diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
In Motion There is Great Potential

Thunderbolt Networking: Very Poor Performance with Sustained Usage

OWC offers high quality Thunderbolt cables in red/green/blue/black colors from 0.5 to 3.0 meters, as well as Thunderbolt optical cables from 10.0 to 30.0 meters in length.

MPG has been using Thunderbolt networking for opening multi-gigabyte Photoshop files. However, while that has been working to great satisfaction, it is a sporadic usage and does not represent performance under sustained usage.

Further testing shows that Thunderbolt 10-gigabit networking is not ready for prime time; performance drops well below gigabit ethernet speeds after only 10GB or so of transfers. See updated performance results (sustained heavy load).

In a nutshell, Thunderbolt 2 networking on OS X is unsuitable for tasks like uncompressed video editing, because speed drops well below even gigabit ethernet speeds after only 10GB or so of transfers.

It’s a wonder that Apple would enable support for such a fundamentally flawed half-baked implementation. But it is entirely consistent with the Apple Core Rot problems running amok at Apple.

Gigabit ethernet can sustain ~115 MB/sec with large files. Observe that 10-gigabit Thunderbolt 2 networking drops down as low as 85MB/sec very quickly. Just as bad, it exhibits highly variable performance, making it unsuitable for many uses.

diglloydIMAC:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ disktester read-files -b double -i 10 /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP
DiskTester 2.2.12 64-bit, diglloydTools 2.2.13, 2016-01-24 19:20
Copyright 2006-2016 DIGLLOYD INC. All Rights Reserved
Use of this software requires a license. See http://macperformanceguide.com/Software-License.html
OS X 10.11.3, 8 CPU cores, 65536MiB memory
2016-02-04 at 09:06:16469
disktester read-files -b double -i 10 /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP
read-files params:
Transfer size:        65536 KiB per buffer
Iterations:           10
Async double buffers: true
Scanning "/Volumes/Scratch/TEMP"...327
327 files in 24 folders.
---------------------------------- Iteration 1 ---------------------------------
Reading 327 files totaling 205.1 GiB...
IO method: dual asynchronous read buffers each of size 64 MiB
# Files     Amt Read MiB/sec(all)   MiB/sec(1)  MiB/sec(10)  MiB/sec(30)
8     4.92 GiB     1102         1028         1018         1018 <== over 1000MB/sec, good!
18     9.04 GiB     1031         1001          840          931    
18     9.66 GiB     1102         1001          840          931    
20    10.17 GiB      521         95.2          334          515 <== down to 95MB/sec!    
21    10.68 GiB      461          104          279          450    
22     11.2 GiB      401         80.2          225          387    
24     11.7 GiB      325         98.0          169          322    
25     12.2 GiB      305         94.2          151          299    
27     12.8 GiB      274          137          128          271    
28     13.3 GiB      267          122          120          262    
29     13.8 GiB      255         88.7         98.2          248    
31     14.4 GiB      232         99.1         98.0          230    
32     14.9 GiB      224         89.0         99.2          221    
34     15.6 GiB      215          127          104          179    
35     16.1 GiB      211          104          105          169    
36     16.6 GiB      208         99.5          105          162    
37     17.1 GiB      191         91.5          100          150    
38     17.6 GiB      188         84.8         97.2          143    
39     18.0 GiB      183         82.5         96.5          137    
41     18.6 GiB      176          115         96.7          129    
42     19.1 GiB      175          110         98.5          125    
43     19.6 GiB      172         85.0         96.2          121    
45     20.1 GiB      164         97.6         91.8          113    
46     20.8 GiB      164          104         92.2          110    
48     21.4 GiB      160          122         95.4          104    
48     21.9 GiB      164          122         95.4          104    
48     22.4 GiB      168          122         95.4          104    
48     22.9 GiB      171          122         95.4          104    
48     23.4 GiB      175          122         95.4          104    
48     23.9 GiB      179          122         95.4          104    
48     24.4 GiB      183          122         95.4          104  
...

 

Cycling

Newertech Headless Video Accelerator: Speeds Up Display, Video, Keyboard & Mouse Use Via Remote Access

Newertech Headless Video Accelerator

Have a MacMini (or any Mac) without a display attached (a server), and accessing it via Apple Remote access (ARA)?

By making the Mac think it has a display, the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator causes the MacMini to enable the GPU, for faster performance during remote access. Same deal with the Mini Display Port Headless Mac Video Accelerator.

Re-stocked after Instantly Selling Out – Thousands Are Now Deployed with ARA (Apple Remote Access) Users Around the World for Faster Mac mini Display-Free “Headless” Units Used as Networking, Storage, Media, & Home Theater Servers

Activates Full GPU/Video Performance on Mac Mini without Attached Display – No More Choppy Video –

Version Also Available Providing Same Acceleration Using Available Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt Connection

February 3, 2016, Woodstock, IL — NewerTech www.newertech.com, a leading performance upgrades and accessories company for Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods since 1984, announced today that the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator is now shipping after selling out immediately after NewerTech’s announcement in November. The NewerTech HDMI Accelerator is a simple adapter that plugs into the Mac mini’s HDMI display port to make “headless” display-free Mac minis used as storage and media servers think there is a display attached. The NewerTech adapter activates the Mac’s video drivers and GPU (graphics processing unit) for 100% full video performance with no more choppy images, slow performance, or mouse lags.

Adapter for 100% Silky Smooth OS X Video Experience

Because of the Mac mini’s compact size, superior storage, performance, and low cost, it is often used as “headless” networking, storage, production studio media, and home theater servers with no need for a display which takes up space and power, or need for a keyboard or mouse. However, when the Mac mini is used without a display during Screen Sharing, its GPU isn’t activated. As a result, the interface lags, resulting in choppy screens and slow video, animation, cursor movements, menu navigation, and typing. Plugging the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator into the HDMI port of the Mac mini solves this problem, engaging the GPU so your remote interface works exactly how you’d expect.

“Our HDMI Accelerator is so popular because previously when the Mac mini was used as a server, the best option was just to grin and bear the slow video performance whenever you needed to remotely access your mini. With our adapter, the Mac mini thinks there is a display attached, so you’re back to the 100% silky smooth OS X experience you know and love,” said Larry O’Connor, President, NewerTech.

Best-Selling HDMI Video Accelerator Shipping Now

Re-stocked after instantly selling out, thousands of NewerTech HDMI adapters are now being used by ARA (Apple Remote Access) users around the world for faster video in Mac mini display-free units. “After having an initial production run flying out the door and selling out, we’ve restocked the HDMI Headless Video Accelerator adapter substantially to ensure ongoing supply and are back with availability after 8 weeks of shortage,” said O’Connor. Priced at only $19.50, the HDMI Headless Video Accelerator is shipping now, available at: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/ADP4KHEAD/.

See video explaining how to use it at: https://vimeo.com/141568482.

Version Available for All Macs without an HDMI Port Available or Preferred

In addition to the HDMI Headless Video Accelerator, NewerTech also offers the Headless Video Accelerator for Mini DisplayPort, a video accelerator for all Macs without an available HDMI port. Compatible with Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt connections, the Headless Video Accelerator for Mini DisplayPort activates full GPU/video performance on non-HDMI Macs without an attached display for no more choppy video. Info at: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/CBLMDPHEAD/.

Jörg W writes:

I can confirm the Headless fix from Newertech, does work flawlessly!

Purchased it, a couple of months ago, too for a Mac Mini (2014). Needed it for work<>home VPN connection (before: sluggish RDP performance with Apple Remote Desktop)

MPG: Why can’t Apple just put a checkbox in Energy Save: “Force GPU Active even if no display”?

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OS X El Capitan Finder: “The operation can’t be completed because one or more required items can’t be found. (Error Code-43)”

Get Info and Duplicate work, but file cannot be trashed
(OS X El Capitan 10.11.3 Finder)

More Apple Core Rot.

Files on the desktop exist: Get Info works, and the file can even be duplicated or moved. It can be dragged into Terminal to generate a path (as in 'rm') and that works fine also.

But once this Finder brain-fart occurs, files cannot be put into the trash, generating an error alert as shown (-43 is File Not Found).

This has been going on for months. I can’t recall for sure, but I think it started with OS X El Crapitan.

Once this bug starts, it affects all files on the desktop. The only solution is to log out (or quite/restart the Finder), and hope the problem goes away for a while, which it usually does. But almost every day the Finder has this fit all over again. No other program has any issue at all with these files (opening, saving, copying, closing). Only the Finder.

It’s ridiculous really: a file can be duplicated, but neither the original nor the duplicate can be put into the trash. Duplicate over and over—no problem. Get Info—no problem. But try to put into the trash and always a problem.

It’s one bug of hundreds (well, surely thousands): Apple is in decline. More bugs are added than fixed these days, and many obvious bugs never get fixed. MPG observed the warning signs as early as 2011, and first reported on it in explicitly in early 2013. The mainstream cheerleader press is even getting the hint: Walter Mossberg has finally noticed the crust of snow atop the tip of the iceberg, but he is clueless about just how deep the problems run.

Update: see also Apple takes its eye off the ball: Why Apple fans are really coming to hate Apple software.

One workaround (short of logging out)

Short of logging out, one way to delete a file is to open a Terminal window, then type “rm ”, then drag the file to the Terminal window (which will insert its path), then press the RETURN key. This removes the file via the command line.

diglloydMP:MPG lloyd$ rm /Users/lloyd/Desktop/BreakthroughPhotography_X3_Spectral-BT\,hd.jpg

Multiple files can be dragged at once, now a common practice for me.

2016 is the Year for Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 Macs should begin appearing this year as early as April (or so one can hope).

TB3 is an equalizer, with enough bandwidth that a Mac with two or even just one TB3 port can do a solid job with peripherals. That’s because Thunderbolt 3 doubles the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2.

There are other interesting aspects also:

  • External SSDs will be able to run at well over 2GB/sec (latency may be higher than internal PCIe SSDs).
  • Thunderbolt networking will be viable on the same bus as a fast external storage unit.
  • Laptops and iMacs and so on will be able to compete with the Mac Pro in terms of useful external speed and capacity, at least in terms of reasonable limits suitable for the vast majority of users.
  • USB and Thunderbolt will share a common cable, leading to simpler and more useful peripherals. That changeover will take time however—at least 1-2 years.
  • External 5K displays will emerge that can work via a single TB3 cable.

All very cool stuff that will level the playing field in terms of choosing a Mac. The differences for most users will come down to CPU choices and maximum memory.

See also:

Reader Question: Drive Speed of 6TB vs 8TB Hard Drives (VIDEO USERS: some neat tricks here for guaranteeing high drive speed)

Get HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8 Hard Drive or OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID-5 edition at OWC.

Alan G writes:

The HGST He8 6TB version (the new He8 version) does not list it’s supposed max transfer rate to be able to compare it to the 8TB version you reviewed. I called HGST and they have no idea.

I’m not sure if that means the He8 6TB version is a bit faster or a bit slower than the 8TB one. What would you guess? Not sure why Hitachi didn’t list the speed for this version. I could see it going either way for different reasons. Real world is probably not much, but I was just curious.

Hard drive performance vs capacity utilization,
speed varies by circumference of drive tracks

MPG: Manufacturer specs are of no real-world value. They typically involve burst rate or bus speed. What is so impressive about the 8TB HGST Ultrastar He8 is the extremely consistent data rates as well as consistent sample-to-sample performance. In a RAID, performance scales linearly. MPG has never seen such an impressive performer in this regard (consistency + scalability).

There are also other performance attributes that come from caching, the number of platters, resistance to vibration, etc. Simple specs do not help here.

Far more significant is actual speed with some amount of data on the drive—in the real world, we buy hard drives to store out Stuff, not to run tests on the fastest part of an empty drive. So hard drive (HDD) speed is actually about actual speed at some capacity utilization. For SSDs/flash drives this does not apply, but some SSDs can be slower with incompressible data, so even with SSDs the question is not so simple.

As data fills out a hard drive, it first occupies the outer and faster tracks (at least on OS X). Thus data rate (MB/sec) is a direct consequence of C=πD for track circumference. See the multiple articles in the Drive Capacity and Speed section, in particular 4/5/6TB Hard Drives: Higher Capacity Boosts Real-World Performance.

In general, hard drive speed declines as much as 50% from empty to nearly full (because of data rate as per C=πD). Hence a drive capable of 200MB/sec on the faster outer tracks may deliver only 150MB/sec when half full, and a lousy 100MB/sec when nearly full.

This leads to various tricks if one wants peak HDD performance:

  • Always buy the largest capacity drive, even if anticipating using much less than the full capacity. You’re buying consistent high performance (high sequential transfer rate as well as minimizing head seeks).
  • Partition a hard drive into two (or more) volumes to guarantee that the first volume is on the fastest part of the drive. With Disk Utility or SoftRAID, the partitions utilize the outer (faster) tracks first. The simplest form of this is to create only one volume on the drive, and simply not using the result, e.g., make a 4TB or 6TB volume on an 8TB hard drive, and simply not use the remaining 4TB or 2TB (don’t make another volume).
  • Erase the volume, then reserve the fastest portion by (1) writing a large temp file with DiskTester create-files* (thus occupying the fastest blocks of the HDD), (2) copying over old data, (3) deleting the temp files. In effect leaving a “hole” of the desired size which is the fastest area of the volume, so that files that anything new gets laid down in that faster area.
    * Create a 2TB file: disktester create-files --num-files 1 --file-size 2TB volumeName

These performance tips and tricks above also appy to all types of RAID volumes.

As shown below, hard drive performance for the first 4TB is fastest when using a 6TB drive. It would be even better using an 8TB drive. And that is the point: who buys a 6TB or 8TB drive in order to store 500GB? Much more likely is that 3/4/5TB or more will be filled, with the remaining space far slower than when empty.

Hard drive performance vs capacity utilization over 4TB partition (4/5/6TB hard drives)

 

Cycling

Play 4K Videos on 4K TV: Load Onto USB3 Drive

OWC Envoy Pro Mini

Get OWC Envoy Pro Mini at MacSales.com.

See also: What to Consider for a 4K TV.

Have a 4K TV and any one of the many cameras now capable of shooting 4K video? Such as recent iPhone models, the Sony A7R II and Sony A7S II, and the Panasonic GH4.

Here’s a great way to enjoy those videos on a 4K TV using a USB thumb drive (or any USB3 drive, but I really like simple form factor + high speed of the OWC Envoy Pro Mini for this purpose).

It turns out that my Sony XBR-65X930C 4K TV has a USB slot which accepts a thumb drive for playing stills or videos. With over 100GB of 4K video (and I’ve hardly started shooting 4K), I wanted a fast USB stick of high capacity. Enter the OWC Envoy Pro Mini 480GB USB2 thumb drive. It took only about six minutes to copy 100GB of videos to the Envoy Pro Mini.

Here’s how to enjoy 4K videos (or still photos) on the Sony 4K TV:

  1. Format the drive as ExFAT using Disk Utility (as shown below).
  2. Copy videos to the drive, optionally organizing into folders.
  3. Insert the drive into the USB port of the TV.

With the Sony X930C, simply inserting the thumb drive pops up the Videos app; otherwise navigate to the Videos app using the menu system of the TV. Select the folder, enjoy the videos! There is also a Photos app for still photos.

The 100M/30P video quality from the Sony mirrorless cameras and the Panasonic GH4 is easily better than most 4K video streaming from Netflix (excepting my own technical errors), and that’s lovely—because I shot it direct to card in ready-to-play “.MOV” format, not S-Log or anything fancy requiring extra work: just press the record button to stop/star.

Moreover, the video from those cameras is entirely free of smearing and other ugly digital artifacts issues often seen with streamed 4K. Only UltraHD BluRay is likely to equal it. The poppies video from the GH4 was stunning; I’ve not seen anything as good on NetFlix—period.

 s
Formatting OWC Envoy Pro Mini thumb drive as ExFAT, videos as organized on the thumb drive

Shown below is the Sony 4K TV video app displaying the videos in a “Lundy2” folder on the OWC Envoy Pro Mini thumb drive.

Sony Videos app showing 4K videos on USB3 thumb drive
Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

diglloydTools Updated to version 2.2.13

diglloydTools

diglloydTools has been updated to version 2.2.13. See the diglloydTools release notes page and download page.

Purchase diglloydTools.

Results are now also written to the top level of the volume (provided system security allows it).

  • Most commands in DiskTester now write the results to the top level of the volume, in addition to the longstanding practice of writing them to ~/Library/Logs/diglloydTools/. This file will not be written when system security prevents it, but the results will always be written to ~/Library/Logs/diglloydTools/.
  • Some commands in DiskTester now emit results files where before those commands wrote only in progress output as the test progressed.

Some of the capabilities in diglloydTools

Aside from testing hard drive or SSD or RAID performance and reliability with DiskTester, data integrity with IntegrityChecker is a must-have workflow tool for anyone with important data:

diglloydTools graphing template
diglloydTools graphing template
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

2TB OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD in MacBook Pro

See the MPG review of the 2TB OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD.

The 13.3" mid-2012 Apple MacBook Pro can still be bought new. MPG uses several of them for home servers and computers for the kids (rock solid!), but their utility goes far beyond that: a robust and relatively compact laptop for field use.

One of the key features of the non-Retina “unibody” MacBook Pro is a simple swap-out of the internal SATA drive (more on that below). In this case, MPG swapped in the OWC 2TB Mercury Electra 6G SSD, as shown below. Cloning the existing system made it hassle-free—no need to reinstall anything (the OWC Drive Dock was used for the cloning, but the Voyager would also work). See How to upgrade your system/boot drive.

Voilà! 1.92 terabytes* of storage inside the 13.3" MacBook Pro! Many older MacBook Pro models are suitable for such an upgrade; the newer Retina models do not use internal SATA, so the 2TB Electra Max 6G SSD is not an option. However, there are other SSD upgrades for certain Retina models.

* The OWC 2TB Mercury Electra 6G SSD has 2TB of flash memory, leaving 1.92TB usable space after the 7% over-provisioning.

OWC 2TB Mercury Electra Max 6G SSD in 13.3" Apple MacBook Pro

It takes about 5-10 minutes with a screwdriver and torx screwdriver to swap out the internal SATA drive (or memory); OWC has DIY videos such as the one for installing in this 13.3" MacBook Pro. Also seen below are 16GB OWC memory for MacBook Pro, already installed.

13.3" Apple MacBook Pro internals (non retina)

 

USB-C Dock for 2015 MacBook

4 USB3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, audio ports, HDMK 4K port!

Reviewed: 2TB OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD

The new 2TB OWC Electra Max 6G SSD is a terrific performer.

OWC 2TB Mercury Electra Max 6G SSD

Suitable for use in a MacBook Pro models that support 2.5" SATA drives, 2009-2012 Mac Pro or other internal configurations. OWC states that the 2TB Electra 6G SSD is not supported or recommended for use in external enclosures.

Tested in the internal bay of the 13" 2.9 GHz MacBookPro 9,2.

Sustained transfer speed for 2TB OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD

OS X 10.11.3: Three Displays now Sleep/Wake Properly

See also Why I Use Three NEC Displays on Mac Pro.

I was having so many problems with a 3rd display going AWOL that I gave up on it several weeks ago; it was just too flaky. Often the 3rd display (4K) would not sync up at all, even after a reboot (and particularly after sleep).

The OS X 10.11.3 release notes are terse, but one note states*:

Fixes an issue that may prevent some Mac computers from waking from sleep when connected to certain 4K displays.

The fix seems to work: I can now use three displays and have them all sync up and wake up from sleep properly.

The wakeup process is an inelegant herky-jerky multi-step process: the main display comes back and sometimes the 2nd too, but then there is a 10-15 second series of screen blanks and resyncs until all three displays are finally back—all good in the end but unusable during that restoration period.

Because of the discombobulated wakeup process, windows from the 3rd display are forced onto the main display during the process, because the 3rd display is not yet present (standard behavior when a display goes offline). So windows for the 3rd display have to be moved back manually, which is annoying. But at least all three displays come back alive and working correctly after sleep or reboot.

Update: all was well for a few days. Then upon wake-from-sleep one morning, the 3rd display was set to some smeared mode, and after that it was back to flaky wakeups all over again, even after forcing the screen resolution to the correct setting. Looks like Apple HAS NOT fixed the bugs.

* Incorrectly mixed verb tenses never inspire confidence (“Fixes an issue that prevented...”).

Pushing the limits of displays on 2013 Mac Pro

OS X 10.11.3: iMac 5K Screen Black Screen —Will not Wake Up From Sleep

The OS X 10.11.3 release notes are terse, but one note states:

Fixes an issue that may prevent some Mac computers from waking from sleep when connected to certain 4K displays.

I can now use three displays reliably (so far at least). But it comes with a new and very bad bug on a single-display system—the iMac 5K.

iMac 5K black screen — display stays black

I’ve been running the late 2015 iMac 5K since Dec 24—zero issues. Perfection until OS X 10.11.3.

The night before last, my iMac 5K was updated to OS X 10.11.3. Since then, if the iMac 5K goes to sleep mode (blank/black screen), the screen never again wakes up. The OS doesn’t crash; it’s just that it is unusable since the screen stays black. The only fix is to cut power and reboot, e.g. by pulling the power plug.

Yikes: disable sleep entirely, burning power and aging the display backlight, or effectively crash upon sleep? Clearly Apple has messed with the display code (see above 3-display discussion), introducing a new bug on a machine with only one display.

There may be wrinkles affecting things here:

  • Choosing Sleep manually from the menu then waking-up the iMac 5K is fine, as is a short sleep period.
  • There might be a time factor involved (sleep longer than X). The problem seems to happen only after a good amount of time (e..g an hour or more).
  • The problem might involve a device on the Thunderbolt bus (using OWC Drive Dock and Thunderbolt Networking).

In a 24-hour period, the “crash” has happened half a dozen times.

Well, when developers at Apple change code, they might fix something, but there is a very high risk of new bugs (a fact established over some years now). Apple Core Rot is spreading. It should be an embarrassment to someone at Apple: this is the kind of thing that quality assurance test suites should catch before shipping.

Fixing: who knows? I’m going to follow Windows protocol, which is now Apple OS X protocol: reinstall the OS. UPDATE: reinstalling the OS makes no difference; it seems to be a new bug with Thunderbolt devices: if no Thunderbolt device is attached, the iMac 5K wakes up properly.

Jon M writes:

I'm having the same sleep bug on the same iMac.

I agree that time seems to be a factor. It only happens at longer intervals and I do think it could be tied into a device on the Thunderbolt bus.

I have two Lacie 5Bigs and one Areca 8-bay raid, all connected via Thunderbolt. I haven't fully tested but sleep/wake does seem to work properly if I pull everything off of Thunderbolt.

MPG: Good to see confirmation.

Cycling

OWC USB-C Dock for MacBook Now Shipping

OWC is now shipping (within a week or so) the $159 OWC USB-C Dock, a terrific way to provide the needed ports for an Apple MacBook (the MacBook has no Thunderbolt port and only one USB-C port). New orders are likely to take longer, since the first run is sold out.

While the OWC USB-C Dock requires wall power, it can power the MacBook itself (so the MacBook power brick is not needed), as well as items attached to the Dock.

Other Macs have Thunderbolt, for those Macs get the excellent OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.

OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook

Available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, the OWC USB-C Dock provides eleven ports and enables essential everyday peripheral connectivity. Users will be able to charge devices, connect a display, add external storage, import photos from an SD card, utilize wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, connect their favorite audio accessories, and even power their MacBook, all through a single USB Type-C cable.

The OWC USB-C Dock includes eleven ports for easy connectivity:

  • Five fully-powered USB 3.1 Generation 1 ports, including: two high-power USB Type-A ports for fast mobile device charging, two USB Type-A ports, and one USB Type-C port.
  • One full-speed Gigabit Ethernet port adds high-speed wired networking support for use when speed and stability are essential.
  • One HDMI port provides connectivity for an external display, including support up to 4K resolution.
  • One Secure Digital (SD) card reader to easily transfer photos, video or other content from an SD card.
  • Two audio ports, including audio in and audio out.
  • One USB-C port for connecting to your MacBook or other USB-C-enabled host machine.

Power for your MacBook. And more.

Included with every OWC USB-C Dock is an 80 watt power adapter. This is in contrast to other dock solutions relying on the power adapter that ships with the Apple MacBook, resulting in insufficient and unreliable power for many bus-powered USB peripherals. The included 80 watt adapter shipping with the OWC USB-C Dock is capable of powering not only the new MacBook but also all of the USB peripherals users will directly attach. As an added benefit, users can keep the original Apple MacBook 29 watt power supply in their bag for when they are on the go.

“...puts all other docks to shame.”

The OWC USB-C Dock has been developed by the same design team that developed the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, which has been critically acclaimed by customers and product reviewers. Selected as a Finalist in the 2015 Stevie Awards, a premier business award program, the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock has a customer rating of 4.9/5.0. Derek Kessler, Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, stated “OWC’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock puts all other docks to shame.”

“The OWC USB-C Dock is at the cutting edge of technology and design, giving our customers the absolute most from their new MacBook with eleven high-performance ports and an impressive 80 watts of power,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, OWC. “USB 3.1 is an exciting new standard of connectivity, and I am very excited that OWC continues to deliver innovative solutions at the forefront of possibility, just like the all-new OWC USB-C Dock.”

OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook

Other World Computing Announces New USB-C Dock, Available for Pre-order

New dock featuring USB-C provides eleven ports of connectivity, available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold

WOODSTOCK, IL – June 8, 2015 – Other World Computing (OWC), a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company, announced today the OWC USB-C Dock. Available for immediate pre-order, the new OWC USB-C Dock provides a complete connectivity solution for the 2015 Apple MacBook and other computers that utilize USB-C ports.

  • Five fully-powered USB 3.1 Generation 1 ports, including: two high-power USB Type-A ports for fast mobile device charging, two USB Type-A ports, and one USB Type-C port.
  • One full-speed Gigabit Ethernet port adds high-speed wired networking support for use when speed and stability are essential.
  • One HDMI port provides connectivity for an external display, including support up to 4K resolution.
  • One Secure Digital (SD) card reader to easily transfer photos, video or other content from an SD card.
  • Two audio ports, including audio in and audio out.
  • One USB-C port for connecting to your MacBook or other USB-C-enabled host machine.
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Price Drop on 4TB Internal SSD for 2013 Mac Pro, 6TB Hard Drives, 1TB SSDs, USB3 Hub

Some deals of note—

  • The OWC Mercury Aura Pro 4TB is now down to $2099. That’s a big chunk of change, but 4TB of internal SSD capacity is enough for most users to run an all-SSD system, keeping it quiet (just the Mac Pro), using external “spinners” (hard drives) for backups or as-needed.
  • The excellent Tripp Lite USB3 hub for only $52.50. MPG uses two of these on the Mac Pro; they work flawlessly.
  • The HGST 6TB Deskstar NAS is $273 with the Toshiba 6TB at $239. The HGST 6TB NAS sometimes can have issues in the 2009-2012 Mac Pro, so the Toshiba may be the better choice, and cheaper too (MPG has not tested the 6TB Toshiba, but the Toshiba hard drives of other sizes are excellent).
  • No reason to skimp on internal storage in MacBook Pro models with 2.5" SSDs: the OWC Mercury Electra 6G is $342.50 and the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G is $399.99.
Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Reader Question: Backup Drive for a RAID

Ivan writes:

I’m thinking of updating my old Qx2 Raid 5 backup drive. Its a back up of my other Raid 5 external (Promise Pegasus 8TB).

The Qx2 has been acting up lately and I’ve had to reformat it several times to get it to work, and concerned about it. Its 4 years old.

I just wanted to run it by you, either get another backup, like the Thunderbay4 Raid 5 (8TB), or do the cloud thing. I’m using a MP (garbage can).

What is your opinion? BTW, the Pegasus has been without an issue for 2 years now.

MPG: Drives four years or older are OK as secondary or tertiary backups, but I’d dump them out of any daily scenario. Besides, 4-year-old drives are very slow compared to today’s hard drives. I recently tested a batch of 2/3/4TB drives, all 2-4 years old. Several of them had bad blocks and had to be discarded. It’s playing with fire to use drives that old unless perhaps spin time has been low.

Cloud backup is always a good adjunct, but if the data set is large then a very fast connection is needed. With a 100 X 20-megabit business-class internet connection, my own data would take 6 weeks to upload and saturate the link—not an attractive idea. Even a single photo trip backup might be up to 300GB, and a backup that takes many days is not a backup until it has finished—too long. For cloud backup, there may also be usability issues in keeping daily changes up to date, multiple volumes, etc; it all depends on specifics. But of course more backups and backups of different kinds in different places is a great idea.

In general, RAID for true backups is not the smart move. The purpose of backup is to forestall data loss, but a RAID takes more drives for the same number of backups, and also adds hardware and/or software complexity: these are additional risks. And unless a RAID is also fault tolerant, then it is at higher risk than a single drive (for example, using a RAID-0 stripe as a backup). The appeal of a RAID is additional fault tolerance (RAID-1 mirror or RAID-4/5) and/or higher performance, but for the same money fewer backups can be had, and that is self defeating unless money is no object.

RAID is NOT a substitute for multiple backups! See Risks To Data Go Far Beyond Drive Failure and Dangerous (to your data) Misconceptions about Backup.

Best practices

First of all, fault tolerance is independent of backup. Fault-tolerance is for avoiding downtime. Too often it is confused with backup. Fault tolerance (e.g., some types of RAID) is NOT a backup.

The best approach for backup is more and thus redundant backups. MPG recommends at least two and preferably three full backups, stored away from the computer (preferably at another site). Backups should offer redundancy, separability and independence and minimized dependencies.

  • Redundancy: more than one backup, at least two and preferably three or more. The more valuable the data, the more backups and the more frequently to backup.
  • Separability: each backup should be physically separable from the others so that it can be stored in a physically different location (away from the computer). Examples: home and office and safe deposit box and trunk of car.
  • Independence: more than one backup on a single device is self defeating. It makes no sense to have two backup volumes (of the same source) on the same drive(s). [For example, Adobe Lightroom is willing to backup its catalog to the same drive as the original, a pointless approach].
  • Minimized dependencies: MPG is not a fan of backups that require special software, store in a special format, etc. Software has bugs, software may become incompatible, etc.

Type of backups

Risks to data include hardware failure, software or user errors and physical threats. All three are best handled by a combination of always attached backups and offsite backups:

  • An always-attached backup volume, so that a clone backup can be made each day, or even several times a day, such as after downloading a photography shoot, finishing an editing job, etc.
  • An always-attached Time Machine (or Time apsule) backup volume which complements the clone backup. Also handy: the Backup Now command right in the menu bar.
  • At least two and preferably three or more backups stored safely away from the comuter, preferable at another location (Cloud backup falls into this category).

The first two points above are at-risk backups in terms of physical threats like theft, fire, flood, lightning strike, etc. That is why the offsite backups are critical. And yet using only offsite backups is a very bad idea in practice, because in practice backups might not happen for days or weeks at a time. That is the purpose of daily backups as per above: mitigating hardware failure and/or errors.

OWC Mercury Elite Pro
OWC Mercury Elite Pro
OWC Mercury Elite Pro
OWC Thunderbay 4 (4 drives, Thunderbolt)

Recommended drives for backup

Single-drive backups afford the greatest number of independent backups at the lowest cost—the best redundancy. Single drives can be self-contained standalone external drives like the OWC Mercury Elite Pro. Or they can be bare drives inserted into a device like the OWC Drive Dock or semi-bare drives in drive sleds that slot into a device like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (removed after backup is made and/or used for the always-attached backups as discussed above).

While single drives are not as fast as a RAID-0 or RAID-5, the use of cloning makes updating backups very fast, and several independent backup drives is hugely preferable to one RAID, for the reasons discussed above.

Need help figuring out the best backup approach? MPG offers consulting.

OWC Drive Dock
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Modifying the NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 6s, 6s Plus with a Knife and Scissors

I’ve been using the NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 6s, 6s Plus on my iPhone 6s Plus since I got the 6s Plus (also on the iPhone 5s before that)

I’ve dropped the iPhone 6s Plus (what a clumsy form factor) enough times and hard enough that I’m pretty sure the NuGuard KX case saved me from an expensive re-buy, so the case has proved its worth to me.

But one thing that has been an annoyance is the on/off button being difficult to activate with the case over it, and difficult to find by feel in the first place. So using a knife and scissors, I fixed the problem by removing the case that sits over the on/off switch. The case is sturdy enough that cutting out a hunk of it to expose the on/off switch is no problem.

As an unexpected bonus, the hole cut into the case provides a great finger slot for a sure grip. I am now very pleased with my “custom mod” NuGuard KX Case.

NewerTech NuGuard KX Case installed on Apple iPhone 6s Plus, customized knife and scissors cutout
NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for Apple iPhone6s and 6s Plus (and older models)
NEW! Apple iPad Pro
Available for pre-order.
FREE EXPEDITED SHIPPING

Apple Core Rot: Spotlight Cannot Find File Names

In my photographic work, I often find images by their names (every day), because the name is part of a published article or similar, and I want a quick way to reopen the raw file. To do so, I copy the file name, hit cmd-space to bring up Spotlight, paste the name, and voila: Spotlight finds the file. Well...

The first new bug in Spotlight in OS X 10.11.2 El Crapitan is that pasting the name often pastes only a portion of the name (hit cmd-space, then paste immediately, I get a nearly 100% failure rate on pasting fully/correctly)—yet a new Apple Core Rot bug. For example, pasting “_DSC0131.ARW” may result in only “_DSC0”. So I’ve had to retrain myself to wait just a moment before pasting, a nuisance, but manageable. I’ve noticed additional “delay bugs” like this elsewhere in OS X; the nitwit developers at Apple keep breaking basic functionality, keep making basic things run slow as mud, things that were always lightning fast (save/open dialogs are a good example).

The second bug is much worse: Spotlight simply fails to find the file at all, as shown below. Whether by partial or full name. The volume is not excluded and has been indexed. Here it’s pathetic: a Finder window with a folder showing the file is open right on the screen, even as Spotlight claims the file does not exist. But even when Spotlight finds things, it’s brain-dead. For example, when I enter “name:EmailParser.java”, I want the source code file “EmailParser.java”. Instead I often get a binary file that somewhere inside it has “EmailParser.java”.

How hard can it be to find a file by its complete name anyway? Where Apple OS X was once upon a time “insanely great”, it is now insanely incompetent. When will Apple get its horse apples together?

Spotlight fails to find a file by its entire name

Spotlight doesn’t just miss one file; it doesn’t find *any* of the 11 files with that name. Good 'ol command line (Terminal) finds them all in a second or two:

diglloydMP:Archive lloyd$ find . -name _DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyA6000/PatriarchGrove-ColorShading/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyA7_II/2014-1226-SonyA7_II-FrostyBackyardMorning/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyA7R_II/2015-0809-SonyA7R_II-StanfordMosaic-sanityChecks/90f2_8/2/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyRX1/2012-1214-SonyRX1-backyard/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyRX100/2012-0809-SonyRX100-MTB-ride-Barcroft-area/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyRX100/SonyRX100-tulips-stitching/tulips1/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyRX100_III/2014-0810-Yosemite-WhiteMountains/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/SonyRX1R_II/2015-1212-SonyRX1R_II-PescaderoCreek/14/_DSC0131.ARW
./ALLVIEW/ZeissTouit/2013-0509-SonyNEX7-Touit12f2_8-MTB-ride/_DSC0131.ARW
./DAP/Coastal60f4/2014-0405-SonyA7R-Coastal60f4-backyard/aseries-Coastal60f4-BlossomClose/_DSC0131.ARW
./DAP/SonyNEX/2012-0129-SonyNEX-5N-color-shading/Leica24f3_8/_DSC0131.ARW

UPDATE: a re-index is in progress; forced using mdutil, by first forcibly erasing the volume, then turning indexing off (just to be sure), then turning indexing on:

mdutil -E /Volumes/Archive
mdutil -i off /Volumes/Archive
mdutil -i on /Volumes/Archive

This ought to fix thing once the indexing is redone (6TB of data takes a long time).

To see status on all volumes, here is the way to look:
mdutil -s /Volumes/*

Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Support, Firewire 800, Sound Ports

OWC Envoy Pro Mini 480GB Ultra-Portable SSD (Thumb Drive) as an OS X Boot Drive

Get OWC Envoy Pro Mini SSD at MacSales.com (120/240/480GB).

OWC Envoy Pro Mini

OWC just released its new 480GB Envoy Pro Mini Ultra-Portable SSD (thumb drive), as previously noted in MPG Review of the OWC Envoy Pro Mini 480GB Ultra-Portable SSD.

It seemed an interesting exercise to clone the boot drive on the late 2015 iMac 5K (293GB of data) and then to see how well the Envoy Pro Mini did as the boot drive.

The clone itself went about as fast as I’d expect form the Envoy Pro EX, which is quite impressive for a thumb drive.

Next the iMac was rebooted off the thumb drive. I launched all the applications that I would usually launch, and more. The applications launched quickly, with nothing to indicate that the whole shebang was operating off a thumb drive. Perhaps it was a nuance slower to launch than the blazingly fast internal SSD, but we’re talking fractions of a second—no material difference to the usability.

Very impressive for a thumb drive. At 480GB capacity, the OWC Envoy Pro Mini may be great choice for those looking to carry around the entire system drive.

Booting OS X 10.11.2 from OWC Envoy Pro Mini thumb drive
Cycling

Don’t Get Scammed (Phished) by Amazon Promotional Credit Scams

See also the security topics page, including the blog posts on security on that page.

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Clicking on email link or attached file is risky: merely clicking on a link to go to the claimed site can result in compromising the computer for some users. While Mac users are generally better off a Mac is no guarantee, and all sorts of nasty tricks can be played on the desgination sites.

Phishing relies on “social engineering”, particularly an emotional reasponse (greed, fear, loyalty, irritation, friendship, authority, etc). Often the phishing emails are difficult to distinguish from a legitmate email from the company being imitated. The destination web site may be a clone of the real one, which makes it even more “real” for the victim.

What you may lose: username and password, security codes, credit card numbers—anything you can be tricked into entering on a phishing site.

Example — phishing for Amazon users

Lloyd buys a lot of stuff at Amazon, so these almost fooled me at first: Amazon sends a fair number of fairly simple emails, so the phishing emails don’t have much to make the fakeness obvious. But one key giveaway: the Return-Path field in the email. It’s one reason I dislike Apple Mail on the iPhone/iPad: key clues like that are hidden.

Making the rounds for the paste month or two are phishing emails purporting to be from Amazon. These include emails about promotional credits, about a purchase shipping, etc. MPG receives up to five such emails every day.

This email is from Amazon. It might as well be from Apple, The Gap, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. The style and risks are the same. In this case one giveaway was also that it was sent to my email that I never use for Amazon—a good reason to use various emails, some dedicated even to a specific vendor.

DANGER: phishing email purporting to be from Amazon
Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

REVIEWED: OWC Envoy Pro Mini 480GB Ultra-Portable SSD (Thumb Drive)

Get OWC Envoy Pro Mini SSD at MacSales.com (120/240/480GB).

OWC Envoy Pro Mini

OWC just released its new 480GB Envoy Pro Mini Ultra-Portable SSD (thumb drive). MPG has had a chance to test one of the first production units, and it’s impressive:

Review of the OWC Envoy Pro Mini 480GB Ultra-Portable SSD

At 46 grams with lanyard, the OWC 480GB Envoy Pro Mini is an awesomely convenient way to carry around a lot of data that can be used at speeds similar to full-size SSDs. MPG has tried and rejected other compact possibilities like 256GB SDXC cards, but these are frustratingly slow under real-world sustained load, and such camera cards cannot take a beating over time without developing problems.

With 480GB of high-speed capacity, MPG ponders why iPhone and similar devices are stuck at 128GB in a far larger form factor.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Archiving Images and Data

Larry F writes:

Is the Sony ODS-D77U Optical Disc Archive a good option for long term storage of my digital images?

The Sony ODS-D77U is $3000 off as this was written. It’s a big initial investment for the unit, but the storage costs are quite appealing on a per-gigabyte basis (see discussion below under Capacity).

The Sony ODS-D77U can be used in in WORM mode (write once, read many) or with rewriteable media. Applicability vs workflow, cost, longevity, capacity vs data growth and more are all issues to consider. MPG has no experience using this type of unit, but being clear on the goal is a key first step: is the goal archiving or backup or both?

Archiving vs backup

For backup purposes the goals may be significantly different than for archiving. Backup is for protecting against relatively short-term drive failures; archiving is a long term consideration with issues of physical integrity and “bit rot” (see also IntegrityChecker). Be clear on the actual goals when choosing a solution.

For archival purposes, there are hardware and software considerations: how long do the discs last, but more important: will a device and software to read them exist in 5/10/20/50 years or whatever? This is a difficult area, with the safest bet being use of the most common disc formats. The BluRay of today could be the 8" floppy disc of 20/30/50 years from now. Will today’s BluRay discs or Sony cartridges be that 8" floppy disc 20/50 years from now? It that even the goal for most of us?

It is MPG’s view that every decade or so, it is wise to re-evaluate the medium upon which archived material is stored, possibly re-archiving all material onto new media (not necessarily dispensing with the old, but as an “insurance policy”, getting all material onto something more current).

Capacity

The Sony ODS-D77U offers write-once (WORM) cartridges up to 1.5TB and rewriteable cartridges from 300GB - 1200GB. High capacity is generally a plus since quite a lot of images or data can be written with little wasted space. Ditto for rewriteable vs write-once (WORM). For single photographers, it might be that months go by before the cartridge fills up, so the protocol must necessarily involve swapping, say, three cartridges onsite/offsite so as to have data safely away from the working system. For teams and groups, it might be that having high-capacity archival and semi-archival storage as backup is a big win, with disks rapidly filling up and conventional backup used together with the archival system.

A much lower cost and archival alternative that individuals may find appealing would be 25GB M-DISC cartridges, burned in a BluRay burner like the OWC Mercury Pro BluRay Burner. With BluRay discs, the entire disc is burned, so burning a disk for 4GB or 12GB or similar is relatively expensive on a per GB basis. But if the goal is to backup a photography shoot or similar so as to archive it offsite, the smaller but cheaper discs may be a good fit for a burn-and-store procedure following an important job. It may also be a good fit for critical business data every quarter or year or so on. Also, two of three copies could be burned when the work is particularly important, and stored separately. If the data is relatively small, ganging up new data (such as photography shoots) may mean burning discs once a week and/or whenever there is ~25GB to be archived makes sense (25GB to fill up an M-DISC capacity).

Unlimited cloud storage may be a valuable complementary solution, provided that a very fast internet connection is available. But such storage is more of a backup nature than an archival solution.

Performance

For nearline fast storage, MPG would prefer something like the OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID-5 edition. RAID-5 is fault-tolerant and willhandily outperform an optical storage device. While not archival, nearline archival solutions do not protect against physical threats such as theft or fire, so this implies offsite backups anyway: an offsite storage protocol would be needed in any case, along with a disciplined daily backup strategy.

Software, support, etc

MPG is not keen on custom software from a specific vendor, particularly software that requires a serial number, and particularly for archival use. Support is another issue, OS compatibility another, ease of use and reliability still more. These factors are much harder to evaluate, because they are not fixed, changing over time, and generally not for the better.

Marco B writes:

I want to alert your readers about a few things that that Sony ODS-D77U. We have used them at work for archiving and backup dailies for our productions for almost for a year and a half.

1- There is a limit of 60,000 files each storage tape (if I’m not wrong, check the manual)
2- The write speed with verification is SLOW, the read is ok. When I need to archive 1TB it takes like 8 to 9 hours to backup, and this because I’m sending not so much files.
3- Please be very careful to buy the new model, there’s two models, the first one has a mechanic problem that from time to time: the recording media jams inside, and it must be sent back to Sony or any official support to repair it. Sony claims the new one does not have that problem, but they don’t feel responsible for selling the old and not stating this PROBLEM to the customer. We’ve learned the hard way.

MPG: great feedback!

A limit of 60,000 files immediately makes the unit unusable for general use for me: even excluding mail and many other things, my work folder has 240,000 files. Slow backup speed is highly unappealing also; it discourages backups. See notes above on Performance. Taken together, those kind of limits tend to make it a specialty solution.

End of the Year: 3 Days Left for Small Business to Write off that new Computer, Camera, etc

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT TAX ADVICE; CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR.

It’s the end of the year, and now is the time for small business owners to consider making needed capital expenditures in order to deduct them this year. This is a big benefit versus depreciating assets over 3 or 5 years.

Note that gear has to be put into service by Dec 31, so there really is only a day or two left to act to receive things in time (if shipped).

From Section 179.org (see additional details there):

2015 Deduction Limit = $500,000 — This deduction is good on new and used equipment, as well as off-the-shelf software. This limit is only good for 2015, and the equipment must be financed/purchased and put into service by the end of the day, 12/31/2015.

Suggestions

Lloyd can help via consulting advice in choosing a computer system and peripherals and/or in selecting a professional photographic system: don’t overspend and get just the right gear for your own actual needs. Hours flexible and responsive here at the end of the year.

Photographers might consider items like the following... most links are to recommended models or relevant review/article, etc where it make sense.

Thank you for using the links here when buying.

Computing for photographers/videographers

Photography and videography

B&H has free overnight shipping on many items. See all qualifying best-selling items.

Deals

Look for more deals by discount or brand or category, such as Apple deals, Zeiss deals, Sony deals, Nikon deals, Canon deals, Sigma deals.


Cycling

Wow! Up to 4TB Internal SSD in 2013 Mac Pro

One year, ago, MPG reviewed the OWC Mercury Aura for the 2013 Mac Pro in a 2TB configuration. Now OWC ups the ante with a 4TB internal SSD, which is 4X the highest capacity that Apple offers. The original factory SSD can be repurposed into an external USB3 enclosure.

The Mac Pro is a quiet-running machine. With a 4TB internal OWC SSD, many users might ponder a nearly silent system with hard drives needed only for backups. With up to 128GB memory, there is a lot of room to run with the Mac Pro.

OWC ThunderBay 4: 20TB RAID-5 for about $1279!
4 bays, 4 drives: 4TB to 32TB
✓ Configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10!
20TB model as RAID-5 = 15TB usable capacity.

OWC “Area 51” aka “Move 'Em” Specials

OWC Area 51

The 51 include SSD, Screen Protection, Drive Enclosures, External Drives, Cases, Power, Tripod, Cables, other goodies really priced to move. Items as low as One US Penny. Some past their heyday - some just with extra stock, some unexpected just to make it interesting.

What you take in 2015 we don't have to count! So.. 'Area 51' will be closed and what's left set back to normal once the new year rolls over

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