External Storage Solutions for New Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by realph, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. realph macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #1
    I've just received my Mac Pro and am trying to work out the best way to manage my storage from my previous Mac Pro (4 drives – formally housed inside the previous gen Mac Pro) to this new setup.

    I was thinking of purchasing a small capacity (2-3TB) Thunderbolt-ready external drive exclusively for my work. I'd prefer one that doesn't require a power source and one that's pretty quick (hence the Thunderbolt requirement). Apart from the Lacie ones, are they any others that anyone would recommend?

    Generally my work will be stored on this drive and I hope to keep a backup of this drive on a Time Capsule using Time Machine.

    I also have three other HDDs filled with media (movies, tv shows, music) that I'd like to put inside an enclosure to sit besides a Mac Mini underneath my television. I use this Mac Mini exclusively for Plex and streaming media to my TV. Could anyone help explain what sort of enclosure I would need? NAS or DAS? And the benefits of both?

    I wanted to keep the Mac Mini and this enclosure always-on so its constantly awake whenever I need to stream media. I also wouldn't mind if I could use this Mac Mini to run Sick Beard and Couch Potato, apps that I previously ran on the Mac Pro.

    I've put together a little illustration of how I envision it. The question is, will this work for what I want to do? Any help or tips are appreciated from people with a similar setup. Thanks in advance!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. chrisn123, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014

    chrisn123 macrumors member

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    #2
    For the single drive attached to nMP, no single HDD will be faster on TB versus USB3, so no point paying the premium for TB. Also, you won't find any bus-powered 3TB+ (3.5") solutions. I would just go for a USB3 enclosure. If you can live with 2TB, you can get a bus powered unit with 2.5" drive, but will lose a bit of performance. Either way, you're looking at about $125.

    For your media, if you can live with 4TB, I would again go for a cheap USB3 single-drive solution. You don't need any more speed for media serving, and the price premium to step up to a 3-4 drive unit is kind of steep. Also note the 6TB single driver are starting to ship, so that might be an option for you.

    In terms of general tips, I have had many many versions of your media set-up. I used to run DASD boxes with a MacMini as the "NAS Front end" for my media and to provide file serving and back up over GigE. I've now got a very fast Areca TB2 array hooked to my nMP which kind of combines all three of your storage types: extra (FAST!) storage for nMP, bulk storage for media and shared Time Machine storage. I also have a bare 4TB drive in a USB3 sled to make "backups of backups." On the TV end, I still have a MacMini connected to TV but find myself mostly using AppleTV as my "set top box." I rip BluRays to my array and play back on AppleTV from nMP via iTunes Home Sharing. I use cTivo to pull in TV shows, transcode, link to iTunes and playback on TVs not connected to Tivo boxes. I use AirVideo HD to publish all this stuff to iPhone/iPad inside and outside the home. Lots of ways to skin the cat....
     
  3. ogilloire macrumors member

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    Feb 22, 2014
    #3
    I recommend the Pegasus 2 R4 diskless that you can order on apple store, thunderbolt 2 4 bays, nice and quiet and plenty fast. Works well for me!
     
  4. realph, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014

    realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    That's interesting! I never knew that. Can you explain why this is? When I was in my local Apple store I picked up and looked at a couple of Thunderbolt drives and the diagrams on the back all seemed to suggest Thunderbolt 1 was almost 2x faster than USB 3.0. Is this due to the drive being bus-powered? Also, what are the most reliable bus-powered USB 3.0 HDDs on the market?

    Regarding the media drive; I need a bit more than 4GB and preferably multiple bays as I want to have an upgradable option too, and the ability to slot new drives in when I want to increase or my drives become redundant. I was looking at some Synology boxes between (£3-400).

    ----------

    Problem is, I'd need to connect that to my Mac Pro right? No other way of connecting those drives to the network to access my media.
     
  5. ogilloire macrumors member

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    Feb 22, 2014
    #5
    Yes that's right this is desktop attached storage, not NAS. However this is really much faster than any NAS that has to go through ethernet, which is to take into account.

    If you need more space i believe they also have 6 and 8 bays versions without disks available.
     
  6. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #6
    No just the 4 bay is available diskless, the others have to be bought with disks.
     
  7. realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #7
    But wouldn't that mean my media drive would need to be directly connected to my Mac Pro and I'd need to run the Plex Media Server off of the Mac Pro instead of the Mac Mini? I want the option to turn the Mac Pro off when I wish and want the media drive/Mac Mini to be always on.

    ----------

    Regarding the single bus-powered drive that will be connected to my Mac Pro, I'm looking at the Lacie Rugged drives (USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt Combi version). Obviously the USB 3.0 version is significantly cheaper.

    Are these any good, or are there any other drives I should be considering?

    P.S. Guy in the Apple store claimed Thunderbolt was way faster than USB 3.0. Is it really worth the extra £80-£100?
     
  8. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816

    N19h7m4r3

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    #8
    Thunderbolt 1 is 10Gb/s, and Thunderbolt 2 is 20Gb/s. USB3.0 is 5Gb/s.
    Gigabit Ethernet which is used for a NAS is 1Gb/s.

    For direct storage I'd go for Thunderbolt, although you're just streaming media so a NAS should be fine for what you want.
     
  9. realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #9
    Alright I'll grab a Thunderbolt for direct storage for my work, and are you saying a NAS will be okay for streaming media. Even 1080p videos? I was thinking of picking up this to house my media drives. Decent enough?
     
  10. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    #10
    Thunderbolt 1 IS double the speed of USB 3.0. However, that speed difference doesn't really matter if the devices you hook to it run significantly slower than either interface. In this case you seem to only be interested in a single mechanical drive (HDD) device to hook to your Mac Pro. The fastest HDDs on the market perform at best maybe 150-180MB/s. TB1 and USB 3.0 respectively have theoretical maxes of 1250MB/s and 625MB/s respectively. So you can see, a HDD will pretty much operate the same on either interface. In fact, the average single SSD will perform well on either interface. To take advantage of TB speeds you'd need a very high speed device like a RAID0 which multiplies the speed by the number of drives in the RAID set. My Lacie Thunderbolt devices if configured in RAID0 will give 12TB of storage at 600MB/s from 4 mechanical hard drives.

    In your case, you are content with a single mechanical hard drive hooked to the Mac Pro AND you have a Mac mini with live storage on all the time. I'd suggest instead of an external hooked to the Mac Pro you set up a work folder or partition on the always-on Mac mini and share it out on the network. Then you access it over the network, much more elegant and convenient :) Just make sure it's captured by the mini's backup process.
     
  11. realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #11
    That is a tempting solution and would definitely be the elegant way to go (having zero devices connected apart from the display to the Mac Pro). The only thing I worry about is opening and saving photoshop files that hit upwards of 200mb sometimes. You reckon it would just be worth getting a Thunderbolt or USB3 drive to handle this problem and leaving the media on the NAS?
     
  12. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816

    N19h7m4r3

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    #12
    I would recommend that as well Keep the Media on the NAS, and the one you linked seems fine for that purpose.
     
  13. chrisn123 macrumors member

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    #13
    I also (previously) came to conclusion that a NAS box was best, but, these days, the speed penalty for NAS is pretty steep if you ever desire fast storage for the host. With a NAS box, the only way in/out is via GigE, which tops out at 90-100MB/s. But a 4-5 bay DASD can easily saturate USB3 (maybe 400-500MB/s). If having the option for this much speed could be appealing to you, and since you already have a Mac Mini to "present" the DASD storage as a NAS to other computers, I would suggest a Drobo 5D. It has BOTH USB3 and TB, so you can connect it to the nMP or the Mini.

    That said, if you're really sure you don't need speed, the Synology boxes are great and include a lot of extra functionality.
     
  14. kingtj macrumors 68020

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    Oct 23, 2003
    Location:
    Brunswick, MD
    #14
    Hmm....

    As someone else said already; lots of ways to skin this cat.

    It sounds like we have a lot of "unknowns" here, like your budget for starters....

    But I will say, one way I was able to build a relatively inexpensive media server was by building a FreeNAS server. (www.freenas.org)

    The latest 9.xx releases of FreeNAS have the ability to run any of a small number of add on modules along with the base package. These get run inside what they call a "jail"; basically a secure environment FreeNAS sets up for them.

    One of these modules is now a FreeNAS compatible version of the Plex media server -- the one I'm using.

    You'll need some kind of suitable computer system to run FreeNAS on, but I did it with a cheap HP MicroServer, similar to this one CDW sells for $348.99:

    http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/HP...0410180445:s&gclid=COf96urA1r0CFQ2hOgodaiAAWA

    It will let you install your choice of up to 4 desktop SATA hard drives in the trays. Everything in FreeNAS is managed from its web interface once you get it installed. The end result is a pretty powerful NAS solution that costs hundreds less than a QNAP or Synology and probably receives software updates quicker than the commercial counterparts too.

    I just created a share called "video" where I place all of my movies, and have the Plex server add-on configured to point to that folder as its content source as well. FreeNAS lets you create shared folders for AFP, SMB or NFS protocols, and even supports configuration of an AFP share as a "Time Machine" specific share. At that point, it behaves just like a Time Capsule -- although I don't recommend using it to back up more than one designed Mac on your network. I tried it with multiple machines using it as a common backup destination, and backups would always fail if they tried to kick off while another Mac was using it.
     
  15. krye macrumors 68000

    krye

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    USA
    #15
    I only plan on utilizing the built-in 512GB for OS X and my apps. My Home directly now sits on a newly purchased WD My Book USB3 3TB drive.

    As soon as all my data is migrated to my nMP from my old one, I'll also move over my 4-bay Drobo and use that for Time Machine. It's the FW800 version, so I picked up an Apple FW to Thunderbolt adapter for that.

    That should hold me for now, but when the units are released, I'm going to get one of the new 2-Big Thunderbolt 2 drives from Lacie for my Home Directory as well as one of the soon-to-be-released USB3 4-bay Drobos for Time Machine.
     
  16. garygmar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    #16
    I'm in a similar situation. I'm migrating from a 2008 Mac Pro (oMP) to the nMP. I was planning use use the oMP as my Plex Media Server, Music Server. I have two Hard Drives in the oMP with all of the Media content.

    I ordered the Pegasus2 R4 Diskless and plan to move the other two Hard Drives from the oMP that have large iMovie and Aperture files in the Pegasus2.

    Hopefully this is a workable solution for me. I order the nMP about a week ago, so I have another month to come up with the best solution.

    Thanks for the great information on this board.
     
  17. realph, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014

    realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #17
    Thanks everyone or the input.

    I think I'm going to setup shop similar to my illustration above. I'm going to shop around for a good deal on a 2TB bus-powered USB 3.0 drive for the work, bite the bullet and pick up a Time Capsule to replace my ageing Airport Extreme and handle my backups as well as picking up the Synology DS413j on the cheap (i like the Synology brand and their interface is pretty cool) and connect it to my Mini for all my media needs. With all this done, I should theoretically be good to go!

    Any recommended 2TB bus drives that support USB 3.0? Or should I target a brand? Samsung, WD, Toshiba??

    EDIT: Another question I had, if I put 4 x 4TB drives in that Synology NAS, will it recognise that drive as one giant 16TB HDD with one drive mount. Basically, what I'm saying is am I able to dump files in there and not have to worry about organising folders on each drive?
     
  18. Mago, Apr 12, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014

    Mago macrumors 68000

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    #18
    1st Facts:
    No spinner HDD can match USB3-UASP BUS Speed (5gbps, while the faster 10k rpm HDD (velociraptor) will reach 1.6gbps as much. Only few of the fastest ssd could match or exceed usb3 bus speed (also considering protocol overhead).
    Stability/Reliability : usb3 uasp adapters are too far to match esata Reliability and stability.

    if you want to use it all day, consider an Thunderbolt to sata adaptor as Seagate backup plus or an dedicated Thunderbolt enclosure (as wd my book tb), but if you aren't too afraid about speed, consider building your own Nas server, with about 200:250$ you can build an solid Nas setup for 4-6 HDD using rock solid nas4free software ( I have my own 18tb Nas, and an Seagate tb adaptor on which I plug an naked 4tb HDD (I protect it on an box).

    A Nas is ideal for backup, since you have available the RAID Z2 setup (Google that) which is capable to survive dual HDD failure, you have available ( (n-2)hdd size) as an single volume too, and have other functions as bittorent, surveillance recorder, dlna /iTunes media server etc etc (look at Nas4free for guide about how to build it, is easy).

    Remember that the total space available on a single volume, depend on the kind of raid configuration you selected, raid 0= n*hddSZ; raid 1= total pair hddSZ/2, raid 3,5,z1 = (n-1) hddSZ ; raid 6, z2 = (n-2)hddSZ. While raid 6 and raid z2 seems similar, raid z2 is much better, capable and scalable.

    Good luck
     
  19. VirtualRain, Apr 13, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #19
    This is almost the exact same setup I have. The only difference is that the TB work drive labelled in your diagram is a 2TB WD Velociraptor Thunderbolt Duo in my case (and it's for archiving photo libraries - active projects are on the nMP SSD).

    Anyway, for your work drive, you could get a USB3 enclosure as others have mentioned instead of TB, but a lot of USB3 enclosures have disappointing performance... But they will certainly be fast enough for a single spinning drive. Where USB3 can become limiting is with an SSD or RAID0. If you go USB3 and want to use a SSD then look at the Firmtek product reviewed here... http://www.barefeats.com/hard168.html. Otherwise, for a single spinning disk, look at USB3 externals from your vendor of choice... Lacie Porsche, Minimus, rugged, etc. if you want TB and an SSD then look at the Oyen Digital 2.5" TB enclosure. I like the WD TB Duo products for a good balance of performance, capacity, and price (they are dual spinning disks configurable for RAID0 or 1 in a TB enclosure).

    For your Media Storage, if your Mac Mini is on 24/7 as you say, there's no sense buying a NAS where you're paying for another box with a processor and embedded OS, just get a JBOD DAS and connect it to your Mac Mini and let it function as your NAS (just turn on file sharing in OS X and your media will be available to any Mac on the network). That's what I do. I use a pair of SansDigital FW800 enclosures which are problem free and quiet but if I were doing it over again, I'd probably get a Oyen Digital 5-bay Mobius and use USB3 or FW800 depending on what interfaces your Mini supports (FW800 for 2010 -like mine).
     
  20. realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #20
    Thanks for this info! I was thinking of buying this Samsung 2TB Portable Drive and connecting that to the nMP via USB 3.0.

    Regarding media storage, I don't really want to spend over £350 on a NAS/DAS solution for my media. The Drobo 5N comes in at £350, and I'm warming to the fact that the drives in there create one combined drive. I realise there's probably extra functionality in there that I probably don't need, but I'm having a hard time finding decent standalone 5-bay DAS enclosures that look decent and justify the saving.
     
  21. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #21
    I personally don't like Drobo... I don't like parity RAID (especially for large media libraries where rebuild times become risky and downtime usually isn't critical) and Drobos proprietary solution even less. JBOD is perfectly fine for a media library. Did you look at the Oyen Digital Mobius I recommended? It supports SPAN arrays if your really want that, but those arrays have all the risks of RAID0 with none of the performance benefits.
     
  22. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

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    #22
  23. realph thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 21, 2007
    #23
    I'm definitely going to look into the Mobius. Can't find stock in any UK stores so might have to go via eBay. I guess what I was asking is can you have one combined drive with these JBOD solutions? Because I love the idea of that.

    I'm not keen on Drobo's proprietary system either, but I love the fact you can have one giant volume of data with your combined drives of any size or manufacturer?

    I'd rather just have the one drive, though. I've seen a Toshiba 2TB for around £10 cheaper. It doesn't have to be a Samsung.
     
  24. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

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    #24
    I didn't say you had to buy TWO :) BTW, those seagate drives actually have samsung drive mechanisms inside them. (Seagate bought out Samsung's drive division)
     
  25. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #25
    Yeah, the Mobius and some other enclosures support this idea of one large volume made up of different disks. It's generally called a spanning volume or SPAN mode, etc. The problem with it is... if one disk fails, you lose the entire contents of the volume. This is the same issue as you have when running RAID0. However with a spanning volume, you don't get any performance benefits like you do with RAID0.

    My recommendation would be to avoid using a spanning volume and just organize it so your old movies are on drive B, your recent movies on drive A, and your music on drive C or whatever makes sense. That way, if one drive fails, you're only faced with loosing some of your content.
     

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