External storage options?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by badlydrawnboy, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I'm considering either the new Haswell iMac or a new Mac Mini when they're announced. I have two 4 TB drives (one active, one backup) that I use to store photos on, which I work on in Lightroom (and increasingly rarely, Photoshop). I have a 2008 Mac Pro (3,1) and these drives are inside the tower, so I haven't had to worry about external storage.

    I'm wondering what my options are for external storage with the iMac or Mini. Since I won't be doing video or anything that requires crazy speed, would a USB 3.0 enclosure be enough? What would you recommend for an external enclosure that can hold two 4.0 TB drives?
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    USB3 should be fine for backups etc. There are so many enclosures on the market that are decent. You might want to check out OWC's site as they offer a few enclosures that have combo connectors (USB and Firewire and eSata etc.). The key is to make sure you can treat them as unique drives rather than only raided (0 or 1). If you get a Mini, you might want to get the Ministack for USB 3 with no drive included. These make for a nice stackable set up (just suggest you put small spacers between each and the Mini for better cooling).
  3. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Thanks. I'm not just using these for backup, though. I will be storing my photos on them, and accessing them while editing in Lightroom. So the connection needs to be fast enough to handle that kind of work.
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Not to make you dip heavily into your wallet, but check out the firmtek offering for external USB3 2.5 drives. Load it with a moderately rated SSD. This will go as fast as TB given that SSD single drives in general are a perfect fit for the USB3 connectivity IF you get a good external unit. The Firmtek offerings was rated as being one of the best out there and though you have 4 tb drives, you can use the USB3 enclosure for work and the 4 tb for backup, storage etc. (I believe Tom's Hardware and maybe it was Anantech had the test scores showing the Firmtek as being exceptional and at times beating out a Thunderbolt counterpart.)

    As there are so many variations on a theme, you have lots of excellent options out there.
  5. MrGimper macrumors 603


    Sep 22, 2012
    Andover, UK
    I think it's the general consensus on this forum that for spinning drives, TB doesn't give anything over USB 3.
  6. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    I read up a lot on storage performance, no doubt an internal ssd is the ultimate performer for the OS and apps.

    A USB 3.0 external HDD would compliment the SSD nicely.

    Importing video and photos even from the quickest class 6 cards is rated at 80-90MB/sec - an average bus powered HDD will peak at 120-130MB/sec and average 85-110MB/sec. Some larger powered hdd can hit 200MB/sec seagate I think.

    I would be surprised if these USB 3.0 hdds are the bottleneck for music / video encoding/decoding or photo editing. Photo editing is likely too small to saturate, same with music importing from cd, video has the volumes but I'm not sure if the CPUs even the modern ones can deliver enough data on export to saturate the average throughput for a usb3 hdd. Maybe someone could clarify.

    You still need your libraries on ssd so it would be wise to store your master files on external and allow your media apps to reference them. This way your apps build an internal cache and thumbnails which load super quick off the ssd and when you edit switch to external where technically there shouldn't be much a slow down because they either can't saturate the hdd or the CPU can't deliver enough data to saturate.

    The video I would probably need clarification on. USB 3 has CPU overheads so this could slow down encoding slightly.
  7. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Thanks, this is exactly the setup I'm planning. If I get the iMac, I'm going for the 512 GB flash drive internally for OS, apps, Adobe Camera Raw cache and Lightroom catalog. My photos will be on one of the 4 TB drives, and the other 4 TB will be backup for photos and OS/apps (split into two partitions).

    Sounds like a USB 3.0 enclosure would be sufficient for my needs.


    That said, I still don't know who makes a good USB 3.0 JBOD enclosure that I can put single drives and use as single volumes (rather than RAID). Any suggestions? The Firmtek looks great, but I don't want to go the SSD route. I need higher capacity and I already have the 4 TB drives.
  8. bp1000, Sep 29, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013

    bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    i regretted not getting the 512Gb ssd, instead i got the 256Gb ssd.

    The OS usually takes up around 12GB, with your core apps total space is usually around 20Gb. I'd expect most of my core apps and email to be taking up less than 40Gb eventually.

    My docs are pretty light, mainly stored on google drive, music is itunes match with uncompressed copies stores on an external drive. I mainly watch netflix and itunes for movies / tv.

    Photo libraries are currently scattered around drives but i intend to bring them all into aperture. Even enormous libraries only take up around 30GB of space for previews/thumbs and meta data.

    Still only talking around 100GB so i feel more comfortable with my decision. 512Gb might be the better option for a wider variety of people as people prefer to store their movies, photo originals and itunes library all in one place.

Share This Page