USB Drives Slow Down Mac Pro - Questions

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by hotwire132002, Oct 11, 2008.

  1. hotwire132002 macrumors 65816

    hotwire132002

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2004
    Location:
    Cadillac, MI
    #1
    I have a total of 7 USB Drives for my mac pro, all Western Digital My Books. These have accumulated over the last couple years (they're used to store video footage -- I archive just about everything I shoot), and as I've added more drives, I've found that each drive seems to slow down the computer a bit. Often, when editing or trying to save/open a file, the computer will freeze up (spinning beach ball) for a few seconds -- the exact length of time varies.

    I'm suspecting that the problem I'm facing is that each My Book is spinning down after a few minutes of inactivity. With 3 or more My Books connected at any given time, there's a good chance that at least one of those drives will spin down after a few minutes -- so when I try to play a clip, it will have to spin back up. (The same when I'm using a save/load dialog -- the computer accesses all the drives, so if any have spun down it freezes up)

    From what I've read, the energy saving "spin down" feature can't be disabled on the My Books, so I have a couple questions for anyone who might be able to answer.

    First -- does my suspicion that the My Books spinning down are slowing the computer down sound correct, or can anyone think of anything else that might be causing the problem? (Has anyone else run into similar problems?)

    Second -- can anyone recommend another method of storage that would allow me to avoid this "spin down" problem? Would another brand of drive solve the problem? Do I need a RAID? Ideally, I'd like to have all my footage drives connected at once without running into this "freezing" problem.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
     
  2. hualon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    #2
    I too have a Mac Pro and I used to have two WD My Books attached to it. I stored my entire iTunes library on them plus all of my photography.

    Because the drives spin down, they do have to wake back up in order to access files. If I wanted to play a song in iTunes first thing in the morning then it would take 30 seconds or so for the drive to wake up and get remounted.

    I *just* bought a Drobo device which you may want to look into. I have four 1.5TB drives in it and it is reportedly stable although mine has been problematic. Drobo is "RAID-Like". Check out their website and see if it might work for you.
     
  3. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020

    sickmacdoc

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #3
    Yes, you are correct in that MyBook drives are certainly causing the delay in response because of their spindown- it is disastrous when using them to write iDVD video renders since that can take several minutes in between writes to the drives among other things that the spindown kills you on.

    I had at one point six MyBooks and that drove me nuts- even more so when I found an entry in the Western Digital knowledgebase listing that built-in spindown as a "feature" of the MyBook drives. Not having it able to be set on or off optionally does not sound like a "feature" to me!

    So, to solve the problem I purchased a pair of multidrive cases from DatOptic which solved it by not having built in forced spindown- AND gave me the opportunity to use a much faster interface than the stock USB2. I just tore the MyBook cases apart and used the drives in the multidrive enclosures and trashed all the individual MyBook cases. In my case I used FW800 cases, but later bought a third and use eSATA with it. They have their 4 drive cases here" http://www.datoptic.com/cgi-bin/web.cgi?keywords=qbox and they also have 8 drive cases at http://www.datoptic.com/cgi-bin/web.cgi?keywords=eBOX

    A lot of other people make multidrive cases of course, but the Dat Optic ones are pretty straightforward, are manufactured pretty darn well and are a lot more reasonably priced than a lot of others. I have been glad I moved to them.

    Before I moved to those cases, I made a little Automator application that just wrote the same little text file (if I remember right it just said "spindown sucks") to each drive about every three minutes which effectively kept them from ever actually spinning down and only took a split second to execute automatically. Unfortunately it looks like I trashed this sometime later, but if you want to do it be sure to go to http://automator.us/downloads.html and download the "Automator Loop Utility" which is a simple way to get Automator actions to repeat at whatever interval you desire. That is the key to making it work which I found out after experimenting with a bunch of other ways! ;)
     
  4. hotwire132002 thread starter macrumors 65816

    hotwire132002

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2004
    Location:
    Cadillac, MI
    #4
    Thank you both for your help.

    SickMacDoc - I really like your idea about using an Automator application to keep the drives spinning. I'll be looking into other options for drives and enclosures, but in the mean time that should make my life a little easier!
     
  5. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020

    sickmacdoc

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #5
    Well, it works fine and it is hard to beat the price or convenience! :D
     

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