Upgrade external drive now or wait for TB3?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by badlydrawnboy, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #1
    I'd like to buy a Thunderbay IV external drive/enclosure from OWC. However, I plan to upgrade to the new iMac when it comes out, and I also plan to buy a new Macbook Pro this fall when it comes out (if rumors are true). My understanding—correct me if I'm wrong—is that both will have Thunderbolt 3?

    If so, I imagine OWC will be coming out with a Thunderbolt IV that supports TB3. I'm wondering whether I should wait for this, or just get the Thunderbolt 2 version now.

    My primary use of this external drive will be to store older photos that I'm not actively working on, and backup. Newer photos that I am still processing/editing are stored on a very fast LaCie Little Big Disk.

    Given this, I imagine that TB2 is plenty fast and waiting for TB3 doesn't make much sense? I guess if I was editing photos/video regularly from this external drive TB3 might give me some meaningful speed gains, but for backup and only occasional photo editing TB2 would not be a limiting factor, right?
     
  2. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #2
    how many TB of photos do you anticipate having? RAW or JPEG?
     
  3. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #3
    I have about 600 GB right now, adding about 10 GB a month. RAW files.
     
  4. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #4
    Unless you are loading it up with SSD drives. It really won't make much difference performance wise.

    It sounds like you are just buying this for archival storage. Why not save money with a USB 3.0 or 3.1 array? Heck a two bay setup in RAID 1 with a pair of 6TB NAS rated drives would be more then enough for your stated uses. Drives like the WD Red, HGST Ultrastar or Seagate NAS.
     
  5. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #5
    Sometimes I do projects that require editing a bunch of photos on the external drive, so it's not only archival.

    Also, I use the external drive to backup:
    - Boot drive
    - Active photo drive (the Lacie Little Big Disk)
    - The photo archive

    So I need four separate partitions (photo archive, boot backup, active photo backup, photo archive backup).

    I guess this could be done with a two drive USB 3 enclosure, with one drive as photo archive, and the other split into 3 partitions: archive backup, active photo backup, and boot backup?

    Would USB 3 be fast enough for the occasional photo projects where I need to edit photos from the archive on the external drive?
     
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #6
    If you want to maximize performance. On the new iMac when you get it.

    Boot Drive: SSD large enough for your OS and Apps. Apple generally uses a very fast SSD for this. I believe currently they use the Samsung SM951 AHCI. I wouldn't be surprised if the next uses either the SM951 NVMe or SM961 NVMe.

    Active Photo and Photo Archive: Consolidate onto an external Thunderbolt 2 SSD 1TB is probably large enough for your use. Get an enclosure only so you can pick out a higher quality model like the Samsung 850 Pro or Sandisk Extreme Pro or some other which uses MLC memory. Samsung uses more efficient 3D V-Nand MLC I believe the Sandisk still uses 2D memory. Anyways the idea here is that all your photo work is lightning quick. Very little wait time for a database to load. Anything faster than Thunderbolt 2 won't matter as even dual SATA SSD's can't saturate the BUS. SATA III is too slow. If faster M.2 options were available you could. I've only seen that for USB 3.1.

    As most Thunderbolt enclosures are two bay at the least. You can get the 1TB SSD and enclosure. Then if or when needed add a second SSD.

    Backup Drive: As this sounds work related. The rule of thumb is to have one on site and one off site backup. That way your data is safe. A single backup isn't secure as the drive could fail during a restore. More likely is the drive being taken out with the computer by a catastrophic event. Possibly by lighting strike, flooding, fire or theft. The easiest option is an offsite backup service as an emergency copy and a local hard drive backup for a fast restore. At the very least use a fire and water resistant safe, bolt it to the floor and rotate the backups regularly. I'd do the single large drive with multiple partitions or use Time Machine and not bother with partitions. Then have either the second rotated duplicate backup or offsite backup.

    Best part is your can use those parts now and move them to the new iMac whenever it comes out. However, if you buy now you will likely have to buy a Thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter. Alternatively, you can buy one of the few Thunderbolt 3 enclosures but still have to buy the adapter. Otherwise live with degraded SSD performance over USB 3.0 in the meantime. Which is still faster than any hard drive. If you can find a Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure which allows you to connect via USB 3.0 not one which just adds USB ports acting as a dock.

    As for USB 3.0 being fast enough for a hard drive. Yes it is. No single hard drive can come close to saturation the USB 3.0 BUS.

    Yes the proposed solution is a bit more costly. Time is money after all. If you could decrease the time you spend waiting for the computer by even 5%. The external SSD will more than pay for itself.
     
  7. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #7
    Thanks for the suggestion! Very helpful.
     
  8. mpe macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    #8
    You can actually save yourself money and hassle and get largest Fusion drive you can get.

    Fusion drive works particularly well in that scenario. I have 750GB (40.000+ pictures) Lightroom catalogue on 2TB on Fusion drive and can't be happier. Performance is perfect and important stuff (catalogue, previews and recent masters) are always on SSD. Having everything in simplifies workflow, backup, etc.
     
  9. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #9
    You're Welcome! Glad to help.
     

Share This Page