Do I need RAID 1 Array or just buy two external HDs?

Bojack Horseman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 5, 2016
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Atlanta, GA
I'm a hobby photographer thats shoots RAW and just bought my very first Macintosh, a 2018 Macbook Pro 13" with 16 GB RAM and 256 GB HD. This is the first time having such a small HD and obviously I'll need to buy an external drive to store all my photos. But with all my photos only on the external drive, I'll need a second drive to back up the photos. As a hobby photographer, do I need a fancy RAID 1 Array or should I just take the time to back up to a second HD? Money is a restriction. I'm not looking to spend more than $300 for 2-6 TBs of storage.

Edit: I should have clarified that I will have a third external HD dedicated just for Time Machine, so the two HDs that I'm talking about will be solely for my RAW photos.
 
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robgendreau

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Jul 13, 2008
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RAID isn't a backup per se. It could protect you in that one drive internally fails the other can take over, but that's not backup for mistakenly deleted files, etc.

It would be more cost effective and simpler to just get an external and then at least one more to back that up, and preferably two or use the cloud for the second. Look up 3-2-1 backups.
 

MCAsan

macrumors 601
Jul 9, 2012
4,537
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Atlanta
Basic: Dedicated large drive for use by Time Machine to backup the entire file system, not just photos or documents.

Intermediate: Purchase 2 drives for Time Machine and use one per week. When drive 1 is in use, drive 2 is offsite somewhere it safe and not likely be reformatted for stolen.

Advanced: Next level up with be to use an online cloud service like BackBlaze.
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I'm not looking to spend more than $300 for 2-6 TBs of storage.
You can purchase 4TB of hard disk storage for about $100.

As part of your research, I’d suggest that you consider a 500GB SSD as part of your solution, which would also cost about $100. Have a look at this thread, and the video linked in post #19 in particular: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/diy-samsung-t5-or-x5-equivalents.2167739/

I would not go for RAID 1 in this situation because I’d want two drives in separate enclosures rather than two drives in the same enclosure. That way, if there’s an enclosure failure there’s no issue about data recovery, and if I want to keep the drives in separate places, there’s nothing preventing me from doing so. For a hobbyist, I think that the time spent copying new photos to two different drives is trivial.

As @MCAsan says, it’s a good idea to use Time Machine to back up your whole MacBook, and as he/she suggests, it can also be used to back up any connected drives at the same time.
 
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Bojack Horseman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 5, 2016
19
3
Atlanta, GA
RAID isn't a backup per se. It could protect you in that one drive internally fails the other can take over, but that's not backup for mistakenly deleted files, etc.

It would be more cost effective and simpler to just get an external and then at least one more to back that up, and preferably two or use the cloud for the second. Look up 3-2-1 backups.
Yah I might just go for the two external HDs. After reading how when the power supply of a RAID array dies, it takes both drives with it, or how when one drive dies, the other one will most likely too.
[doublepost=1549419520][/doublepost]
You can purchase 4TB of hard disk storage for about $100.

As part of your research, I’d suggest that you consider a 500GB SSD as part of your solution, which would also cost about $100. Have a look at this thread, and the video linked in post #19 in particular: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/diy-samsung-t5-or-x5-equivalents.2167739/

I would not go for RAID 1 in this situation because I’d want two drives in separate enclosures rather than two drives in the same enclosure. That way, if there’s an enclosure failure there’s no issue about data recovery, and if I want to keep the drives in separate places, there’s nothing preventing me from doing so. For a hobbyist, I think that the time spent copying new photos to two different drives is trivial.

As @MCAsan says, it’s a good idea to use Time Machine to back up your whole MacBook, and as he/she suggests, it can also be used to back up any connected drives at the same time.
Yah I forgot the mention that I'll have a third HD dedicated just for Time Machine. I also agree that a RAID array isn't a good backup solution, but why do you say that it's trivial to take the time to copy photos to two different drives?
 
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F-Train

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why do you say that it's trivial to take the time to copy photos to two different drives?
Once you have an original drive, making a copy takes no effort. You don’t have to be present while the copying is going on, and if you want you can use something like Carbon Copy Cloner to make the copy at any time you specify, including in the middle of the night, or indeed have Time Machine do it.
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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Some random ideas to consider, some or all of which you may reject out of hand...

Treat your internal SSD as a workspace and only keep original files there, beyond the need to work on them, if there is a good reason to.

Put all the original files that you don't need to have on your internal SSD on one or more external drives. If you have original files to which you want fast access, and if you can afford it, get a USB 3.1 Gen. 2 portable SSD. Right now, Samsung's 500GB T5 is US$109. WD is currently offering its 1TB My Passport SSD for $185, which is the lowest price I've ever see for 1TB in this class of drive. Portable SSDs aren't a necessity, but they are much, much faster than standard drives, and a pleasure to work with. Besides, you've got a couple of fast USB-C ports on your computer - might as well use them :)

One of the great things about portable SSDs, if you format them AFPS, as you should, is that you can create volumes on them without creating partitions. This means that you can create a volume/area on an SSD called, for example, Photos, without deciding in advance how big the Photos volume will be. It will expand in size as needed. Alternatively, the SSD can be a single volume, with just a folder called Photos.

Set up a Time Machine drive, which should be an ordinary hard drive. It doesn't matter whether it is 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM. Use it to back up your operating system and all of your original files, regardless of whether they are on your internal hard drive or on one or more external drives.

Finally, consider remote cloud storage for important files. Personally, if you are using a Mac, I think that iCloud is the best solution for this. You need to think carefully about how you want to use it, but with that determined iCloud is awfully handy and simple to use.
 
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harriska2

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I have one 1tb internal SSD and two 10tb external USB3 HDD on a Mac mini. It runs great except I keep picking up the powered USB hub and accidentally turning it off. macOS isn't exactly thrilled with that. I have to eject then re-mount and all is well. The HDDs are only 5400 rpm but inside it they are red Western Digitals. With an external power supply for each drive I think it is a better system. All my stuff is on a household UPS, and a nice one at that so even the external drives have conditioned power. My drives seem to last for many years, usually more than 5. That said, I find the external drives to be plenty fast. I convert videos (not 4k) and drag many gigs around (in images) without much lag. I'm pretty happy with it all.
 
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Bojack Horseman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 5, 2016
19
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Atlanta, GA
Some random ideas to consider, some or all of which you may reject out of hand...

Treat your internal SSD as a workspace and only keep original files there, beyond the need to work on them, if there is a good reason to.

Put all the original files that you don't need to have on your internal SSD on one or more external drives. If you have original files to which you want fast access, and if you can afford it, get a USB 3.1 Gen. 2 portable SSD. Right now, Samsung's 500GB T5 is US$109. WD is currently offering its 1TB My Passport SSD for $185, which is the lowest price I've ever see for 1TB in this class of drive. Portable SSDs aren't a necessity, but they are much, much faster than standard drives, and a pleasure to work with. Besides, you've got a couple of fast USB-C ports on your computer - might as well use them :)

One of the great things about portable SSDs, if you format them AFPS, as you should, is that you can create volumes on them without creating partitions. This means that you can create a volume/area on an SSD called, for example, Photos, without deciding in advance how big the Photos volume will be. It will expand in size as needed. Alternatively, the SSD can be a single volume, with just a folder called Photos.

Set up a Time Machine drive, which should be an ordinary hard drive. It doesn't matter whether it is 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM. Use it to back up your operating system and all of your original files, regardless of whether they are on your internal hard drive or on one or more external drives.

Finally, consider remote cloud storage for important files. Personally, if you are using a Mac, I think that iCloud is the best solution for this. You need to think carefully about how you want to use it, but with that determined iCloud is awfully handy and simple to use.
Firstly I want to thank you for being so helpful in my tread. I really appreciate it since I'm all so new to all this.
So what I think my game plan will be is basically what you're tell me: to get two external hard drives, an SSD for my mass storage of photos, and a second bigger HDD, big enough to make Time Machine backups of the drive of photos plus the internal OS drive.
Any photos that I'm currently working put on the internal drive until finished, and no longer need then transfer over to the external drive. Is all this correct? I probably won't get an SSD simply because its still out of my price range.
 
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F-Train

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Yes, correct, but note the following.

Going this route can result in your latest full Time Machine backup being larger than your internal drive, which in your case is 256GB. To be clear on the implication of that, if you want to use Migration Assistant at some point, see this thread, and especially Weaselboy's posts: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/time-machine-restore-to-smaller-hard-drive.1824792/

If you decide that you want to keep your latest, full Time Machine backup under 256GB, you may need a separate backup drive for your photos. Conversely, you probably won't need a very large Time Machine drive.

Cheers
 
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Bojack Horseman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 5, 2016
19
3
Atlanta, GA
Yes, correct, but note the following.

Going this route can result in your latest full Time Machine backup being larger than your internal drive, which in your case is 256GB. To be clear on the implication of that, if you want to use Migration Assistant at some point, see this thread, and especially Weaselboy's posts: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/time-machine-restore-to-smaller-hard-drive.1824792/

If you decide that you want to keep your latest, full Time Machine backup under 256GB, you may need a separate backup drive for your photos. Conversely, you probably won't need a very large Time Machine drive.

Cheers
I could just partition the drive I'll be using for Time Machine, correct? I've read that I want to get a drive 2~3 times bigger than the drive that's being backed up. So my 256 GB internal OS drive plus the 500 GB external photos drive, I'll want to get a 2 TB drive for Time Machine backups. I could partition it 1.5 TB and .5 TB. Would this be ideal?
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I could just partition the drive I'll be using for Time Machine, correct? I've read that I want to get a drive 2~3 times bigger than the drive that's being backed up. So my 256 GB internal OS drive plus the 500 GB external photos drive, I'll want to get a 2 TB drive for Time Machine backups. I could partition it 1.5 TB and .5 TB. Would this be ideal?
Yes, I have personally had a 1TB drive that had a partition for Time Machine and a separate partition to back up music that I decided to keep discrete from Time Machine. I did this for two years, until about a month ago, and it works fine.

For a 500GB internal drive, I was using 400GB for Time Machine (remember that I use my internal drive as a workspace, so 400GB was plenty; indeed, I never came close to using it all) and 600GB was for music backup.

There are lots of ways to skin this cat, you just have to decide what works for you. If you decide that you want to change the distribution later, it’s not a big deal. Personally, I don’t handle that by resizing partitions, an exercise that makes me nervous, probably for no good reason. I just wipe the drive, create new partitions and reload them. It isn’t a regular event and it isn’t particularly time consuming.
 
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