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wfriedwald

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
516
48
I know that there is no "magic bullet" as far as this goes, but does anybody have any suggestions:

I have about 20 external hard drives, now on two different USB hubs, and the "jungle of wires" is driving me nuts. It takes all my concentration to figure out which drive is connected in which slot, etc.

not sure if anything can be done, but I figured I would ask.

would appreciate and consider any reasonable suggestions and possibly benefit from someone else's experience and expertise!

w
 

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Last edited:

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,785
4,658
New Jersey Pine Barrens
They have color-coded velcro cable ties that might help. But (sorry) just seeing those photos makes me think you need to get rid of that mess and copy everything onto a small number of high-capacity disks or possibly a direct-connect enclosure that would only have one cable. What is the total amount of storage across all those devices?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,589
4,486
Delaware
I would probably wrap a bit of colored tape on both ends of each USB cable, so you can easily identity individual cables by color.
Your picture shows at least half of the drives in the picture are not connected to anything. I can see about 10 that are just sitting there.
Are those "daily use" drives that are simply not attached at the moment? Or, occasional use, when needed, but usually not connected?
Might be good to set up a location/stack/box for those only occasionally used drives -- get them out of that mess.
Doesn't do much for your "rat's nest', but at least you have only the connected drives there.

Maybe, for the two hubs, make a physical separation or divider for your shelf that you keep the drives on the #2 hub on the right side of the divider, Left side of the divider only uses the #1 hub.

I also like the idea of moving to higher capacty storage. I got an 8TB USB drive just for that kind of use. I have it formatted with 5 volumes, up to 3TB.
 

wfriedwald

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
516
48
They have color-coded velcro cable ties that might help. But (sorry) just seeing those photos makes me think you need to get rid of that mess and copy everything onto a small number of high-capacity disks or possibly a direct-connect enclosure that would only have one cable. What is the total amount of storage across all those devices?

Yeah, I was thinking of looking for something like that ... total capacity must be somewhere about 50-60TB, and you're right, it would make more sense to have all that on 4 x 12TB or 4 x 16TB drives. yes!
 
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wfriedwald

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 1, 2017
516
48
yes, of these 20 drives, I use most of them every few days or so... in a given week, I definitely use all of them.

higher capacity drives is an expensive but probably necessary option!

w
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,785
4,658
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I would probably wrap a bit of colored tape on both ends of each USB cable, so you can easily identity individual cables by color.

I setup my 2012 quad as a server when I got my new Mini and did that. This is four 5tb drives for a total of 20tb. One nice thing about going "headless" is that all four USB ports are available for disks. :)

Thought about getting a disk enclosure (OWC has a good selection) but I already had these disks and just dropped a bunch of $$$ on the new system, so I decided to do this until my needs grow. Built that little stand from scrap wood that was lying around. I have a separate Mini for a media server with a 4tb SSD and a pair of backup hard disks.

server1.jpg


server2.jpg
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 601
Aug 28, 2012
4,335
3,012
Between the coasts
It's not just a matter of higher-capacity drives. Having so many individual drives, each requiring its own data cable and separate power cable and power adapter... ouch! Yes, larger-capacity drives will help, but you probably are going to keep adding more drives and capacity, regardless. When you have this much data to store you have to consider industrial-style solutions, rather than consumer-focused gear.

This is why there are multi-drive enclosures - all those drives share a single data connection and single power connection.

I'd hope some if this is backup, while other is active data. Whatever you do, if you must have this much data, that data almost definitely needs redundant, off-site backup. The right backup solution may also simplify matters.
 
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ashleykaryl

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2011
477
214
UK
Place a small table alongside your main desk and make sure the table is a little lower, then let them drop out of view.

Also make sure you label all your plugs and drives. A couple of the drives are actually hidden from view in the second image. I also find it very useful having wall mounted plug extensions complete with USB charging slots, so you no longer need to climb under the table or walk around the house looking for adaptors.

IMG_20200622_151219741.jpeg
IMG_20200622_145755822.jpeg
 
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mj_

macrumors 68000
May 18, 2017
1,618
1,281
Austin, TX
Honestly, just look at that mess made me throw up in my mouth a little bit...

What you need is a proper NAS with a bunch of large drives combined in a single RAID5 or RAID6 array. That should give you more than enough storage without having to attach a single cable. Or, if performance is important, a DAS (direct attached storage) with Thunderbolt 3 port allowing you to attach the external storage with a single drive. Make sure to get one that supports daisy chaining - should you ever need more storage you can simply get another one and daisy chain them together so that there will never be more than one cable going to your Mac.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,738
12,849
I just have to ask:
What kind of files are you keeping on those 20 or so drives, that you have to have access to on a daily basis?
What is the total storage capacity when added up?
 

r6mile

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,004
504
London, UK
Can you not swap the internal drives in some of the enclosures for higher capacity ones? This would at least save some of the expense. Having said, think about how much you'll save on your power bill from not having to run 20 powered drives! (not to mention the toll on anyone's mental health!)

PS: I thought I had a few too many wires under my desk, but your setup really beats anything I've ever seen!
 
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