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Johnny Jackhammer

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2011
120
78
I am getting older, and I thought I remember that SoftRAID was going to be free for those who bought their enclosures and paid up front for the softRAID software... $150 or something like that.

I mean, I remember that in writing somewhere. Why do companies keep enticing customers with these statements and then later renig... maybe it's because no one holds them accountable?

Can someone dig that up for me?

Screen Shot 2023-06-30 at 10.08.10 PM.png
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,765
2,971
Had a lot of problems with Softraid pricing. There were some confusing versions. I thought that I had ordered the right one but they insisted that I had not and absolutely refused to budge from their position that I needed to repurchase the product. They were in the transition at the time from version 5 to version 6. Bought version 5 a month or two before version 6 was released and they refused to upgrade me.
 

loby

macrumors 68000
Jul 1, 2010
1,846
1,459
SoftRAID seems to be riding the wave of charging for each macOS upgrade for each year now like others have seen opportunity. Understandable if things change within the OS, but come on...RAID should not change that much now-a-days.

I am also caught with the now once a year purchase with softRAID if using their enclosures. I rely on two of them for video editing, so I am kind of sucked into their subscription.
 

Johnny Jackhammer

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2011
120
78
This makes me furious. I have 2 OWC Thunderbays and 1 Flex 8. Thousands of dollars worth of storage, purchased with the understanding that the software REQUIRED to run it would be free. Now I'm having to pay for each upgrade? This feels like extortion.
I am thinking it’s an indicator that things have become more stable with native RAID solutions on macOS and they are losing customers. I am going to move from SoftRAID to Disk Utility created RAID. I’m pretty sure I can do RAID 10 with DU.
 
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Ethosik

Contributor
Oct 21, 2009
7,855
6,779
I was on the fence about getting an OWC RAID setup....but something about using software RAID and requiring software like this kept me at bay. Alternatively, but definitely more expensive, I decided to go with a Synology setup, upgraded my network to at least 10Gbps with some 40Gbps sections.

I guess I made the right decision.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,345
1,334
It has been a long time since I dealt with RAID controlled from a Mac computer. In the past, I had early Mac Pro with internal RAID and then also RAID to USB external housing with drives within. Does MacOS handle RAID anymore internally and externally (as in USB or ThunderBolt)?
 

whitby

macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2007
305
328
Austin, TX
I have been using SoftRAID with one of OWC’s 4 disk enclosures for some time. It was supplied with what became the Pro version which works on all manufacturers multi disk enclosures. The XT version only works on OWC enclosures. So if you have the Pro version you can downgrade to the XT version which is marginally cheaper.

The driver is supplied with MAC OS through some deal they have with Apple and you do not need SoftRAID to access a configured drive array set up. SoftRAID is the UI that allows you to configure and set up the drive array as well as replace faulty or worn out drives. So you can continue to use your array even if you do not have an up to date version of SoftRaid. Here’s the kicker. If you ever need to replace a disk you will need SoftRAID and the built in Apple RAID software only supports RAID 0 and 1 so it is not an option to replace SoftRAID for me since I use RAID 5. You can keep using your existing version of SoftRAID of course but when Apple updates MacOS the driver version changes and your version of SoftRAID may not work. In every case it seems to have issues with a new version of the OS which has driven me nuts because new versions of SoftRAID often lag the OS update.

I ended up paying the support, a demand for which came out of the blue. But, I will use the year that gives me to find another solution. When I bought my enclosure from OWC I had no idea I was buying into the ubiquitous subscription model in order to maintain the drive. If I had known up front, I would never have bought the drive in the first place and gone for a disk array with built in RAID firmware that does not cease to work after some indeterminant amount of time. I have a Synology NAS which, although slower, does not require a fee to maintain the system and I bought it at the same time as the OWC Thunderbird enclosure. I feel somewhat cheated and OWC, who I used to respect, will be treated somewhat circumspectly from now on.
 
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willybk3

macrumors newbie
Mar 8, 2014
8
10
I have been using SoftRAID with one of OWC’s 4 disk enclosures for some time. It was supplied with what became the Pro version which works on all manufacturers multi disk enclosures. The XT version only works on OWC enclosures. So if you have the Pro version you can downgrade to the XT version which is marginally cheaper.

The driver is supplied with MAC OS through some deal they have with Apple and you do not need SoftRAID to access a configured drive array set up. SoftRAID is the UI that allows you to configure and set up the drive array as well as replace faulty or worn out drives. So you can continue to use your array even if you do not have an up to date version of SoftRaid. Here’s the kicker. If you ever need to replace a disk you will need SoftRAID and the built in Apple RAID software only supports RAID 0 and 1 so it is not an option to replace SoftRAID for me since I use RAID 5. You can keep using your existing version of SoftRAID of course but when Apple updates MacOS the driver version changes and your version of SoftRAID may not work. In every case it seems to have issues with a new version of the OS which has driven me nuts because new versions of SoftRAID often lag the OS update.

I ended up paying the support, a demand for which came out of the blue. But, I will use the year that gives me to find another solution. When I bought my enclosure from OWC I had no idea I was buying into the ubiquitous subscription model in order to maintain the drive. If I had known up front, I would never have bought the drive in the first place and gone for a disk array with built in RAID firmware that does not cease to work after some indeterminant amount of time. I have a Synology NAS which, although slower, does not require a fee to maintain the system and I bought it at the same time as the OWC Thunderbird enclosure. I feel somewhat cheated and OWC, who I used to respect, will be treated somewhat circumspectly from now on.
I have been using SR since 4/2011 when you could email main author (Mark James) in California and receive an accurate and usually correct answer to a problem - top notch! If a new major upgrade were released, a reasonable upgrade ($) was available. It is now borderline ransomware to keep your system functioning!
 

whitby

macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2007
305
328
Austin, TX
I have been looking at the QNAP TR-004 which appears to be a good replacement at a lower cost but I need to validate performance and management software etc. I have one on order to try. I will post back if people are interested, once I have tried it out.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,345
1,334
I have been looking at the QNAP TR-004 which appears to be a good replacement at a lower cost but I need to validate performance and management software etc. I have one on order to try. I will post back if people are interested, once I have tried it out.
I'll be curious about your results. Please do share with us the detail - RAID setup or JBOD ... connection speed etc.
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,765
2,971
I have been looking at the QNAP TR-004

Any reason you didn't get a QNAP which supports Thunderbolt? USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 only supports 5 Gbps vs something less then 40 Gbps with Thunderbolt. Might be a moot point since in a RAID 5 configuration you're probably only going to get ~2.5 Gbps with 4 drives.
 
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Powerbooky

macrumors demi-god
Mar 15, 2008
604
502
Europe
I am getting older, and I thought I remember that SoftRAID was going to be free for those who bought their enclosures and paid up front for the softRAID software... $150 or something like that.

I mean, I remember that in writing somewhere. Why do companies keep enticing customers with these statements and then later renig... maybe it's because no one holds them accountable?

Can someone dig that up for me?

View attachment 2226231

This makes me furious. I have 2 OWC Thunderbays and 1 Flex 8. Thousands of dollars worth of storage, purchased with the understanding that the software REQUIRED to run it would be free. Now I'm having to pay for each upgrade? This feels like extortion.

I could be wrong, but as far as I know one purchase (device or separate licence) usually qualifies for the current version and the next major version. That usually covers a couple of years.
If you have version 6.x or 7.x that probably will work with the next MacOS versions. I've got version 6 running on a Big Sur MacPro workstation. My licence qualifies for version 7 but the monitoring app doesn't work on my Intel Mac for some odd reason, so had to stay at version 6. I don't have experience with Mx Mac's and SoftRAID.


I'll be curious about your results. Please do share with us the detail - RAID setup or JBOD ... connection speed etc.

You may also look at Synology. Over the years I found their software a better fit for Mac users. A buddy of mine had a QNAP as well, but moved to Synology within a year due to problems connecting with his Mac's back then.
Another friend has a small business and we installed an 8-bay Synology unit around 10 years ago. It still is supported with the latest software and runs very fast. It is used for archiving, backups and also runs a couple of websites.

Currently I'm setting up a new 8-bay rack unit in my own network. It replaces a Drobo-S unit that has served me well for almost 12 years now.:)
 
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HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,765
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You may also look at Synology. Over the years I found their software a better fit for Mac users. A buddy of mine had a QNAP as well, but moved to Synology within a year due to problems connecting with his Mac's back then.

I have both Synology and QNAP NAS units and have found that QNAP generally has better hardware. Synology software may be a bit easier to use, but may be less configurable. Synology is pushing their own expensive hardware upgrades (RAM, disks) on some of their units by giving you error messages when they detect non-Synology upgrades, although 3rd party hardware still does work.

Haven't had any problems connecting to my Mac with either so if there was a problem in the past it has been fixed.

Note: actually I did have some problems with slow external transfers but it turns out it was due to my anti-virus software. Worked with the vendor and they eventually fixed the problem.
 
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phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,345
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There are several USB and Thunderbolt external devices out there.

Areca made some interesting ones though not particularly cheap.


Thoughts?
 
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Johnny Jackhammer

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2011
120
78
I could be wrong, but as far as I know one purchase (device or separate licence) usually qualifies for the current version and the next major version. That usually covers a couple of years.
If you have version 6.x or 7.x that probably will work with the next MacOS versions. I've got version 6 running on a Big Sur MacPro workstation. My licence qualifies for version 7 but the monitoring app doesn't work on my Intel Mac for some odd reason, so had to stay at version 6. I don't have experience with Mx Mac's and SoftRAID.




You may also look at Synology. Over the years I found their software a better fit for Mac users. A buddy of mine had a QNAP as well, but moved to Synology within a year due to problems connecting with his Mac's back then.
Another friend has a small business and we installed an 8-bay Synology unit around 10 years ago. It still is supported with the latest software and runs very fast. It is used for archiving, backups and also runs a couple of websites.

Currently I'm setting up a new 8-bay rack unit in my own network. It replaces a Drobo-S unit that has served me well for almost 12 years now.:)

What I remember is the original ThunderBay IV with no drives @ $349.00 I bought in 2014 came with a 3 year warranty and as long as the buyer was within the warranty period they would receive free SoftRaid updates and upgrades. The last two TB enclosures I bought came with a one year warranty:

2019 - ThunderBay 4 w/Thunderbolt 3, no drives, and SoftRAID Lite XT @ $399.99
2021 - ThunderBay 4 w/Thunderbolt 3, no drives, and no software @ $369.99

Now they are charging $99.99 for an annual support plan to maintain the status quo. Keeping in mind that these enclosures are just metal boxes with a board and aren't NASs and that changes to the kernel happen fairly rarely this is a lot of money!

I regret not buying a NAS. I run one RAID 5, the other is JBOD, and the original is just sitting on the shelf.

What else, ohh the TB cable connections are horrible if you touch the cable the drive disconnects. I had to pay for the little blue 'glue on connectors' and a Drill America m1.8 x .35 Tap and 1.45mm Drill Bit Kit to fix this design issue on the 2014 and 2019 enclosures. The 2021 has pre-installed screw holes for the connectors. I also had to replace the fans with Noctua NF-A9 FLX because the original fans are too friggen loud.

Maintaining these things is getting to be too expensive for very little in return.

The other option is to just get a MacMini for a server and just don't ever upgrade the OS on it.
 
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Powerbooky

macrumors demi-god
Mar 15, 2008
604
502
Europe
What I remember is the original ThunderBay IV with no drives @ $349.00 I bought in 2014 came with a 3 year warranty and as long as the buyer was within the warranty period they would receive free SoftRaid updates and upgrades. The last two TB enclosures I bought came with a one year warranty:


Now they are charging $99.99 for an annual support plan to maintain the status quo. Keeping in mind that these enclosures are just metal boxes with a board and aren't NASs and that changes to the kernel happen fairly rarely this is a lot of money!

I regret not buying a NAS. I run one RAID 5, the other is JBOD, and the original is just sitting on the shelf.

The other option is to just get a MacMini for a server and just don't ever upgrade the OS on it.

It was probably too expensive to maintain this promo deal.

I have used a Macmini 2009 for years as a server. Now I use a refurbished Macmini 2014. It works great with a small Drobo and indeed without much upgrading MacOS. It functions as an AFP fileserver, TimeMachine server, Apple Software Update server combined with Netboot and Mac deployment software to rapidly (re)install Mac's. With very low noise and relatively low energy consumption it worked great. The one serious issue I had is the UPS shutdown. MacOS does support a UPS shutdown, but it won't restart after power is restored without some hacking.

Your Thunderbay boxes probably will work great with a refubished Macmini too, but you'll still have the cable issues. An off-the-shelf NAS is of course easier to install.
 
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HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,765
2,971
Now they are charging $99.99 for an annual support plan to maintain the status quo.

There is no reason to keep the support plan as long as SoftRaid is working properly in most cases. I'll wait until it no longer works (Sonoma?) and only at that point upgrade.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 68020
Jun 19, 2014
2,021
1,820
I was on the fence about getting an OWC RAID setup....but something about using software RAID and requiring software like this kept me at bay. Alternatively, but definitely more expensive, I decided to go with a Synology setup, upgraded my network to at least 10Gbps with some 40Gbps sections.

I guess I made the right decision.

I'd say you did, given that I've gone through three OWC RAID enclosures due to component failures (and the first one was DOA.)

If my current one gives up the ghost I'm migrating to something else. The main benefit of using them was a DAS would get covered by my Backblaze recovery, but it's not really been worth the headaches (and the costs of using that Backblaze sub to ship a hard drive to recover from my RAID failing.)
 
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phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,345
1,334
I'd say you did, given that I've gone through three OWC RAID enclosures due to component failures (and the first one was DOA.)

If my current one gives up the ghost I'm migrating to something else. The main benefit of using them was a DAS would get covered by my Backblaze recovery, but it's not really been worth the headaches (and the costs of using that Backblaze sub to ship a hard drive to recover from my RAID failing.)
Just for casual view

 

whitby

macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2007
305
328
Austin, TX
Any reason you didn't get a QNAP which supports Thunderbolt? USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 only supports 5 Gbps vs something less then 40 Gbps with Thunderbolt. Might be a moot point since in a RAID 5 configuration you're probably only going to get ~2.5 Gbps with 4 drives.
Precisely. It was not worth paying the extra for TB 3 or 4. The current OWC Thunder Bay 4 with TB 2 gives me around 450 MB/s, so I am thinking that a USB C 3.1 connection will be adequate. I have a WD raid array (Raid 0) on my desk top PC with USB C and it gets about the same so there does not seem any point in spending the extra. I am still waiting for the drive enclosure.
 

whitby

macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2007
305
328
Austin, TX
There is no reason to keep the support plan as long as SoftRaid is working properly in most cases. I'll wait until it no longer works (Sonoma?) and only at that point upgrade.
Agreed. It is generally when Apple upgrades/updates the OS which causes the driver embedded in the OS to change and the UI no longer works as it should and you need to update SoftRAID. Sometime the OWC update updates the driver too (when they add features) and sometimes the driver in the OS does not cause an issue, but something else stops the UI working (like the deprecation of KEXTS in one version of OS X (cannot remember which one)). Bottom line is that when Apple updates the OS you generally have to update SoftRAID. I have no idea whether Sonoma is going to cause an issue, but I have no intention of experimenting to find out and will wait to see if OWC post something about an upgrade being necessary. I have usually held back upgrading my OS because of SoftRAID.
 
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kboller07

macrumors member
Mar 24, 2007
90
22
They just seem extra greedy requiring an upgrade for virtually every Mac OS update. I would happily pay once every three years or so but I got tired of it and have an old Mac mini still on Catalina that I have the thunder bay connected to. I was in the market for another thunderbolt 3 closure and went with a WD Shuttle because I could then move away from OWC.
 
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BKDad

macrumors regular
May 16, 2011
191
168
We've been using an OWC 4 Bay Thunderbolt array forever, it would seem. It's set up as a RAID5 system.

A few weeks ago, we upgraded from an iMac running Mojave (it wasn't broke, so we didn't fix it) to a Mac Studio with Ventura.

Of course, it didn't work right with SoftRAID, so I bit the bullet and upgraded. Then, I learned how HFS+ drives really aren't ideally used with Ventura, so I removed the Time Machine volume from the RAID system and went to a rotating SSD Time Machine drive system using a Thunderbolt Drive Dock that we already used for backing up the RAID system to external nude drives. (Probably should have done that years ago...)

But, at this point I even wonder why I should bother with a RAID scheme. The remaining volumes in the Thunderbolt housing are for saving music files, photos, and so on. Archiving, essentially. (We don't do video editing - we already have too many hobbies.) So, maybe the extra speed isn't really important now. Maybe we should convert to a JBOD approach. Dunno. That might be a lot better than ponying up every year for a SoftRAID upgrade.

It also happens that something either in the Studio or in Ventura makes displaying folder contents of the RAID volumes take way too long now. I've surmised that it's because the drives are formatted as HFS+, which I think might be the most reliable system for spinning disks. But, I'm not sure about that. Could it be a driver issue? I don't see us changing over soon to an external SSD RAID system because of the expense, no matter how cool it is. Apple seems to want spinning disks to go away. (Maybe that's why APFS works as it does?)

The big thing I learned from this upgrade is how great Migration Assistant is and also how incomplete it is. Safari bookmarks and passwords? Ahh, maybe. Going from iTunes for podcasts to Apple's Podcasts? Not so great, either. But, that's because of how Podcasts works now. Uggh. Given the amount of time this has all taken, it's no wonder that most people just throw their hands up and live with whatever happens. Kinda like how people used to just buy new computers when a Windows installation became too messed up.
 
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