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Old Feb 5, 2013, 06:04 PM   #1
ipedro
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Please explain RAID to me

My photo and video library has grown beyond the capacity of my internal HDD and I want to move away from my convoluted system of multiple Aperture libraries. Instead, I want to have 1 Pro library and 1 Personal library, with the Aperture libraries sitting in my iMac's 1TB internal drive and all of the masters residing in an external.

I'm new to RAID and have only begun to understand how it works. I'm hoping a kind and knowledgeable fellow MacRumors member will help me choose the best solution for my setup.

I've come across the LaCie 6TB 2big Thunderbolt Series RAID Hard Drive which appears to do what I need.

1 - I want to have both internal drives mirror each other 100% so I always have 2 exact copies on site.
2 - I need a 3rd HDD that I will keep off site in my bank's safety deposit box.

I think the first part will be straightforward. Set up RAID 1 and put my files on the drive and both HDDs will mirror each other. Am I correct so far?

Now the second part, I'm not sure how this will work. Can I swap out a drive every week with the one held off site? Will RAID see the differences and go to work on matching the data or do I have to format the offsite drive, and then set it up to copy one of the on site drives? Because I'm going to be doing this pretty regularly, I don't want the mess and confusion of having to set this up every week.

I know the DROBO might do what I need, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to spend $1K on just the device without any HDDs inside. How is the DROBO different than a traditional RAID?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 06:21 PM   #2
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Not sure....

if I fully understand you, but to me, first part of the setup is straightforward and seems to me you had figured how to proceed. Second part is somewhat tricky to me. But I would do the following, cumbersome as is: Clone one of the copies to the third hard drive, and mantain it off site.

And about RAID:

http://rog.asus.com/77402012/rampage...d-setup-guide/

maybe it is helpful


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Old Feb 5, 2013, 06:26 PM   #3
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Yeah, all the different types of RAID are confusing the heck out of me.

Your system might work. 2 HDDs in the LaCie and then make a simple clone every week on to the offsite drive.

The only issues with this setup are that I have to go to the bank twice (pick up drive, clone, bring it back to the bank) and at some point every week, I have all my backup copies in the same place at the same time.

To prevent that, I wanted to be able to simply swap out one of the local drives, go to the bank, drop off that local drive and pick up the offsite drive, go home and plug that one in which would become the new second local drive until next week when I swapped it again with the offsite drive.

I'm trying to be clear but this is inherently complex.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 06:32 PM   #4
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OP needs remote backup. RAID is not a backup but is meant for quick recovery of a dead HDD.

I'd suggest looking into remote storage, Amazon S3, DropBox, SkyDrive, there are plenty out there.

If you want to DIY get a NAS and look into r-sync (remote sync to another NAS) or plunk a HDD dock (USB or e-SATA) on the NAS, let it run nightly or weekly backups and take that backup offsite. Two or three portable HDDs and a NAS your data should be dandy. Nice thing about the NAS is it'll do the backups unattended while your computer is off or doing other things.

Summary the NAS is a backup of your Macs HDD data (Time Machine can do this) and the portable drive is a backup of your NAS's Time Machine image.

Edit: note you're from Toronto, Me too I'd be happy to help you set up if you need assistance.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 10:29 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that my iMac has a 1TB Fusion Drive. It's not enough for my library so I need the masters to be on an external drive. Does Time Machine back up external drives? I don't believe it does, or didnt when Time Machine was launched.

My lingering question is that: if I remove one of the drives from the RAID, will popping in a new drive then automatically mirror the remaining HDD?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 10:46 PM   #6
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Only RAID 1 (mirroring) does each drive have a full copy. Again this is not a backup as deleting a file will delete it on both drives. HDDs in any other configuration only contain partial data and would be useless by itself. Rebuilding the array will be time consuming.

IMHO avoid a RAID, you don't need it.

FYI Mountain Lion supports multiple TM backups in a round robin fashion.

I'll try to give you some suggestions tomorrow that should work well.

PS can you estimate how much new data you'd use in a month, an online backup solution might be perfect for you if you have the bandwidth.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 10:51 PM   #7
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Here's a well written explanation.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2370235,00.asp
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:35 AM   #8
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I personally would never make a plan that involves swapping the RAID drives in and out. Leave them in, let them do their thing.

If the multiple bank trips are that big an issue simply add a fourth drive to the rotation. Leave the 2 in the RAID all the time, one clone at the bank and a second clone at the house. Simply swap the two clones each week.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 01:16 AM   #9
Laird Knox
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Three drives.

Drive one contains the original files.

Drive two contains copy 1. At night an automated task copies new files from drive 1 to drive 2.

Drive three is kept off site and is periodically swapped with drive 2.

Sorry I'm not up on Mac archiving any more. I'll take a look around and see if I can flesh out the details.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 01:54 AM   #10
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If I understand correctly, you want to use a RAID as a backup. Don't, a RAID is not a backup! Your backup procedure can actually destroy all of your data for reasons I will explain below. Also, it will not save all of your data, all of your edits are contained in your Aperture library and not on the masters (the RAW files). The purpose of a RAID1 is to allow you to continue working after one drive fails. It is not intended to be a backup solution. Of course, you can make backups onto RAID volumes. However, using two separate external drives is more safe than using a RAID1 enclosure.

I would suggest a different solution: get three external drives, one of them Thunderbolt, two of them don't need to be Thunderbolt drives. If you have a recent iMac, go for USB3 drives which are almost as fast, but a lot cheaper. Also get a Crashplan subscription (unlimited single computer has cost me $50/year). Put the external library on the fast and big Thunderbolt drive. Then use the two other drives as a Time Machine backup (10.8 can automatically deal with more than 1 Time Machine backup drive).

The DROBO is a different kind of animal, it gives you RAID-like protection, but just like any RAID (with the exception of RAID0 which does not give you redundancy), it is slower than a single hard drive in some respects. The advantage of the Drobo is that offers much, much more storage capacity than a two-harddrive solution. If you need more than 4 TB/volume of storage in the near future, a Drobo is an option. Otherwise, it is cheaper to stick with other solutions.


Now to why your idea is really, really bad: first of all, you put enormous strain on your drives. Probably what you will end up doing is remove only one of the drives (say the one in drive bay 2). This means every time you insert the other backup drive in bay 2 you rebuild your RAID. The drive in bay 1 has to go through all the data again, all up to 3 TB of it. The wear you put on drive 1 will increase the likelihood of failure for drive 1 substantially. But you also increase the wear of all drives. Most failures are silent. That means once the drive in bay 1 becomes unreliable, it will clone all errors to your two other drives, causing the data loss you sought to prevent. Cycling through the drives is also not an option, because it introduces another silent failure: if you remove your »good« drive 1 before all data could be mirrored to the other drive, the data on your drive 3 is replaced with the incomplete data on drive 2.

This is not an academic exercise, I've read an article where one company was using this exact procedure for their »backups«. They changed the drives daily and ran into problems when rebuilding the RAID1 started to take longer than 24 hours
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 12:17 PM   #11
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Thanks for the advice and clarifications so far. I now understand why I can't use RAID for a swappable backup. However, I like it for hardware failure protection. I've had an HDD fail on me with just a tap on the desk and I lost about a week's worth of photos.

A combination of Flash SWT and OreoCookie's plans seem right.

So this is what I'm considering:

iMac 1TB FusionDrive: Aperture Library
Time Capsule 3TB: Backups iMac including Aperture Library
CrashPlan for offsite iMac backup
A RAID of 2x3TB: Aperture Masters
Offsite A + Offsite B: Masters backup. One of these 2 drives sits daisy chained to the RAID. Time Machine or Aperture Vault updates changes. The other sits in the bank. I rotate every week.

Over kill maybe?

Questions:
Q: How much will a RAID slow down my system? It's just for the masters, not the working Aperture library. I'll get a Thunderbolt RAID enclosure.

Q: If one of the RAID drives fail mechanically, will that corrupt its twin in any way?

Q: Can Aperture Vault backup referenced masters? I know it didn't when Aperture 1 was released. I'd rather use the built in Vault than Time Machine.

Q: Any suggestions on an HDD dock and HDDs for the Offsite drives? Which is better for the backups, slower drives or fast ones? Any particular brand that is resistant to being frequently mobile?
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 07:08 PM   #12
OreoCookie
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Your new plans sounds good. I don't think it's overkill, you'll sleep much better at night. My backup plan is not all that different. I have two primary backup drives, one is located at home, the other in my office. In addition to Crashplan, I also store my recent work documents on my Dropbox (although that's mostly text and pdf files, so they don't take up much space). I don't fear OS X updates and the likes or that someone breaks into my apartment and steals my computer and my backup drives.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Q: How much will a RAID slow down my system? It's just for the masters, not the working Aperture library. I'll get a Thunderbolt RAID enclosure.
Practically, a RAID1 won't slow you down. (Technically, it's a tad slower since it always needs to wait until both drives are ready to write, but that's not something you'll notice; the overall effect is much, much, much smaller than encrypting your drives.) Other, more complicated RAID levels (most commonly RAID5 and RAID6) have different impacts on performance, but I won't bore you with the details because you need more than two drives for these RAID levels.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Q: If one of the RAID drives fail mechanically, will that corrupt its twin in any way?
No, it won't, that's what RAID1 was designed to do: allow you to continue working even if one of the drives fail.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Q: Can Aperture Vault backup referenced masters? I know it didn't when Aperture 1 was released. I'd rather use the built in Vault than Time Machine.
No, they are not backed up. Vaults only include everything that is included in the Aperture database and managed files. However, you can mix managed files with referenced files in Aperture on a per-file basis if you want. (Although per-project is easier to manage and grasp.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Q: Any suggestions on an HDD dock and HDDs for the Offsite drives? Which is better for the backups, slower drives or fast ones? Any particular brand that is resistant to being frequently mobile?
I wouldn't pick slow vs. fast, I'd pick what is reasonably priced. I'd definitely go for external drives with USB3 support: if you have a Mac with USB3, the drives will almost reach native speeds, but you won't pay much extra (compared to USB2 enclosures). And they're fully backwards compatible. Personally, I like Lacie drives because of their design and because most of their designs are fanless. My latest one looks like this and I've been very happy with it. Now if I could engineer USB3 support into my Mac …*
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Old Feb 8, 2013, 06:30 PM   #13
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Just a quick post to say THANK YOU to all who've answered and offered advice to this question, esp. OreoCookie… +1k to ya

PS: What really gets me is that this is not that unique of a question, there are many many thousands of people with similar needs,,, amazing that there is no "best" option that is already an "off-the-shelf" solution that is also not highway robbery
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 02:17 PM   #14
ipedro
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I purchased the LaCie 2Big 6TB. I consulted with an Apple Genius and it appears that my original intent seems to be the way to go:

1 - Aperture library kept small (no masters) on the iMac's internal Fusion Drive
2 - Masters kept on the LaCie in RAID 1.
3 - Rotate 3 HDDs inside the LaCie and off site. 2 kept on site mirroring eachother in RAID 1 and another kept off site. Every week or so, bring a drive home and swap it out with one of the drives in the LaCie.

...though there is stlll a lingering question:

Q: Will the LaCie need to reformat the new drive and copy everything over again or will it simply fill in the differences since it was last plugged in? The Apple Genius thinks that it varies by drive manufacturer but that the LaCie appears to be hot swappable.

LaCie even sells drives with the bracket that seems to be for this very purpose.

If it needs to rebuild the entire RAID every time, then this will put too much of a burden on the drives that need to be read and re-written every time they're swapped. If the incoming drive only needs to be updated, then this is not much more than if it were in the bay the whole time and is a viable solution.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 06:12 PM   #15
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I replied in another thread, but IMHO your proposed strategy above is very high risk. For instance how are you going to recover from an enclosure failure? How are you going to recover from accidently deleting a folder of images?

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 06:45 PM   #16
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Thanks. I posted in two threads. Mods, please close this one.
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 07:16 AM   #17
Joseph Farrugia
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Whatever you decide, remember that…

Everybody repeat after me: "RAID is not a backup"

(I can't stress the point enough; be careful!)
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 09:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
I purchased the LaCie 2Big 6TB. I consulted with an Apple Genius and it appears that my original intent seems to be the way to go:

1 - Aperture library kept small (no masters) on the iMac's internal Fusion Drive
2 - Masters kept on the LaCie in RAID 1.
3 - Rotate 3 HDDs inside the LaCie and off site. 2 kept on site mirroring eachother in RAID 1 and another kept off site. Every week or so, bring a drive home and swap it out with one of the drives in the LaCie.

...though there is stlll a lingering question:

Q: Will the LaCie need to reformat the new drive and copy everything over again or will it simply fill in the differences since it was last plugged in? The Apple Genius thinks that it varies by drive manufacturer but that the LaCie appears to be hot swappable.

LaCie even sells drives with the bracket that seems to be for this very purpose.

If it needs to rebuild the entire RAID every time, then this will put too much of a burden on the drives that need to be read and re-written every time they're swapped. If the incoming drive only needs to be updated, then this is not much more than if it were in the bay the whole time and is a viable solution.
I'll be polite... and just say that you are out of your mind. You are playing Russian Roulette with your data.


/Jim

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Old Feb 14, 2013, 12:30 AM   #19
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As I said originally, I would never swap drives in and out of a RAID set like that.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 07:31 AM   #20
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Use RAID1 and an online backup system
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 12:04 AM   #21
flynz4
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Use RAID1 and an online backup system
Or better: RAID1, plus an online backup system, plus a local backup solution with deep versioning.

RAID 1 (or any other RAID flavor) is not backup at all.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 12:12 AM   #22
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 02:47 AM   #23
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I'll throw my 2-cents worth into this thread

The only RAID array worth using for a home user or enthusiast is RAID0 for the performance and volume increase benefits. All other forms of RAID are designed to provide business continuity in the event of a drive failure. That's right... Business Continuity. How much money do you stand to lose while you run to your local computer store to buy a new drive (or wait for UPS to deliver one)? This is your business case for RAID 1, 10, 01, 5, 6, etc.

A home user's most likely causes of data loss are probably (in this order)... User error, data corruption caused by application/OS bugs, theft of computer/storage system (or act of god), and then maybe drive failure. Only an offsite backup will protect you properly from all of these.

The first thing most home users (and businesses) should figure out, is not what RAID array to run in on their NAS, but where they are going to keep their offsite backup, and how often they are going to update it.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 04:31 AM   #24
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I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flynz4 View Post
I'll be polite... and just say that you are out of your mind. You are playing Russian Roulette with your data.


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Old Feb 15, 2013, 10:57 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualRain View Post
All throw my 2-cents worth into this thread

A home user's most likely causes of data loss are probably (in this order)... User error, data corruption caused by application/OS bugs, theft of computer/storage system (or act of god), and then maybe drive failure. Only an offsite backup will protect you properly from all of these.
This is exactly true. The ONLY reason to use RAID is because you can't buy a large enough hard drive. Say you have 5GB of data and they only make 3GB drives, so you buy a RAID. Say you gain some reliability but also having 5 drives means you are 5X more likely to see a drive fail, So it is a wash. RAID is NOT backup it is a way to build a huge "disk".

For back up I recommends doing muliple things
(1) Buy a second larger RAID system and use this with Time Machine and keep it connected to the computer full time. It will protect from data corruption and so on and keep old versions of your files. This RAID needs to be quite large.

(2) A third RAID system that you keep in a different building, as far away as possible. Every so often you swap this with the #2 system above.

Yes this is expensive. But it is the absolute minimum. What did it cost you to shoot all those images and what are they worth to you. Seriously it might be they are worth almost zero, shots for clients you will never see again, 10 year old weddings and what not. If so then trash it all.

But on the other hand if these are photos with current comercial value what are they worth? $50K? If so maybe it is worth spending 5K to back them up. If your data is not worn $50K how in the world have you been paying the rent?

The bottom line is (If you care about the data, big IF there) then you must always, at all times, (even while making a backup) have three copies of the data and one of those copies must be off site. That is the bare minimum

With only three copies the only way to do this is to (in this order) drive one backup copy to the off site place, that the old one back home. NEVER bring the off site home so all three are all in the same building.

Also with only three copies you MUST use an incremental backup so that you never overwrite old data or there will be a time when you don't have three copies

With four copies you have more flexibility.

About RAIDS. Google "FreeNAS". It is a built-it yourself RAID system. Get a decent mid-range dual core computer and a stack of Western Digital "RED" disks and 16GB of RAM and make a storage server.
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