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Storage and Back Up Advice Needed. Enclosures vs. Docking Stations

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Mark Likosky
Storage and Back Up Advice Needed. Enclosures vs. Docking Stations
on Oct 31, 2012 at 2:38:36 pm

I'm a photographer who also does some video. I shoot an average of about 100GB/month or more. I'm working mostly with a MacBook Pro which has been fast enough most of the time but I may upgrade to the 13" or 15" Retina with SSD drives. I've got a 500GB SSD Hybrid for my main drive and a 750 additional internal drive which replaces my optical. I'm using Capture One, Photoshop and After Effects.

Looking into the easiest way to store and back up my work. Trying to spend >$1K for the initial set up but realize I'll need new drives every few months.

What I've been thinking of investing in so far:

Option 1:
8TB WD or G-Tech Thunderbolt drives set to 4TB Mirrored. When full I would change out the drives and use the same enclosure. It seems like the WD is easier to swap drives with and I hear they are finally using faster 7200 RPM Hitachi drives rather then their own WD drives. ($700-$800 for initial set up and then I would buy smaller (maybe even SSD) drives for certain jobs or continue with a new set of 4TB's if they go down in price)

Option 2:
Find a good dual drive enclosure for 2x 4TB drives. Possibly a Thunderbolt enclosure if one exists. Could anyone recommend a good enclosure if this is the way to go? I'd like something fast and easy to swap drives out.

Option 3.
A Dual Bay Docking Station such as the Thermaltake for about $60 and 2x 4TB internal drives. Concerned it would be rather slow. Does anybody know which docking station works best with Mac and supports up to 4TB?
is anybody coming out with a Thunderbolt docking station?

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

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Tim Jones
Re: Storage and Back Up Advice Needed. Enclosures vs. Docking Stations
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:37:53 pm

While disk is an easy solution in the immediate time frame, there is an option 4:

Purchase a DAT160 USB drive and backup to tape. Tapes hold 80GB+ each and cost $12-$20 each. The drive costs around $1K and works with any USB-compatible Mac. There are a few software variations available for the Mac, but our BRU Producer's Edition provides full fast access (start restoring any file on a tape in 90 secs or less) and catalog searching makes it easy to recover a volume, folder, or just a few specific files.

Other plus points for using a tape drive (and a USB one in this case):
  • No Thunderbolt required
  • Easily stored media
  • Very sturdy media - not fragile like disks
  • 20± Years of proven data retention - conservative estimates reach into the 50 years range
  • We have 20 year old DDS-1 DAT tapes that have over 5K write / read cycles that are still 100% recoverable
  • You can search / browse the contents of offline tapes without mounting them.
  • A USB DAT 160 drive can be also used under Windows, Linux, even Solaris or HP-UX if you need to move data to another platform (depending on the software - BRU is available on all systems).

  • You do need additional software to recover your files, but most solutions work to make it easy to both create and access the tapes.
  • You need to use the software to search the catalogs for the offline tapes

If your capacity demand is greater (and your budget allows for it), you can also get much larger and faster tape solutions that you can use via Thunderbolt. For instance, our base LTO-5 bundle starts at under $4K, but the tapes each hold 1.5TB and move your data at 140MB/sec.

In over 30 years of working with tape-based archival / backup operations, I have never seen a non-physically damaged tape fail where the problem wasn't actually caused by the software being used. We have QIC-150 tapes (from 1988) that we can still restore all of the data from. The media that you use today is a much improved formulation compared to tapes made 20 years ago.

From my experience, generic disks that are used for backup usually become usurped back to general storage as your need for more disk space grows. Using tape allows you to use your disks for online storage while protecting your data with a medium that is more oriented for backup / archival storage from the initial design standpoint. And, verified tapes allow you to clean old data off of your spinning disks while keeping the data available, making the need for adding more disk storage easier to cope with.

Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!

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