Best multibay hard drive external enclosures

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Sossity, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Sossity, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    Sossity macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I have multiple hard drives all in their own enclosures, but I am finding the wires are getting crazy, they all have their own fire wire and usb cables, & power cables for each of them, and would like to clean and simplify things some.

    I need something that is not too big, to fit on an already crowded desk.

    would a multi bay external enclosure work better? and when I have my hard drives in one, can I power up only the hard drives I am working with? or will it make me power them all up like in a daisy chain?

    I am looking for one that has usb, & firewire, esata is nice but not absolutely required, my 2011 mac mini has a thunderbolt port, a firewire port, & usb 2.0 ports. Something that is hot swappable as well.

    also, are there enclosures that could work wireless?
  2. Giuly, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    If it has to be hot-swappable, the Drobo Mini/Drobo 5D, Pegasus R4/Pegasus R6 or LaCie 5big Thunderbolt.
    The 5big has a Gigabit Ethernet port, so you could connect it to your wireless network. Those enclosures are designed to use the disks in tandem, for safety by redundancy (a drive fails, you just pop in a new one and didn't loose any data) and/or speed by stripping (reading and writing on multiple disks simultaneously). However, they do support separate disks like you're using now but in a single enclosure.

    If you're looking for an SSD RAID, the Pegasus J4 (which it isn't hot-swappable, though).

    If those are too large, the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt.
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Note well, there are several different drive models bearing the 2big and 5big name.

    The Thunderbolt models of both have only Thunderbolt ports. There are other models that have USB and FireWire, or Ethernet and USB ports. The new NAS 5big has dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, but the USB ports (2 and 3) are for connecting drives to the 5big; not to connect the 5big to a computer.
  4. Sossity, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    Thanks for the suggestions, those are a little too expensive, I am looking in the 100.00 to 300.00 dollar range. will slightly older model of enclosures have a limit on the size or capacity of individual drives?
    usb and firewire are ok, thunderbot is not a must.

    do these type of enclosures require me to power on all the drives at once? or can I power on individual drives, the ones I just need to use?

    and I dont need it to power up when my computer does, I can turn it on when I am ready to use it.

    and I do not want to do any raid, just have my different hard drives in the slots.
  5. Giuly, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    All of the Thunderbolt enclosures come with disks already installed, which makes up most of the price.
    The next best thing would be Gigabit Ethernet, where you have the diskless Synology DS413J.

    Then you have the Akitio HYDRA Quad Elite, which has USB, FireWire 800 and an eSATA port.

    And last but not least, you have the nifty little LaCie Thunderbolt eSATA hub. If you hook it to a rather inexpensive 4-bay eSATA enclosure such as the Mediasonic HF2SU3S2, you have built yourself a 4-bay thunderbolt storage system for under $300. As the hub has 2 eSATA ports, you could could add a second enclosure later as well, and access them both simultaneously at full speed, and if that's still not sufficient, you can add a second, third, ... eSATA hub as well.
  6. KylePowers, Jan 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013

    KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Search jbod (just a bunch of disks) enclosure on Amazon. You'll get a bunch of choices for what you're looking for. I've been contemplating a silver Sans Digital 4-Bay myself, but probably going to wait until I fill up my 4TB external and get a second one.

    Edit - Sans Digital's MobileStor line supports hotswapping btw
  7. Giuly macrumors 68040


    They are USB 3.0 and eSATA just like the Mediasonic, so you still need the eSATA hub because the 2011 Macs don't have USB 3.0.
  8. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    But they'd work just fine with USB 2.0. eSATA hub is not a necessity unless you're particularly anal about speed. For most uses (like media storage), USB 2.0 would be fine.
  9. FireWire2, Jan 28, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013

    FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    USB2.0/FireWire JBOD enclosure

    Note: There are lots of company mislead consumer SPAN/BIG as JBOD
    JBoD is Just a Bunch of Drives <-- This is what you need I think

    So You can insert ANY SATA drive and It shows up.

    I can be wrong, but there is NO FireWire and USB2.0 enclosure supports JBoB mode in MAC, except this
  10. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I notice they all state the hard drives they support; ie; supports up to 3 terabytes per bay etc.

    what happens when i eventually get bigger capacity hard drives? like 4 or more terabytes as storage gets cheaper, will these enclosures that state support up to 3 tb be enough or any good?

    in other words, can a place a 4, 6, or 8 tb hard drive in one of those enclosures in the future even though right now they are rated at support up to 3tb?

    I need the enclosure to last me.

    and lastly, if I have 4 hard drives in one of these enclosures, & power it on, do I have to have all the hard drives on & running to access just one like in a daisy chain?

    I dont need to do RAID or anything yet, just house different hard drives, I read how someone lost all their data by mistake because of this. Is there some options or ways that one can set up one of these enclosures to work?
  11. Giuly, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    Those 3TB restrictions come from Windows, the BIOS and the Master Boot Record scheme. As long as you partition the drives as GPT on a Mac (which is the default), larger drives up to exabyte size will work just fine.

    If you don't need a RAID, the Mediasonic I posted above (with or without the Thunderbolt eSATA hub for more speed) is exactly what you want - it gives you four separate disks in OS X. It's also less expensive than any other 4-bay enclosure because of the lack of RAID.
  12. iWantAMac macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2003
    Since reading this thread I've looked for enclosures similar to the HF2-SU3S2 but haven't found anything really. The mediasonic has got some troubles from what I've read on various forums including their own. Are there any alternative 4 or even 2 bay enclosures with USB3, eSata and/or TB interfaces that aren't designed for RAID. And pardon the ignorance but do all RAID enclosures have the ability to run without RAID configured?
  13. Giuly macrumors 68040


    They seem to have sorted out the problems with the latest firmware, but if you run into trouble and have an USB 3.0 port on your Mac, you can use a USB3.0 to eSATA Adapter, which come rather cheap compared to the LaCie eSATA hub.

    Otherwise, all of the RAIDs and NAS above except for the Akitio support JBOD as well.
  14. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I was looking at 4 bay enclosures, & found this;

    are these good ones for what I want? I read the reviews, & some had problems with it, stating that it needed port multiplier cards, as they could only see or only 1 out the 4 hard drives installed would show up.

    will I be able to use this with the lacie I was linked to on my mac mini right out of the box as Jobd?


    would I be better off getting this instead of the lacie that I was given a link to? & would I lose the esata speed since the signal it is being transferred through a USB port? would this work with a usb 2.0 port?
  15. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Well, given that you don't have USB 3.0 ports on your Mac, you'd be better off with the LaCie. The USB ports on the ProBox don't have problems in USB 2.0 mode, so you wouldn't gain anything from it.
  16. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I looked back at this, & I can see how I could hook up a 2and estata 4 bay enclosure to the lacie, but how would I add more than 2 multibay estata enclosures to the lacie? it only has 2 estata ports on it.
  17. iWantAMac, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013

    iWantAMac macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2003
    ...and two TB ports. One of which connects to your computer? Thunderbolt dock? Can the Lacie be daisy chained? Expensive though.
  18. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    yes, one of the thunderbolt ports would connect to my computer, I don't know about daisy chaining, that is why I am asking.
  19. Giuly macrumors 68040


    You can daisy chain them, meaning one of the ports connect to your Mac, the second one to another eSATA hub, at which you could connect a third eSATA hub and so on.
  20. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010

    well thanks for the idea, but to my great disappointment, this set up does not work.

    I bought the lacie esata hub, plugged it into my 4 bay estata/usb 2.0 icydock enclosure (a neighbor sold it to me fairly cheap, but it is practically new) & it absolutely did not work.

    I installed one of my bare hard drives into one of the bays in my 4 bay enclosure, connected apple thunderbolt cable to my mac mini, to the hub, then esata cable to lacie hub to my enclosure, and the disk would not mount. I am not using raid, just the drives as individual drives.

    tried using just a a usb 2.0 cable, & the hard drive in the enclosure works.

    so after all is said & done, I am back to usb 2.0, a downgrade from the firewire of all my individual enclosures.

    I have found out the expensive way that the lacie hub not only does not support port multiplying, but does not even support single bay enclosures from other brands. so far the hub is completely useless to me, I tried it with all my enclosures that I have via esata, nothing.
  21. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Basically you have fallen into the trap that I had, what in 1999...

    Just relying on a HDD setup for backup / data storage alone is not going to do the trick. Sooner or later some mishap happens (be it fire, theft, operator error, hardware failure, hacking etc) and you loose all and every bit of data.

    To me it sounds you need network storage (NAS) coupled with a backup system (tapes, blueray etc) and there is no way around it if you value your data. Basically it comes down to how much is your data worth to you?

    Do not fall into the trap of backing up HDD to another HDD which is afterwards switched offline. I lost all my data in that way: first HDD backup did not work so hook up the second lot and that did not work either - some virus destroying everything. You need to be able to hook something up that is not writeable by default when you hook it up. Cloud storage may be an option but then I do not trust cloud with my valuable data.

    Good luck.

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