Most elegant external storage solution

Discussion in 'iMac' started by KeyMs92, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. KeyMs92 macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2015
    I've settled on a 256GB SSD as internal storage for the 4K 21.5" iMac I'm looking to buy. I was considering a 2TB fusion drive but I figured that I only have a handful of files that I frequently need to access, and the 256GB is more than sufficient for that. Why would I want a constantly spinning hard drive generating heat and noise for files that I rarely have to access?

    The downside of this solution is of course that I'll need two external copies of my data instead of one. What would you consider the most elegant solution/product(s) for having two external copies of my data? 1TB of storage per copy of the data is probably sufficient. I cannot think of anything other than two 2.5" external hard drives. Is there a better option? I'd love to hear it!
  2. dphershman macrumors newbie


    Dec 26, 2009
    check out RAID storage with a thunderbolt interface. There are several types to choose from in different configurations. Look at online for several different options

  3. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    What you have not said is your needs for this external storage.

    I have only recently moved over to the apple mac environment, but learnt from inside the windows world that storage seems to grow to the available space you have. I have had external storage as a means of backing up my data as you really don't know what is important until you no longer have it, and since storage is pretty cheep it sometimes is easier to not purge and store everything. 4 year ago I bought a better quality 2 bay Synology NAS and put in 2x2tb as they were the most cost effective drives at the time. I mirrored them. I then found that having all that space let me do things that I didn't realize before. All my music got digitized to FLAC and moved to the NAS. I used it as backup overflow for data. My photographs all got moved there. And I ran out of space. It worked out to be cheeper to get a second 2 bay NAS. I have since moved to larger NAS units that get used for house wide media, linked via a wifi SD to my digital photoframes for art. A timemachine backup for 2 macs.

    I now have an 8bay with RAID6 and 24TB of storage. I know it is not as fast as attached storage, but it is totally silent as I have the NAS in the basement and my iMac is in my upstairs office. I get around 90-95MB/s transfers over CAT6 ethernet that is more than enough speed for most storage needs. My iMac has a 512GB SSD and I have got a USB3 drive doc with one of my now spare 2tb green hard drives. I mainly keep it turned off and just use it when I need larger space/speed for project work.

    Trying to ask for a solution is sort of like asking how long is a piece of string. Only you know your needs. I hope the solution that worked for me will give you some different ideas to help you along your way to your own solution.
  4. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    I would just buy two external USB 3 hard drives that sit on top of one another. There's no need for thunderbolt, raid or anything expensive like that. Larger capacity drives are a much better value than 1 TB drives.
  5. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013

    There is little basis for concern about internal HDD "heat and noise". I have six Macs, some with Fusion Drive and some with SSD. I notice little difference in noise due to this. An internal HDD uses a few watts -- just like a large SSD does.

    That said, you've evaluated your storage needs and if 256GB SSD works for you, that's fine. I did likewise and my latest iMac is 1TB SSD. It's not super quiet because I have two Thunderbolt drive arrays sitting next to it, but the entire setup is a lot quieter than my Windows PC across the room -- which uses Noctua fans.

    I would *not* get a slow 5400 rpm bus-powered USB 3 drive. HGST makes the 1TB Touro S, which is a 7200 rpm bus-powered USB 3 drive. It is pretty fast -- about 130 MB/sec: I have many of those for video backup.

    A faster bus-powered USB 3 option is the 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Fast: Internally it is RAID 0 so you'd definitely want your data backed up, probably on another one.

    There are many AC-powered external drives from G-Tech and other companies.
  6. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    I use the Backup fast and I have to say it is amazing! Although spec wise it is below the internal NVRAM, it is about the fastest data rate you can get from spinning drives and it doesn't require external power. However, it might be overkill for your needs. But look into it because price/performance I think it is the best out there.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get two "bare" hard drives of your choice. These days, the 2.5" form factor works fine.

    Get two USB3 enclosures of your choice. Put the drives inside them.

    Use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone the contents of one of the externals to the other one, so that they are "mirror copies" of each other.

    Keep one drive near the computer.

    Keep the other drive (which contains the same stuff the first drive does) SOMEWHERE ELSE -away from- the computer. This is now your "offsite backup" and will protect you in case of a fire, theft, etc.
  8. dljor macrumors 6502

    Nov 3, 2013
    I ordered a WD Duo and plan to run it in RAID 1. I will use part of it for time machine to backup the 512 GB SSD and the rest for data storage.

    Theoretically, all my stuff should have redundancy against the failure of 1 drive?

    The price is reasonable. For a 8TB model, it's about $330. A good 4TB drive costs roughly $150.
  9. kødskjold macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2015
    This is a complicated topic and really depends on your personal needs and how much risk you wish to mitigate. A lot of people talk about external RAID devices for primary/production storage, but RAID should really be viewed as a means of "availability" - not redundancy/backup. What I mean is, an array allows you to "stay available" by maintaining uptime (hopefully) while you suffer through a disk failure. But there are other things that can go wrong with a RAID device. With larger volumes comes an increased risk of hitting your MTBF, especially if your disks are of the same age/batch. Basically, you experience another failure before your array is able to sync and recover from a degraded state. Another scenario is the RAID card itself will fail, and if it is a RAID 5/6 (and sometimes even 1), you will need the find/buy the same card in order to read the array again and access your data.

    With that said, a RAID NAS or DAG is fine as a secondary source/backup or if you implement another backup measure. This does not make you site-resilient though, as someone else mentioned. Any disaster that could wipe out the electronics in that room, obviously leaves you dataless. The desire for not only data availability, but also recovery, has lead to some popular hybrid solutions. You're seeing more people mirroring multiple devices and implementing a slow sync to a cloud service or even an encrypted drive at a friend's house.
  10. dljor macrumors 6502

    Nov 3, 2013
    I agree.

    But an external RAID array is probably the most affordable and reliable way to expand local storage.

    Backup is a whole other story as you perfectly laid out...
  11. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2014
    If you only need <= 4tb storage and doesn't need lightning fast speed ( i.e., <300m), go buy a portable hard drive and a twelvesouth backpack (or whatever it's called), so the hard drive can hide behind the screen on the stand (where power cord goes through). You will forget there's even an external hard drive after a week. And portable drives are, well more portable in case you need, and much quieter.
  12. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2014
    Or, you can just go buy a nas as your whole house storage solution once for all
  13. kødskjold macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Right. Since the OP and others are talking about redundancy in expansion devices, I just wanted to reiterate and highlight the vulnerabilities. All too often I see folks who need to expand, and the thought process goes like this: "I need space for things" --> "an external drive is too vulnerable, I need to make sure it's backed up in some way" --> "this device is RAID... done!"

    These are also the same people that come to me for platter & controller recoveries (which I hate doing).
  14. brokeneck macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2010
    Boston, MA
    External Thunderbolt RAID0 will give you near SSD speed for cheap-ish. Protect yourself from medial failure with a large USB3 external disk Time Machine. Simple, easy, cheap and fast.

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13 November 10, 2015