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Thread: I need an external hard drive case with Raid 5 for 4 x 4TB hard drives and USB 3

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I need an external hard drive case with Raid 5 for 4 x 4TB hard drives and USB 3

    I am wanting to get an external hard drive system taht incorporates a Raid 5 system and USB 3 so as I can put my 4 x 4TB hard drives into it. Does any one know or use a similar system and can recommend what to use. I already have the 4 x 4TB hard drives and they are the standard 3.5" drives to fit in a standard external hard drive case. Raid 5 will mean that my 16TB will give me 12TB of actual memory.

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    Hi Lance

    Last week I picked up a 2 Bay Synology NAS (DS214Play) which is a 2 bay device.

    The reason I mention this is that it came with a very nice “Operating System” called DSM which makes it very easy to set up the NAS Device.

    Based on this “plug-and-play” experience, I can recommend Synology as I was able to start in “idiot” mode and gradually flex my muscles as I became more competent using DSM.

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Thank you for your info, Dennis.

    What I want is just an external hard drive system that uses USB 3 as it is faster to read and write than an ethernet cable set up. Ethernet is limited to 1Tbit/sec which is 125MByte/sec whereas USB in a RAID 5 set up will get me at least 170MB/sec speed. The reason I want fast read and write speeds is that my 16bit TIFF files are 205MB which means an ethernet connection takes over 3 seconds to load, whereas USB 3 will be just over a second. The difference doesn't sound much, but when you are processing many files at a time, the time adds up! So, all I want is a simple external hard drive system that has room for 4 x 4TB hard drives that can use RAID 5 for loss security.

    This is the type of thing I would like:
    http://cplonline.com.au/orico-5-bay-...FdgRvQod2UgISg

    However, I am just a bit reticent to get this brand as it is Chinese. I would rather stick to the known brands.
    Last edited by Lance B; 03-11-2015 at 5:40pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    First up you won't see those theoretical speeds in real life.
    There'll be some part in your entire system that will slow down the rest of the system somewhere.

    But I get what you want.

    Been looking into this myself for well over two years now .. and still procrastinating over it

    But from what I've researched up until now, I've decided on a slightly slower NAS instead(more flexibility).

    Have you tested the actual speed of your Gigabit network's limit. I'm sure it'll probably be more along the lines of about 20-25MB/s.

    Do you have any other USB 3 devices that connect to the computer? I've found that the more devices you connect on the one hub, the slower they all get .. so the theoretical speeds they usually quote become only a pipe dream.

    Also, without knowing what actual computer type you want to connect this device too(ie. laptop/desktop .. Mac/PC .. etc?) it's hard to assist with alternatives.

    But if you had a PC(with a roomy enclosure) .. I reckon a hardware raid card(PCIe type that is) with the drives located internally in the PC would probably give you the fastest real life transfer speeds.
    (Don't use software raid .. it's usually useless).

    I've literally only started looking into RAID cards the other day(as I've decided I'm going to build my own NAS box out of an old PC I have sitting under tons of dust!).
    I used to have an LSI(brand) card years ago .. and when I finally got it going on a PC(had boot issues on the intended PC) it worked really well back then. Back in the day of 20MB/s 250G HDDs on glacial mobos tho ... and it's 80MB/s was great to watch.

    The fastest USB3 transfer I've seen on my PC has been a sustained 125MB/s using a Samsung 840 SSD(and Win7).
    Of course that's still faster than (what I reckon will be your max) gigabit ethernet speed.

    ps. That Orico thingy looks 'OK' for $200.(Scorptech have it for $199, and Umart have it for $179! ) I have 5 USB drives of various flavours on my desk at the moment and I need some thing to clean them all off it. I may try one myself. I don't want one for the RAID ability, but I just want one to clean up the 3 USB enclosures and the twin bay docking station taking up all that space.
    If I do get one, I'll let 'ya know(possibly Thursday, or Friday).
    But my only reservation about the device is not so much that it comes from China .. I have lots of stuff from China that works well, and has done so for many years(as in 10+) ... my reservation is the hardware used inside. On the hardware side of things, I'm looking for any device with the name JMicron attached to it. Been bitten more than twice with their garbage products .. and never again. So if I find that it has JMicron controller chips within .. I avoid.
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    Thank you for your input, Arthur.

    Actually, the transfer speed of the external ethernet connected hard drive that I am trialling is near quoted speeds, being in the 100MB/sec for writing files from the external hard drive to the internal drive. However, due to the raid system of the extrernal ethernet connected drive, it is limited to about 75MB/sec when writing files to the external ethernet drive.

    As for a USB 3 external drive, they will definitely run at least to 170MB/sec, but generally much more, like 230MB/sec. They are limited by the RAID 5 system not USB 3, which will read up to 625MB/sec.

    I have tried other USB external drives and the read write speeds are much, much faster than the ethernet connected external hard drive. What I want is something faster than the ehternet external hard drive that I have trialled and USB 3 external hard drives will deliver that speed. I have looked at a Drobo external hard drive system with their own RAID system:
    http://www.drobo.com/storage-products/drobo/
    Last edited by Lance B; 04-11-2015 at 1:07am.

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    I would stear clear of the WD (Western Digital) NAS boxes, unless they have improved over the years. Mine is a WD, and it is great.. until you upgrade your computer, or add another computer to your home network. It is an absolute bugger to get working so a new computer can access it. The software you install on each computer to 'link' to the NAS just keeps saying it cannot find it. You can even point the software it at, and it says nup. Then eventually it will just decide 'oh yeah. there it is' and away you go. But the frustration of it is not worth it.

    Having said that, My WD NAS is about 5-7 years old now, so WD could have lifted their game in that time.
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    Thank you very much for your advice, Rick.

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    There are eSATA enclosures available that allow either RAID or JBOD, and some will allow USB3 connection to the host via an adaptor. Might be worth a look.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Stuff like this:

    http://www.pc-pitstop.com/sata_port_.../scsat05pm.asp

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    I was going to suggest a drobo, they have had a good name for themselves, I know of a few photographers using them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    I have tried other USB external drives and the read write speeds are much, much faster than the ethernet connected external hard drive. What I want is something faster than the ehternet external hard drive that I have trialled and USB 3 external hard drives will deliver that speed. I have looked at a Drobo external hard drive system with their own RAID system:
    http://www.drobo.com/storage-products/drobo/
    Cheers
    Jeremy

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    Thank you for your input, Jeremy. I am probably going to go with Drobo.

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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    No one has mentioned QNAP NAS yet, so I may as well. Mine has been great. I'm pretty sure it has a couple of USB3 inputs at the back, and I know it takes 4 drives. TS-420 IIRC, although no doubt there's a newer one now. It may be a bit OTT for your requirements though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamster View Post
    No one has mentioned QNAP NAS yet ....
    I decided that if I did get a NAS, I'd go with the QNAP TS series(4 or 6 bay version).
    A bit expensive, but from the reviews I found they're as good as any, if not better .. and easily found locally in a few shops(very important to me).

    But this isn't what Lance wanted. The USB ports on the rear of the QNAP(I guess most NASes) are for externally connected drives .. as in USB hard drives of some type.
    I don't know if you can connect a NAS via the USB port directly to a computer to gain access to the storage system., ie. as a USB external storage device ?

    I'm curious if anyone knows, or has experience with that(I'm still thinking of a NAS box). Can you connect it to a PC directly via USB and use the NAS box as a USB storage device and maintain the raid system .. etc.
    Speed isn't an issue for me, that's why I recommended to Lance a directly installed hardware raid card in his PC(if he had the room for the drives).
    I edit only the files I have on my PC, never edited externally files .. so out two respective needs are totally different in that respect.

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    I actually tried the QNAP system for a week and didn't like it and sent it back to my supplier. Write speeds both ways were ok, but it was reading the 206MB TIFF files that took 3 seconds and sometimes more, to appear in Photoshop that put me off. Plus the thing kept falling off line and I had to open up the "QNAP Finder" to "find" my QNAP drive. Quite frustrating. It just wasn't a pleasant experience and had way too many options that I just didn't require - all I wanted was an external drive that behaved like and internal drive - it should be simple!

    I now have the Drobo and it is exactly what I was after, essentially like having an internal hard drive but external. It reads my 206MB TIFF files almost instantaneously, similar to the internal hard drives. I have my 4 x 4TB drives in RAID Array giving me just under 12TB of storage.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I decided that if I did get a NAS, I'd go with the QNAP TS series(4 or 6 bay version).
    A bit expensive, but from the reviews I found they're as good as any, if not better .. and easily found locally in a few shops(very important to me).

    But this isn't what Lance wanted. The USB ports on the rear of the QNAP(I guess most NASes) are for externally connected drives .. as in USB hard drives of some type.
    I don't know if you can connect a NAS via the USB port directly to a computer to gain access to the storage system., ie. as a USB external storage device ?

    I'm curious if anyone knows, or has experience with that(I'm still thinking of a NAS box). Can you connect it to a PC directly via USB and use the NAS box as a USB storage device and maintain the raid system .. etc.
    Speed isn't an issue for me, that's why I recommended to Lance a directly installed hardware raid card in his PC(if he had the room for the drives).
    I edit only the files I have on my PC, never edited externally files .. so out two respective needs are totally different in that respect.
    I had just upgraded my screen to the Ultra HD Dell P2715Q 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution and to drive it correctly at 60hz I needed to upgrade my video card as I didn't have a Display Port output plus the onboard video driver couldn't run at that high res. However, my 3 x 4TB internal hard drives were being driven by a RAID 5 system and the card for the RAID system was in the video slot which I needed so as I could put the video card into that slot. This necessitated the removal of the RAID card and therefore I needed to have an external hard drive system with RAID built in and hence this whole saga! Now that I have the Drobo, I am in the middle of transfering 6TB of info across to the Drobo - something that will take a few days! Once that is done, I will then remove the 3 x 4TB internal drives and put them into another Drobo box and I will then have 2 external Drobos working on RAID array.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    .... therefore I needed to have an external hard drive system with RAID built in and hence this whole saga! Now that I have the Drobo ....
    Ah! it all makes a bit more sense now.

    Once you have the time, or access to unfettered speed of the storage array, I'd be interested in knowing what kinds of real world speeds you're getting.

    I was going to head out on Friday to get one of those USB raid boxes for my own use, but then got held up with other chores. May have to do it next week now.

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    I need an external hard drive case with Raid 5 for 4 x 4TB hard drives and USB 3

    Just curious, what is your offsite storage solution @Lance B ? It sounds like you've got fairly large storage needs.
    Last edited by Hamster; 08-11-2015 at 11:09am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Ah! it all makes a bit more sense now.

    Once you have the time, or access to unfettered speed of the storage array, I'd be interested in knowing what kinds of real world speeds you're getting.

    I was going to head out on Friday to get one of those USB raid boxes for my own use, but then got held up with other chores. May have to do it next week now.
    The write speeds to the Drobo are not great, about 60MB/sec, the QNAP was actually quicker at about 90MB/sec. However, when in Adobe Bridge and uploading a TIFF photo to Photoshop, the access speed to a file was way slower with the QNAP, taking over 3seconds to load a 206MB TIFF file whereas the Drobo is almost instantaneous, under a second. That tells me that it is accessing at speeds of at least 200MB/sec which is what I would have thought using USB 3 and also RAID 5. Anyway, that is why I wanted the USB 3 external hard drive system rather than the NAS system via ethernet as copying files is not the issue, but access speed each time I wanted to load a photo. However, the write speed of the Drobo might b e a limitation of Windows 7 and Windows 10 may be faster, my son did look up there were some spoeed issues with Windows 7. The point is, if I am accessing/reading a file at 200MB/sec or faster, then that tells me that the write speeds are held up with software, not hardware. One day, I may even upgrade to Windows 10. Are you running Windows 8 or 10, Arthur?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamster View Post
    Just curious, what is your offsite storage solution @Lance B ? It sounds like you've got fairly large storage needs.
    No offsite storage at this point in time.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Now all PC's are on Win10, and no issues. I did have a couple of very small issues but easily worked through.
    I also have 2 laptops(kids, Win7's) and my old tablet which used to be Win7 too. The tablet is a way underpowered Atom thing.
    I've never had any Win8 devices other than my kid's school latops/tablets .. and I don't like them at all.

    My USB3 speeds did take a small hit on the PC .. none that I've yet seen on the tablet or my sons laptop.
    It wasn't much, and I'm still playing with various drivers(I rolled back to an older driver which seemed to help a bit). But I'm sure that the USB chip on this motherboard is the issue .. not Win10 as such. It's an old NEC(now Renesas) USB3 chip.
    My fastest storage device in the USB3 chain is a Seagate 3Tb barracuda(just a single drive in a no name branded enclosure). It went from an easily sustained 140-ish MB/s over a large(say 500Gig) transfer, to just under 100MB/s with Win10.
    While it may sound like an almost 50% difference, when editing files on that USB drive, I never felt any speed difference .. only transferring files .. but I only knew it was slower due to transfer times being a wee bit slower, and testing using various tools.
    Now I have it back up to 140-125 MB/s with the latest Renesas driver I had .. but mostly 125MB/s. I think it's heavily dependent on what you're transferring(ie. millions of small files or a few large files).

    ps. if you're curious to test storage performance(s) .. try Crystal Disk Mark .. very easy to use and non invasive.

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    Thank you for the info.

    Like you, I think my write speeds are limited by either the Windows system or some other software/hardware other than the Drobo itself. What does Crystal Disk Mark do?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    ..... What does Crystal Disk Mark do?
    It just checks storage system speeds.
    It's a small(2.4Mb) exe, rather than a large bloated system performance software suite .. so you don't clutter your PC with needless stuff.

    When you run it, it pops open a window, and you click the [ALL] button or whatever the box says, and it gives you a brief rundown of what sort of speeds you can get through to your drives.
    It creates a small series of values for each test, and you can save the results to a txt file, which is really only important if you're trying stuff like different configs(eg, raid or not) .. or drivers or firmware .. etc.

    Code:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    CrystalDiskMark 4.1.0 x64 (C) 2007-2015 hiyohiyo
                               Crystal Dew World : http://crystalmark.info/
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    * MB/s = 1,000,000 bytes/s [SATA/600 = 600,000,000 bytes/s]
    * KB = 1000 bytes, KiB = 1024 bytes
    
       Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) :   179.773 MB/s
      Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) :   177.051 MB/s
      Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) :     0.704 MB/s [   171.9 IOPS]
     Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) :     1.365 MB/s [   333.3 IOPS]
             Sequential Read (T= 1) :   179.102 MB/s
            Sequential Write (T= 1) :   175.760 MB/s
       Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) :     0.672 MB/s [   164.1 IOPS]
      Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) :     1.389 MB/s [   339.1 IOPS]
    
      Test : 1024 MiB [X: 50.2% (1403.7/2794.5 GiB)] (x3)  [Interval=5 sec]
      Date : 2015/07/09 13:17:15
        OS : Windows 7 Professional SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)
    So the end result is a txt file that looks something like that above.
    That was from my fastest HDD(all mechanical) drive connected in any way to my PC.

    If you trust the Windows transfer window for speed of transfer, it's usually wrong(in fact almost always wrong), as there will be some buffering involved somewhere during that transfer.
    eg. I see about 250MB/s for a short while if transferring a large amount of data(eg. 200Gig) .. and then it slows down as the buffering in Windows is incapable of handling all that data.
    And the Windows transfer window then slowly reverts to the speed that the actual drive is capable of achieving.

    So if you ever try to tweak, or tune or change something to achieve a more efficient system, Windows reporting isn't an effective way to work out if you are getting closer to achievign your goal!
    Of course there are other HDD performance software .. I just use that because I got onto it and .. well, I now use it.

    A scenario as to how you'd use Crystal Disk Mark(CDM): lets say you want to transfer 1Tb of data from the Drobo(to anywhere else).
    You say that it probably transfers at 200Mb/s(which would be very nice!), but this doesn't take into account any buffering that the system is doing.
    I don't know anything about Drobos, but they'd have to have an amount of internal memory for buffer. Add that to any buffering Windows is doing in the background too, and it's not hard to get that sort of speed. So what you may be seeing in real terms is the speed of the buffering(which is always fast!).
    CDM, simply shows you haw fast your disks are in real life .. eg. over a long transfer, once the internal buffers have been exhausted
    I use Capture NX2 for my intricate NEF editing, and while I always edit the raw file, the reality is that it's a TIFF file by design. So when you edit a raw file in CNX2, in effect you're opening a 200+Mb tiff file. I also get less than 1 sec opening times on my PC, even tho I know my HDD's can't actually transfer at those rates.
    Strangely with CNX2, even tho I showed you the fastest drive in my system(could do 170MB/s, but now has slowed to 140MB/s), my main photo storage drive is a wee bit slower than this faster drive. It's rated at about 125-130MB/s .. but CNX2 renders the files off that internal(to the PC) drive faster compared to the same file off the faster but external(USB3) drive.

    FWIW: the reason I want one of those 5 bay HDD's you linked to earlier is that I have 4 devices holding 5 drives sitting on my desktop(next to my desktop).. it's a cluttered mess.
    I have a few that I rely on heavily, but one of the devices I have is a HDD docking station. A device that allows you to simply drop a HDD into it with ease(it looks like a toaster).
    I have this because in my circle of people I know, are always bringing me something to try to fix .. or un-clutter, or de-clog or wipe viruses .. or whatever, so I need an easy way to add remove drives. So the ability to add/remove drives easily/toolessly is appealing too.

    That USB3 docking station drove me crazy. It was my first USB3 device, and I purchased a 3Tb Seagate barracuda drive to go with it. I'm thinking(feeling smug).. now I have those annoying all day 1.5Tb transfers all sorted. On numerous occasions I've had to leave the PC on over two days just to backup my images(and other important data).
    The time itself isn't a problem, but the chances of a power failure during that time was.
    Anyhow, the USB dock turns out to be a dud, due to a badly engineered internal (USB-SATA) chip.
    It was slow and it would drop out at every opportunity. Connected to a USB2 port tho, it was fine. But I didn't get a more expensive USB3 dock to use it in USB2 mode.
    I nearly threw it out, but instead persevered with updating firmware/drives, and everything else in the middle. Just wouldn't work in USB3 mode.
    Anyhow, fixed that .. but due to the bad design, even after the manufacturer finally released a new firmware that fixed the dodgy chip, it was still much slower than the other USB enclosure I got for the fast barracuda drive. So I know the drive is fast, and I know the dock is slow(half the speed of the enclosure). So when I first transferred that 1.5Tb of images it took nearly 20 hours. As a test, I re transferred the same data(maybe a touch more) to the same drive but now in the fast and stable enclosure, and it only took about 3 hours or so.
    I think I lost about a dozen raw files, due to that stupid docking station when it was dropping out on USB3.

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    Thank you very much for ell the valuable info, Arthur. Much appreciated.

    However, trying to download the Crystal Disk Mark and it is difficult to work out which thing to actually download. They keep coming up with links to other stupid software that I don't want but not the actual Crystal Disk version that you refer to.

    I am still very happy with the Drobo so far. As I say, the write speed aren't super fast, but that doesn't bother me, it's the read speed that I require and that is as fast as my internal 3 x 4 TB hard drives which are in RAID 5 system.

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