What to do with nine external drives, many of them unused?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Cubytus, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Hi there,

    one day I was looking at all my external drives, and found nine, and some enclosures:
    1. Two WD 250 GiB, SATA, 3.5", naked
    2. One Seagate 500 GiB, SATA, 3.5", naked
    3. One Seagate 1.5TiB, 3.5", FW400 enclosure
    4. One WD 500 GiB, PATA, 3.5", naked
    5. One G-Technology 750GiB, FW800, 2.5"
    6. One OWC, 750 GiB, FW800, 2.5" (Original MBP hard drive)
    7. One WD 500GiB, USB, 2.5"
    8. One Acer (don't know what's inside) 500GiB, USB, 2.5"

    • One empty 2.5" FW800 enclosure
    • USB-PATA cable + power adapter
    • USB3-SATA cable + power adapter

    There's also a tenth drive, a Scorpio Black 500GiB currently sitting in my MBP as it is the fastest 2.5" platter-based HDD I could find.

    Current applications:
    • Time Machine
    • movie storage
    • backuped & downloaded software, usually ones hard to come by, or the very heavy ones.
    • Storage for 24 hrs videosurveillance from 3 cams, ideally 30 days archive.

    As I tend to forget which holds what what, I put the naked 3.5" drives in coloured plastic cases made for them, but still feel having so many drives is more of an inconvenience than it is flexible. It doesn't seem so rational to me having so many drives, and only rarely do I need to share files with Windows (however when I do, I tend to use a FAT32-formatted partition to hold them, or a USB key).

    Then again, what to do with all them?
    Sell the unused ones? Cram them in enclosures? If so, which type? 3.5" is not very practical either.

    I don't have any special need yet, even when it comes to storage, as long as I can have a year worth of Time Machine backups and 2TiB extra storage, which is already met through the OWC + G-Technology + WD500GiB USB, none of them being anywhere close to full. The last requirement I had was Time Machine, and I upgraded its 500GiB drive with the 1.5TiB one. However, it is still sitting in a somewhat slow FW400 enclosure, which was top-of-the-line when I got it. I don't really feel its drag since Time Machine backups are done at night, even if drive number 3 is a slower 5900rpm one.

    On the other hand, considering how unlucky I have been with hard drives (out of these 10, 5 were replaced in their second year, sometimes right from the start, one was replaced twice), I think these spare drives may be dying when I would actively need them. The only one I would never depart with is the one in the OWC enclosure, since it is the original MacBook Pro 8,1 drive, and the WD 2.5" 500GiB USB as it seems to be the only one I have with 5 years warranty.

    Still, I would like higher speed from the drive that holds the virtual machines. Currently, I get 60MB/s write, 40MB/s read in Blackmagic Disk Speed Test with this G-Technology drive, which is not bad at all from a single-drive on FW800, but slow in absolute standards. This one led me to think about a bus-powered FW800 with RAID0 such as the G-Raid Mini that can saturate the bus. But if I were to get more speed out of an external drive, why not switch to a Thunderbolt drive instead? Problem is, Thunderbolt 2.5" are very hard to find and there's no option for lower capacity to mitigate their disproportionate cost. If I were to spend so much on a new drive, why not get a SSD to install in the MBP? But OCZ Vertex 4 240GiB (barely enough for internal storage) also come at a staggering price tag of $400, and internal SSD + external Thunderbolt aren't currently feasible.

    I was thinking about a NAS, but then again, Synology's ones come at a large premium (over $400), and I don't tend to use my Gigabit switch thanks to the iPad's presence on the network and that I regularly have my MBP on my lap on the couch to watch movies. Besides, OS X provides no easy way to set preferences for one network connection or another for different applications, and long flashy cables accross the room are unsightly. And finally, Synology confirmed none of their home-oriented NASes currently support automated SFTP or FTP uploading, which makes them useless for videosurveillance purpose since offsite backup is a must. As well, so much money for so little performance increase over FW800 made me raise eyebrows. Even the cheapest, non-RAID NAS enclosure do come at a premium so large I wonder if it would be worth it and if I'd rather not set up the videosurveillance machine, or my other MacBook as a file server. On wifi, this white MacBook has a hard time keeping up with demand when I stream 720p content. Maybe the MacBook is too old for that, maybe wifi is too slow, I don't really know. If right, then a NAS could be a solution, albeit an expensive one.

    What are your other ideas, considering the current applications?
  2. jav6454 macrumors Pentium


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Make a huge RAID out of all of them. Simple.

    If you are wondering, RAID 10 or 5 should do the trick. Also, please use GB or TB, not GiB...
  3. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I'd try and sell the ones you don't need. Make a little money, get rid of extra stuff just lying around. It is a win/win situation.:D
  4. mobilehaathi macrumors 604


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    Besides, I suspect they are actually in GB not GiB...
  5. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Yeaah, I thought about a giant RAID, but RAID either requires identical disks (they obviously aren't), at least the same connections, and I am not aware of any method to RAID so many different drives. Besides, I read that, in case of crash outside the course of normal "failure", this is extremely hard to to debug, or to backup data before it fails for good.

    As for the GiB, I am following Ubuntu's (and most other Linuces) orthodox convention that Snow Leopard later adopted under its former, non-correct name: GiB.
  6. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    If you count in GiB, wouldn't you have to actually convert from GB?
  7. PinoyAko macrumors 6502

    Nov 25, 2012
  8. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    in fact no, even as manufacturers claim GB, they really are GiB. Snow Leopard made the choice to report the same capacity as manufacturers do, Ubuntu and other linuces to call them what they really are.

    Why not, as long as you pay for it. There will be a plastic case included.
  9. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    If you have marketplace access then you could post some of them up for sale here on MR if you want to do so.

    Do you have a drive docking station where you can easily connect the SATA drives? My father in law uses a USB one and really likes it.
  10. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    I would ebay the odd ones. I like to keep a bunch of small ones for offsites. Maybe give them as holiday gifts to family ;)?
  11. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    market place? What kind? And no, I don't have a dock, as I never planned to end up with so many drives.

    ebay is full of cheapos that want to buy brand new $100 items for $10. Or crooks. No wonder counterfeiting flourishes. So is Craigslist, but I understand there's no competition, so will give it a try anyway.

    Doubt it for family. They still run on 56k because there's nothing else where they reside, so offsite isn't a solution for them. And both Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.04 don't have any provision for built-in backups (hardware limited).
  12. jav6454 macrumors Pentium


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    My suggestion still stands. However, there have to be some modifications to your current HDD setup. To do so, sell some of the other drives to pay the way for similar spec'd ones. That way you can land a 4 disk RAID array from 9 disks you currently have. Seems like a lot of work, but other than just having JBOD. There is nothing else. That RAID can even act as your Time Machine.

    As per GiB, I still hate the fact that SL and so many others changed the dynamics. It created a 3rd category sort of speaking. We have GB (manufacturer, base 10), GB (OS reported, base 2) and GiB (which is same OS reported base 2, but swapped to GB in some OSes)
  13. Cubytus, Feb 22, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013

    Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    And what kind of redundancy / performance improvement should I expect from a 4 disks array? And isn't is somewhat ironic to entrust data to a potentially unrecoverable setup as RAID is widely known to be when failures chain up? (Think Murphy's law here). Or should I make the RAID setup to store files, knowing that they wouldn't be online most of the time due to noise issue?

    And what size 4 disks should I get to get 1.5TiB effective storage? In RAID, the "I" stands for inexpensive, which may be the case for the disk, but definitely not for the enclosure itself.

    As a side comment, this setup would have to be very fast, since I can't imagine the noise that such a setup would make and that I wouldn't be able to leave it on at night.

    On the opposite, I quite like it since it solved the inconsistency there was between manufacturer reported capacity and OS reported capacity.
  14. AhmedFaisal, Feb 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2013
  15. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    hold a contest. whoever likes Mac OSX and Ubuntu the most should get one
  16. elistan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Denver/Boulder, CO
    Other way around, actually. A drive marketed as 250 GB will have 250,000,000,000 bytes. This would be reported as "232.83 GB" by an OS like Windows, which incorrectly uses GB to mean 2^30 bytes, when that is actually what a GiB is. GB is 10^9 bytes.

    In fact, my PC has a WD2500BEKT-75PVMT0 drive, marketed as 250 GB, reported by Windows to have 232.88 "GB". Under OSX, it would be 250 GB, which indeed is more accurate.

    There is no powers-of-two restriction for file sizes or disk sizes.

    When you say you have "One Seagate 500 GiB, SATA, 3.5", naked" you're claiming that the disk capacity is 500 * 2^30 = 536,870,912,000 when it actually has 500,000,000,000 bytes (or close to that.)

    Back to your question - I have no ideas to suggest, sorry. ;)
  17. jav6454 macrumors Pentium


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza

    I have a RAID array with the same 4x disks for over 2 years now, nonce of them has failed and the array as a whole has never given me any troubles. I have 4 1TB WD drives in RAID 10 giving me an effective 2TB storage space. Noise is nonexistent.

    To get 1.5TB of effective space in a RAID 10 array, you need 4x 750GB drives.
  18. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Are you referring to JBOD setup? This would offer the advantage of having all the drives online at the same time, but that's about it.

    RAID compatible Synology Diskstations range from $400 to $800. That's a ****ing ******** of money I couldn't afford, even sellong all the hard drives, and 4x 750GB Western's are $340, all before ~15% taxes. That makes it roughly $850 to $1300.

    If I go with only 2 bays, the Synology DiskStation itself would be $210 to $400, making the total between $435 and $650. Less expensive but lightyears from affordable.

    Isn't such a setup quite limited since, to use it, you need to connect it through Ethernet, which can be available at home, but surely not in an academic setting?

    I mean, wouldn't it be more reasonable to cover for an internal SSD or an external Thunderbolt first? Just asking.
  19. jav6454 macrumors Pentium


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Depends on your would be use. I have it as a main storage. So all four disks are inside my desktop connected to the motherboard.

    However, if the use is going to be for Time Machine backups, it would be good to assume you can use it as a wireless disk at home. Obviously, you won't be able to access it outside the house network.
  20. AhmedFaisal, Feb 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2013
  21. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Maybe I have to be more specific about my typical workday. I am rarely home, my MBP is always in my bag, and I tend to keep my virtual machines with me, or use the G-Technology external FW drive as a download support to avoid slowing the internal drive or CPU too much when connected to a network that can deliver more than 5MiB/s. Separate drive and FW800 provides just that, but maybe it's overkill. I just don't like my machine making sustained whirring noise while I am trying to concentrate, which is already hard with untreated ADHD.

    I just like to forget the machine is here during those times, and that was my main reason for maxing out the RAM.

    On the other hand, I find it very expensive for a device that still needs manual intervention and a separate computer to cater for those tasks it can't perform by itself, and for so little added convenience compared to the FW800 HDD (I would say "no added convenience" since, if a part of the network breaks, storage is unreachable)
  22. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    San Jose (CA)
    I buy about a dozen drives a year… and many end up just sitting there unused usually because the capacities are too small.

    So now I just save everything to them and then put them into storage. If they die… oh well. If they don't, in a couple years I can get nostalgic.
  23. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Sell all but the fastest four. Keep one for a spare, use the other three for rotating TimeMachine or CCC backups with one drive always offsite.
  24. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Here's info on the marketplace here at MR. You must have a post count of 250 before you can access it to buy/sell/trade.

    A docking station might be an affordable solution that would at least let you easily access and swap these drives to use them as back up. If that doesn't work for your workflow or you want back up with continuous access then another solution would be better.
  25. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    This would be separate from the day-to-day requirements for a reasonably fast, 2.5" storage, right?

    Does TM support backing up to 2 different hard drives? I was told it didn't. Knowing me, this would however be just another regular requirement to take a drive offsite, and exchange it with the local one every... week? I believe the offsite drive also needs to be kept separate from the computer, in case my bag gets stolen?

    If you know you won't use them, why buy them in the first place? I ended up with 10 drives largely thanks to having no long-term storage plan, and no money to pay for anything long-term.

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