Looking for Firewire external hard drive enclosure

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by RouseyD, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. RouseyD, Jan 28, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012

    RouseyD macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    Hello all,

    I've been reading these forums for a long time, having gone from Windows over to Mac last year, and have found them to be really valuable (as well as entertaining!).

    I have searched the forums but not found the answer, but apologies if it is there somewhere.

    Here is what I have:

    I have an iMac, MBP and MBA - a Time Capsule handles the backup for all of them.

    I have an external USB enclosure connected to my iMac (which I leave on all the time) which holds two hard disks. I have my iTunes library mirrored over these two disks using RAID 1 which I set up with Disk Utility. Because this is attached by USB, Time Machine includes the drive in backups. I put the iTunes library on the external drive so as not to clog up the drive on the iMac which I use for home photo editing, video editing etc. and to give the library breathing room to grow - its about 600gb at the moment.

    Additionally I have a ReadyNAS Duo - originally bought for backing up my old Windows desktop. I tried putting my iTunes library on this but as Time Capsule/Time Machine doesn't back up network attached disks, I now plan on using this as a periodic mirror of the Time Capsule disk to keep off-site.

    I also have a few SATA disks of varying sizes from 500gb to 1gb which I'd like to put to good use.

    I have it set up this way as it kinda grew organically, and the NAS and extra drives are left over from pre-Mac days. If there is a much more sensible way to do things, I'm all ears!! If it helps to know, I also have an Apple TV and airport express feeding music to a Zeppelin - hence why I leave the iMac on all the time.

    Here is what I want to achieve:

    The external USB enclosure is a few years old and has had its fan replaced twice. I am still a little uncomfortable about whether it is offering suitable ventilation for the drives in it. So I would like to replace this with something that gives me extra space and is quicker.

    Ideally I would like to connect to the iMac with Firewire to make use of the increased speed, and I would like to make use of a couple of my spare SATA disks. I would then look at freeing up some space on the iMac by moving photo libraries and video files over.

    So I've looked at a few 4-bay external drive enclosures, and found that they are pretty expensive for what they are (£200+ for one which supports firewire). Drobo do a unit I think, but the reviews were mixed and I don't need any of the bells and whistles it offers.

    I also considered getting a PC case and putting all the drives in there, but I don't know how to connect this to the iMac through USB or preferably Firewire, or what controllers I would need to put in the PC case as the interface. I know this would probably cost about the same but if I bought a big case I could fit more disks inside. I have built PCs from scratch before so am reasonably confident about being able to fit this out.

    Before it's rightly pointed out, I know that if my iTunes library grows so big as to actually use all the extra space, I will have outgrown the capacity on the Time Capsule! Problem for another day methinks.

    As the £ sign above will have indicated, I'm in the UK.

    So, if anyone has had a similar conundrum and managed to solve it, I'd be really interested to hear how; and if anyone can offer advice, I'd really appreciate hearing it. Thanks in advance.
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I don't think you're going to get as much of a speed increase as you think you're going to get. For TM the indexing process is usually the bottleneck, not the transfer medium.
  3. RouseyD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    Thanks for the quick response.

    I may not have been very clear originally; I'm not concerned about how long the Time Machine backup takes - the bit I would like to speed up is access to the external drives which currently house my iTunes library - this is then used by an iPad, Apple TV and speaker system via an Airport Express.

    The main think I'm asking though is about recommendations for buying or building a 4-bay hard drive enclosure which will connect to the mac by something faster than USB2.
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Still... the bottleneck is most likely not the USB connection. In this case it's the speed of the wireless network.
  5. RouseyD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    I get what you're saying now - point taken.

    The speed issue is secondary - but if I can get something quick enough then I would move photo and video editing files to the external drive and run them from there rather than on the drive in the iMac.

    I would like to have a degree of future-proofing in whatever I buy, hence suggesting erring away from USB2. Thunderbolt external drives are out of my budget and as I can't see a straightforward way of connecting a SATA box to the mac (which there doesn't seem to be), I defaulted to Firewire.
  6. kpgh554 macrumors regular


    Dec 29, 2011
    iver england
    have you tried lacie they do a few external setups also if speed you want you'll need one that uses firewire 800 as the 400 is slower than usb2
  7. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    Sure, but they are not very reliable.

    In real applications, FW400 is much faster than USB 2.0 (nearly 2x faster than USB 2.0). The speed of a FW800-connection is usually 95 MByte/s (2x faster than FW400).
  8. RouseyD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    Thanks all for your suggestions - I had investigated Lacie but have also found mixed reviews as to their reliability.

    As an 'off the shelf' solution, I have looked at this: http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/components/harddrives-external/harddriveenclosures/ib-rd3264use2.html but it seems like a lot of money for what it is, hence why I wondered whether buying a PC case with PSU and a controller board might be cheaper, plus give more extendability by way of the number of drives it can accommodate / lower noise through careful selection of PSU and fans etc.
  9. kpgh554 macrumors regular


    Dec 29, 2011
    iver england
    have you tried ebuyer or maplins
  10. RouseyD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    I had tried Maplins but found nothing suitable (at least that was comparable on price etc).

    I'm looking at ebuyer now - thanks, I had not come across them before.

    I guess I will probably end up spending a couple of hundred quid - which is ok if that's what it costs.

    I am interested whether anyone else has bought a PC case and controller card and achieved a 'build your own' solution. www.span.com appears to sell the controller cards to do the job, but I am not totally sure what I would need - and probably won't hear back from my enquiry to them until tomorrow at the earliest.

    I want to avoid creating a file server with it's own motherboard / OS etc if I do go down this route.

    Thanks all for your inputs; much appreciated.
  11. lc25 macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2009
    Something by IcyBox is normally good, Personally i use the MyBook 2 4Tb's and currently have 4 all have been flawless.
  12. ibarnett, Jan 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012

    ibarnett macrumors regular


    Aug 20, 2010
    Gold Coast, Australia
    OK, look here
    You might like the Newertech Voyager or
    OWC Mercury Elite Pro
    FYI I have 4 firewire devices in a daisy chain, from my 2011 iMac, all working well.
    They are 3 OWC enclosures, 2 of which are HDD, the other Bluray.
    Plus a WD external bookcase drive.
    I tried the Newertech Voyager, but all the devices wouldn't play together, so I ditched it from my setup.
  13. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008

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