Selecting an external enclosure: OWC, Drobo etc

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by wwohl, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. wwohl, Oct 15, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014

    wwohl macrumors regular

    May 2, 2013
    Looking for insight from users who currently own or have owned some of the following external bays. Additionally, anyone who has alternatives. Been researching these devices here and across the web for some time, looking for final thoughts before making a decision.

    Ill share my set-up, my goals and what Ive looked at so far.

    My media is primarily all movies and TV shows. I run iTunes and have been using Plex more and more for accessing that content. This consists of about 800 GB of mp4s, around 4-500 movies and tv shows and that list continues to grow.
    2012 Mac mini, SSD and 1TB HDD (everything is on the internal HDD and backed up on the external drives)
    2-external USB 3.0 connected seagate drives (both 3TB each and barracuda drive models inside).

    Id like to combine the two external drives into a single enclosure and use it for the primary access location for content. I don't think NAS is necessary for me at this time and I like to keep the throughput high.

    Plans and goals
    Ive got two 3.5 inch drives now and plan to run them in Raid 1 for data redundancy. In the future, ill likely wind up with 4-5 drives and running a RAID 5.

    I have no plans to spend more than 350 on just an enclosure, thats absurd. I don't have endless terabytes of data. Only 1-2 that needs to stay backed up. Im also going to be using HDDs so Thunderbolt is not a requirement. If I wind up selecting a drive I may use it. But USB3.0 is more than adequate to handle the 170mbps read/write speeds of the barracuda drive. Even in Raid 0, it should be able to maximize the combined drive speeds.

    Mediasonic RAID enclosure $189 USB3.0 connectivity. RAID 0,1,5,10. 4 bays.

    OWC Mercury Elite Pro RAID $109. FW800, USB 3.0 connectivity. RAID 1, RAID 0 and span options. Not sure if JBOD supported.

    OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual $259 USB 3.0, TB1 connectivity. Raid 1, RAID 0, JBOD, Span modes. Two drive bays

    OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 $259 USB 3.0, 4 bays. RAID 0, 1, 5

    Drobo $308 USB 3.0 connectivity, 4 bays. BeyondRAID storage RAID software

    Ive heard mixed things about all of these ranging from noise to mac incompatibility. Interested to see what you all think. Jumping for something like the Drobo 5D for $600 is out of my price range and I don't have the media volume to need it anyways.

    Any opinions on the above products would be great, thanks in advance for your time.

  2. ColdCase, Oct 15, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    When talking about 2-3+ TB drives, RAID5 makes no sense. Stay away from hardware RAID if you value your sanity :)

    USB3 is a drive interface bandaid, the net is full of those suffering through the quirks. Get yourself a OWC thunderbay off their current clearance rack for $330-$350 and you will be much happier. Use Disk utility to setup RAID0 and or Mirror as you like. Set up two pairs as raid 0 (2x3 is 6TB) and then mirror the set. Save you a lot of grief in the long run. Reliable, bulletproof, quiet... support for the entire SATA command set if you should ever want to tinker or gather detailed drive status for failure prediction purposes... you'll have the flexibility to move drives around, even into different individual or JBOD enclosures, and disk utility will find them and hook them up (move the drive set to a different MAC too).

    I've suffered through consumer USB junk for years and now that I've switched over to mostly TB enclosures and NAS type drives... there has not been one issue. I have about a 6TB media library with thousands of titles. I now have much more time to watch video :)
  3. nkawal macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2011
    I have almost the same setup. 2011 Mac Mini with 256 Samsung 830 SSD. I'm currently using the older Mercury Elite Pro Q2X via a homemade FireWire to thunderbolt adapter. Whenever it dies is when I'll upgrade to the thunder bay enclosure. Currently have 4-2TB WD Black Enterprise Drives running in the RAID 5 format that OWC creates. I get a total of 6TB. I use it to store my media ( movies, tv shows, music, software, etc).

    Have Plex Server running on Mac Mini and have no issues. I use combinations of Apple TV's and ROKU devices.
  4. wwohl thread starter macrumors regular

    May 2, 2013
    So you'd recommend the 4 bay, with drives A/B in RAID 0, Drives C/D in RAID 0 and then the A/B and C/D image in RAID 1. Disk utility can do all that?

    Thanks for the recommendation btw
  5. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Yes there is a tutorial on the forum somewhere.

    Personally I prefer to RAID0 drive A/B (5TB drives gets me a 10TB volume) and RAID0 drive C/D (6TB drives gets me a 12TB volume) and then use CCC to clone/backup the 10TB volume once a day or so to the 12TB volume. That leaves some space for archives in case I accidentally delete a file or an App corrupts the 10TB volume.

    There are a dozen ways to skin that cat and that's my preference. I also have another LaCie enclosure set up with a mirrored drive set for TM backups of the OS drive. I use my mini for TM destination for other MACs in the house and a second pair of drives in the LaCie enclosure serves that purpose. But thats just me.
  6. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Cannot comment on the 4-bay USB 3 Drobo, however I use a Drobo 5D with 5x4TB HDDs (configured to use dual-disk redundancy) over Thunderbolt as my media store (all music, all movies, all TV shows and all photos) and it's been bullet-proof. Performance and stability has been orders of magnitude better than the old FireWire Drobos (which turned me off to the brand for some time).

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