Testing external HD transfer speeds

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by savedave, May 9, 2013.

  1. savedave macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Hi there

    I want to find out the best way to test the transfer speeds to my external HDs. I recently bought a new 27 inch Imac, and have several external HDs. They all have esata, FW800 and USB2 ports.

    In order to get the best transfer speeds I have bought a Lacie esata thunderbolt hub - this allows me to connect two esata drives to one thunderbolt port on the imac, in theory giving me 3.0 Gbit/s connection.

    I have the hub on test for a week, meaning that if it doesn't do the job well I can return it. So I want to test the transfer speeds and see if I am getting anything like 3.0 Gbit/s.

    Is there software to help me do this job or is it just a case of copy some files over and time it the old fashioned way?

    And while I am here, what would be my alternative? Is there an esata to USB3 connector?

    Thanks kindly.

  2. fortysomegeek macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    You can use BlackMagic Speed test on the apps tore.


    You can also use the Activity monitor to monitor in real-time


    Benchmarks will give you synthetic scores and will be indicative of large sequential transfers.

    The best way is the old fashion way. Stop-watch if you want to test random files. I've had USB sticks advertised as 180 MB/sec read and 60 MB/sec writes. Yep, in the first 3 minutes, they sure do those speeds but in the middle of the copies, they drop down to a snails pace. So I like the stop-watch approach for 'real world'
  3. savedave, May 16, 2013
    Last edited: May 16, 2013

    savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Thanks for this suggestion. I finally got round to doing a first test and wanted to understand the results as I am really disappointed. To clarify, I have a Lacie D2 Quadra drive 7200rpm, connected via esata to a Lacie hub and from there via TB to my brand new imac.

    Esata is marketed as 3gb/s so I would have expected something approaching that speed, unless I suppose, the drive is the bottle neck.

    I am getting around 70-74MB/s both read and write. Should I be concerned? Feels very worrying.

    When I plug in with USB2 I get 39MB/s.

    Worryingly even with my imac's internal 7200rpm drive I only get 110MB/s and in all cases I am only getting ticks next to PAL and NTSC. This can't be write, can it?

    Incidentally I suppose I only need benchmarks and not real world info since I want to compare the hardware to its advertised benchmark to see if it really works.

    thanks loads.
  4. fortysomegeek macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    Your USB 2.0 speed is correct.

    Your eSATA-Thunderbolt seems a bit slow. But it is not an unusual speed.
    It could be the enclosure or your eSATA adapter. 70 MB/sec sounds like a 5400 rpm drive speed.

    I have a USB 3.0 generic to eSATA dongle ($15) and when I connect to a 7200 rpm plain harddrive, I get about 100 MB/sec.
  5. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Very interesting - thanks.

    Can you point me in the direction of the dongle you have? I looked for such a thing and couldn't find it.

    Does it work with RAID drives?

    If it is cheaper than the TB->esata and gives the same speed I might return the hub - I still have a few days to do that.

  6. fortysomegeek macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    I have two different kind

    $15 SIIG at my Local Frys

    $20 NewerTech I got from OWC online. Google the link.

    Both work with OSX. They both work with 4 different eSATA RAID mediaSonic, OWC, SansDigital RAIDS I have.

    They wont work with enclosures boxes that require port multiplication.
    Those are *NOT* real RAID boxes anyways that treat the drives like JBOD.

    So anything without port multiplication will work.

    Also, they dont provide SMART reading like the Thunderbolt adapter. The Thunderbolt is more NATIVE SATA but for $15 vs $175, I'm ok with that.
  7. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Thanks for this.

    Any idea how i know if my Lacie and Gsafe drives are what you call real RAID or require port multiplication?

    Also, what's SMART reading? I googled it but it turned up loads of unrelated hits.

    Thanks so much
  8. ColdCase, May 16, 2013
    Last edited: May 16, 2013

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Let me first say I test/evaluate drives for a living.

    Its complicated, data is made up of all kinds of transfers, small ones in OS boot drives and transaction servers, large ones for video streaming and HD video surveillance. Features of each drive and interface will improve or degrade performance on one way or another.

    The most accurate way is to use or develop a data traffic pattern that reflects your usage and hammer away at the drives for an hour or so.

    Tools like IOMETER and ACCO are made for this kind of evaluation

    Unless you are using SSDs or drives RAIDed into a performance striped configuration, the pipe is not going to be the choke point, but all non native disk pipes (like USB) adds a layer of protocol that will degrade disk performance a bit (whether you notice it or not depends).

    Its always best to use as much native data transfer pipes as possible (SATA).

    A thorough understanding, unfortunately, is a couple credit hours of course work for each interface type. There are pretty good ANCI standards written for each that may be a good read for you.

    So tell us how you intend to use the storage and we may be able to help you decide.

    S.M.A.R.T. data is statistics and diagnostics the drive keeps track of that a smart reader on the host (your computer) can read an access the health, temperature, life left, etc. There is a standard defined for it.


    If the enclosure contains multiple drives and has one eSATA port, there is a RAID or Port multiplier JBOD function built in. You would have to dig out the data sheets to be sure, but if the vendor calls it a RAID then its a RAID, calling the enclosure a JBOD usually means it has a port multiplier inside..
  9. opinio, May 17, 2013
    Last edited: May 17, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Black Magic is good for a one off read write test but iStat Menus gives you real time read write on all your drives so you can see real transfer speed to and from your drives when you are working. It also shows the disks in a Fusion drive working as well if you have Fusion.

    Also on expecting 3.0 Gbits on your lacie hub. I have one of them. But remember your drives wont even saturate that bandwidth. You will only get the max read write of the drive its self. I get about 260MB/s on a RAID 0 drive and about 180MB/s on a single 7200 HDD. That is not the max of the esata hub, it is the max the drive is capable of.

    Also the Lacie hub does not support port multiplication. But you can run a hardware RAID on it like I have if the enclosure is showing 1 'drive' (say RAID 0 or 1 etc). You cannot run multiple disk on one esata port though.
  10. LaCieTech macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2012
    We would need the serial number of the LaCie drive to answer if it is true RAID or not. I can say that our LaCie Thunderbolt/ESATA hub doesn't support port multiplication. ie an enclosure containing multiple disks may not be fully recognized when connected to the HUB. Consider giving us a call to discuss this further. http://www.lacie.com/us/contact/ ~TE
  11. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    So if the Lacie Raid drive shows up, is it still a chance that actually only one of the drives within the enclosure is being used? If so, how does that work?

    I previously wrote to the drive using FW800 when I had that on an older machine. Presumably that material is duplicated across two drives.

    Is there a chance that material copies across now will only be on one of the two drives?

  12. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    To add to my last comment, I'd really like to understand how my RAID drives are being used both with the hub and with a usb3 to esata adapter. Is there software way to see how the drives are being read (RAID or not).

  13. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Wow, getting a reply from Lacie on the matter is impossible - either I can't express myself or their support don't read the message. check out this, bare in mind it is posted in connection to my drives, which they have the serial numbers of. Maybe lacie can respond here?

    Posted: 21 May 2013 @ 08:17
    Hi there
    I have this drive and several others (lacie and non-lacie) operating as RAID 1. I also have a new Lacie esata Thunderbolt hub (which I may return).
    I am trying to understand if this drive and my non lacie drives are operating as RAID 1 with full mirroring, when used with the Esata hub, or if just one of the drives within the enclosure is being used.
    Is there a way to test this from my mac, as it would help me to understand both this drive and my non-lacies are working correctly and fully with the Esata Hub.
    Similarly, would this drive work as full RAID 1 with an esata to usb3 adapter?
    This is what your support commented on a forum comment of mine:
    "We would need the serial number of the LaCie drive to answer if it is true RAID or not. I can say that our LaCie Thunderbolt/ESATA hub doesn't support port multiplication. ie an enclosure containing multiple disks may not be fully recognized when connected to the HUB."
    Ideally though I would prefer to know if there is a tool I can use from my mac to understand how the drives are being viewed.

    Jonathan A.

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    Posted: 21 May 2013 @ 15:35
    Good afternoon,

    My name is Jon and I will be working with you on your issue going forward. The thunderbolt/eSATA hub itself does not act as a RAID controller but rather as a hub as one would expect for a USB hub or firewire hub. Depending on the make and model of your hard drives the RAID control would either be hardware based as on your 2Big quadra or software based as from your Macintosh's disk utility. For a software application LaCie does not have such a program on our support site nor do we maintain an official list but it's feasible such an application can be located from an online search.

    Best regards.

    Posted: 21 May 2013 @ 18:07
    Thanks for your reply but I don't think you have answered my questions.
    Firstly I want to know how my specific Lacie D2 Raid drive will work via the hub, and secondly I want to know if there is a way to see how my other RAID enclosures work through the hub. To clarify:
    I have the D2 Quadra Raid enclosure (2 x 1TB) . According to your colleagues who answered my forum post on mac rumours, some Lacie Raid drives will work as Raid using the esata hubs, others will not. How can I tell if mine is true raid and working as raid?
    I can't see the serial number on the drive but from my registration details I think it is this one:
    Serial Number: [removed] Purchase Date 01 November 2010 Warranty Expiration: 18 August 2013
    Is this "true Raid"?
    And aside from that, all my RAID drives are 2 drive enclosures that I have purchased for the RAID purposes rather than pairs of single drives with software raid controllers. I use them all as RAID 1.
    Lacie support in the forum said that not all RAID drives (Lacie or otherwise) will work as RAID using the hub, but some will not as not all RAID enclosures are supported through the hub.
    So is there a way to understand how mine are being seen through the Hub - are they being seen as RAID mirrored drives or as single drives? Is there a way to know if the hub is supporting RAID in the case of each of my RAID enclosures (I have two).
    This is really important to me so I would appreciate your help.

    Jonathan A.

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    Posted: 21 May 2013 @ 19:27
    Good afternoon,

    The hub you refer to allows for you to connect more than one device at a time while using one port on your Mac or Windows PC. This act of connecting multiple devices onto said hub does not automatically create a RAID array. This is done on the device in the case of your 2Big or from your Mac's disk utility for a software RAID (i.e a 2Big thunderbolt).

    Either way, your drives would appear no differently connected using your hub than if separately connected.


    Posted: 22 May 2013 @ 03:41
    Sorry I think you are still not understanding the question.
    I know the drive does not create a RAID array.
    As you can see from my registrations on Lacie, I own Lacie RAID enclosures. They are already RAID drives. If I connect them directly to my computer they will always operate as RAID.
    However LACIE support on the MacRumours forum told me that not all LACIE RAID enclosures will operate as RAID via the hub. Some will, some will not. Those that do not won't appear any differently, but only one drive within the enclosure will be active.
    How can I tell if my Lacie RAID drive is operating as a RAID or as a single drive when connected to the hub?
    I'm really not sure how to express this any more simply.
    Again, for clarity.
    I have a lacie raid drive with 2 spinning disks in a single enclosure. It is designed for RAID and on the back the SAFE light is lit.
    I have the lacie esata hub.
    When I connect the RAID drive to the hub, is it working as RAID or as single drive?
  14. LaCieTech macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2012
    Are you still having an issue here? We can arrange to have a technician call you and get your questions answered directly. It seems like we are on different pages regarding the details of your questions and setup. ~mn, LaCie
  15. savedave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2011
    Due to the difficulties in dealing with your support I returned the item.

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