External - Dock or Enclosure?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by pup, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. pup macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    #1
    I need an off-site backup solution and I also need external storage for my iTunes library (and it's backup). I figure I can kill two birds with one stone if I go with a dock. I'm considering one of these...

    Startech USB3 Dual Dock

    Anyone had success or failure using this with a Mini? Are there better brands? Would I need a dock with a fan?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    I've yet to try a "dual dock", but I have had experience with "single bay" docks.

    I have both a Syba USB2 dock and an Other World Computing Voyager 3 USB3/Firewire dock.

    Either works fine on any of my Macs (PowerMac g4 w/USB2 card, 24" Intel iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook 13).

    On occasion, I have noticed what seem to be (for lack of a better term) "USB conflicts" when I hook them both up at once on the same computer. Sometimes both drives show up properly, once-in-a-while not so. I attribute this to something in the way USB drives work when daisy-chained, where their "identities" on the USB bus may become confused or entangled by the OS. This is similar to SCSI, where each device needed its own "identity" (number) in the chain.

    Having said that, if I get a conflict, and one dock won't mount when the other is already "up", usually a disconnection and re-connection will fix that.

    HOWEVER -- not sure if this is relevant to a -dual- USB dock. The only way is to try and discover.

    Question for anyone reading this who does have a dual USB/SATA dock:
    Can you mount/dismount drives in the individual docks without problems?
     
  3. Jrtesq macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2012
    #4
    Does a dock affect the lifespan of a drive due to the fact that some of the drive is exposed? I'm thinking of dust and other environmental contaminants.
     
  4. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 68030

    OldSchoolMacGuy

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #5
    Drives are sealed so there is no issue with dust getting inside. If they weren't being inside a computer would be bad news. Have you ever cracked open the case of a computer after it's been closed up for a year? Dust city usually.

    Lack of a case isn't a bad thing. Many cases hold heat in and lack fans to circulate cool air through and cool the drive. Being caseless solves that. At the same time, many drives are made of metals that help the drive dissipate heat and have fans to help cool things too. Unless you're doing lots of very read/write intensive stuff, most users should be just fine without a case and heatsink to take care of things.

    Only issue with being caseless in this specific case is that you're grabbing a bare drive often. With the circuit board/controller exposed, there is risk of static shock effecting the delicate drive components or scratches to the circuit board happening when setting it down or transporting it. Because of this, I'd opt for a drive in a case if one plans on moving it around and transporting it.
     
  5. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #6
    I don't think the life of the drive is affected by being in a dock. The internal tolerances are so small that any dust would wreck the thing if the bare case wasn't dust sealed to begin with. The inside of a computer isn't exactly dust free with fans and such. My old Mac tower had so much cat hair in it that the cd drive quit.

    OP: If your computer has Thunderbolt, look at a Thunderbolt to esata adapter and a sata dock. It will match the speed of your internal bus and the drive in the dock will be equal to one in the computer.

    I have an '08 MBP with an esata card connected to a Thermalake two bay dock. One drive is a desktop and the other is a laptop and both mount separately.

    Dale
     
  6. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #7
  7. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 68030

    OldSchoolMacGuy

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #8
    The lack of an ExpressCard port on newer MacBook Pros really sucks. It's one of the reasons I kept my early 2008 MBP for so long. I used my ExpressCard eSATA card all the time for backups and other things. It was inexpensive and there are plenty of drive enclosures available with it for a decent price. Thunderbolt has few options and they're all expensive.
     
  8. pup thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    #9
    Thanks for the replies. It does look like the Thermaltake has the best performance/reviews from what I'm seeing.

    The problem seems to be that for all of these docks, there are quite a few bad reviews with people who can't get them to work properly - the common problem seems to be the drives disconnecting or spinning down unexpectedly. That does sound like a USB issue, so maybe the thunderbolt/esata option is the way to go.

    I wish there were some direct thunderbolt options available. The other option is to go firewire. After all, I'll just be using it for backup and iTunes, so I don't need the fastest connection out there.

    Any recommendations for what drives to use? I'm leaning toward the WD Red, but the Seagate Barracudas are $40 cheaper each.
     
  9. Designer Dale, Oct 31, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012

    Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #10
    One of the doors on my Thermalake broke when I dropped it, but I just put my full sized drive in that slot. Other than that, it works perfectly.

    FireWire 800 is a good alternative for backup. It's fast and flexible because it can be hot swapped and daisy chained. I have a 500 gig Seagate GoFlex with a FireWire 800 adapter for my portable backup. I have found that the adapter, which is available separately, isn't proprietary to Seagate. It's just a sata connecter and can be used with any bare sata drive of any size.

    I use a Western Digital Cavier Black for my backup. It's not cheap, but it's built like a tank.

    Dale

    EDIT: The WD red looks like a sata 3 drive. Make sure your mini has a sata 3 bus or you will just be buying a drive faster than your computer.

    Look it up at EveryMac.com.
     
  10. pup thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    #11
    After doing too much research, I decided against getting any 2-bay dock. There are just too many people who seem to be having trouble with that configuration, getting both drives to mount reliably over a single USB connection.

    So I went with a single bay drive enclosure and a single bay dock. Hopefully that setup will be reliable, and the cost is pretty much the same as getting a 2-bay dock. Both the enclosure and the dock are USB 3.0.

    For the drives, I went with the WD Reds, since those are recommended for constant-access NAS, and I'm more concerned about reliability and heat buildup than I am outright performance. Plus they're a good bit cheaper than the blacks, so that doesn't hurt either.

    I think this will be a good setup for me - and if at the end of the day I decide that I need to go with a Mac Pro, the only money I will have wasted is for the single enclosure and of course whatever depreciation I'll see on the Mini.

    Thanks to everyone for your advice.
     

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