Using External Hard drives

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by deckitout, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. deckitout macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    I have just bought an imac 27inch with 1TB fusion drive and 16 gig of ram.

    Previously on my PC's I always had an additional data storage drive as I felt it was safer in case of a hard drive crash

    I do a lot of editing in Photoshop which produces large files and would like to use an external drive for storage of my files again as a safety net.

    What would be the best set up for workflow, data storage and safety.

    Any help appreciated Phil
  2. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    If you want safety then you need to look at redundancy setups like RAID-1 mirroring.

    The GMAX is a reasonably common Mirrored enclosure.

    Just in case you are not aware, when you have say two 2TB drives in a RAID-1 mirror the drive appears as 2TB not 4. So if you want 4TB as capacity available in OS X you need to get a setup with two 4TB drives.
  3. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    Personally I wouldn't bother with RAID 1 - you need to have a proper Time Machine backup of you internal AND external drive anyway. RAID 1 is no replacement for backup.

    I've been using a LaCie 2Big 4TB thunderbolt in RAID 0 since January for all my project files (mostly photoshop) and as a photoshop scratch disk.

    The drive gets speeds equal to SSD speeds - but at 4TB of storage. I've got a good backup regime to a slower USB3 drive for Time Machine.

    Recently, I bought a second 2Big to daisy chain with the first in RAID 0 - and now get read/write speeds of around 650MBs....
  4. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    It's a bit strange you suggest RAID-1 is no replacement for backup when it is by definition a backup. You end up with two copies so at least one is a backup. You can't always run everything on Time Machine so RAID-1 is a good option for stand-alone externals that hold files not on the OS drive.

    I am a huge fan of RAID-0 like your self and similarly get SSD speeds from running two 7200rpm 4TBs in in RAID-0 but the OP is looking for safety and RAID-0 and the word safety just do not mix.
  5. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I fall on Opinio's side of the fence as regards to RAID-1 on the data drive, particularly if it is sizable. I run a 2TB external data volume, which is mirrored (through OS X, not a hardware RAID). The benefit is that if I have a drive failure, I'm not going to need to spend the time on a restore to bring that large volume back on-line.

    I do have the Fusion drive for the OS volume, which is for purposes of data safety equivalent to RAID-0 (if either the SSD or the HDD fails, the entire volume is lost & must be restored). So I'm not 100% protected from failures & the need to restore from backup, but my large data volume is. If I need to restore the Fusion drive then I could do so in relatively short order since it's nowhere near as much data as my external volume.

    In the long run it just falls to cost and convenience. With Time Machine you will have data backups hourly, so data safety in itself is not difficult to achieve. Mirroring your data will ensure that you stay up & running in the event of a disk failure, rather than stopping all work while you wait for a restore to finish.
  6. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    RAID 1 is redundancy rather than backup. If you were using RAID 1 you'd still Time Machine to another drive - RAID 1 doesn't protect you against file corruption, deletion or offer versioning. All of the things that backup (ie Time Machine) provides.


    you don't have to restore to continue working - you can just pull the Time Machine file you need onto your local drive until/whilst you restore the external RAID in the event of drive failure (after you've ordered and waited for a new drive to arrive)
  7. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    RAID-1 is nice redundancy in the event of a single drive failure, but a backup is still needed. What happens if your home catches fire, gets robbed or gets flooded? All your data is STILL gone. Off-site backup is a TRUE backup, able to allow you to recover from a disaster of any kind.

    I use TM for my local backups (to a MyPassport drive) and CrashPlan for an off-site for all my most critical stuff. If you have a friend with enough storage (and you have enough storage) you can both install the CrashPlan app and use each other as a backup destination, FOR FREE! Or you can just use them with no reciprocity, however you guys work it out.
  8. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    People tend to forget Raid-1 copies mistakes to the second drive. 2 drives in 2 places (or 3) is backup.

    1 external and cloud can be backup as well (if you trust it)
  9. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
  10. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    The OP asked "What would be the best set up for workflow, data storage and safety."

    I'm giving him my opinion - and my opinion is the best setup would be to use an external thunderbolt RAID 0 array (as you and I do!) and have a backup solution in place.

    You asked me why I claimed RAID 1 isn't a backup solution and I answered that question.

    Rereading the OP's question though, perhaps he isn't looking for anything as complicated - I think your original answer has skewed the thread.

    It sounds like the OP is going to be keeping his photoshop files on his Fusion Drive and only needs a normal everyday time machine backup - which would be fine with a USB 3 external drive.

    I don't think he asked for expensive RAID solutions at all.
  11. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Perhaps you should actually look at the drive I am recommending and then tell me if it is suitable for what the OP has asked.

    Skewed the thread? You're kidding me right...
  12. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    yup - on rereading i think you're suggesting something way more than the OP needs. and yes, i had looked at the drive you're recommending.

    "I do a lot of editing in Photoshop which produces large files and would like to use an external drive for storage of my files again as a safety net."

    This says backup drive and Time Machine to me - not an expensive RAID 1 solution.
  13. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    For someone who suggested two LaCie 2Big 4TB T-Bolt enclosures I can only laugh at the suggestion the GMAX is expensive and way more than the OP needs. I like it. Very good. Actually I am jealous, those drives are rippers.

    But anyway... as you seem to be aligned with the OP's thought waves please make a suggestion of a backup drive so we can put this to rest.

    At least I know who to call on when I need support in the forum on RAID-0 debates. Not many RAID-0 fans here at all. Good luck.
  14. deckitout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thanks for all the feedback guys, I will try to clarify a lottle more.

    My Camera raw files are going to be large approx 75 meg before adding layers etc in Photoshop etc

    I would prefer to work on an external drive as I would soon fill up my 1 TB fusion drive.

    I am looking for an initial cheap setup maybe using a 2 TB drive as a working drive and another which I use as a backup.

    Would this work okay with largish PS files?

    After just lashing out on a new imac an expensive setup will have to wait.

    Appreciate any advice

  15. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    That's what I meant - I though both of our suggestions were way off! That's why I said on rereading the OP I thought maybe we'd gone that wrong route...

    And you're right, there's little love here for RAID 0 - but why sacrifice speed when you've got other backups right?
  16. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    So, I guess it depends on your budget ultimately! as you can tell, both opinio and I are fans of RAID 0. I work with pretty big PS files sometimes in the 100s of MBs and find that the speed of an external thunderbolt drive in RAID 0 gives me the kind of read/write speeds that I need.

    If cash is an issue now, I'd consider sticking with the internal drive and getting a big enough external USB for backups - but thinking ahead to when you buy a project drive so that it's got enough storage for the future. If it's for backups, then you could even get away with a USB2 rather than 3 (but it is a lot slower).

    Your fusion drive won't fill up all that quickly....

    1 TB=1048576 MB or 13981 x 75mb files

    When you can afford too, get a nice big RAID drive to handle all your production files - and you can move the stuff off your internal if you like.
  17. deckitout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thanks again

    I don't really understand how raid works. If I were to buy a raid drive
    and wanted to work directly off that do I need two of them, one to work from and one to back up to?

    The reason for wanting to work off of external drives is that I already have approx 800gb of files stored on external drives and would like to transfer all onto one drive as I often still work on some files.

    Is 1TB a 1000gb???

    Hope I am making sense.

  18. iamgalactic, Sep 11, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013

    iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    1TB=1024GB - though some manufacturers use 1000GB

    If you were to buy a RAID drive as a production drive, your second external backup drive can be any USB3 drive ideally - you don't need backup to be as fast.

    The benefit of a RAID 0 drive is speed - it's 2 or more drives used at the same time in a stripe so you get 2x speed with 2 drives, 3x speed with 3 drives etc...

    Even if you don't use a RAID for your production drive, you're still going to need an additional drive for backup!

    So, how much storage do you want? And how fast do you want it? Are you wiling to pay a premium for thunderbolt or happy to stick with USB3?

    Also, are you UK or US?
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ I don't really understand how raid works. ]]

    If you're really not sure how RAID works, or why you need it -- then it's not for you. I would advise you to steer clear of anything using RAID. Remember the primary phrase about RAID: "RAID is NOT a backup".

    Instead, I would suggest one or two USB3 drives, of the capacity of your choice.

    You might even consider a USB3/SATA "docking station", used in conjunction with "bare" drives. Do this, and it's easy to "swap drives in and out" as required for backups, etc. If you don't know what a dock is, go to and in the search box enter "usb sata dock" -- you will get many choices. I happen to use and recommend products from (no financial interest other than being a paying customer).

    For your workflow, I would keep "working files" on your fusion drive, and later on "archive" completed work over to the external backup/archival drives.

    Remember, you should NEVER NEVER trust valued files to only one drive. You need at least two (one for backup). Three is better (one original, two backups). One backup should be either "stored offiste" (different building than where the computer is), or, at the very least, stored in a fire-resistant, waterproof box/safe in the basement.
  20. deckitout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    I am in the UK

    I am initially thinking of 2 x 2 TB storage, one to work off and the other to back up to.
    Reference speed, I am not sure what is needed, it is not something I have really considered, I have the latest imac with 3.4ghz and 16 meg of ram.

    I just want something that runs well with CS6 and files up to 170/180 meg

    Thanks Phil


    Thanks for the advice, I'll check that out

  21. iamgalactic macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    there's a really good deal on the LaCie refurb site at the moment on a Little Big Disk

    169 instead of 349

    you'll need a thunderbolt cable too which you can buy direct from apple

    it's a RAID drive and you'll get pretty good speed from it - and it comes preconfigured in RAID 0 with 2TB of storage. this would be ideal as your data drive

    my own LaCie 2Big is a refurb and runs great

    then for backup, you could look at one of these in 2tb or 4tb sizes.

    this will give you a workable set up in my opinion. opening 180mb files on anything other than SSD or RAID 0 would be annoying (for me, my opinion before i get flamed by non-RAIDers)

    of course, you could just get 2 of the seagate USB3 drives - would be considerably cheaper but you wouldn't get the speed benefit of the LaCie LBD
  22. deckitout thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Most helpful, thanks very much
  23. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a


    Oct 2, 2013
    Litovel, Czech Republic

    Thanks tonnes for this! I was looking for a similar backup solution and this seems ideal!
  24. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
    short answer - You won't disappointed with Seagate GoFlex Ultra portable. Apple just updated OS X 10.8.5 today to fix for WD with reject problem. :apple:

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