Massive storage on my Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Theophany, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. Theophany macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    NW London.
    #1
    Hey everybody, I'm a long-time reader of the main site and Mac user, though I've never really been much of a forum user, so I never bothered to register. However, I couldn't think of anywhere better on the Internet to talk with like-minded Mac users about my Macs!

    Basically, I bought a Mac Mini recently and I'm trying to come up with an upgrade path suitable for my data storage needs. I'm switching over from my current Vista-based PC which utilises 3x 320GB SATA disks in RAID 0. Basically, I'm looking to transport this kind of massive storage capacity to my Mini with a USB 2.0/FW400 enclosure which has some form of hardware RAID 0. Sounds easy, I know.

    However, I'm looking for a solution that sits flush with my Mini. I really like the look of the Iomega MiniMax series of external drives and I will be buying the 1TB version very soon as my Mini's 80GB hard disk is very close to full. I have seen a few hard disk enclosures that sit flush with the Mini, most notably Newertech's Ministack range (which I liked because of the added benefit from a built in USB & FW hub), but these disks do not support more than one disk. Does anybody know of a similarly designed solution that can support more than one disk? I would be loathed to stack more external disks (along with Iomega's Minimax) due to the noisy fans, the extra volumes cluttering the desktop and, more importantly, the extortionate cost of these style enclosures.

    Any help/guidance is very much appreciated. :)

    P.S.
    Apologies in advance for any grammatical/lexical mistakes I've made above, it's 1:47 here right now and I've spent my entire Sunday working. Not an excuse though, just a reason. I'm sure I'll enjoy these forums nonetheless :)
     
  2. ADent macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    #2
    I think Disk Utility can setup a software RAID. So get a couple of FW drives and fire up Disk Utility.


    How much disk space are you looking for? Obviously more than 1 TB.

    Have you looked at a Drobo?
     
  3. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #3
    I had thought of a possible software RAID option, but I'm thinking that will be a lot slower than hardware RAID. When you consider that the Mini's fastest interface is USB 2.0 (no FW800 or, better yet, eSATA) that means that disk access times will be horrifically slow. I could be totally wrong on this, but it does worry me.

    I will be looking further into a Drobo. Never heard of one before but it does look pretty neat (and cost effective). Ultimately, my goal is expandability, around the 2TB mark is what I'd be shooting for space-wise at the moment, but in the future that is likely to be 4TB (in perhaps a year's time) what with the rate at which I accumulate data from my digital camcorder and my dislike for compressing it.

    So am I barking up the wrong tree looking for a solution that looks like and sits flush with the mini? :(
     
  4. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #4
    Actually the FW400 would be faster than the USB, and better for the CPU
     
  5. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #5
    How is it that Firewire is faster than USB2.0? I thought USB2.0 was 480mbps transfer rate and FW400 was 400mbps - something to do with system overheads?
     
  6. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #6
    From Wikipedia:

     
  7. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #7
    Awesome, looks like I'm gunning for a FW interface now then :)
     
  8. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #8
    I know you mentioned it earlier but I think if you're going for something w/ FW in the same form factor as the Mac Mini, I think you should go with the miniStack, the largest one doesn't exactly match your desired capacity, but comes close with 1.5TB and on OWC they have just the miniStack enclosures that you can add your own hard drive too which should make it cheaper

    EDIT-or if you really want the multiple disk enclosure I would go for the Drobo, I'd get one if I had the money.
     
  9. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #9
    I'm starting to consider the ministack as the best option at the moment, if I'm honest. The Drobo looks great and all, but when you use the site's configurator, you soon realise that a lot of your disk space will be unusable for disk replacement and recovery etc. And whilst I am aware that this is good if the proverbial hits the fan, it's a useless feature to me seeing as I backup to NAS at home anyway (WD Worldbook 2TB edition).

    The only thing that puts me off the ministack is the cost per enclosure (without a disk included). It's more expensive than a lot of disks you could put in it, really...
     
  10. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #10
    Well as far as the miniStack goes, they are kind of up there price wise, but just like Apple some of your money is going towards design so design+enclosure+usb/FW hub, I think it's not too bad once you take all of that into mind.

    And how are you backing up to your MyBookWorld? I have a 500GB one that I previously used to share my iTunes library between my iMac and MacBook, but have since upgraded my MB hard drive so I keep the library on the internal for the MB and the NAS for the iMac and back up my MB to an external USB 250GB HD, but would like to switch to using the MyBookWorld for back up and the external for the iTunes library but haven't bothered checking out how to use the NAS for back up. (I'm new to networking, this past year was the first time I've actually owned 2 computers at once lol)
     
  11. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #11
    Well seeing as you can't use a NAS for Time Machine I use it to make backups of all the files that won't fit on my main hard disks (i.e. iTunes libraries and old DV that I don't want to delete). However, I'm now staying at University and accessing my NAS at home is possible, though it is impractical for using it as I once did.

    The most obvious benefit of NAS is that it's always there to every machine on the network. In retrospect, however, I would have chosen a different solution to the Worldbook. It runs a miniaturised Linux distro to basically run the RAID configuration (RAID 0 or RAID 1) and watch over all the files being written to it. Whilst this sounds good in theory, read and write speeds for the disk are appalling although it is literally plug and go for Mac OS X and that is not all-to-common judging from what I had read back when I was looking to buy one.
     
  12. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #12
    Ah I see, I was hoping there was someway to use a app like Carbon Copy Cloner with it or something, that's what I use for my back ups rather than Time Machine cause I prefer they be bootable.
     
  13. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #13
    Using CCC with the NAS disk wouldn't be a problem at all, you'd just have to pull the disk image off the NAS when you wanted to use it, which may be a problem if your Mac decides it's had enough of life.
     
  14. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Let me add that the MiniStack can be kind of loud ... i tried one (MiniStack III) with a Seagate 750GB drive and the fan noise was way too much for my office. It now sits under my Apple Airport Extreme in a closet.

    I have quite a collection of external drive enclosures and my main comment is that if the drives are not going to be used as "main drives", then consider using passively cooled enclosures. All of the enclosures that I have that come with fans are way too loud. I also suggest that if you go the drive + enclosure route, consider getting enclosures with USB/FW800/eSata. If you do, you will be future proofed for at least the next few years. I am hoping that the next mini (assuming there is one) has either FW800 or eSata. I currently have two passive enclosures: a Macally (usb/fw400/eSata) with a Seagate 750GB drive and a Rosewill usb/fw400/fw800/eSata) with a 1T WD green drive. These are used to hold my iTunes movie collection that is served up by my Mini to my Apple TV. These enclosures are more expensive than the USB only ones, but the FW 400/800 is way faster than USB for transfers on my Macs.
     
  15. ADent macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 9, 2007
    #15
    eSata on the mini is faster than FW. You just need to open the case and run a SATA to eSATA cable outside.

    The mini's SATA is limited, so you can only attach things that look like one drive.

    Somebody did hack a mini to get an eSATA card into the built in mini-PCIe - and hooked up 5 drives.
     
  16. TheProfessor macrumors newbie

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #16
    Why not MiniMAX?

    Just curious why some recommend the "ministack" but not the iomega miniMAX?

    There are some great deals out there on those and they include USB and firewire hubs, etc.
    I've been running 2 500gb minimax's under my mini for about a year now with no issues (sure, the fans run when they're working, but that's natural) and I'm thinking about stepping up to another 1tb or 1.5tb...

    I'm just trying to get opinions on both drives so I get the best option for my cash.
    Does anyone have experience with both?
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    I would never put a 3.5" drive in a plastic enclosure. Aluminum is much better for heat dissipation.
     
  18. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #18
    I've decided to opt for Seagate's FreeAgent Desk for Mac. I'm a long-time fan of Seagate and the 1.5TB model is available for an unbelievably reasonable £140 at www.dabs.com.

    With that kind of storage at that price with FW800/400 and USB, being flush with the Mac's chassis is a lot less important!! :)
     
  19. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #19
    You're aware of the 1.5TB's high failure rate? One of mine failed two weeks in, but the other is working just fine (crosses fingers). There's a patch available that apparently fixes it, but I haven't tried it yet as I'm waiting for the replacement to arrive before trying it on my other drive.
     
  20. TheProfessor macrumors newbie

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #20
    So is that the ONLY appreciable benefit of the ministack? An aluminum enclosure for heat dissipation?

    If so, that's exactly what I want to hear... I keep my PC's and drives in a place PLENTY cool enough and haven't had any heat related issues thus far, so I guess I'll keep buying the Iomegas...

    1tb for about $130 and a footprint no larger than my mini (or my Airport Ex Base Station) it's kind of hard to beat.

    That, or possibly the Lacie Big disc extreme 2tb for about $230 (with the live search rebates)
     
  21. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #21
    No, the MiniStack is plastic, too (I have two, and both are retired). There are no Mini ff enclosures that I'm aware of that are made of aluminum. The problem with stacking is that you lose so much surface area to the device that is above or below, thus the need for fans. I just hate the fact that a nice quiet Mini has to be noisy because of its external hard drive. This is also why the external drive on my Mini is not only aluminum, but 6 feet away and on the floor. Nice and quiet, the way a Mini should be.
     
  22. TheProfessor macrumors newbie

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #22
    Oh, I see...
    Well, that helps a bunch..

    I am kind of used to the "white noise" from my "Mini Tower", but yes, it is much too noisy to be used in a music studio or anything of that sort...

    I use Glyph rackmounted drives in my studio... However, in that case, my MBP is generally the loudest thing going... and the electrical "noise" from the magsafe plug is a whole OTHER issue that I'm fighting right now...
    (I know that I'm not the only one, but I haven't spent much time in my studio as of late and thus, I haven't spent much time searching the forum for remedies)

    Needless to say, I am considering moving my minitower to the bottom shelf of the rack that it's on now to move the noise creation center further from my ears...
    (again, I had gotten used to it, really, but now that you're mentioning it... you're starting to get into my head:D


    Thanks for the info..
    I'm a new poster here, but I've been in and out for about a year since I came back to Mac...
    I appreciate the info that you guys provide and I hope to be able to be of assistance to fellow members in the future as well.

    Take care!
     
  23. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    #23
    I had no idea of their failure rate, no. Which now means I have to look for possible alternatives again. Thanks :p

    The LaCie Big Disk Extreme sounds like good value for money - might give that a look.
     
  24. naid macrumors regular

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    Mar 13, 2008
    #24
    Thumbs up for Drobo, it works great and is quite expandable while not being too expensive. A downside is that the fans get quite noisy when under load. Best to hide it somewhere far from your desk.
     
  25. asme macrumors regular

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    Mar 12, 2008
    #25
    Seagate is discontinuing its old Freeagent drives for a new series, but you can snatch up old series 1TB drives for $99 a pop in some places.

    The drives aren't obsessive-compulsive mac-user OCD beautiful, but they are cheap, reliable, and most importantly, the control chipset works well in Mac OS. When you sleep or turn off the computer, the drive spins down as well, which is quite nice.
     

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