Best 4 Bay External HDD Enclosure?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by NoManIsland, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. NoManIsland macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #1
    I am looking to purchase an empty 4 bay external HDD enclosure and am looking for some recommendations.

    1) I need it to work well with Time Machine, as that will be its purpose.
    2) I don't need any RAID levels, just JBOD, and if possible I'd like one that allows me to use disks of unequal sizes.
    3) I want it to match the Mac Pro aesthetically if possible. I will prefer to connect it via FireWire 800: eSATA is a bonus but not a requirement.
    4) Obviously I want as inexpensive a solution as I can get, but I want it to be long-lasting and well made.
    5) In a perfect world, I'd love it to auto-power-on when the computer boots and auto-power-off when the computer is shut down, like the Lacie d2 drives do (but I know that's unlikely unless I go with LaCie themselves).

    I know it's a long list of features, but I'd love to hear some recommendations even if they don't fit all the points.
     
  2. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #2
    Drobo?

    In order

    1) Yes it will work with Time Machine.
    2) It works with any size disk, or combination of disks
    3) It doesn't look bad for a non-Apple product. And even the entry level model has FW800 now. The five bay model has ESATA, but it is more expensive.
    4) Drobo is expensive but I have used one problem free for over 2 years.
    5) They do shutdown with the computer, and come back on with the computer.

    http://datarobotics.com/products/drobo.php
     
  3. philipma1957, Dec 30, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #3
    I am anti drobo this is better. I can't insult drobo enough biggest reason is proprietary raid



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...9&cm_re=rosewill_4_bay-_-16-132-029-_-Product


    this only uses esata


    this uses both esata and usb



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ..._re=sans_digital_4_bay-_-16-111-106-_-Product


    these are far lower cost then drobo. if you want fw800 you will pay a lot more see below:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ..._re=sans_digital_4_bay-_-16-111-024-_-Product

    the low end drobo is not in the same league as the unit above both cost 389
     
  4. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    I was aware of the Drobo, and it does seem promising, but I've heard some issues with Data Robotics not supporting it very well on the software end: updates slow to come out etc, and I'm concerned about being locked in to a proprietary RAID implementation. Does anyone have anything to add regarding the Drobo? Are my fears unfounded?

    Also, I don't want or need redundancy in the external, just JBOD.
     
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #5
    Drobo's not the best way to go for what you want to do IMO (not cost effective for your needs). BTW, the mention of Data Robotics' software support is accurate - they are slow to release fixes, and their implementations are proprietary.

    The PM unit + included eSATA card is a more cost effective solution for you (philipma1957 linked a good one). If you prefer silver, the same unit is sold by Sans Digital (Rosewill = newegg brand, and Sans Digital is the ODM supplier for that model - TR4MP is the silver version).
     
  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #6
  7. barmann macrumors 6502

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    Germany
    #7
    JBOD (not span) is what I was looking for as well, and ended up ordering from datoptic .

    It's not arrived yet, but seems like what you described - only it's decidedly not Mac-like looking . ;)
     
  8. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #8
    Yes I can confirm that Data Robotics has been very slow as of late on the software updates.

    I suppose I was thinking more of the ease of use of the Drobo. I mean for Time Machine almost any simple external will work, doesn't even need to be FW800 or eSATA. Time Machine is slow at the best of times so really a fast drive is unnecessary.
     
  9. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #9
    Thanks guys for all the suggestions! I'm astounded at the low price of the San Digital model :D Although superficially I'm drawn to the Stardom :eek: I was also looking at OWC's Mercury Elite-AL Pro QX2, but it seems a little pricy and over-featured for what I want to do - anybody use one of those? One aspect which I didn't mention is that I work with audio primarily, so noise floor is an issue - can any of you comment on the level of noise these devices create?
     
  10. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    #10
    OWC will be releasing something similar to Qx2 next year according to an email I received from them earlier. Will be JBOD (not spanning) and with all the other features too. Wasn't given a time table for it though. Let us know how the one you ordered works out. Looks pretty good.
     
  11. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #11
    I use a Sans Digital 5 bay unit with my Windows Home Server. It's slaved off the server by an ESATA port, and it properly supports the port multiplier feature. It's simple, quiet, and works well.
     
  12. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #12
    That sounds a lot like what I need - I'm not in dire need yet, so I could hold out until it becomes available, as I do like OWC. Does anyone else have any information about this new item? I'd love to get a timeline so I can plan around it.

    bearcatrp, could you forward me the email they sent you? You can send it to nomanisland@telus.net
     
  13. barmann, Jan 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011

    barmann macrumors 6502

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    Germany
    #13
    Finally the Datoptic enclosure arrived, here a few first impressions.
    I'm a foreign speaker, please bear with my English.

    What I noticed first is its depth, 16.5" / 42cm, that's quite a bit more than the compitition.
    There are slots in the back for possible extensions (an eSata module is supposed to come soon), so maybe that's why they made the case a bit roomier.
    Fortunately, the weight seems to be a lot less than the claimed 16 lbs.

    Looks are industrial, utilitarian, plain; no product designer ever got near that thing - I actually like it.

    Assembly quality is so-so , the Datoptic label isn't straight, amongst other things.
    For $400+ and Made in the USA I'd expect a little more attention to detail, but it has its charm - like you put it together by yourself real quick. ;)

    The power button is on the front panel - nice.
    There is a switch to adjust the PSU to either 130 or 230V - could be automatic.

    One of the main reasons I chose this enclosure are the trayless drive bays, and they work well; pop in an HDD, close the hatch, and without effort the drive connects to the backplane, very smooth.
    That way, the enclosure doubles as a docking station, brilliant.

    I ordered from OWC, they didn't send a manual, but I figured for my desired JBOD setup I just set the small Raid selector switch to PM (port multiplier I assume).

    I have two 2TB Hitachi HDDs to play with right now, they both got detected by the OS right away, and I could format and partition the drives as usual.
    I'm away from my MacPro at the moment, and using an MBP .

    To remove a drive, or move it to a different bay, you have to eject all volumes that are mounted on the computer (else the eject themselves and you get the warning message); is that normal for a hot-swap PM enclosure ?
    It's just a small inconvenience, though, once you have put in an HDD all volumes mount again.

    Next big thing for me is noise; the place where I am right now has some ambient noise, but still I find the enclosure to be very quiet, the harddrives being more audible than the fans.
    Noise is subjective, but the datoptic is definitely more quiet than an old 2-bay Iomega enclosure that I have, and not much louder than a decent fanless external 3.5" enclosure.

    So far, the Datoptic case seems to be working just as I expected it to, plug and play Firewire JBOD, the only real bother being the depth of the case, but I'll live with it.
     

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  14. NoManIsland, Jan 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011

    NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Thanks barmann for the detailed update!

    Nanofrong, I followed your link and on their site found this. Since I'm going to be using this for TM, I don't think it will matter that it only connects via USB, as I don't need it to be fast. It has only JBOD and span, but those are the only two modes I need; it even has the auto power on, power off that I like. I like that it has only one huge fan, as usually I find that big fans moving more slowly are quieter than small fans pushing hard.

    Has anyone had experience with this unit?

    They also have an 8 bay version of this for about twice the cost, but the price on this one is irresistible. My only concern is build quality. Also, would this unit allow me to use different sizes of drives and combine them into one large volume, or do they all have to be the same size?

    *Update: I've been hopping around checking reviews for the Sans Digital unit linked above and I'm seeing a lot of horror stories about build quality and bugginess. I'm beginning to think I should just pony up and buy the OWC unit (or wait for its replacement), as I've seen nothing but good feedback about their build quality and it's a lot more flexible for connections and configurations. I just wish there was something as simple as the Sans Digital, but well made for a little more dough...
     
  15. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #15
    I owned the usb only product from sans digital and of the 12 or 13 products I have used from them it was the only one I have a lot of trouble with. It is why I did not list it when i mentioned the other units. A lot depends on what you want to spend for a 4 or 5 bay unit.
     
  16. Big Boss Man macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2006
    #16
    I have the OWC Mercury Elite. I always turn it off when recording audio. It is noticeably louder than the Mac Pro. Any external drive with a fan is going to create extra noise that you don't want when recording audio. Even if it were a little quieter, I would still want to turn it off when recording.
     
  17. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Fair enough. I don't do a lot of recording (and I would shut it down during what sessions I do), as my focus is primarily on using Logic and Vienna Symphonic Library to realize my classical compositions. I wouldn't want to have to shut the unit down every time I am working on my music, so noise floor, while not so much an issue as it would be if I were recording, is still an issue.

    I would be curious to hear of your experiences with the unit. The online reviews are pretty good, but I've seen a couple corroborated stories of major difficulties (see the comments thread here), so I would greatly benefit from your experiences before I commit to it.
     
  18. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    Boon Docks USA
    #18
    Here is the email response I got from them....

    MESSAGE: Any way to use the Qx2 as single drives? Would rather have 4 independent drives than any raid solution. A bunch of us on Mac rumors are discussing your product vs others and allot mentioned the Qx2 but do need raid at this time. Also, I purchased your 2 bay enclosure. Nice unit but the fan is noisy. Is the fan on the Qx2 as loud as the 2 bay enclosure? Thanks.


    RESPONSE: Early next year we do have a new product line that will arrive offering an alternative to the QX2 which will allow independent drive mode. In the present – we could only go to 4 drives with RAID and non-RAID span in order to support eSATA. Next year will have full independent mode available on 4+ bay solutions that offer the quad interfaces including when connecting via eSATA.

    These solutions will require matched drive for RAID modes... But we expect to officially support them for non-RAID modes when using non-matched drives as well.
     
  19. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #19
    Sounds like they're going to be bringing out a few new models. Seeing as it is "early next year" already ;), I think I'll hold out until OWC releases their new models, unless I find something very compelling in the meantime.
     
  20. Big Boss Man macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2006
    #20
    Sometimes when I turn it on OSX does not recognize it. Recycling the power has always fixed that. Early on it did once sound the drive failure alarm for no reason when I turned it on. Power cycling also fixed that. I purchased mine several months ago and have it setup with 4x2TB (Hitachi) in RAID5 if that matters. The new models sound interesting but I would probably want to wait several months to see some reviews first.
     
  21. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #21
    Yeah, that sounds very much like what I've been hearing about, and good call on the waiting for reviews.

    I'd love to hear some people's experiences with CalDigit. I've been perusing their products, and although they are deadly expensive, the reviews seem very positive and I'm feeling like I want to save up and get something proper anyways. The one I'm looking at is actually a 2-bay unit, but I realized that I only need 4TB for my TM, so 2x2TB is not hard to do. I had been looking at 4-bay units primarily because I'll be pulling 2x1TB drives from my MP, so it looked like with a 4-bay I could get to 4TB for cheap. CalDigit's unit is $599 with 2x2TB included, which is a little outside my budget, but obtainable if their quality is as it seems. I'd rather get something solid then cheap out on a budget box and have faults and errors.

    Does anyone have anything to say about that unit or CalDigit in general?
     
  22. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #22
    I must say I'm falling in love with the CalDigit VR. From all the reviews I've been able to find online, the build quality and functionality are excellent, the unit is very quiet, and the LCD panel is actually helpful rather than cosmetic. Speaking of cosmetic, though, I must say I am also very drawn to its industrial design and styling. The price is painful, though :(

    Nonetheless, I'm planning on the VR for my purchase, once I round up the funds: in the meantime I'd love to hear any firsthand experience with the enclosure, just to confirm or throw into doubt what I've heard so far.
     
  23. barmann macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Considering it comes with two HDDs, I don't think it's overly expensive; you always pay a premium for the multi-interface models compared to eSATA only or eSATA and USB .

    Another manufacturer you might be interested in is G-Tech .
    It's by Hitachi, and usually gets good reviews by photographers and video people .
     
  24. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #24
    I suppose you are right about the price - I had just been looking at this prior to seeing the VR, and that was my basis for comparison. I think there is probably a pretty big gap in quality between the VR and the OWC solution (can anybody confirm that?).
     
  25. philipma1957, Jan 2, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #25
    I owned owc's gear

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/ME8Q7T40HB64/


    I owned this one from sans digital

    http://www.sansdigital.com/towerstor/ts2ct.html


    owc does not touch the sans digital


    It looks like your caldigit gear has one extra feature JBOD so It may be nicer. I can tell you some members( maybe nanofrog if I can trust my memory) got no support over a broken one a vr and it is 600. It is your money not mine.


    if you want to spend 600 i would look at this


    http://www.glyphtech.com/products/gt062e/#/images/products/062e-gallery-front.jpg


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist.jsp&A=cart&Q=add&sku=649034&is=REG&q=1
     

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