USB 3 or Thunderbolt hard drive enclosure as Mac Pro internal storage replacement.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by peabo, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. peabo macrumors regular

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    #1
    Given how expensive Thunderbolt hard drive enclosures seem to be at present, I was wondering if a USB3 alternative would actually make a difference in performance if all I was using for external storage were mechanical hard drives.

    All I need is equal performance to the internal storage of the current Mac Pro using 7200 rpm drives.
     
  2. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Unless you are using a raid array, a 7200 drive won't even come close to saturating a USB 3 connection.
     
  3. VirtualRain, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #3
    How much storage do you need?

    USB3 is ideal for a single large drive (3-4TB) or even multiple drives in JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks - each showing separately in OS X). Your most affordable but attractive option if you're supplying your own drives would be something like this SansDigital USB3 enclosure. Alternatively, if you're looking for something that includes a drive, the Lacie Porsche line offers some solutions befitting the nMP.

    I would avoid multi-bay USB3 enclosures. They're cheap but the power supplies are either crap or noisy. You're probably better off using up more USB3 ports (or a USB3 hub) and multiple single fanless enclosures in my opinion or looking at TB for multiple drives...

    If you want the added performance of a pair of drives in RAID0, I'd suggest Thunderbolt...

    If you want buy new drives the WD Thunderbolt Duos are reasonably priced.

    If you want to supply your own pair of drives, the Akitio is also reasonably priced

    If you want 4 or more drives in RAID, then you need to look at expensive enclosures from Promise (drives included) or the Oyen DaleTale (BYOD).

    Some people here are using the Drobo 5D, but I personally, wouldn't recommend any kind of parity RAID (such as Drobo's BeyondRAID). That just layers on more complication and reduces data portability with a questionable gain in down-time should you have a failure IMHO (and the Drobo doesn't seem like great value to me).
     
  4. canyonlight macrumors member

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    #4
    What About Thunderbolt JBOD Enclosure?

    VirtualRain, your answer for USB 3 was interesting and informative. Would you expand it please for JBOD enclosures with Thunderbolt? Seems like the first hurdle to get past with a nMP is the capability for additional hard drives. JBOD configuration for those is fine.

    Thanks,

    Stan
     
  5. Einz macrumors regular

    Einz

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    #5
  6. peabo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Thanks for your responses! The specific configuration I'm looking for is 4 7200rpm disks set up as JBOD. I suppose the noise level of the enclosure / docking station is also a concern.

    I already own all the drives and just need somewhere to put them. If USB3 won't saturate them then that sounds perfect.
     
  7. cinealta macrumors 6502

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    #7
  8. VirtualRain, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #8
    As I said, I'm not a fan of multiple-bay enclosures for USB3 due to crappy power supplies and noisy fans, however, I haven't used the Oyen Mobius that Einz linked to. It seems highly rated so I would give that a go.

    Thanks!... I hadn't seen this before. It has very good reviews compared to other multiple-bay USB3 enclosures I've seen. I'll definitely read up on that in more depth.

    How big are the drives? If they are 2 TB or less, and/or a couple years old, use this opportunity to replace them with one or two brand new 4TB drives... Consider the WD TB Duo 8TB or just buy a new pair of bare 4TB drives and put them in some fanless single drive enclosures as I suggested above. If you really want to keep your existing drives, or they're large newer drives already, then that Oyan Mobius enclosure looks promising.

    Personally, I hate their cosmetics, but that aside, you're paying a hefty premium for the 5Big. If you really want Thunderbolt and new drives, the WD Duos are the best bang-for-your-buck. You could get a pair of 6TB WD Duos for less (or a pair of 8TB Duos for slightly more) and end up with 12TB (or 16TB) if you really need that much storage. I'd even buy the Promise R4 before the Lacie if I needed the performance of a 4-drive stripe set due to the better quality of the enclosure (to my eye). But even then, I'd be more likely to buy a pair of WD Velociraptor Duos for the ultimate in spinning disk performance. However, if all you need is JBOD, you can certainly do even better than that with that Oyan Mobius enclosure assuming its as good as the reviews seem to indicate.
     
  9. Joshua M macrumors newbie

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    #9
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #10
    That looks very similar to the Oyen DataTale except it has an extra bay, and is Black! ;). Same price and it looks to have a large single fan so it might not be too noisy.
     
  11. Joshua M macrumors newbie

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    Mar 15, 2010
    #11
    Yes! It seems like a good solution. Does anyone have experience with DAT Optic and can vouch for them?

    OP, I forgot to add the last part of my post. That same company makes a JBOD solution that's "on sale" at the moment:

    http://www.datoptic.com/ec/thunderbolt-jbod-5x-sataiii-enclosure-for-mac-windows.html
     
  12. Michael73, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013

    Michael73 macrumors 65816

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    #12
    I'll start off by saying that I already faced a nearly identical situation as the OP. In my case I had 4 internal 7200 drives in my MP 3,1 of varying sizes. While my boot drive (drive 1) was being backed up via Time Machine (Drive 4), my media drives (Drives 2 & 3) were not being backed up. Knock on wood, I'd never had a failure but it did annoy me; however, I never did anything about it.

    With that in mind and knowing I was going to get a nMP, I went looking for a solution that met the following criteria: data redundancy, would support Time Machine, fast interface and would allow me to use existing drives of varying sizes (and further down the line, could accept SSDs when sizes increase and prices drop).

    I chose the Drobo 5D because it met every one of my criteria above but I can certainly see who others would take a different route.

    My only comment about the various solutions mentioned by other posters who are recommending RAID enclosures is that it's my understanding that RAID arrays need drives of equal sizes. So, unless the OP has all the same 7200RPM drives sizes or is willing to purchase all new drives, a RAID'd solution isn't going to work…however, a JBOD would be fine. It's just my humble opinion, but if you're making the transition to an external storage array, a RAID of some sort is a nice solution with an added layer of protection.
     
  13. haravikk macrumors 65816

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    #13
    It partly depends on how many disks you really have; slapping them into an enclosure is a greener choice as you don't waste the disks, but for the cost you might do just as well getting a bunch of portable external 2.5" drives as these are pretty affordable now with good capacity, and should be bus-powered meaning you either plug them into the Mac Pro directly, or get a powered USB3 hub to run them from. If you can find a neat way to organise them then the cable clutter shouldn't be an issue.
    I mean at the moment you can get a 1tb portable, bus powered 2.5" drive for £50 in the UK, or you can just get a 3.5", powered drive in a higher capacity. The things are so cheap now that buying an enclosure for old drives can end up costing a lot more for minimal gain.

    This said; for USB3 you'd need at least four HDDs to risk saturating the connection, and even then only when doing something like striping them and loading a huge file. The main issue is that if you want to combine the disks together then separate drives may introduce latency issues, but single unit JBOD enclosures won't be any better in that regard.


    Otherwise, if you're determined to use your existing drives then really you should go all out and get a proper RAID type system that can do performance and redundancy. The Drobo 5D is a popular option; some people complain about it but at least as many are perfectly happy with it, it's not cheap though, but it makes upgrading to larger drives or popping in extra drives nice and easy, and can do redundancy as well once you have enough drives to still support your desired capacity.


    Personally I'm building a USB RAID enclosure myself; it's not that hard but can be fiddly. All you really need is a PC case with enough 5.25" drive bays to fit one or more hard-drive backplanes, add a PSU and a RAID controller and you've got yourself an enclosure. It can be a little bit more involved than that, but if you don't mind a self-build it's another option. You're still limited to USB3 speeds, and it's not going to save tons of money, but it gives you huge flexibility in the exact components you use, and for future upgradability. For example, I'm using a 9x 5.25" bay case, which will have two 5x 3.5" drive back-planes installed,occupying 6x 5.25" bays, this leaves room for another five drives in future, or maybe a much more compact back-plane for 2.5" drives. In this case I'm be using my existing drives initially, but adding a spare so I can have redundancy. With an on board RAID controller USB3 should be fast enough for my needs in general.
     
  14. Einz macrumors regular

    Einz

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    #14
  15. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #15
    This kind of makes sense in simple terms, and is often seen as an explanation on these forums why TB is not worth it, but reality is a bit more complex than that.

    Even a single 7200 RPM drive will be faster than USB 3 when connected via TB.

    14 seconds for a 31.1 GB single file sequential transfer. Not a massive difference in this use case

    [​IMG]

    The difference is much more noticeable, however, when doing read/write operations on many smaller files, due to USB 3's lack of command queuing.

    30 seconds

    [​IMG]



    There is also the use case to consider when you want to connect 3, or 4, or more, single drives in the future.
     
  16. cinealta macrumors 6502

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  17. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #17
    That's good for temporary use (slot an old archive drive in to load a file, or make a backup) but I'm not sure it's a great solution for a DAS as the drive is obviously not protected in ant way.
     

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