0 was also quite sufficient.

Now on the MacBook Air i5 1.1/16/1 TB (2020), even large video files are copied within seconds. Thanks to USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3!

Surprising defect on 12.06.2021

Now almost the entire disk collection has outlived this new LaCie d2!
Suddenly and unexpectedly, the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 has died …
But not the hard disk, but the electronics of the housing died. The data connection via Thunderbolt 3 to the Anker PowerExpand Elite was interrupted, so the latter went into standby after the LaCie d2 failed and in turn interrupted the connection to the disk collection. To macOS, this looked like I had disconnected all the hard drives from the MacBook Air in mid-operation, so it grumbled about not doing that.
This already happened once a day before. Then I restarted the MacBook and everything worked again. But now it was the definitive end.
Due to the sudden defect, I only lost an unimportant part of my video collection, which I had excluded from the backup via TimeMachine.

Photo: new LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 6 GB in front of her smaller colleagues.

Photo: This is how I had placed the hard drives before receiving the new hub. The old D-Link hub is at the back below the hard drives

The connection cables to the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 are so short that it has to stand there because the cable only reaches as far as the MacBook Air.

Pros

  • Housing: forged from a single piece of aluminium, exceptional rigidity
  • cool design: quiet fan + unibody aluminium housing dissipates heat from the hard disk
  • no vibrations – quiet running thanks to clean workmanship and aluminium housing
  • the built-in Seagate Barracuda® Pro enterprise-class hard drive is barely audible
  • Thunderbolt 3: powerful high-bandwidth connection + USB-C benefits
  • charging compatible notebooks on the USB-C port saves a charging cable/power adapter
  • Series connection: thanks to two Thunderbolt 3 sockets, connect max. 6 LaCie d2 with 1 cable
  • also compatible with older Macs with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 via adapters from Apple
  • future-proof thanks to USB-C 3.1: USB-C to USB-A adapter included in delivery
  • five-year manufacturer's warranty is the upper end of what you can otherwise expect
  • installation process – very simple if the description of the quick start guide is followed

Cons

  • enclosed Thunderbolt connection cable extremely short
  • vertical operation (in the event of failure of the electrical system in the enclosure, one must be procured again, as a hard disk once operated vertically must continue to be operated vertically to avoid bearing damage)
  • MacBook battery always charges, even if already full
    (Design flaw by Apple – others do it much better1)

1 Proof: my Sony VAIO Z12X9E/X – for frequent stationary use on the mains adapter, Sony recommends the charge setting that always keeps the battery in the 50% range, which is best for the battery cells. This is how I used this notebook for years and was able to preserve its battery.

Conclusion

This external desktop hard drive had never disappointed me until one day before the sudden defect. It is extremely fast and yet runs pleasantly quiet. When you work on the MacBook in the evening or at night, you can hear the fan of the external hard drive hissing softly, but it's not unpleasant. Music from headphones or going to sleep and postponing work until the day helps.

A clear recommendation to buy!

This model looks great, is excellently manufactured and is usually only audible after switching on/waking up from sleep mode and when logging off. In addition, the LaCie d2's power supply provides the MacBook Air with energy and gently charges its batteries (5 volts, 3 amps, 15 watts).
Unfortunately, the fact that it continues to charge the batteries when they should better not be charged is not LaCie's fault, but a design error on Apple's part.

Buy again?

After the sudden defect, the question arises. I still have almost four years of warranty and actually wanted to buy an even bigger hard drive.

The small WD hard drives are now also available with 5 TB, they do not need a fan and are therefore almost inaudible.

Since I have had much better experiences with these, I will soon buy two of them instead of a clunky stationary LaCie 2big. The external "WD My Passport" are surprisingly durable, very quiet and inexpensive. Only the oldest one broke about three months ago, but years after the warranty period.

Alternatives

Alternative Desktop Hard Drives for huge Storage Needs

LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3

  • available in the storage sizes: 8 TB / 10 TB
  • are suitable for series connection (“Daisy Chain”)
  • if you have a big desk, buy two or more of them together or one after the other

More Storage Space, RAID or Connectivity

LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3

All data except memory size identical to the test unit, but two identical hard disks in the RAID array. Also USB 3.0 hub and slots for Compact Flash/SD on the front. Horizontal operation of the hard disks.

Storage sizes: 8 / 10 / 16 / 20 / 28 / 32 TB

Alternative Mobile Hard Drives

Do you prefer a mobile design or have other price expectations?
The following USB hard drives have low energy consumption; the lack of an external power supply unit and Thunderbolt has a very favourable effect on the price:

WD My Passport (6.4 cm (2.5 inch), USB 3.0), colours: black, silver, blue, red.
Available in the sizes 1 TB (56 EUR), 2 TB (70 EUR), 4 TB (108 EUR), 5 TB (127 EUR).
I have been using one with 1 TB for years. It only broke down recently.

Western Digital supplemented its My Passport model series with a variant with a metal housing (Ultra) after a successful market launch:

WD My Passport Ultra (6.4 cm (2.5 inch), USB 3.0), colours: matt black, blue, silver.Available in the sizes 1 TB (69 EUR), 2 TB (94 EUR) and 4 TB (128 EUR).
I have been using one with 2 TB for years.

WD Elements Portable (6.4 cm (2.5 inch), USB 3.0), colours: black, silver, blue, red.Available in 500 MB (47 EUR!), 750 MB (47 EUR!), 1 TB (49 EUR), 1.5 TB (60 EUR), 2 TB (70 EUR), 4 TB (about 100 EUR), 5 TB (about 120 EUR).
I have been using one with 4 TB since 26.05.2020. A test report will follow later (the disk runs perfectly as a Time Machine backup medium on the MacBook Air).

I have taken all prices from the Amazon shop as a guide. In the meantime, all prices there have been reduced to a greater or lesser extent. I only took into account direct offers from Amazon, i.e. no Marketplace dealers who add extra postage costs.

Photo: Disc collection

Group photo from left to right: LaCie Porsche Design P'9220 1 TB, LaCie Porsche Design P'9220 2 TB, WD My Passport Ultra 2 TB, WD My Passport 1 TB, WD Elements 4 TB

Attention! The two hard drives in Porsche design are discontinued models and are no longer marketed. If they are offered to you in a shop, do not buy them now! They were good at the time, but the Western Digital ones pictured to the right are better and cheaper, and have also been tried and tested for many years.
Their connection cable is also not so rigid, which offers more positioning possibilities. I couldn't arrange this disk collection any other way on the table because of the short connection cables.

In the past, they were all connected to a D-Link DUB-H7 USB Hub, USB A 2.0, which is placed directly under the hard drives.
This old USB 2.0 Hub remains in operation, but is now connected to the new Anker PowerExpand Elite docking station and only serves three of the older disks.

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