Help me choose my storage solution

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ipedro, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. ipedro macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Yesterday MacRumors helped me pick my next Mac. Today, I'm looking for a solution for storing my photography and video libraries.

    I'm a photographer and have been doing some video lately. Yesterday I bought a 27" iMac i7 3.4Ghz with 2GB graphics and a 1TB fusion drive. Aperture is just screaming on this thing.

    The one bottleneck with my new iMac is storage. I have about 4TB of photos and video in archives on multiple drives and my working library is about 300GB. I could have paid a little more for a 3TB Fusion drive but I'd still have the same problem: having to regularly go through my library to archive photos I don't plan to need on hand. I'm trying to avoid this and just have one Pro Library (including all the archived images) and one Personal Library.

    So I'm leaving that 1TB for everything other than photos and video libraries. Which means that I need an external drive for this purpose.

    I've been looking at the Drobo but will having my photo library on an external drive slow down Aperture?

    For Aperture experts: How do I get around this? Can I have my library with previews on the iMac's Fusion Drive and then the master images on an external drive?

    For storage experts: I want to have local redundancy to protect against hardware failure but I also want to have a drive that I can store off site. Does the Drobo permit this? If I had 3 HDD's in the Drobo, can it use two to mirror eachother and then one to carry off site?
  2. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I put my libraries (documents, photos, music, movies) on a LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt 6GB box. The two drives are set up as RAID 1 mirrored 3GB. On site backup is a 3TB Time Capsule.

    I import photos onto the internal SSD and edit in Lightroom, PSE, Nik etc. the finished photos are moved via Lightroom to the libraries on the LaCie drives.
  3. thejoshhoward macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    My setup has been quite reliable for over a year now. I run my Aperture libraries from an external drive and it's still blazing fast. It might be a hair slower than running off an SSD, but it's never been frustrating.

    External Drive 1 (Daily Use, Redundant Storage): Pegasus R6 with 6 1TB drives set to Raid6. It allows for two drive failures before I'd experience data loss and is still very fast. This gives me a total of 4TB usable space.

    External Drives 2 and 3 (offsite backup): Two OWC Mercury Elite Pro 2tb drives. This isn't ideal, but I don't have it in my budget yet for a second bad@ss enclosure. I end up splitting the data over the two drives manually.

    Don't know if this is particularly helpful, but I can vouch for the awesomeness of the R6.
  4. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    I just noticed that the LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt has a delivery window of 1-2 months. The Apple store I called tells me they no longer have them in stock. Has LaCie announced something new?

    I know Thunderbolt is still developing and these first generation external drives are bound to have teething issues. Thunderbolt on PCs are starting to trickle in so the market is bound to expand this year.

    I can afford to wait another month or two as I re-organize my library on the internal 1TB Fusion Drive, back up to a local Time Capsule and to a 1TB WD MyPassport Studio drive for offsite backup.

    Anything new announced at CES or elsewhere?
  5. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    My 2cents would be leave your apps on the fusion drive.

    Purchase a external raid drive either from G-Tech or Caldigit in a Tbolt or USB 3 since your system has it for your Aperture libray/media files. For your backup solution add a G-Tech Gdrive running time machine.

    Personally I don't care for LaCie as they tend to be noisy.
    I've had good luck with both G-Tech and Caldigit products. G-Tech uses enterprise Hitachi drives in their systems.

    Best of luck with your new system, sometimes it gets confusing what product or solution to go with having multiple products and options out there.
  6. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    I don't trust Time Machine. I own a Time Capsule and I won't throw it out, but it's given me nothing but trouble.

    Last year after coming back from a month long trip, I unloaded all my photos and videos into Aperture on my MacBookPro. It happily backed up to Time Capsule as it had been for over the year that I've owned it.

    Weeks later, I unloaded that Aperture library on to an external WD MyBook 1TB for archiving and when turning around, I tipped that drive over and it tapped the desk lightly. **click click click** I thought, no problem, I have my Time Capsule which had just recently backed up. I opened Time Machine and it couldn't load the drive. I tried to mount the .sparsebundle manually and look for the recent backup but it's corrupted. Likely because I had just recently updated to Mountain Lion and the original Time Machine had been set up with Snow Leopard. It's been 2 years now and I haven't been able to read the data off my Time Capsule. Yesterday I tried to open it up so I could run it as a standalone external HDD and ran every possible fix. Nothing could mount that Time Machine backup.

    I've given up on the photos from that trip. It's cheaper and less aggravating to just do the trip again than to try to recover the photos off either the broken HDD or the corrupted Time Capsule.

    Luckily for me, all my work had been stored on dual offsite HDDs stored in my safety deposit box at the bank. I just lost that trip and nothing more, no thanks to Time Machine.
  7. LaCieTech macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2012
    ipedro, the 2big Thunderbolt is available on LaCie's site and at other resellers.

    LaCie announced the new 5big Thunderbolt at CES this year, which offers up to 20TB of storage. Check this page for more info on all of LaCie's Thunderbolt products:

    TL, LaCie
  8. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    LaCie Tech, I sent this to you in a PM but I think the thread could benefit from your response to this question:

  9. twitch31, Feb 12, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013

    twitch31 macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2013
    I would not recommend pulling drives in and out of a RAID array as a regular practice. I think it is also dangerous practice to separate masters from catalogues as is complicates backups and (more importantly) recovery especially if that recovery is to be done by someone other than you.

    I'd recommend
    1) For your live environment; a fast, on-site, always attached array. This holds all your masters and catalogues. RAID is optional. Thunderbolt arrays are more than capable of running catalogues and masters together.
    2) 2 external drives or enclosures of similair size to your main array. RAID is not required (unless RAID-0 if need > 4TB). High performance is not required. USB is fine, even USB2. Ideally these would be of the same brand & model (as each other, not the same as live array) so allow you to move only the enclosure and not the usb & power cables when you swap onsite with off.
    3) You then need CCC or SuperDuper to run nightly to clone from the storage mentioned in point 1) to 2).

    You then have a high performance live environment, and a simple backup strategy that doesn't involve yanking drives out of RAID arrays.

    good luck :)
  10. ipedro, Feb 12, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013

    ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Thanks for the suggestions Twitch.

    As I've had the opportunity to get to know my new LaCie 2Big 6TB, I'm revising my strategy.


    a) I do want to keep my masters separate from my Aperture Library because too many times has my Aperture Library become corrupted (i.e. software updates) and after I repaired the library, several masters were missing.

    b) I want to have my working library on my Fusion Drive. I paid for SSD speeds by upgrading to an SSD+HDD FusionDrive so I want to take advantage of it. Having my Aperture library on an external HDD will never accomplish this. I don't have room for my masters on the iMac so I can't have them both together.

    c) I want to keep it simple: only 2 libraries, one for Pro one for Personal. Multiple libraries can easily get lost scattered across different drives and makes it harder to find what I'm looking for at a glance. i.e. all my 5 star photos ever or photos marked with certain keywords.

    After using Aperture for years, it's my experience that despite what Apple claims, in practice smaller libraries run smooth as butter but once it gets bigger than say 50GB, things tend to be much less responsive. Once I'm done moving all my masters out, I should end up with a library of previews smaller than 50GB. Even 100GB would be a major improvement over my often 400GB+ libraries.

    d) I need on site HDD failure protection and rotating offsite backups to protect against theft/disaster. The offsite drives need to fit in a safety deposit box so a 3.5 HDD with enclosure is ruled out. 2.5 HDDs are either too expensive or don't exist in sufficient capacities. A naked 3.5 HDD may be needed, stored in an antistatic pouch.


    Pro and Personal libraries on iMac 1TB FusionDrive. Masters on LaCie 3TBx2 RAID-1.

    The FusionDrive will prioritize my 50GB library to the SSD because it will always be open and/or very frequently accessed. When I need a master for exporting, the Thunderbolt speed will be more than fast enough to access the masters tucked away. The mirrored RAID-1 HDDs protect me against hardware failure (unless they both fail together).

    For backups...

    Masters -- Two 3TB HDDs + a USB3 3.5 SATA dock that I can drop them into. I'll use Time Machine to give me the ability to go back to a certain date in case I delete something. I'll keep one docked, regularly backing up the Masters HDD. Every week or so, I'll drop one off at the bank and pick up the other.

    Library -- A 3TB Time Capsule will back up my iMac's FusionDrive. Carbonite will back up my 50GB Aperture Library to the cloud.

    Everything will work on its own. All I have to do is rotate those safety deposit box HDDs every week or so, and it's as simple as dropping it into the dock when I come home from the bank. No complex backup schedules and actions that I easily lose track of.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?
  11. twitch31 macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2013
    I think it's an "OK" strategy, even good, and a lot better than most people use.

    Let me play devils advocate though because I would not use that backup approach, but maybe that's because I'm a bit paranoid having worked in corporate IT storage for too long and having had my house burgled 3 times in 7 years.

    Remember a "backup strategy" is not just about having your data backed up, it's about the recovery (obviously as otherwise having a backup is pointless); the time to recover, the ease of recovering and the reliability of that recovery. So ask yourself what if someone helps themselves to your computer gear while you are out, what is your time to recovery? How easy or difficult is it to recover and what is potentially lost?

    As I see it your minimum steps to "lights on" recovery would be to buy a new mac, now you get to rebuild all the software on your new mac to your needs with the photo software and plugins you currently use. You'd have to buy an enclosure for your recovered offsite 3.5" drive, and then recover your masters off that TM drive. But in the meantime you are pulling down the 100GB catalog or so from the cloud. There's no way to start working again until the last GB of that catalog is down.

    So after all that here's a suggested modification to your backup and recovery strategy that will cost you ~$200 but cut your recovery time and recovery stress by about 90%. Buy an additional 2 * 1TB laptop drives in a usb enclosure, one for offsite and one for on site. Get CCC or superduper installed on your imac and set up a nightly clone of your internal HDD to the on site 1TB drive. Now you have 2 onsite backup drives and 2 offsite. Keep everything else the same as you outlined above.

    Good luck :)
  12. ipedro thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    I considered those extra mobile HDDs and I might still use just one (I have a brand new 1TB WD MyPassport Studio) but I'm trying to avoid making the backup routine too complex. I don't want to put too much of my efforts into managing my library if I can help it. I want to use my time to be creative.

    My Time Capsule has a Kensington Lock and will be backing up my iMac. If a thief happened to come into my place, I don't think they'd put too much effort cutting off my Time Capsule. They'd probably grab the expensive stuff.

    Nonetheless, my backup system is geared towards a last resort catastrophic situation where I'd still be able to recover my life's work. If my iMac got stolen, no doubt so would all my photo equipment. I wouldn't be up and running again in a day. I don't do work that is that time sensitive anyway and pleasing an impatient client would be the least of my concerns.

    Nonetheless, I might still use that 1TB MyPassport Studio as my offsite Time Machine and save myself the $55 a year for the Carbonite.

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