Hard drive enclosure - I blew it

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by gsusser, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. gsusser macrumors regular

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    Jun 20, 2012
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    jersey city
    #1
    I should have researched this more! Based on others' advice, I bought the Drobo 5C. It's not too late to return it though. All I need is something simple, I think.

    I have a new iMac with a SSD 512GB drive on the way. I need about 20TB of external storage for media (video and photos) and backup, plus room for expansion. I presently use a 5-year old Startech 4-bay enclosure. It is fine for my needs but it's on the blink and is failing. I also didn't realize that I can't put my present drives into the Drobo without formatting - that means I have to transfer my data.

    I'm wondering if I should replace my Startech with another Startech or if there's a better option. Or should I just keep the Drobo?
     
  2. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 29, 2011
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    Southern Cal
    #2
    A little more info might help. What is your current backup situation now? Are you mirroring or cloning 2 drives to one another in your Startech enclosure? How much capacity do you have now? You say you need about 20Tb. Does that 20TB need backup also? If your current Startech 4bay is failing, clearly it needs to be replaced. If you need additional capacity also you will need larger hard drives or more bays. Replacing current drives with larger hard drives will mean transferring your data also.
     
  3. gsusser, Aug 20, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017

    gsusser thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Sorry for this, but the more I research, the more uncertain I am. So, I'm going to modify my question to ask what the best setup is for my circumstances.

    Within the next year, I expect I'll need about 16TB of storage of media files, mostly video. Plus, I need backup for the video files as well as my internal drive. My new iMac is coming with a 512GB SSD. I think it's as simple as that.
     
  4. ZapNZs, Aug 20, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    Jan 23, 2017
    #4
    • Is your current StarTech enclosure JBOD (i.e., displays as 4 individual drives on your desktop) or RAID (multiple physical drives inside the enclosure appear as less than 4 individual drives on the desktop)?
    • If using JBOD, when you save important files, do you save them to two separate physical drives within the enclosure? (if not, how do you currently back up your files?)
    • Are the drives you currently use as old as the enclosure? (if so, they could be nearing the end of their service life and research suggests that failure rates rise dramatically after year 4)
    • When you say you also need to backup, in addition to the 16 TB you estimate you will need for the storage of the primary files, how many more TBs will you need for the backup?
    • Do you want significant speed with this external drive setup? (that is, do you favor the slower speed/lower cost of a USB enclosure, or the higher speed/higher cost of a Thunderbolt enclosure?)
    • With your backups, do you want to protect your files from data loss caused by...
      • hard drive failure (physical disk failure)?
      • software corruption?
      • enclosure-induced drive damage?
      • power-loss/power-surge?
      • accidental file deletion?
      • viruses/ransomware?
      • environmental factors (fire, flood)?
      • physical theft?
      • (I personally find that it usually requires keeping at least three copies of the most important files to implement a backup solution that accounts for all of the above.)

    For your needs, a RAID solution that provides at least a one-disk redundancy may be the best solution in terms of protection against when one of your hard drives will eventually fail. Some of the OWC multi-bay enclosures with the capability to implement software or hardware RAID might be a good match for your needs, when paired with a backup solution that can also account for any of the other causes of data loss you wish to have protection against.

    For example, with something like this OWC 4-bay Thunderbolt enclosure that supports software RAID, or perhaps something like this AKiTiO 4-bay Thunderbolt enclosure that supports software RAID, or perhaps something like this OWC USB/eSATA enclosure that supports hardware RAID, you could initially use your drives without wiping them in JBOD mode no differently than you are with the StarTech (if the StarTech is being used in JBOD.) Then, when you want to move to a greater capacity, you could purchase four 8 TB drives for a RAID 5 setup, giving you protection against one disk failure and room for future expansion by providing you with something like 25 GB of User-accessible space.

    Simultaneously, if your data is very important, you could implement a backup solution that covers other causes of data loss.
     
  5. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    #5
    4+ bay enclosures without hardware RAID controller has to rely on OS/software to do RAID, which means no RAID5 (at best RAID1+0 I believe). Either way, as long as the unit has its own controller such as the Drobo, it is likely that you cannot hotswap your older HDDs from the StarTech into this new enclosure and expect them to work.

    I was in your previous thread and already offered an advise of going back to the drawing board and outline your priorities. Aside from the general convenience, I have yet to see the necessity of needing a single enclosure for all your media since you don't seem to work professionally with these data. In a hobby/ameteur scenario I understand it is difficult to justify just buying 2 extra blank 8TB HDDs to make the migration possible, but this is literally the easiest way to solve the Drobo "problem". Drobo or any kind of "grow as you add" enclosures are generally professional tools that only mission critical data users should consider. For your use case, perhaps the best product is Akitio Thunder 3 Quad or the OWC TB2 ones which are barebone 4 bay SATA enclosures, act as JBOD when connected to macOS and can be figured to be concatenate.
     
  6. gsusser thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Thanks ZapNZs for the detailed response!

    Chancha, sorry for the multiple threads - it seems that I keep coming to different conclusions the more I look at my options.

    First, I underestimated the amount of space I need. It's more like 32TB with backup. I am in agreement with you about a JBOD. You are correct in that this is not for professional use... mostly videos for personal use. My collection will likely grow to about 16TB in the next few years (it's now about 12TB) and I am assuming I need double the amount of space to have a full backup.

    However, I'm not so sure about TB. Is it worth the extra $150 or so in my situation? I was looking at a 4-bay Startech which goes for about $170 - https://www.startech.com/HDD/Enclosures/USB-eSATA-4-Bay-SATA-Hard-Drive-Enclosure~S3540BU33E.

    I'm curious about your thoughts regarding TB vs. 3.0 and the Startech.

    Thanks.
     
  7. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 29, 2011
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    Southern Cal
    #7
    I'm in agreement with ZapNs above. You don't have to be a working professional to justify RAID type storage especially with your considerable amount of data you want to protect. You already have the Drobo in hand. Install 4 8 TB drives in the unit and buy 1 or 2 $20 USB single disk enclosures to use migrate your data to the Drobo. Then you can use the singles with your existing drives as a third backup for your really critical data. Take one to your office at work for an off site backup in case of a catastrophic emergency at home. Now you have a comprehensive backup strategy as well as a simple, expandable storage solution at home. When the time comes and you need more storage, slide another disk into the Drobo and press on.
     
  8. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    #8
    I admit that a large capacity RAID is in fact helpful even for hobbyist use-case, the media can approach unmanageable size where placing them all over different volumes is just not very practical. I guess my point was more towards a general consumer use case where a Drobo is most likely overkill financially, but in gsusser's case apparently he can afford it and has used large enclosures before, so he is a minority I suppose.

    Now back to the question:
    I am in a similar situation right now, as a multimedia artist I got way too many drives of past job data mostly Adobe CC projects, with occasional video editing and audio, but mostly an exponentially growing Lightroom library with thousands of RAWs. With a recent purchase of the iMac 2017, I thought it's a good time shifting to a Thunderbolt 3, 4/5bay enclosure with stripped, and/or parity. After some research it seems the options are still limited, the tech is there but not been long, more importantly the market is still slow in picking TB3 up. Drobo 5D3 is one of the few solutions that has no compromise, but it comes with an upfront price.

    For my case, the data transfer speed is important, I am currently using combinations of TB2 and TB1 dual drive RAID-0's, some times they suffice but other times they are the bottleneck. The internal SSDs of my iMac and MBP's are fast enough for current active projects, but it is a hassle to move stuff in and out of the internal drive, it also messes up my timed back up schedules or I need special attention / rules concerning where exactly the latest files are on.

    In that light I am seriously considering the Drobo 5D3 myself. Having TB3 or not is one of the most asked questions out there, whether the extra bandwidth is practically needed for HDD arrays. Case in point: no it is not even close to saturating TB2 speed let alone TB3. A 4/5 bay enclosure needs to use SSDs to get like half the potential pipeline. But in practice, having a TB3 enclosure means I am future proof, and as a starting point of a downstream TB3 chain it compromises nothing, compared to say a USB-C3.1 or TB2 enclosure in place, so whatever monitor or another drive down the chain is still getting mostly fully covered.

    gsusser's case with static media has some quite different criteria I suppose. For one I think parity for large videos is a waste. Maybe a much slower, off desk backup done every few days/weeks is adequate already. Having stripped array helps in speed and the benefit of using just a single volume for ease, but in turn takes away data safety. So the logical next step is RAID5, which does a bit of both, but then the question shifts to whether or not such investment is worth it financially, which only you can answer.

    The other posters have pointed out as well, it is relatively cheap to get USB3 drives for stop gap media moving. Since you already ordered the Drobo anyway, may as well wait for it to come, throw in some blank drives (if you have), or buy some blank drives (which can be cheap can be expensive), and start rebuilding that way. Drobo has the ability to "grow as you build" which makes moving stuff a little easier, you can say empty one drive from your StarTech to the stop gap USB3 drive, then yank out that one drive from the old array and put it into the Drobo, start building from there, and repeat.
     
  9. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 29, 2011
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    Southern Cal
    #9
    Good point. If upfront cost is an issue, put 1 blank 4-8 TB into the Drobo. Migrate the data from 1 of your Startech drives into the Drobo, then insert that drive into the Drobo, and so on. When your storage needs increase add another drive or replace an existing drive with a larger one. That's the real beauty of Drobo. You can mix and match drives and hot swapping is no issue.
     
  10. ZapNZs, Aug 21, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    Jan 23, 2017
    #10
    Let me first say that my knowledge on RAID is far less than the other posters in this thread, so this is just my personal opinion. With that said, from what I gather, it sounds like the best solution for you is one that A) allows you to continue doing what you are currently doing for the time being, but also, B) provides you an avenue for future expansion. For that reason, it is my personal opinion that the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 may be the best match for your needs, because it can handle both 'now' (JBOD, 12-ish TB) and 'later' (hard RAID5, up to 40+ TB.)

    Thunderbolt may not be justifiable for your needs as it sounds like you need high-capacity storage rather than high-capacity and high-speed. I am admittedly a very big fan of eSATA and I use it extensively from Thunderbolt docks and adapters - so I like how companies like StarTech and OWC include it with many of their multi-bay enclosures as I personally feel it still has some advantages over USB for continually-attached direct storage (for example, I've noticed lower CPU usage with eSATA, hard drives tend to not have the sleep issues that sometimes comes with USB, and higher working speeds with eSATA 6.0 over USB 3.1 gen 1).

    It sounds like a JBOD setup mimicking your old StarTech enclosure setup is where you want to be currently as it meets your needs in the immediate and buys you time to determine exactly what you wish to do as a long-term solution - and the problem with the Drobo is that it can't meet that current need at a time when your existing enclosure is failing. However, as your collection grows, I think that four 6-terabyte or 8-terabyte drives in a hard RAID 5 setup might be the best solution to meet your needs. When a drive fails, you can just pop a new one in and while you sleep the replacement drive is repopulated without data loss or requiring you to spend huge amounts of time manually reconfiguring your setup - with JBOD it's not always that easy, especially with such a large amount of data. Actual working speeds with RAID5 can be faster as well, even over USB/eSATA. For $50 more, the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 can do what the StarTech can, but it can also implement hard RAID. Having that flexibility may be very useful as your media storage needs grow?

    I have a few of these drive docks to use for migrating data from one HDD/SSD to a new setup and they are awesome! When you decide to upgrade your existing hard drives to larger sizes, these can be especially useful (also, if you decided to keep the Drobo, or if you decided to buy the OWC and do a hard RAID 5 setup these would work as well.)
     
  11. gsusser thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 20, 2012
    Location:
    jersey city
    #11
    ZapNZs - thank you and everyone else for the enlightening info. Having said that, stubborn me didn't listen.

    I bought another Startech - a 4-bay JBOD. However, it seemed so cheaply built plus you need to get the screwdriver out to open the door to put drives in. I returned it the same day that I received it, yesterday. However, I unfortunately learned that it was my HDs that went bad, not my present Startech. Two out of four of my drives weren't recognized in either Startech. Sadly, there goes 8TB of files. I was making backups up until a few months ago when I ran out of room. Lesson learned.

    To give a better idea of my storage needs - I expect to eventually have about 16TB of data within the next few years. I need a solution for 16TB of data plus backup, so I guess that translates to 32TB. Speed is unimportant.

    One option is to stick with my present Startech. I'm on the ropes about that and am thinking that it's gonna fail in the near future. It's lasted 3 or 4 years and for the price, I can't complain.

    ZapNZs, I like the idea of the OWC Mercury Elite, particularly because it offers the best of both worlds. However, my concern is that it seems very picky about the type of drives and that they all need to be the same.

    This is probably a stupid question... is it safe to backup from one HD to another on the same enclosure?

    Again, thanks to everyone.
     
  12. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #12
    That depends on the failure mode. ;)

    If a drive fails ... you have the backup.

    If the enclosure power supply goes bonkers and fries all the enclosed drives ... it's all gone.

    If the enclosure fails without damaging the drives, and it is JBOD ... you can move the drives to a new enclosure.

    So ... possible, but not recommenced, to have your backup in the same enclosure as your primary data. :cool:
     
  13. gsusser thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    So, 2 enclosures?
     
  14. Chancha macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 19, 2014
    #14
    Backing up within the same enclosure or same computer is ok, but only if you are fully aware the only thing this protects you from is disk failure. There are backup strategies out there that involve backing up to another in-house location, and then some even do offsite archives on top of this. It all depends on how critical you think you data is, and how far you are willing to go with protecting it.
     
  15. ZapNZs, Aug 26, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    Jan 23, 2017
    #15
    gsusser, are you using a drive health monitoring App that can monitor & alert to changes in drive health on a continuous basis? I currently use a specific App called DriveDX and I absolutely love it for monitoring my JBODs (there are other SMART apps on the market but I've personally taken a liking to this one.) It has saved me a great deal of time and money by successfully identifying hard disk drives and solid state drives in the 'pre-fail' stage (that is, the point where the drive still mostly works but is dying, giving you notification of the pending drive loss and allowing you the time to make needed preparations to replace it.) It is not unusual for DriveDX (and presumably other SMART monitoring programs) to successfully identify a failing drive that the built-in SMART monitoring of macOS failed to detect. (I've had this happen to me twice, and I have witnessed this first hand quite a few times now - in some cases, macOS did not even flag or change its SMART status when the drive had gone from failing to flat out failed! - consequently, I've started looking at this App as a must-have for those with a lot of single volumes.) While SMART cannot predict all drive failures, it definitely can predict a large portion of them!

    If two of your four drives have failed, if the other two are a similar age/brand it's arguably not a bad idea to be operating under the assumption that they will fail at any moment. When replacing them, it might not hurt to buy drives that 'play nice' with hard RAID enclosures in a size that is appropriate to implement a RAID for your needs that provides at least a one-disk redundancy (as such RAID implementations are designed to protect against the type of event you have experienced with minimal effort/action on your behalf.) As you noted, for hard RAID usage you should have matching drive sizes - however, this is not necessary for using the enclosure in JBOD mode (or at least with the enclosure that I am using.) Someone else will correct me if I am wrong on this (or anything else.)

    The HGST DeskStar NAS plays nice with many RAID enclosures, and it's a 7200 RPM drive priced lower than many 5400s. It is an outstanding drive at a reasonable price considering the quality and performance, IMO. The 8TB models seem to range from around $215-260. If maximum single-drive reliability, maximum longevity, and durability for 24-7 usage for 5-6+ years are more important than price/noise, the HGST UltraStar 7k6000 is a very hard drive to beat - I've been using these as of late.
     

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