Mac Mini SSD with External RAID??

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by laughjimbo, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. laughjimbo macrumors newbie


    Jun 30, 2012
    I have a Mac Mini which i love as I can leave it on all the time to act as an iTunes server to my Apple TV's which is great but i am wondering what to do about large amounts of storage. I am currently using a Hybrid Drive which is great but i am wanting a little more speed. I put a Crucial M4 SSd into my MacBook Pro which has been great but now i want the same sort of speed for my Mini.
    I want to install another SSD into the Mini and then possibly add a 1tb drive for media storage or maybe go the whole hog and use an External HDD instead and just retain the single drive (SSD) in the mini. I know that i will eventually run out of space on the 1tb drive if i install one so I was thinking of maybe adding some sort of 4 drive RAID running something like RAID 10 so i can have a backup of everything incase a drive dies. Has anyone else done this or can give advice on RAID boxes. I know they can be expensive but if you need storage then this is the way i feel. There are 5 people at home all wanting access to iTunes music and video so lots of music and tv shows and films so 1tb isn't going to cut it in the long run.
    I was thinking of firewire 800 or even thunderbolt interface. I am also going to be purchasing a thunderbolt display fairly soon.
    As an extra note i did look at the G-Technology G-RAID drives as they are used at work but i don't think that this is the best solution as two of these possible cannot run raid 1 (raid 0 internally). I would prefer a one box solution that can go into a cupboard so asthetics is not so important.
  2. Mactagonist macrumors 65816

    Feb 5, 2008
    NYC - Manhattan
    That is the setup I am using currently. An Intel SSD internally and a OWC QX2 RAID array connected via FW800. I wish I had spent the extra couple hundred on the Promise R6 honestly, the FW800 connected QX2 can chug a little when interacting with a very large iPhoto or iTunes library.
  3. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    5 people wanting access to different content at any one time?
    Have you ever considered a NAS?
  4. laughjimbo thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 30, 2012
    I have thought about the R6 and that may be what i go for even though it is expensive, i would rather pay out once rather than try lots of different options. I have used a NAS drive setup but found it really slow. I used a western digital and data transfer rates were painfully slow. I also wanted a drive that i could unplug and take to another computer if needed. I use western digital usb drives to do time machine backups as this is also extremely slow over wireless or ethernet to a NAS. The problem with all the NAS drives i looked at there was no other way to connect to them other than by ethernet, if they have usb ports it is only to either plug in a printer for network sharing or adding other usb hard drives, not for data transfer unless someone can correct me on this.


    I even looked at this for a firewire 800 RAID enclosure

    They don't all look at the content at one time but there can normally be up to 3 people accessing the itunes library.
  5. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I'm in the similar situation as you are. You see I need external storage but fast access times. With current mini, the only option is Thunderbolt, really - I need to do HD video editing off the external drive and FW800 just doesn't cut it, let alone USB 2.0.

    So for me the only good option is Promise (R4 would suffice), WD Thunderbolt Duo does not have reliable drives (from what I have read), and G-Tech... just doesn't feel that great to me. But damn, it is expensive...

    So that's why I'm waiting for updated desktops with USB 3.0. With that you have cheap RAID options (external dual drive hardware RAID enclosure is only $50 or so without drives). It's not thunderbolt but for my needs, it's plenty and you can't beat the price.

    Also, I'm not sure if you'd benefit from Thunderbolt. You said you need 5 people accessing the drive, right? Well they're connected via network so either your wi-fi or wired is the bottleneck, not the drive. From what I reckon you'd be OK with chained dual drive FW800 units (make it RAID1 for redundancy) which you can scale as your collection grows.
    That's just my opinion.
  6. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    I had to get a bit creative with my own Mini storage situation. Once you start piling up movies and TV shows that 1 TB drive will fill up really fast. My long term solution is a Mac Pro, if and when it's ever updated. I need increasingly more power for my tasks and the ability to stuff it full of hard drives is pretty great too. That said, I have a 2011 Mini Server now and have to make it work.

    You can use FW or TB and daisy chain multiple drives together and RAID them as you see fit. You can also attach multiple USB 2.0 drives and RAID them as you see fit. I've done the latter.

    Rather than buy a very expensive external RAID box, which would be unnecessary once I get a Mac Pro, I just hooked up four external USB hard drives and RAID 0'd them in pairs. One serves as 6TB of storage for my iTunes library, the other serves as a backup of that library. I use a Time Capsule as my router, and back up the system SSD to that separately.

    When a Mac Pro is finally released, or I just cave in and pick up a current model, I can take the drives out of their external enclosures and put them in the Pro.

    Your needs are likely different than mine, but you don't need a lot of speed simply to access video content to Apple TV's. Most of mine are large Blu Ray rips and going from the external USB drives works just fine. If you're putting your eventual storage solution in a cabinet anyway, then something like this might be an option for you. It's less expensive, and you can expand it as needed. If you need to actually work on the files you're storing--i.e. video editing etc, then it's probably not an ideal solution--but if it's just media playback you don't need a lot of speed.
  7. michelg1970, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012

    michelg1970 macrumors regular


    Jul 26, 2011
    Gouda - The Netherlands
  8. jasomill macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2011
    I'll second the recommendation for the LaCie eSATA hub, which I currently use with my Mac mini server. It's reliable, works with drivers included in the OS, and, compared to "pure" Thunderbolt options currently on the market, quite reasonably priced, since SATA drives and eSATA enclosures are themselves ubiquitous and inexpensive. While "only" SATA-II (3Gbps), it has two independent SATA-II channels that can run concurrently at full speed, so one reasonable choice for RAID 10 would be to stripe (using Disk Utility) across a pair of relatively inexpensive two-drive RAID 1 enclosures. Even using relatively expensive two-drive eSATA arrays like the LaCie 2big, you could still build an 8TB RAID 10 for around the price of a 4TB Promise R4 using the eSATA hub.
  9. SpoekGTi macrumors regular

    Jul 2, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I used my Mini with a Synology NAS 4-Bay.

    About the slowness, i don't have any problems here. I get about 65-70MBps Write speeds and 85-95MBps read speeds on the Mini from the NAS, which is hooked up with 1Gbit LAN.

    I use the contents of my NAS on the Mini, a MBA, an Asus notebook and the last 2 are wireless connected and i even get around 14MBps throughput speeds, i also have a wireless LG mediaplayer in the bedroom and 2 iPads who have no problems streaming HD content from the NAS to them wireless. The iPads in this case use Plex (the mini is the Plex server)

    In your situation there has to be something wrong if you found the speeds did not satisfy your needs. But on the side that you really want up to 5 different people accessing files or data, i would invest in a NAS and maybe in a upgrade for your internal network, get a higher priced 1Gbit Switch and maybe even a Dualband Router which also has a 1Gbit switch on it.
  10. Kanunu macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2009
    I am perplexed why Apple is only now coming out with USB 3.0. On their own site for the MBP they show FW 800 at 800 Mb/s and USB 3.0 at 5 Gb/s or about 6 times as fast. Keep in mind that Apple has declined to use USB 3.0 well after the standard came out. What they did not see was how ubiquitous USB 3.0 would become particularly for portable drives. Was it one of those Steve Jobs things? :confused: He tended to hold out against the tide at times.

    Now after seeing 3.0 on the MBP several of us are waiting it out before buying a new desktop. I have several USB 3.0 portables that I am still using with 2.0 ports on my iMac.
  11. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I think they were pushing for Thunderbolt, a bit forcefully though (no reason to not have 3.0 when the machine has USB ports anyway).
    I think Apple overestimated 3rd party manufacturers with TB offerings, maybe they thought there'd be TB portable drives (like those 2.5" USB drives you see everywhere) with pass-through TB ports with competitive prices. But that didn't happen, who knows why they did it.

    I'd be actually considering Promise R4 if it were in price range $600-$900, it costs around $1300 around here which is just ridiculous.
    You can get similar RAID box with USB 3.0 for $600 or so including 1TB HDDs and this would meet my needs. I don't feel like paying that much, I know that Promise R4 is a great, hi-quality box with much higher bandwith and very quality HW RAID controller - but it's just storage to me and I will choose whichever comes at better price.

Share This Page