Thunderbolt / FW800 enclosure?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cubytus, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #1
    Hello there,

    I am currently looking for an enclosure that would hold two hard drives for backup purposes. It would need to have FW800 connectivity (older Macs) as well as Thunderbolt (newer Macs). USB 3 is not required.

    I thought about NAS enclosures, but transfer rates are necessarily slow because of the GigabitE connection.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Oldmanmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    #2
    You'd probably get a better response if this were in 'Peripherals' section.
     
  3. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Location:
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    #3
    To be fair. For hard drives, not SSDs (although the throughput comes close for 1 SSD), a case with USB 3.0 for newer Macs and Firewire 800 for older models would fit the purpose because no pair of HDDs, even in a RAID set will saturate USB 3.0, let alone Thunderbolt.

    A simple JBOD enclosure with USB 3.0 and Firewire 800 with multiple drive bays would be sufficient.

    It seems Firewire 800/USB 3.0 is slowly disappearing from certain products like multi-bay enclosures and single drive portable enclosures for 2.5" drives and being replaced with ludicrously expensive USB 3.0/Thunderbolt equivalents.

    Firewire 800 is slowly being killed off by Thunderbolt while USB 3.0 is simply the upgraded version of the USB 2.0 interface enclosures that previously had eSATA, USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 now have while at the same time replacing Firewire 800 with Thunderbolt.

    If being forced to have RAID 1/0 isn't an issue and you can live with the compromise of USB 3.0 (which for your purposes would be fine in place of Thunderbolt), you could look for the "Taurus V3" enclosure. It's about £140.

    If you have more than 2 drives and need to see them individually as seperate drives there's the "dataport RTX410-3QJ" but that's a 4 drive enclosure and costs over £600!

    It's a difficult combination to find these days.
     
  4. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #4
    For this usage pattern, this is not a matter of having more speed, but rather tackle the chronic unreliability of mechanical hard drives used for TM / clone backups. This doesn't mean speed isn't important, and I'd rather put a lower CPU charge and lower overhead using TB and FW800 rather than USB 2.0, especially when restoring large backups.
    I would interpret that as USB2.0 / FW800 enclosure with RAID capability. Not bad in itself but still leaves the TB port unused.
     
  5. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
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    #5
    I mentioned USB 3.0 specifically on both points. Not USB 2.0. USB 2.0 is no substitute for it in either case because of it's poor performance and reliability. On the second point there's nothing to interpret because yet again, USB 3.0, not USB 2.0.
     
  6. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    None of my computers have USB 3.0 at the moment. Hence the choice of TB / FW800.
     
  7. monkeybongo macrumors member

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    Canada
    #7
    Do you have a budget that you would be okay paying? I found most FW800/Thunderbolt enclosures to be very expensive over an equivalent USB3 enclosure. You might be paying at least $80 more for FW800 and $200 more for Thunderbolt.

    I found that it was worth it to actually upgrade my Mac to a refurb model that supported USB3 (as well as faster processor). Cost me $250 after selling the old mac and went from i5 dual 2.5 to a i7 quad 2.3.
     
  8. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Refurbs are a no-go AFAIC. No ISO keyboard is a deal-breaker for a daily-driver, and no intention of moving soon considering newer ones can't run Snow Leopard.

    As for the enclosure, as I have yet to see a FW800/TB one, I wouldn't put a budget on it yet. Of course the cheaper the better, but it shows that FW connectivity is still a significant premium over USB.
     
  9. Old Muley, Nov 25, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014

    Old Muley macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

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    #9
    I picked up and older version of these from OWC (no USB3 on mine). I did the JBOD thing, and it has done a fine job using FW800.

    Edit - never mind, I didn't read your post close enough, the enclosure I referenced is sans Thunderbolt.
     
  10. Cptkent macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2014
    #10
    Suggestion

    I don't think you'll find one.
    I suggest you look at one of the following:
    - an enclosure that supports FireWire, and use a TB to FW adaptor (~$35)
    - a hub, such as the Belkin thunderbolt hub, to connect an external enclosure.

    Is, use a akitio external enclosure, connect fire FW, and use a TB to FW adaptor when you need it.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1060121-REG

    Just suggestions, as I've never seen an external enclosure that has both FireWire and thunderbolt.

    Best of luck.
     
  11. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #11
    That's precisely why I came here for advice. I don't want to settle on slower USB 2.0 when FW800 is available, yet wouldn't limit the connection to FW800 speed on newer machines such as my 2011 MBP when TB is available.
     
  12. Darby67 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    No such animal exists. Closest thing that can suggest is some older OWC drives that had FW and eSATA. Then you need a hub for TB->eSATA.

    Unfortunately FW and TB are unlikely to be on any drive enclosure.
     
  13. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #13
    You could get a Firewire 800/USB 3.0 enclosure and use a Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 adapter with the newer Mac. Then, when you get a more recent Mac, you have USB 3.0 to use directly and it frees up the Thunderbolt port for other uses.

    You could also get a Thunderbolt hub that offers both Firewire 800 and USB 3.0 along with a second Thunderbolt port for use with a display and then get a Firewire 800/USB 3.0 enclosure.

    You don't have any options that don't involve compromise in some way because the companies seem determined to phase out Firewire 800 in favour of Thunderbolt and then almost double the cost of the enclosures for the privelege (and expecting you to buy the cable on top of the enclosure price too).
     
  14. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

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    France
    #14
    Just get the Kanex Thundebolt -> USB3 dongle. It's cheap and fast.
    I have a 2011 mbp, and I am really happy with it!
     
  15. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #15
    GigE is potentially faster than FW800. I get 95-100 megabytes/sec off my FreeNAS server to my various Macs. Some cheap NAS appliances can struggle to do more than 25 megabytes/sec, but the limiting factor is the appliance rather than the GigE.
     
  16. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Sure, cheap NAS based upon just one slow drive will have trouble even saturating the GigE Ethernet. But my intention is to use reasonably fast drives (no need for the fastest as it's intended for backups).

    Basically, I have some problems choosing local or NAS enclosure for backing up two Macs and one non-Mac. Local connection is more flexible but requires more handling of cables, while NAS works nicely as long as LAN is up, but may not be able to provide a bootable install disk to Macs.

    And what would be the use of reducing TB's performance so much? Using a TB enclosure on a non-TB machine? But non-TB machines don't have USB 3.0 anyway!

    There are not many uses for a TB port I am afraid. External drives were long limited by slower connections, TB-based display sure work… I have a mini-DP to VGA dongle.

    Equally, I don't see the point of buying a $300 hub for nothing more than having more ports. The cost I'd save on a USB3.0 enclosure vs. TB will be nixed by the price of the hub, without the advantage of TB's speed. It's actually quite easy to hit the limitation of a single, high-performance spinning drive over FW800 connection. Even going up from a USB2.0 / FW400 connection would effectively make a much more efficient enclosure. Then again, having RAID capability just struck me as the elephant in the room given how unreliable spinning drives tend to be, and I just thought it would be great to also improve connection speed.

    eSATA seems to be a bag of hurt: not only the post-2010 MBP don't have a ExpressCard slot anymore that would have allowed for such connectivity, but only one of my computers supports it, an older C2D machine, and is unlikely to come on any further computer I may happen to buy. Besides, even when an enclosure boasts eSATA compatibility, one is never sure it's fully compatible before requiring unusual tasks such as an extended hard drive test. I learnt the hard way my current enclosure with eSATA was fine just for data transfer, not tests.
     
  17. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #17
    It's not Thunderbolt performance that's the issue, it's the limit of how fast HDDs transfer data. A Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 adapter would still be 80Mb/s at most so Firewire 800 is a bottleneck once you use more than 1 drive but a Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter would offer the same throughput with HDDs as Thunderbolt. HDDs barely manage faster than 100Mb/s natively because of how slow they are compared with SSDs and if you're on a system with Thunderbolt but without USB 3.0, either a Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter of a Thunderbolt hub with USB 3.0 and numerous other useful connections would solve the issue.

    I repeat. You will NEVER saturate Thunderbolt with a few HDDs because 5 of them on seperate SATA 6Gb/s channels don't match the throughput of just one 6Gb/s SSD on 1 SATA 6Gb/s channel. It wouldn't matter if that was internally, via a multi-channel PCIe SATA 6Gb/s card in something like a 2012 or older Mac Pro/Thunderbolt to PCIe enclosure or even a Thunderbolt enclosure. You're also out of options for anything older macs will connect to because they're limited to Firewire 800 as the fastest they offer unless you manage to get something with Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt but even then, the older Mac will be limited to just over 100Mb/s in total so barely better than Firewire 800 yet again.
     
  18. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #18
    Again, why are you even bothering with USB 3.0? None of my machine currently has it! This is good for the future, but not a priority right now.

    My hard drives regularly clock over 90MBps, but performance quickly degrades as they need to seek. Nevertheless my RAID would be RAID1, not RAID0. I expect the performance to be more consistent, as a side-benefit, and surely not saturate the TB connection.

    I see your point for the hub, but why add a huge cost over the enclosure? Besides I would have absolutely no use for such a hub besides a USB 3.0 enclosure that would put additional strain on the CPU, as USB always does because of its large overhead, especially transferring myriads of small files.

    This is precisely because older Macs can't go any faster than FW800 that I want such an interface to be available.

    So far a TB-USB3.0 enclosure would cost a fortune but somewhat meet the requirements if a TB-FW800 (and not the other way around) adapter is available, or just be heavily limited to USB2.0 speed and resource consumption.

    Or a USB3.0 enclosure that would still be extremely limited on all machines except the most recent one, where a USB3.0-TB adapter may be available.

    Somehow none of these solutions seem cheaper than the other, and still don't really fit the bill.
     
  19. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Location:
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    #19
    Try reading for comprehension. I KNOW none of your systems have USB 3.0 but one has firewire 800 and one has Thunderbolt. You won't get a Firewire 800 enclosure with Thunderbolt so I'm suggesting 2 work arounds for interfacing something with Firewire 800 and USB 3.0 with the newer Mac via a Thunderbolt adapter.

    A hub would be a VERY expensive option, a Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 or Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter coupled with an enclosure offering those connections would solve the issue but you either keep deliberately ignoring the difference between USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 and factoring in the use of a Thunderbolt adapter or repeating yourself.
     
  20. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    So your point is that with a common HDD, the loss of speed on a RAID1 setup would be minimal anyway and worth it. Good. I got the point about USB3.0 and 2.0. 3.0 is much faster. But as far as USB goes, it still has a significant overhead and CPU requirements.

    You read wrong. One has FW400 (forward-compatible with FW800, no issue here), the other has TB as its fastest connection. A typical HDD or RAID1 setup wouldn't saturate FW800 bandwidth by much. But what about future-proofing if ever I intend to change the enclosure's role, using it as RAID0 where FW800 will become a bottleneck, for example to store movies? I am reluctant to invest so much money in a RAID enclosure knowing it will show significant limitations if ever I change its role, or switch computers, which will happen eventually, though my strong dislike of Yosemite did put the plan on hold for the time being.

    Such a TB-USB3.0 adapter is still $80+tx by itself. And a RAID-capable case, whatever the chosen connection, starts at $200+tx. Pretty expensive IMHO.
     
  21. dyt1983, Nov 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I must have read wrong as well. And searched wrong. I couldn't find anywhere in this thread that you have FW400. You've only mentioned FW800.

    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  22. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #22
    I have indeed, because it's transparently compatible with FW400, and I, maybe naively, thought it would be easier to score a FW800 enclosure than a FW400, just in case I get a FW800-compatible machine someday, without TB.

    And granted, it may be hard to figure out how it would fit in my storage needs given that I would normally also require a RAID0 portable enclosure for use with virtual machines, but that would retire the current fast single drive I am using. Too small for backups, and no one will buy used HDDs. SSDs is out of question given its sky-high price for the capacity needed. Unless a 500GB+ SSD w/TB interface is available at a reasonable rate. :confused:

    I would essentially have to ditch TB connectivity in favor of USB3.0/FW800 interface? That's not a big jump from my current USB2.0/FW400/eSATA enclosure. Having very few money to spend also means I am more likely to make a significant upgrade rather than spending a lot (comparatively) for essentially no upgrade, save for RAID0.


    So it would be either
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/MEPQ946QL2OB/
    or
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/METB7DK0GB/
    or
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/GM3QKIT0GB/
    ?
     

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