Storage and backup solutions - recommendations?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Deek9000, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. Deek9000 macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    I’m looking to replace my current setup, any pointers much appreciated.

    2009 Mac mini connected to a WD Studio Edition II housing two 1TB drives configured as RAID 1 (meant for daily use, and to store identical copies of all music, photos, movies etc). Also got a 500GB drive in a ministack 2.5 sitting under the Mac mini, which is partitioned for TM backups of the mini’s internal, as well as a partition to keep backups of important docs and photos.

    The WD is unreliable, regularly failing to mount and I want to replace it with something I can count on. So I’m considering one of three options:

    1. Buy an OWC Mercury Elite RAID housing (or similar) and move the WD drives into that - not sure if that’s even possible though?

    2. The ministack 2.5 is noisy, so no good for daily use but newer models are fanless so have considered getting a few empty enclosures, daisy chaining the lot and reconfiguring existing drives as either regular storage or backups

    3. As it’d be a waste to scrap existing drives, maybe I’m better off with an enclosure with multiple bays that is silent, compact, and can be expanded upon as well as plugged into whichever Mac I replace the mini with down the line - cost could be an issue though

    Has anyone had experience migrating a RAID configuration either to a new enclosure or reverting back to a non-RAID setup with the data intact?

    Also curious about general setups, basically need a combo of external storage and backups of the same. Ideally making the most of the hardware I’ve already got, but reliable, silent, and headache free.

    Also if you’ve had experience with any of the above, please share :)


  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Are you sure its the SE II enclosure thats the problem, or is one or both of your WD drives the issue?

    Most consumer HW RAIDs don't take kindly to moving drives in and out without reformatting the drives, unless they are designed for hot swap.

    Just about every high quality enclosure will have a fan. Some have thermal sensors that will keep the fan on quiet low until the internal temperature rises.
  3. Deek9000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    It's been problematic from day 1. Couldn't ever get it working via FW, so I used USB instead. Until recently, this worked most of the time. Whenever the drive unmounted itself, disconnecting the power, leaving it dormant for a while and then connecting everything back together in a certain order would (mostly) do the trick and it would mount again. While mounted, the drive manager showed it as being perfectly healthy, no issues, but sooner or later it would always unmount again.

    In short, when it works it's great, but it's not reliable (could be software, could be something within the enclosure itself - WD haven't been able to fix it despite being a widely documented issue). I'm fairly certain that the drives are still ok because this has happened countless times before and there was no indication that drives ever needed replacing.

    Question is, is there any scenario at all where the drives would function in a new enclosure? Can I place one of the drives in my other external enclosure to test it?

    The SE II doesn't have a fan, that's one of the reasons I bought it. But I'm prepared to replace it with a fan-model if it's reliable. Any suggestions?

  4. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I had a WD MyBook Mirror RAID1 disk set that was USB 2.0 only, I recycled the disks into a new external enclosure. Certainly no problem doing that. I suppose it's possible that the data could be retained, I didn't try. If the disks are readable as-is, great - saves you the time of re-transferring/restoring. If the disks aren't readable, then erase them & restore your backup.

    As with anything related to hard drives, you must ASSUME that the data will be lost when you make the changes and be prepared for that contingency.
  5. Deek9000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    Thanks, good to know that I should be able to reuse them at least. What sort of enclosure did you use to replace the Mybook? And was it as a result of issues or just to upgrade to the likes of FW or USB 3? The Studio Edition II uses WD Green drives, does this limit my choices in any way?

    Backups are limited, unfortunately. The irreplaceable stuff (photos) is backed up on a separate drive. But all music, movies, TV shows etc. aren't, so if the data's corrupted now, it'll mean weeks of ripping everything off DVDs and CDs again for iTunes and Plex. :mad:

    Serves me right, I suppose, looks like RAID is only as secure as the enclosure it's in and I've paid the price for buying on a budget.

    All the more important to get it right going forward, but looks like I'm splitting data and backups across various enclosures/locations to avoid any more mishaps.

    Ignore this if you've had a great experience with WD, but hope nobody else runs into similar troubles with their WD drive, because their customer service has been a major letdown in my case. Finally got a replacement cable sent because that's all the "support" they could offer (they sent the wrong one though, FW not USB and it didn't fix the mounting issue - it's buggy firmware, not a dud cable) and now received a generic email with a link to a Google search on data recovery software :( Although I've heard that their customer service is generally good, so maybe I've just had bad luck with a less competent service rep?

    Looking at other posts around here, OWC's enclosures seem to get a fairly good rep (with some notable exceptions though) so might give them a try. Do WD Green drives work with those? I don't think I'd set them up as RAID again, if that makes a difference (read somewhere that they're not suitable for RAID because of the variable spin function anyway? Begs the question: why are they being bundled with a RAID specific setup in the first place?) :)
  6. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    My Mirror Edition used WD Green drives as well, they're fine for any SATA enclosure. I moved the disks because the enclosure was USB 2.0 only and I got a new Mac Mini with USB 3.0. The WD unit was still working fine.

    My situation also involved adding storage space, so not fully analogous to your needs. I put the disks from my WD in a Mediasonic 4-bay cabinet along with a couple of 2TB drives I'd been using as my backups in a Plugable dock. I got some 3TB drives for the Plugable at the same time, those are now my backup disks - the 2TB set are my main external data disks - and the 1GB disks from the WD unit are now a backup set for my other Macs (using Mountain Lion Server). This Mac backs up to the 3TB disks in the Plugable, the other 3 macs back up to the WD Greens in this enclosure.

    When I went with that particular Mediasonic cabinet (the HF2-SU3S2) I did so specifically because it does NOT have hardware RAID - it simply presents each disk as an independent unit to the OS. I have set up mirroring in OS X, but in the event of a problem with the enclosure I can yank any drive out, drop it in my Plugable dock, and re-mount it. This gives me a failure recovery option that doesn't involve waiting on a new enclosure to arrive.
  7. Deek9000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    That makes sense, thanks. I'm actually looking to increase storage capacity at the same time (became a secondary priority), been close to the limit and a good time to add I guess.

    I got myself a dock station (different brand but same same) and was able to mount one of the drives first time, booyah! :) Great piece of kit, thanks for pointing your one out!

    So now I want to back up the drive, then reformat each one as non-RAID to reuse (hopefully) for a few more years as general storage (adds 1TB+ which will do for the time being). Mine's a Welland EZstor, just went with a brand available in NZ (home), but they all do the same thing from what I can tell? Some come with double bays so you can plug and mount two, and also have a backup function.

    Ordered a new 4TB drive which will become my main backup, as well as a single drive capacity Mercury Elite for now. Between the new enclosure, the dock station and the stack of drives at my disposal, I'm flexible.

    Because the WD unit is still under warranty (5 yrs total) I'll get the enclosure replaced, although I'm still convinced it's their buggy software/firmware which they don't bother updating. Still irks me that they gave up on this so quickly in customer support, when there was nothing wrong with the drives in the end. Glad I didn't fork out for 3rd party data recovery!!! (rant over, sorry lovers I'm still hatin')

    If the new unit is also playing up, I can look at options down the line but can still access everything in the meantime (it's not sexy, but it'll work).

    Highly recommending the dock to anyone who's had similar issues with crappy enclosures, cables whatever. They come cheap, work out of the box, no hassle, no fuss!

    Hope this thread helps someone else out down the line too.

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