Advice for HDD connections

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by willie45, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. willie45 macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007

    I have 2 iMacs, a mini, and a MBP. They all have firewire and USB 2 but only the mac min has USB 3. They all have Thunderbolt apart from the oldest iMac.

    I also have a variety of HDDs purchased over the years. I need a lot of storage - I'm a photographer using large RAW files - and I also run all my music files in AIFF on HDDs.

    Anyway, I am reluctant to invest more money in HDDs with Firewire which looks like it will die out in the next few years. I can't really see many affordable drives with Thunderbolt and I'm wondering how this will fare in the future. Seems to be a very very slow uptake.

    I could stick with USB3 and just suffer the slower USB 2 speeds when I'm using drives connected to all my computers apart from the mini which has USB 3 ports but this would be a pain.

    So I'm stuck any advice or is there some way of using the drives and some sort of converter so that they will at least work with all my computers?

    Thanks for any advice you might have
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    All of those have Gigabit Ethernet? If so, why not consider NAS?
    If that is not an option, go with Thunderbolt and have the iMac w/o that port relegated to other duties or replace it, if it is a necessary asset.
  3. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    I agree with simsaladimbamba, why not a NAS?

    You have a bunch of drives, and you want to access them via 4 different computers. A RAID NAS seems like the obvious solution. Your bottleneck is the gigabit ethernet connection, so those old drives are fine.
  4. errol macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2008
  5. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    The LaCie Tbolt esata hub will give you fast drive options but you will need an esata enclosure. I have one of these. Works really well. Excellent speeds.

    Belkin and sonnet have both come out with Tbolt to usb3.0 adapters. But they are not cheap.

    Unless you run aggregated Ethernet, a nas is not fast enough for my liking. Even on gigabit.
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    While a NAS is great for many things... it generally is not best for a photography working sets. It is fine for archived photography projects or collections.

    I agree that continuing investment in FW will be short lived. USB 3.0 is fine and will be the cheapest option over the long run. TB is better... but not cheaper.

    Investing a a good Thunderbolt DAS raid enclosure is not cheap... but offers the best performance right now. At some point... your working set for photos might move to TB attached SSDs... but even then you could use a good TB DAS as the SSD backup.

  7. willie45 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007
    Thanks for your replies. It's all a bit confusing. Is thunderbolt even a sure fire thing for the future?

    It might be best sticking to USB3 and bearing with the slower USB2 speeds for the time being. Seems the most cost-effective option.
  8. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    It depends on what you do with the storage. You mentioned you have a bunch of drives that you want to access via 4 different computers. That either means you want to connect the drives directly to each computer, or put those drives on the network, which in turn can mean either DAS (direct attached storage) and then shared on you local network, or NAS (network attached storage). There are pro and cons in each approach. Your best choice depends on what you want to achieve, and even if you know exactly what you want to achieve, the choice may not be clear.

    You told us that you want to reuse your drives, and that you want to store large RAW files and music files. I have similar needs, and I only have 2 computers. I decided to go with a fast DAS (Buffalo Station DDR) for my photo library. It's USB3 and is the fastest drive you can get without spending 10x more for a SSD. But being a DAS I won't be able to access this drive with another computer (I could, but the computer that connect to this drive has to be on, which is not practical for me). My other choice is a NAS, but that is limited by gigabit ethernet speed which is many times slower than a DAS. I have heard of others using a NAS like Synology to host their Aperture library, and I am sure you can do the same with Lightroom or other software. It's definitely not as fast as a DAS, but depends on you workflow, it may work fine.

    As far as Thunderbolt or USB3, I don't think it makes a difference in term of speed as either is faster than the fastest hard drive you can get nowadays, except for SSD.

    And then whatever storage solution you come up with, there is a question of backing up. That is a another can of worm. It's simpler if you have fewer storage to deal with IMHO.
  9. smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Thunderbolt will be around, but that's a good question to be asking in general.

    * Apple is behind it, and Apple is still selling millions of Macs a year

    * Intel is behind it, and just introduced the next iteration of Thunderbolt

    Even if PC makers don't pick up Thunderbolt right away, there's still plenty of push behind it between Apple and Intel to have it well into the future. The downside, as you note, is that without the PC makers on board, the costs aren't coming down as quickly as us consumers would like.

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