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TOPIC: Best SATA HDD enclosure?

Best SATA HDD enclosure? 23 Jan 2014 03:42 #39569

  • Redifer
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With the new Mac Pro I'm having to buy a whole bunch o' stuff just to be able to use it on the new computer. One of these will be a hard drive enclosure because I currently have 4 SATA drives in my existing Mac Pro. So I'd like an enclosure that has 3 or 4 bays for 3.5" HDDs. One of these drives will be my main scratch disk. I'd like a Thunderbolt connection but also USB 3 so I can test operation on other machines before I plunk down $$$ for the Mac Pro... whenever Apple chooses to make enough to meet demand. Is there any reason I should even worry about Thunderbolt instead of just USB 3 on SATA 3.5 inch 200 RPM HDDs?

So, what are your recommendations? Not looking for the most expensive but certainly not the cheapest. I just tried a Nextar HX4 from MicroCenter and it's going back right away. Awful product.
Last Edit: 23 Jan 2014 03:50 by Redifer.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 23 Jan 2014 17:01 #39633

  • BenB
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I'm in a similar situation. Here's what I did. I got a USB 3 RAID (OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2), and a Pegasus2 T'bolt RAID (diskless). I have 4TB drives inside my 2008 Mac Pro, which will be moved into the P2 RAID. The USB 3 RAID is my backup drive. I am backing up everything to it. Then I"ll put my 2 existing 4TB drives, with 2 new (same brand/model) ones into the P2 RAID, let it configure/format/etc, then restore from my USB 3 backup. Done.

As for my system drive, I will put it out of my 2008 Mac Pro, and in to a SATA drive docking station (several on the market) via USB 3, plug that in to the 2014 Mac Pro. I'll mount it on the desktop and use Migration Assistant to restore my data to the 2013 Mac Pro system drive.

Thus, the P2 RAID is my working drive, the USB 3 RAID is my backup drive, and my system drive will hold nothing but OS and apps.

What type of work you're doing will determine if you really need T'bolt or not. USB 3 is plenty enough for most video work. If you're doing tons of heavy compositing, 3D modeling, heavy multicam, T'bolt could give you a boost with the proper RAID enclosure (not all RAID enclosures are created equal).

Spinning disk drives, always go with 7200rpm.
Last Edit: 23 Jan 2014 17:02 by BenB.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 25 Jan 2014 01:17 #39742

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I don't think there's much justification in a 4-bay hard drive dock costing half as much as a Mac Pro. But the Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 looks pretty good and I'm sure it'll do fine until Thunderbolt prices come down more. I'll have 4 drives in there and one of them will be OS backup, the other a scratch disk, another for file storage and probably another backup of a different drive. And yeah they're all 7200RPM drives, WD black. I rarely do multicam and if I do it would be a one-off event so that's not really a concern. 4K isn't even an issue really for anyone uless you're mastering theatrical content. 4K has no delivery methods in the home yet (Blu-ray doesn't support it, TV doesn't broadcast it, etc). Sure, Youtube supports it, but that's it. And Youtube often has issues even playing back even a 240p file.

Anyway thanks for the advice.

One final question: Do I have to have matched drives in there? I don't want matched drives in there. They are different sizes. I want them to show up as 4 individual drives on my desktop. Buying a Mac Pro sure has a buttload of hidden costs that are more than the computer itself.
Last Edit: 25 Jan 2014 01:23 by Redifer.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 25 Jan 2014 01:54 #39744

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"I don't think there's much justification in a 4-bay hard drive dock costing half as much as a Mac Pro."
Not sure what you're referring to. I never mentioned any such thing.

The Qx2 I referred to is a RAID enclosure, shows up as just a single fast volume, not four separate ones.

If you want 4 different drives, then, you could partition up a RAID, but slow it's performance down.
Or buy 4 independent cheaper USB 3 drives.
I'm not sure if Drobo allows it to act as 4 separate drives or not.

What I'm doing is consolidating my two 4TB internal drives to one much larger RAID volume, with good file management practices.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 25 Jan 2014 01:58 #39745

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I was looking at the specs for the Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 and it does say that it allows JBOD operation (Just a Bunch o' Disks). So I'm hopeful. That's what I want. I suppose I could RAID two of the drives up, the scratch disk for faster performance. I never have all 4 drives going at the same time. Is USB 3 faster than the data rate of a normal SATA 7200RPM hard drive? If not then RAID would probably not gain me very much unless I used it for redundancy.

What I want is to take my existing drives that are in my Mac Pro and just put 'em in an enclosure and be ready to go.
Last Edit: 25 Jan 2014 02:00 by Redifer.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 25 Jan 2014 02:12 #39746

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USB 3 is not faster than SATA or eSATA on most single drive tests I've seen, and all of which were done sort of half-assed. But when it comes to an external RAID, USB 3.0 is going to be very fast. You won't get native SATA speeds unless you go with a T'bolt enclosure, which SATA will not max out, but will still allow for full eSATA speeds.

Real world, for video work, USB 3.0 is plenty fast enough for what you're doing. If you ever get in to heavy, big Multicams on a regular basis, serious compositing, then a USB 3.0 or T'bolt RAID would become much more attractive.

You can use the Qx2 a JBOD, but then you don't have the RAID speed. Then again, straight USB 3.0 on a single drive will be plenty for video editing.

Remember, there is no cheap way to do eSATA on the MPtube, without a T'bolt chassis. But then, T'bolt RAIDs are faster, which is what I think Apple was aiming for.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 27 Jan 2014 01:16 #39892

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Looks like the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 only supports JBOD over Firewire and eSATA, not USB. This is insane.

Back to step one! Nobody makes a device which meets my requirements! Seems like owning a Mac is becoming more and more of a curse rather than an advantage. I NEED hard drives and I want to use my existing SATA ones. I'm not a millionaire or even a hundred-thousand-aire. Damn Apple and their form-over-function philosophy. I want internal storage I can capture to, is replaceable and doesn't rape me so far when it comes to cost.
Last Edit: 27 Jan 2014 01:18 by Redifer.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 27 Jan 2014 04:53 #39900

  • marchyman
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I broke down about a year ago and spent the $180 or so to get the LaCie eSATA Hub. That let me connect my Elite Pro Qx2 plus one other drive to my iMac via eSATA and still have an available thunderbolt port. I've another drive connected using a thunderbolt to firewire adapter.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 27 Jan 2014 11:58 #39910

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And for a single drive, T'bolt has no real advantage. You'll only see performance increases with full on RAID arrays.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 28 Jan 2014 20:50 #40022

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Marchyman will that work with the 3.5inch disks that are currently in my Mac Pro? When I see eSATA instead of SATA I tend to think smaller laptop drives. This might be a good temporary solution.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 28 Jan 2014 22:50 #40028

  • VidGreg
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Redifer,
eSATA just means "external" and is mainly improvements to the connecting cable. The actual SATA I/O speeds are technical specifications and differ as to SATA 1 (1.5Gbps) and SATA2 (3Gbps) and SATA3 (6Gbps). In order to avoid confusion SATA3 is mostly called SATA 6Gbs.
The newer Flash PCIe drives have even faster transfer speeds, this is what Apple is going to. Each lane of PCIe, adds bandwidth, that along with tech specs, PCIe 1/2/3 affect total transfer speed.
TB is essentially an extension of the PCIe bus with video capability.
Type of drive also determines transfer speeds.
Spinning hdds are slower, with rpm speeds a big factor, don't bother with 5200rpm, except maybe as a backup drive, go for at least 7200rpm.
Solid State Drives (ssd) have faster transfer speeds. (3to5X faster)
Then finally there is flash (solid state drives) that connect directly to the PCIe bus and eliminate SATA altogether.
Then to complicate the matter is external I/O ports. FW400/800, eSATA, USB3, TB1/2.
There are many external components out there to get SATA drives connected to your computer(s) from simple cable adapters (USB3 or TB to SATA), docks with USB3/FW/ethernet, etc…that you can just stick your SATA drive into and mount, expansion boxes that connect via USB3/TB, to name a few.
ThunderBolt (1/2) is currently ~ 2X-4X faster than USB3. USB3.1 should be coming this year. Again, no single hdd or ssd is going to saturate either USB3 or TB. In order to saturate the bus would require a fairly large raid.
If you want to future proof yourself anticipating doing heavy 4K video, you might want to think about one of the new TB2 raid boxes, but they cost$$$$. Personally, I would vote for a 2 drive dock with at least USB3 or multiple ports. It will always be handy to have around for mounting drives no matter what you do in the future, and they are very reasonable.
Hope this helps, Greg
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 29 Jan 2014 05:52 #40046

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eSata is how the Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 enclosure is connected to my iMac. Think Thunderbolt/USB/eSATA: pick one. In my case it is Thunderbolt to the LaCie Hub and eSata from the LaCie hub to the Qx2. eSATA has nothing to do with how the drives are connected inside the enclosure. I think they are SATA drives, but it's been a while since I've opened the unit. Yes, they are 3.5" drives.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 01 Feb 2014 23:44 #40361

  • Darren Roark
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There are a lot of decent inexpensive single USB 3.0 enclosures out there if you don't want to spend the money on an all in one. The advantage is if your multi drive enclosure ever craps out you can still get to your data.

This is coming from someone who has way too damn many external drives. I need to consolidate..
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 03 Feb 2014 06:59 #40427

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A little caution. Although RAID arrays can have the bad drive swapped out, and rebuild the new drive without losing data, that does not mean all RAId enclosures are capable of that. Many of the lower cost ones will not rebuild if you swap out a bad drive, IF you can figure out which drive is bad. So verify the RAID you get, be sure it actually supports this function. I've had students get burned on this over the years. Buy a RAID, it dies, all the data is gone.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 03 Feb 2014 07:05 #40428

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What BenB said...

This is why if you don't have the money, single enclosures are not a bad way to go. If a drive does die, you can usually get the data back from a recovery service. Not so with a RAID in every case.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 03 Feb 2014 14:55 #40449

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I'd warn against assuming a recovery service can get your data back, also. As a retired IT engineer, over the years I've seen lots of drives sent to lots of recovery services. Very few got much data back. Not to mention how freakin' expensive they are. There is no reason to not have a nightly backup of your data. If you do this for a living, you have liability issues since you are legally responsible for keeping your client's data safe. Yeah, don't rely on a RAID or recovery service. Do what is reliable and affordable in the long run, get a backup drive, have it automated to backup every night. It is not a matter of "if" your drives die, but "when".
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 03 Feb 2014 21:52 #40476

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I totally misspoke.. (Or miswrote, mistyped?)

I completely agree with BenB that it's not if, but when. Like driving a car no matter how well you take care of it, will eventually die. I learned this the hard way.

Many of my posts here in one way or another mention making backups. I say data not backed up three times is data not cared about. If you are lucky can get your data back at a starting price of $1000.00. (FWIW, if the drive wasn't grinding the platter after failure, the good places have a 90% chance of getting most of it back, but yes, it's not worth counting on)

I don't want to mistakenly give bad advice especially on something as fundamentally important as data preservation. I have told so many professionals to buy at least two drives that had to learn the hard way. I'm losing the energy to convince people that they aren't saving money, just tempting fate.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 04 Feb 2014 01:20 #40486

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Editors also need to seriously consider tape backups, as it is far superior and infinitely more reliable than HDD backups. Enterprise IT systems have used this for decades, it is proven, it is mega-stable. Two tapes, one on-site, one off-site in case of fire, burglary, flood, etc. And with the systems out now, that really that expensive.
ww2.productionbackup.com/
Last Edit: 04 Feb 2014 01:21 by BenB.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 04 Feb 2014 02:27 #40489

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I'm glad you brought that up.

Before, the LTO learning curve was high, but I was messing around with this a couple weeks ago: www.mlogic.com/blogs/news/9073149-mlogic...rocket-x-at-ibc-2013

I think they said it will be around $3K. This LTO setup works just like a hard drive. You can access individual files from a backup. It can even automatically back up a drive. This could be very useful for DITs to make a rock solid backup of on set camera files. To not have to keep massive piles of expensive backup drives around this could pay for itself.

The tapes can go from $50 to $80 each and hold 2.5TB of data. Depending on device speed it can transfer 1.4TB per hour. I can't buy a 2TB drive for $50, let alone one as reliable as LTO tapes.

Doing any serious archiving can't really be done with fragile spinning drives.
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Best SATA HDD enclosure? 09 Feb 2014 13:13 #40807

  • Mark Ahrens
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A USB3 drive dock (single or dual) is cost effective if you don't need the drives at the same time, but can be a pain constantly swapping out drives.
I saw the combo price on OWC for the LaCie hub and EL-Pro (2 drive) enclosure seemed like a good solution at $230. That's only $40 extra for the solid enclosure that can be used as RAID 0,1 or JBOD.
I did have one of these fail a couple years ago, (after 3years of use) so they're not bulletproof.

eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/Elite_eSATA
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