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Old Sep 17, 2013, 01:06 PM   #1
brianric
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OWC Rant

I have a 2010 Mac Pro. May of 2012 I ordered from OWC a 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD. The SSD lasted about a year. There would be times on boot up from my alternate backup that the card needed to be initalized, and was recognized as a 33 KB card. I reboot a couple of times in safe mode, then rest the NVRAM, and all would be fine. This failure to be recognized happened about four times until the SSD card totally failed May 2013. Went through the RMA process, replaced SSD, totally failed a week ago. Contacted OWC again, got RMA, sent card back, received new card today, except only 119 GB is recognized versus the 240 GB. Back on phone, OWC overnighting new card, all kinds of apologizes, said they will bench test before sending new unit. I blasted them, saying they were suppose to bench test the one I got. I have never been so disappointed in a product or OWC as I am now. I'm waiting for a supervisor to call so I can express my displeasure with the company.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 02:15 PM   #2
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I have a 2010 Mac Pro. May of 2012 I ordered from OWC a 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD. The SSD lasted about a year. There would be times on boot up from my alternate backup that the card needed to be initalized, and was recognized as a 33 KB card. I reboot a couple of times in safe mode, then rest the NVRAM, and all would be fine. This failure to be recognized happened about four times until the SSD card totally failed May 2013. Went through the RMA process, replaced SSD, totally failed a week ago. Contacted OWC again, got RMA, sent card back, received new card today, except only 119 GB is recognized versus the 240 GB. Back on phone, OWC overnighting new card, all kinds of apologizes, said they will bench test before sending new unit. I blasted them, saying they were suppose to bench test the one I got. I have never been so disappointed in a product or OWC as I am now. I'm waiting for a supervisor to call so I can express my displeasure with the company.
The problem is the Sandforce controllers used on these SSD blades. They are notorious for pre-mature failure. The root problem here is OWC using this controller in their SSD products in the first place. Even with the ridiculous fat margins embedded in the price of these things, they probably lose money on supporting them. Your best bet, once you get a working one, is to sell it and get something reliable.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 03:18 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your problems with the 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD. You can try getting a Sonnet PCIe SSD as there has been good reviews on this.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 03:36 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your problems with the 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD. You can try getting a Sonnet PCIe SSD as there has been good reviews on this.
I have a Sonnet Pro PCI express card that should be shipping from B&H photo today. I'll be adding a Crucial 960 GB SSD to it. I'll give the OWC one more try, before I order a Crucial 240 or 512 GB SSD for the OS to put on the second SSD on the Sonnet.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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Make sure they send an entirely new card as opposed to just replacing a bad blade and sending the same card back.

I had a one blade replacement and the card still had issues when I got it back. Replaced it with a totally new card and it's been working perfectly since then.

ALSO have a robust backup solution in place. I have my Time Machine internal drive take a backup every half-hour, plus have a bootable clone, so I'm in good shape even if the drive fails again.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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Make sure they send an entirely new card as opposed to just replacing a bad blade and sending the same card back.

I had a one blade replacement and the card still had issues when I got it back. Replaced it with a totally new card and it's been working perfectly since then.

ALSO have a robust backup solution in place. I have my Time Machine internal drive take a backup every half-hour, plus have a bootable clone, so I'm in good shape even if the drive fails again.
I do four complete backups whenever I add new data. I have to spare boot drives, one as a 240 GB partition on a 3 TB drive, and a separate (not in Mac right now) 240 GB SSD. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to keep the boot drives up to date every month. The only thing I don't have a backup except for the data is my Bootcamp drive.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 07:01 PM   #7
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The problem is the Sandforce controllers used on these SSD blades. They are notorious for pre-mature failure. The root problem here is OWC using this controller in their SSD products in the first place. Even with the ridiculous fat margins embedded in the price of these things, they probably lose money on supporting them. Your best bet, once you get a working one, is to sell it and get something reliable.
This.

Both OWC and Sandforce are at fault here. Sandforce for manufacturing the **** they're still pushing out (I don't know how they are still in business- their controllers absolutely cannot be trusted at all), and OWC for using them.

I would get rid of that thing and buy something else that DOES NOT use a Sandforce controller. They are literally the scum at the bottom of the barrel in the SSD world. You cannot trust your data on them and you can't even trust the device to continue working reliably.

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Old Sep 17, 2013, 07:45 PM   #8
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two issues rise to the top

1. It appears to me that OWC customer support has been responsive in addressing your problem unfortunately you had to use them more than once ; 2. the SSD vendor they are using appears to not be ready for prime time. With the WD Velociraptors available, I have avoided the SSD arena so far due to the many use issues and the cost. Thank you for the heads up on reliability concerns.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 07:53 PM   #9
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This.

Both OWC and Sandforce are at fault here. Sandforce for manufacturing the **** they're still pushing out (I don't know how they are still in business- their controllers absolutely cannot be trusted at all), and OWC for using them.

I would get rid of that thing and buy something else that DOES NOT use a Sandforce controller. They are literally the scum at the bottom of the barrel in the SSD world. You cannot trust your data on them and you can't even trust the device to continue working reliably.

-SC
I'm already ahead of you on that. I have a Sonnet Pro PCI express card arriving tomorrow. I have to decide what size ssd to use as my boot drive.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 08:07 PM   #10
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2. the SSD vendor they are using appears to not be ready for prime time. With the WD Velociraptors available, I have avoided the SSD arena so far due to the many use issues and the cost. Thank you for the heads up on reliability concerns.
Sheesh. 5 years ago that might have been a sensible statement but avoiding SSDs these days is bordering on luddite behaviour. Just avoid Sandforce 22xx based drives.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 08:26 PM   #11
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Sheesh. 5 years ago that might have been a sensible statement but avoiding SSDs these days is bordering on luddite behaviour. Just avoid Sandforce 22xx based drives.
The fact of the matter is that SSDs are still not as reliable as mechanical storage. When they fail, they fail spectacularly and it always happens without warning. It doesn't matter how you spin it, the devices are just too damned complicated for their own good because the backing medium itself was never designed to do what we've shoehorned it into (which is why you need wear levelling, and all the insane complexity that comes with that).

I can't count the number of times that I've replaced a failed SSD that was literally unrecoverable. Not a single byte of data could be read off the drive because the cell mapping tables had become corrupted or something else had gone awry, reducing the data carefully scattered around the Flash chips to something indistinguishable from garbled noise.

At the same time, I've had plenty of disk drives fail on me and I've always had good success recovering data from them. In some cases I've even had to ship a damaged drive away to get data off the platters directly (yes, this costs $$$$) but at least it's possible. I don't know of any company who can do data recovery off a failed SSD, because the device is so electrically complex.

So no, avoiding SSDs is not luddite behaviour. I'm rocking a RAID5 card with four mechanical drives and totally happy with the bandwidth and capabilities. Would I upgrade to SSDs if I could? No, because disk drives have three decades of R&D behind them and we're pretty good at building a disk drive that lasts for more then 3 years.

If you really care about your data, you're still going to be stuck with mechanical storage somewhere down the line. Either as an external disk drive, or in your Time Capsule, or somewhere else. There is a reason for that, and that is because you can't trust an SSD *not* to fail or wear out.

-SC
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 09:12 PM   #12
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Sheesh. 5 years ago that might have been a sensible statement but avoiding SSDs these days is bordering on luddite behaviour. Just avoid Sandforce 22xx based drives.
Not sure what kind of behavior paying an outrageous price for relatively small amount of storage is - that is between you and your wallet.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 09:33 PM   #13
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The fact of the matter is that SSDs are still not as reliable as mechanical storage...

I don't know of any company who can do data recovery off a failed SSD, because the device is so electrically complex.

…disk drives have three decades of R&D behind them and we're pretty good at building a disk drive that lasts for more then 3 years.
This.

I've been dubious of SSD's ever since I heard John Siracusa say much the same about a year ago on a tech podcast. I haven't heard anything since then that leads me to believe SSD's are any more stable and/or durable these days.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 09:33 PM   #14
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I test and evaluate storage media for a living.

Its not that simple. There are several kinds of SSD (SLC, MLC, NAND, NOR,... etc), some very reliable and go places a rotational media can only dream about. Think about helicopters for example. On the other hand, rotational is either single plater (durable reliable) or multiple plater (more capacity cheaper per GB). The industrial quality SSD has reliability that puts rotational platers to shame, supporting many a bank's transaction server. Some outfits routinely throw rotational media out after each mission regardless, where industrial SSD just keeps going and going.

Now for consumer grade, which I think you are referring to, its a cut throat market to squeeze the most GB of memory into the lowest cost package. Some do better than others but anyone that is using consumer grade SSD in a commercial or workstation type environment deserves what they get. There are both very good and some not so good products.

Within the consumer space reliability varies. Some vendors cheat toward capacity, others cheat toward durability. I have busted many sandforce controlled drives but rarely an intel controlled device for example.... Consumer grade SSDs do wear but the cost/capacity tradeoff makes a lot of sense in a consumer application. A bank's transaction server, not so much.

It may have been routine just a few years ago to recover data from rotational media because of its stone age technology, but for today's multi platter advanced format drives it is near impossible.. when they crash they crash big time.

Just saying that your mileage will vary, and general statements are pure BS.

Oh and for the sake of argument, there are organizations that easily recover data from broken SSDs, it is just a different tool set than rotational media.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 10:17 PM   #15
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Not sure what kind of behavior paying an outrageous price for relatively small amount of storage is - that is between you and your wallet.
LOL... so were you still using floppies in 2005 when the cost per gigabyte for HD's was around $1 like today's SSDs?
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 10:17 PM   #16
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That might be overblowing it a bit. I wouldn't recommend using a single SSD as the sole copy of your important data (nor would I recommend doing that with any type of drive or storage media). But for your boot and programs drive, absolutely go with an SSD.

As long as you have an effective backup solution in place, drive failures should be merely an inconvenience, not a catastrophe. You should never arrive at the point where you need to salvage data from a dead drive.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 11:14 PM   #17
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If you really care about your data, you're still going to be stuck with mechanical storage somewhere down the line. Either as an external disk drive, or in your Time Capsule, or somewhere else. There is a reason for that, and that is because you can't trust an SSD *not* to fail or wear out.

-SC
Anyone who does not backup their data, whether using a SSD or traditional hard drive, is a fool and idiot.

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Not sure what kind of behavior paying an outrageous price for relatively small amount of storage is - that is between you and your wallet.
I use one for the OS, and will be using the second for scratch directory and temporary storage for my photo jobs. Makes work a lot eaiser when dealing with 40 to 100 GB of pictures that are in the raw format as far as working on the files. Work is backup on a daily basis. I have three DSLRs that have dual slots, which the second card is used as a backup. Once uploaded to the computer, I make three different backups before the flash cards are erased to be used on a new shoot.
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 11:46 AM   #18
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I can't count the number of times that I've replaced a failed SSD that was literally unrecoverable. Not a single byte of data could be read off the drive because the cell mapping tables had become corrupted or something else had gone awry, reducing the data carefully scattered around the Flash chips to something indistinguishable from garbled noise.

At the same time, I've had plenty of disk drives fail on me and I've always had good success recovering data from them.
SSDs and HDDs both fail. Which tech has better data recovery should be irrelevant because a simple backup is far, far superior to attempting data recovery anyway.
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 02:27 PM   #19
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SSDs and HDDs both fail. Which tech has better data recovery should be irrelevant because a simple backup is far, far superior to attempting data recovery anyway.
Agreed.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 04:50 AM   #20
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You got to understand that SSD is a new technology & still needs more threshold to completely get ready for disaster recoveries. In this context, OWC & sandforce are being targeted for all wrong reasons. I am using OWC Mercury Electra 6G 128GB in my data server & this is delivering real good performance. I think the perception about sandforce being faulty needs to change. This of-course will not get changed until techies use the recent sandforce products & perform real tests themselves & then share their experiences. Just talking from my experience, do not blindly be influenced by others experiences. Things will surely be different when you experience the same yourselves.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 06:55 AM   #21
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I think the perception about sandforce being faulty needs to change. This of-course will not get changed until techies use the recent sandforce products & perform real tests themselves & then share their experiences. Just talking from my experience, do not blindly be influenced by others experiences. Things will surely be different when you experience the same yourselves.
I'm on my fourth 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD since May 2012. One lasted about a year, second one four months, third one faulty from the start. I will never buy another product with Sandforce as the controller. I will give OWC credit in prompt replacement each time.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 07:57 AM   #22
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You got to understand that SSD is a new technology & still needs more threshold to completely get ready for disaster recoveries.
SSD is far from new, two decades is ancient history in this industry. Sandforce's implementations and MLC in main stream products are relatively new, perhaps 5-6 years. Perhaps Sandforce will eventually get it right as many other controllers have.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 10:54 AM   #23
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I'm on my fourth 240 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD since May 2012. One lasted about a year, second one four months, third one faulty from the start. I will never buy another product with Sandforce as the controller. I will give OWC credit in prompt replacement each time.
I've got 5 SSDs in various machines - all Crucial brand of various gens (one is a C300 so a number of them are old at this point) and I've never had trouble with *any* of them. I've just added a new 240GB Sandforce-controller one to the mix - hope I don't regret it...
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 06:48 PM   #24
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I don't know, I read this as OWC providing pretty good service. The product was crap, but that may not have been their fault. I've never bought through OWC, I think they handled it well all things considered.

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SSDs and HDDs both fail. Which tech has better data recovery should be irrelevant because a simple backup is far, far superior to attempting data recovery anyway.
Word. A backup plan should not consist of recovering data from a dead drive.

Just RAID 1 or 10 everything. It costs twice as much but it's multiple times more secure.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 07:47 PM   #25
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I've just added a new 240GB Sandforce-controller one to the mix - hope I don't regret it...
Well I would back it up, just like I would back up all drives.

Anyway, Sandforce was pretty bad in 2010-2011, around the time of the Vertex 2 and Agility 2 models, but they have improved things since then.

Their newer controllers are good enough that they passed Intel's strict validation tests and some Intel SSD models use Sandforce controllers.

Hopefully you didn't buy old stock.

I know it's anecdotal, but I never had a problem with my Vertex 2 and Agility 2, both still going strong. I've since added Intel, Samsung, and Plextor, and they are all great.
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