External eSATA for a backup drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by xyzzy-xyzzy, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. xyzzy-xyzzy, Nov 5, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010

    xyzzy-xyzzy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    #1
    As part of my backup strategy I plan to use an external hdd (which I generally keep off line -- I also use a internal backup hdd -- both are backups for my boot and home dir drives). I want to put the external hdd in the OWC Mercury Elite Pro "Classic" enclosure which accepts eSATA, firewire 400/800, and USB. I prefer those cases since I've used it's predecessor in previous years and they have proven very reliable.

    I know I can back up through fw800 (usb of course is slower than the firewire). But I was considering using eSata instead for even faster backups. I assume I can do this if I stick in a eSATA PCIe card in my 2010 mac pro.

    The two cards I am considering are from OWC:

    1. NewerTech MAXPower 6G PCIe eSATA RAID Controller card
    2. NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller card

    Card 1 appears to be a more full featured card (and more expensive) than card 2 and neither of these cards require an extra driver (which I guess is why I didn't consider the Sonnet Tempo SATA E2P). Will either of these cards work? Any suggestions for other cards for a 2010 mac pro?

    I realize that I cannot boot through either of these cards but I really wouldn't need to do that anyhow (unless something really catastrophic happens). Besides I could always use the fw800 if I ever needed that. [Hmm, what happens if both fw800 and eSATA are connected?]

    Update - some additional questions:

    I just thought of two more questions relating to the use of these eSATA cards:

    1. With the disk mounted through eSATA, can the system sleep just as if the eSATA wasn't attached or the card in the PCIe slot?

    2. Does the eSATA-connected disk need to be on when the system is booted or can turn on the drive and mount it after boot, i.e., like with fw and usb?

    So is all this really worth it? How much of a transfer speed boost can I expect from fw800 to eSATA considering (I assume) that this is somewhat dependent on the efficiency of the external enclosure's eSATA interface?

    Finally, although I prefer the enclosure I mentioned are there any opinions on enclosures that may be more efficient than that one? Remember I really only need an enclosure that can hold one drive. If in the future I need an additional drive I can always just get an additional enclosure.

    Thanks in advance for your opinions.
     
  2. xyzzy-xyzzy thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 19, 2010
  3. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #3
    What are you doing that requires such a fast backup system? Answer that, and you might get some replies.
     
  4. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Apparently, both cards will work as they are advertised to work with a Mac Pro. There are also people around here that have these cards and no problems have been reported as of yet.

    Either card will be just fine, the more expensive card supports port multiplying, though, which means that you can connect up to five drives to a single port.

    Keep in mind, that the Sonnet card is SATA II only, so if you want to buy a future proof card, chose one of the SATA III cards from OWC.

    Actually, I haven't tested this yet and I'm not planning to. Every time I want to boot from an external drive, I quickly connect the FW cable.

    1. Yes, sleeping won't be a problem.

    2. It will be mounted just like a USB or FW drive.


    I think it's worth is. With a FW800 drive, the FW800 bus is the limiting factor, as it doesn't allow transfer speeds higher than ~80MB/s. Assuming that you use a single mechanical disc, the transfer speeds you can expect are up to 150MB/s (for a 3TB drive).

    The Mercury enclosure should do the job, but to be honest, it is ugly as hell. :p

    I use a MacPower SK-3500 enclosure for my boot drive clone.

    The transfer speeds I get are about 110MB/s with the internal 1TB WD Black.
     
  5. xyzzy-xyzzy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    #5
    Transporteur, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

    And FWIW, I'm not really concerned about the appearance of the backup enclosure, only that what's inside it can be reliably accessed if needed :D

    THX1139, what difference does it make why I want a faster backup system? That is not really pertinent to the specific technical questions I asked. And although I framed my original post in the context of backing up I want to leave the door open for possible other uses of external eSATA support in the future. Perhaps I should have just framed my post in the context of general eSATA use on mac pros for my own enlightenment. For that I apologize.
     
  6. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #6
    About the only issue is that you won't be able to boot from an eSATA connection. If you opt for an enclosure that includes a FW800 or USB connector, then you would connect the drive via one of those methods prior to booting from it.

    (edit: never mind, I see you already talked about this)
     
  7. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Not necessarily. There are bootable eSATA cards out there. The cheapest one is a $30 single 3Gb/s port card which can be found on ebay. The OWC devices are, however, more recommended as they work without any drivers and support eSATA 6Gb/s.

    If I were in the US, I would have bought the PM OWC card as well (I use a SIL3132 based 2 port PM eSATA card).
     
  8. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #8
    My understanding is that OS X will not boot from an eSATA device. Neither of the cards linked to by the OP are indicated as being bootable by OWC, nor is the Sonnet E2P.
     
  9. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Which is correct, and I never said that they will do so.
    However, as I mentioned there are cards that boot OS X. These are based on the JMB360 chipset, which is natively supported by OS X, they don't even require any drivers.

    Excuse me for the price estimation of $30. The cheapest price for these devices is actually around $16 on ebay.
     
  10. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #10
    I have a JMB360 based PCI-e card that's bootable. I paid $7 for it several months back.
     

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