raid1 - hardware vs software

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by .mark., Apr 28, 2008.

  1. .mark. macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2007
    Jersey, C.I.
    Hey, I'm getting a bit paranoid about disk failure so I've been thinking about a solution.

    Firstly, my setup is a MBP which connects via FW800 to a 1tb ext hd I built myself. This HD is partitioned into 2

    partition A(300gb) = time machine (I also have a mba which backs up to this via network)
    partition B(630gb) = a ton of movies, photos, uni work...

    If this drive fails I'll lose loads of movies, photos, etc, and my incremental backups that time machine has made. The prospect of this scares me!

    So, what would you guys recommend? My thoughts first lead me to look at drobo but after browsing their forums for a while there are a lot of users complaining about stability issues so that's a big no no.

    This leads me to consider a raid1 setup. I believe I can either do this by buying another 1tb drive + enclosure and letting osx do the work,


    Buying a raid1 enclosure and another 1tb drive for it.

    So what's my best bet? Initial thoughts are to go for the raid enclosure as I don't see the point in lumbering osx with another task, but I would like to hear from someone with experience in doing this? does it keep osx busy?

    So looking at a raid enclosure - Is this the best solution? can anyone recommend a good enclosure?
  2. MacFanJeff macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    IL, USA
    Personally, I would suggest checking out the hardware Raid 1 solutions by
    G-Tech such as their "G-Safe" line. They get very good reviews most the time and seem to be well supported. You may want to check out offerings from OWC as well, however from what I have read, they are NOT hardware based Raid 1 like you want but rather require software that comes with them to work. I like the hardware Raid solutions the best.

    Also, I wouldn't turn away from the Drobo because I know many happy with it. However it is ONLY USB 2.0 and not faster with Firewire like the G-Tech models.

    Hope that helps a little.
  3. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005
    have you looked at Guardian Maximus?

    I had been mulling over the same issues.
    Looked at NAS (ReadyNAS Duo, Qnap-II pro 209) but considered them too expensive once you got the drives too. They do have ethernet and servr capabilities.
    I looked at Drobo, but even if there were not issues with stability, they run a proprietry RAID called X-RAID. Also, its expensive. With 4 bays, it is really expandable, but I do not think I will need so much storage for a few years. So I stuck with RAID-1, not the most efficent in terms of space, but no "rebuilding" either as it just a mirror.

    Also, I have an Airport Extreme, so could eventually connect the RAID to it.

    In the end I went and got a NewerTech Guardian Maximus. Simple and has hardware RAID-1. Is connected over Firewire 800/400 or if are a masochist, USB2. Oh, its also not too expensive considering FW. (diskless unit = $150.)

    As this will be sitting in my bedroom, later moving to my home office, I wanted a solution that was low power and ran cool. This has a metal enclosure so there is passive cooling there and a fan.

    I choose the 1TB EcoGreen drives as they are quieter and low power. These top out at about 86MBps as they are 5.4k drives (but 3 platters, so denser) and are more than sufficent as backup. According to Toms HW, 39C. In comparison, my iMac HD runs mid 40Cs.

    These do come with backup software, I guess to automate.

    As the RAID is seen as 1 drive, I will be using SuperDuper (on a schedule, to do smart bootable backups).
  4. rick6502 macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I have lived your nightmare!

    I lost over 600 GB of video all ripped directly from DVD last month. It was stored on an external RAID 0 drive with two WD drives that were only 1 year old. One of the drives just failed. The drive was replaced under warranty, but I am still working on replacing the data.

    My solution: Purchase old PM 733, 4 Seagate 1 TB SATA drives, and RAID PCI card. It will run about $600 for this setup.
  5. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
  6. rick6502 macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I don't hear good things about RAID 5. It seems that RAID 1+0 or 10 is much better.
  7. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005
    depends on how much you got to store..

    Definitely agree..

    RAID 1+0 or 10 would be better.. but there is a cost issue ie 4 hard disks plus enclosure.. (so def no Drobo here as thats uses RAID-X, where X isnt = 10! :p)
    Nice little article re RAID-10:

    I know my photos etc are valuable to me.. and it would really annoy me if I had to redo all my CDs (+400).. but I think depending on the amount you have to store vs its perceived value will determine your solution.

    Have to think about the chances of all your drives failing or getting lost say physically, say in a fire/burgulary.

    I am using the Guardian Maximus RAID-1 next to my desk (backed up every day). That takes care of my data as both drives failing within a short period of time is unlikely.. so long as I can replace the faulty drive quickly.
    But, I still make (usually monthly or so, depends on how much data I dump on to my computer) regular backups that will be stored in a different location. So that sorts out the physical risk.

    Also, I was thinking about... future costs.. a massively redundant system is relatively expensive.. my current setup would tie my over quite well for several years. Where upon I can upgrade/replace with a better (RAID-10) solution.
  8. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    I have nearly the same setup (well, not really, as I went for two 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drives). Except, I didn't get the Guardian Maximus, but the 'regular' OWC Mercury Elite Dual triple interface enclosure. I set it up as a RAID1 drive set, using Disk Utility. I guess it works exactly like the Guardian, except that mine setup is software instead of in hardware. It was $120, making it $30 cheaper, and I figured it would work the same. Glad I got it. It's a really solid enclosure, and it looks good too.

    Good choice! I use SuperDuper! as well, and it rocks. Especially with the smart cloning feature.
  9. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005

    Yes, I noticed the $30 difference. I was not sure of the difference in speed/overhead between the software vs. hardware RAID. Wanted the peace of mind it was always dynamically mirrored, I thought I would play it safe with hardware RAID. Actually I liked the colour of the OWC AL enclosure over the Guardian so much, I got that too.. have 2 drives in there as JYOD.

    The triple interface was definitley the other reason I went with this. With FW800, the interface is not bottleneck in the setup anymore.

    One day, when the enclosure fails.. All I will do is get any new one and stuff the drives in..
    If and when a disk fails, ZERO rebuild time. Just stuff in a new drive of compariable size.
  10. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
    I have been wondering this same thing-I really cannot decide which type of RAID to get- I was looking at both the Guradian and the Mercury but I always keep going back to drobo. My only problem with the drobo is that you have to buy at least 3 drives to make it worth it otherwise it is no different than any other multi-bay enclosure in terms of usable space
  11. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005
    I love the idea but the way I see it is the DROBO is:
    1. the biggest downside is the proprietary RAID. Its called X-RAID, so if your DROBO enclosure fails, you need another DROBO. No one else uses this type of RAID.
    2. The original DROBO is USB2 and the sustained MPS is crap.
    3. DROBO v2, which has FW is currently having mixed reviews.
    4. Expensive to buy, once you get 3 drives in.
    5. Takes a long time to rebuild.

    WRT Guardian and Mercury Elite, difference is:
    1. Guardian is a "live solution" and ONLY HARDWARE RAID-1 only (ie mirrored), your computers sees this as 1 drive. (if you have x2 500Gb, its seen as 500Gb only, but is "mirrored" incase of 1 drive fails). This is a good cheaper alternative to RAID-5. RAID-1 would be my ideal as I do not think I need more than 1Tb of needs (really only photos and music, no inc DVD collection) in the next 3-5 years.
    2. The Mercury Elite, is still 2 drive bays, but you can hardware RAID-0 (striped = fast but not a backup), software RAID-1 (mirror) or JBOD (Just a Bunch of Drives, ie saves you buying 2 single eclosures) World Computing/MEFW924AL2K/

    I am using SuperDuper to do smart backps. So hence I went for the hardware RAID-1 for piece of mind. I know whatever was copied to the Guardian, is mirrored asap (hence the live solution, as its mirrored immediately by hardware). The mirroring is done in hardware, although minor, its load off your desktop/laptop's CPU.

    Also, wrt technology, in several years time, when you replace your DROBO... its going to be a hassle. I reckon you are better off with an industry standard RAID configuration. You are not going to keep either for more than say.. 3-5 years. Why be tied to a 3rd pary technology.

    Oh yes.. the Guardian or Mercury has FW 400 and 800 so a definite plus point! Your 7.2k spindled drive is going to flood the FW400 under sustained throughput, but 800, its going to be very fast. Don't even bother with USB2.

    Also see another thread:

    A summary of some RAID configs.
  12. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005

    As I have too much time on my hands :rolleyes:, am doing a little re-engineering on my enclosure as I want to make it near silent.

    I went and got the Aluminium Mercury Elite as well and decided I wanted it in my bedroom with my computer the OWC Alu enclosure is what I would consider too noisy when next to a 24" iMac, as its replacing a passively cooled aluminium Maxtor enclosure. Am using a pair of Samsung Spinpoint F1 (1Tb) and that makes very little noise and run quite cool.

    So, with a little investigation:
    1. I unplugged the fan and as expected it is running near silent. Only real noise is upon initial spart up. Have left it with out a fan for the past week, no probs under current workload.
    2. The fan itself is very quiet, but it looks like most of the noise is made by the "cut out" (aka grill) for the fan. It looks like a top down view of a segmented orange. It sounds like the high rpm of the current blower forcing the air through the grill is making most of the noise.
    So I am going to replace the fan for a slower rpm. Looking at the Scythe Mini-Kaze (3,500 rpm / 14db(A)). I believe the current unit is one of the more powerful 40x40x10mm units by YS Tech and runs at about 19 db(A) and higher rpms (5k?)

    Going forward, if it is still not silent:
    3. I am going to dremmel the "orange segment" grill and put in a 40mm wire grill. Will sandwich the grill between the inside of the enlosure and the fan with some silicone washers.:D
  13. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    To note, with RAID 1, you won't find a big difference between hardware and software versions. The reason is the data is a duplicate, so the CPU just has additional writes to the mirrored drive.

    You run into a larger performance hit when you use a RAID level with parity, such as RAID 5. The CPU must calculate the parity of the data as it goes along in addition to writing the data across the drives.

    Usually, when you get a hardware array controller, you may see performance benefits, even with RAID 1. This is because some controllers have a write-back cache, which means when you write the data, it is actually being written to the memory on the array controller, and not directly to the disk buffers. You usually find this feature on the high end controllers.
  14. phelix_da_kat macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2005
    I went and bought a 40mm chrome wire grill and a set of acouti silicon fan mounts from

    1) will a pair of pliers removed the threaded mounts for the fan.
    2) using a dremmel cutter, removed the existing orange grill.
    3) pulled through the silcon fan mounts, the grill then the fan.

    Perfect. Can barely hear the enclosure from a meter away with both both fan and disks spinning.:p

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