diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
High Performance 480GB Thumb Drive only $265
USB3 high performance rugged thumb drive.

Graduation Approaches: Great Camera Deals

While most teenagers use cell phone cameras these days, there are some terrific deals out there on DSLRs. And not all of us are teenagers, and some teenagers do have a brain nonetheless!

So check out awesome DSLR deals, such as the Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses and a camera bag at HALF PRICE. Its image quality is outstanding. But I’d suggest one fast 'prime' (non zoom) lens too: the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, to be used as a short portrait lens, particularly in lower light. The older (and half the price) Nikon 50mm f/1.8D will do just fine too.

These deals on Nikon DSLRs and deals on Canon DSLRs (and printers) offer outstanding image quality. Of course if you want to spend a LOT more money on high-end mirrorless, here is my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

You’ll also want a memory card or two; I recommend Lexar or SanDisk SDXC cards and one spare battery. Most Macs now have an SD slot for camera cards, but if not, you’ll want a USB3 card reader.

Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses and a camera bag at HALF PRICE
Huge discounts on Nikon DSLRs
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

FOR SALE: 2009 Mac Pro with NEC 30-inch display

FOR SALE: complete 2009 Mac Pro system as below. Works perfectly with no glitches—all drives tested, SMART status good, etc.

  • Excellent condition—no scratches, dents, etc. The Mac Pro and display belonged to a friend, used for web browsing only*.
  • 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
  • 12GB memory as 3 X 4GB.
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT120 512MB video card
  • 256GB Crucial SSD in lower optical bay (see details below).
  • 2 X Hitachi 2TB hard drives in internal bays (see details below).
  • NEC LCD3090WQXi 30-inch display (2560 X 1600), excellent condition (does not include NEC calibration kit).
  • Includes Apple keyboard, mouse, display cable, power cable.
  • OS X El Capitan installed on one drive, OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite installed on the SSD (can be booted either way).

Used Mac Pros without a display with similar configuration sell for over $1000.

Asking $1275 / best offer. Local sale strongly preferred; this gear is heavy (the Mac Pro) and bulky (the 30" display).

Contact Lloyd

* Regarding “web browsing only”, one reader already wrote anonymously to call me a liar. Dishonest cowards assume everyone else is too! It is as stated: web browsing only. The machine was for an elderly friend who works in the financial area; I set up a robust system with a big screen 6 years ago. Cost was never a consideration, reliability was key. He is now using the latest iMac 5K, this system being a haul-away—hence I am selling it.

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Upgrades Make Sense in Many Cases

These days, Macs get a little faster with new models. But a new computer is expensive and yet even Macs that are relatively old can benefit from an upgrade, such as memory or a fast SSD.

For example, if stuck with a 256GB or 512GB SSD, the MacBook Pro Retina or MacBook Air can get a 1TB SSD upgrade. Many other similar upgrades exist.

OWC has a large variety of upgrades for all Macs.

NuGard KX Case for iPhone 6s, 6s Plus!
Advanced impact protection against drops and impact!

B&H Photo Mother’s Day Specials

B&H Photo has a variety of Mother’s Day specials (some specials require promo code MOMDAY16).

Some good ones for teenagers, or the Mom who want sleek and lightweight or unusual:

With free expedited shipping on most items.

And... what every Mom needs: 15% off Custom Photo Props for newborns! (I bet my daughter’s cat would love 'em too!).

And Ted Cruz really needs one of these.

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Do you have 2 “iPad devices”?

Oh, two deer animals—Phil Schiller’s pluralization insanity!

Do you have two iPhones or two iPhone devices? Two iPads or two iPad devices?

Two iMacs or two iMac computers? Two MacMinis or two MacMini bricks?

I do have two telephone devices at home. And I have two eye and two ear and two feet (and my nose runs and my feet smell).

MPG is going to keep saying “two iPhones, two iPads, two iPad Pros, two Macs, etc”.

Mike writes:

In my house we have 3 iPads, 3 iPhones, 2 Mac Minis and 1 MacBook pro.

I agree with you and it’s stupid for Schiller to try and teach improper grammar. Hasn't education been dumbed down enough?

My 2 cents,
Mike

Think different[ly]. MPG thanks Mike for his two cent pieces. My three daughter persons don’t care either way.

Michael S writes:

Regarding Schiller’s pluarlization — he’s stuck with trademark preservation requirements. As a long-time copywriter, I’ve been driven crazy by this legal demand for awkwardness.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_distinctiveness#Maintaining_distinctiveness
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark

MPG: Uggh.

What’s Coming in Macs This Year?

This year ought to be the year that we see major refreshes across all the product lines: iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacMini.

That is, the convergence of USB and Thunderbolt into one unified standard means the PC world will make Apple look old and stale if things don’t start shipping by early fall—and that is getting rather late. So MPG expects to see at least one product line announcement by June, with the MacBook Pro line most likely to appear first. But a surprise could come, and it could be the Mac Pro. The iMac perhaps, but since it as bumped up last November, it may well be the last to come. Or maybe not—only Apple knows for sure.

Already it appears that current stocks of 2015 MacBook Pro models have been blown out with deep discounts, so MPG expects the MacBook Pro to come first. An ideal upgrade would include Thunderbolt 3 (presumably with 2 ports, but 2 ports on each side would be much better), a wide-gamut DCI P3 display, and a 32GB memory option.

CPU speeds are not going to magically jump a lot higher; modest gains are in store at best. The real story is to equalize product lines in terms of storage and devices, via Thunderbolt 3, thus reducing the awkward tradeoffs that have long been an issue for non-Mac-Pro systems. As well, we may see strong gains in graphics performance in some models.

In terms of age in the market, the Mac Pro is most due for a makeover. But will Apple make it even less “pro” than its current semi-pro disappointment? Or not carry it forward at all? That’s always a risk.

Cycling

What’s all the Fuss About iPhone Security Anyway?

With all the fuss about iPhone encryption (and the absurd contention that it matters much to the average user given that iCloud has everything right there instantly avaialble to law enforcement), some perspective on a more real threat is appropriate. Namely, hackers or just about any well financed organization can track cell phone users.

IEEE Spectrum reports in Alarming Security Defects in SS7, the Global Cellular Network—and How to Fix Them:

The global network that transfers calls between mobile phone carriers has security defects that permit hackers and governments to monitor users’ locations and eavesdrop on conversations. As more reports of these activities surface, carriers are scrambling to protect customers from a few specific types of attacks.
...
Once they’re in, hackers and government intelligence agencies have found ways to exploit security defects to monitor users or record calls. Experts who study SS7 have found some individuals are tracked by as many as nine entities at once. While the average citizen isn’t likely to be a target, it’s impossible for consumers to know whether or not they’re being watched.

The sheer scale of SS7 means that these flaws present a massive cybersecurity problem that could theoretically affect any mobile phone user in the world. “Technically speaking, more people use the SS7 than use the Internet,” says Cathal McDaid, chief intelligence officer at network security firm AdaptiveMobile. “It’s the majority of the world’s population.”

MPG’s view is that Apple’s legal positions have great merit, but also make for great PR while yet being all but irrelevant to 99.999% of Apple users—much ado about squat given that these same users sync their stuff up with iCloud, which is essentially a real-time feed to law enforcement. Issues like the defects above + the hacker threat form a far more concerning issue. Think corporate espionage, organizations like ISIS looking to track and kill enemies, just for starters.

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Thunderbolt 3 Brings Many Benefits, but Neither a Seamless nor Immediate Transition

Finally, a convergence of connectivity standards, thus upping the odds for widespread adoption across Macs and PCs.

Thunderbolt 3 merges Thunderbolt, USB 3,1 Gen 2, and Display Port standards into one common standard/connector. Utilizing a USB-C style connector, TB3 is physically incompatible with any Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 device (but see Compatibility, below).

The USB-C That Does It All — Thunderbolt™ 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps, creating one compact port that does it all – delivering the fastest, most versatile connection to any dock, display, or data device.

For the first time, one computer port connects to Thunderbolt devices, every display, and billions of USB devices. A single cable now provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of any other cable, while also supplying power.

It’s unrivaled for new uses, such as 4K video, single-cable docks with charging, external graphics, and built-in 10 GbE networking. Simply put, Thunderbolt 3 delivers the best USB-C.

Expect to see most Thunderbolt 3 devices start to appear for sale in July 2016, such as the three OWC Thunderbolt 3 products. It makes sense that Apple could announce new Macs supporting Thunderbolt 3 around that time frame. Normally in the vanguard of Thunderbolt, Apple has zero Thunderbolt 3 support as of April 2016, as compared to a wide range of PC devices. The April 2016 Apple MacBook remains crippled in having a single USB-C port that does not implement Thunderbolt 3—rather lame from the world’s most successful company.

The Thunderbolt 3 approach promises big wins for users on simplicity, form factor, price and performance:

  • Over time, choices should expand and prices should drop: common connectivity means both Mac and PC platforms are likely to adopt TB3, thus delivering more selection at lower cost by virtue of a far larger market that supports more product development.
  • Simplifies cabling and charging and ports on computers and devices, since USB and Thunderbolt share a common physical USB-C cable type.
  • Future versions of Macs that are currently crippled by only one USB-C port (Apple MacBook) or limited by only one Thunderbolt bus (MacBook Pro, iMac, MacMini), should now be able to enjoy very high performance connectivity and display options, thus making the choice of computer more about form factor than about avoiding connectivity and performance limits.
  • Displays and other devices should be able to act as USB hubs.

Specific advantages:

  • Bandwidth doubles from the 20 Gb/sec = 2.5 GB/sec of Thunderbolt 2 to 40 Gb/sec = 5 GB/sec.
    That’s 2.5 GB/sec in each direction—not 5 GB/sec—which is ample for most all needs, but still rather slow for high-performance 8X or 16X PCIe graphics cards.
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 for high performance. Implements USB power delivery for 15 watts of bus power for bus-powered devices and up to 100 watts for system charging—goodbye to external power cords for most all devices.
  • Can simultaneously drive two 4K displays at 60 Hz or one 5K display up to 5120 X 2880 (5120 X 3200 also?), which means that a future Mac Pro might be able to drive dual 5K displays on two busses. Still, this is less than half the bandwidth needed for 8K, so external 8K displays remain years away.
  • Power consumption is halved.
  • Support for PCIe 3.0, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2.

Perhaps Thunderbolt networking will finally work correctly? See ThunderboltTM Networking Bridging and Routing Instructional White Paper.

Compatibility with Thunderbolt 2

Compatibility of Thunderbolt 2 devices on a Thunderbolt 3 computer will be via a Thunderbolt 2 => 3 adapter. Such adapters are likely to cost $100 to $150. Note that on the Mac Pro, several such adapters may be needed (one for each port or bus that uses Thunderbolt 2 devices).

Compatibility of Thunderbolt 3 devices on a Thunderbolt 2 computer is more complicated and may not be attractive in practice.

Cycling

Thunderbolt 3 Emerges: OWC Announces Thunderbolt 3 SSD, Dock, PCIe Enclosure

The NAB conference in Las Vegas runs through today. One of the key storage developments for 2016 is Thunderbolt 3, which utilizes a new connector merging USB-C + Thunderbolt + display support. It means double the performance, and up to dual 4K displays at 60 Hz on one port. But until Apple ships Macs with Thunderbolt 3 support, its potential cannot be utilized.

A few Thunderbolt 3 products are trickling out, meaning they have been announced:

Most of this stuff won’t appear until summer (claimed, let’s wait and see!).

OWC will have a variety of Thunderbolt 3 products soon, presumably including a Thunderbolt 3 versions of the OWC Thunderbay 4 and OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini. And it would certainly make sense for the OWC Viper 4/8TB SSD to debut with Thunderbolt 3, to avoid being speed-throttled by Thunderbolt 2.

In the meantime, OWC has announced three new Thunderbolt 3 products.

OWC EXHIBITS IMPRESSIVE INNOVATIONS AT NAB SHOW 2016

AT BOOTH #SL14205, OWC GEARS UP TO REVEAL THUNDERBOLT 3 DOCK, ENVOY PRO EX WITH THUNDERBOLT 3, AND MERCURY HELIOS 3, ALL COMING LATER THIS YEAR.

Las Vegas, NV – April 18, 2016 – OWC Digital®, a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company, unveils today that it will launch a trio of innovative products featuring Thunderbolt 3 technology at the acclaimed National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Internationally recognized as the largest annual digital media conference and expo for industry titans specializing in the creation, management and distribution of entertainment across all platforms, NAB 2016 is set to kick off festivities Saturday April 16th, with exhibits commencing on Monday, April 18th through Thursday, April 21st. OWC will exhibit numerous marquee products at Booth #SL14205, including three fresh devices slated for public debut later this year.

Upholding a deep-rooted commitment to innovation, OWC rolls out the next generation of functional docks and popular external drives. These soon-to-be released products will take advantage of the new capabilities found in Thunderbolt 3 technology, boasting faster, more versatile connections than ever before. Thunderbolt 3 doubles available bandwidth to 40Gbps, cuts power consumption in half, and can simultaneously drive two external 4K UHD displays. Utilizing these new capabilities, the latest OWC solutions featuring Thunderbolt 3 technology create endless possibilities for content creators demanding the highest performance from their devices.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock

[MPG: see the MPG review of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock]

Compatible with Mac OS X and now Windows, the dock’s litany of ports provides a compelling solution for creative professionals seeking to unite a multitude of peripherals for ultimate connectivity. Like the Thunderbolt 2 Dock, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock offers convenience and flexibility with its 12 ports, which now include a high-power USB 3.1 Gen 1 port for fast mobile device charging, a mini DisplayPort with support for a hi-res display up to 4K at 60Hz, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

With the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 technology, the new OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock can support two incredible ultra hi-res 4K displays at 60Hz, extensive connectivity with daisy-chain, and power delivery, creating an even more streamlined workflow.

Envoy Pro EX with Thunderbolt 3

[MPG: see the MPG review of the Envoy Pro EX 1TB SSD and MPG review of the Envoy Pro EX 480GB SSD]

Concurrent with the Thunderbolt 3 Dock, OWC is pleased to announce that the award-winning Envoy Pro EX will be one of the first external storage solutions to integrate Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, making the aesthetically sleek enclosure faster and more powerful than ever before. Achieving scorching-fast data transfer rates of over 1 GB/s, the super portable device safely houses a PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD, handling virtually any storage or backup need. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience the high-performance capabilities of the Envoy Pro EX with a live demo at the OWC booth.

Mercury Helios 3

[MPG: see the MPG review of the OWC Helios and MPG review of the dual-slot OWC Helios 2 ]

The next generation in the OWC Mercury Helios lineup, Mercury Helios 3 is the new frontier for powerful high-speed expansion cards, defying the current limits of conventional Macs. Accommodating a double-width, half-length x16 PCIe card, Helios 3 is hot-pluggable, powers on and off with your computer and is great for hi-res video ingest cards and other PCIe connectivity solutions needed to ensure seamless productivity. Built from a rugged aluminum chassis with a dedicated cooling fan, the PCIe expansion chassis features two Thunderbolt 3 ports for optimal performance.

OWC touches down at NAB Show in Las Vegas this April 16 - 21 for an unprecedented week of illuminating breakthroughs in technology showcased by three distinct groundbreaking products, exemplifying their continuous dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction.

About OWC

Having served the Apple community worldwide since 1988, OWC has become the reliable manufacturer and upgrade provider of choice for Apple and PC enthusiasts with its extensive catalog of accessories, storage, and memory upgrades for nearly every Mac made in the last decade. Recognized for award-winning customer service, OWC provides extensive U.S.-based technical support for Mac and PC users around the world and comprehensive step-by-step installation and support videos.

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

B&H Photo NAB Specials End 21 April

Worth a look as these B&H NAB specials end tomorrow.

Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 1TB, perfect for travel or silent backup.

Mac vs PC Pricing

Here is an example of how PCs can sell for considerably less than Macs.

The HP 15.6" OMEN Pro Multi-Touch Mobile Workstation was $2500 is now $1500 OFF for only $999.95 ENDS 21 April at 21:00 PST. With free expedited shipping.

It’s not a retina display, but offers a large 1920 X 1080 screen that is anti-glare—lots of working area and Apple no longer offers any anti-glare options.

  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7-4870HQ Quad-Core
  • 16GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 15.6" UWVA Anti-Glare Touchscreen
  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 Screen Resolution
  • NVIDIA Quadro K1100M Graphics Card (2GB)
  • 512GB Z Turbo Drive M.2 PCIe SSD
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB to Ethernet Dongle
  • Windows 7 Pro (64-bit)

Need a PC? I’m not a fan, but some people have to have one for some reasons.

Want an outstanding camera system?
Lloyd’s hand-picked items for Sony mirrorless.

Apple Bumps Up the MacBook

B&H Photo has the new Apple MacBook available for pre-order. The prior MacBook models have rebates up to $200 OFF.
MPG benefits when your order anything through B&H, thank you.

My review of the 2015 MacBook is still highly relevant, but there are modest improvements in the April 2016 MacBook “bump”:

  • About 15% faster CPU performance (claimed)
  • Faster SSD, slightly faster memory, faster graphics.
  • 8GB memory standard (disappointing not to have 16GB option).
  • Claimed +1 hour longer runtime (41.4 Wh battery which is 10% more watt-hours along with more efficient Skylake CPU.
  • DISAPPOINTING: does NOT have Thunderbolt 3 + USB-C port; still has only one (1) USB-C port for all expansion needs.

I liked/like the MacBook for what it is, but I would never confuse it for my laptop of choice, the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 2.98 GHz 16GB / 1TB / M370X, albeit a model I hope to see supplanted by a Thunderbolt 3 model with an OLED wide gamut display.

More ports on the MacBook

OWC’s USB-C Dock may be the ticket for port expansion, given the single USB-C port. OWC also has USB-C cables.

OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook
Apple MacBook (April 2016) high-end configurations in 4 colors

B&H Photo NAB Specials

View all B&H Photo NAB Specials. NOTE: some specials valid only with code BHNAB16.

These deals end today at 21:00 PST:

Other items (some end with NAB on Thursday April 21):

OWC Weekender specials ending Monday:

See all OWC Weekender specials.

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

8TB HGST Ultrastar He8 Hard Drive in 2009 Mac Pro Internal Bay (DiskTester fill-volume)

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

Some video users still favor the 2009/2010 Mac Pro tower, which has four internal bays (and two more with appropriate brackets), making it possible to have up to six internal drives. With 8TB drives, that means 48TB is possible in the 2009/2010 Mac Pro, all internal. Or 32TB using only the four standard bays.

MPG previously tested the 8TB HGST Ultrastar He8 Hard Drive in the OWC Thunderbay 4 attached to the 2013 Mac Pro. Questions previously not answered by that testing include whether the 8TB drives work at all in the 2009 Mac Pro, and if so, whether behavior and performance are as expected.

The good news is that the HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8 work great in the 2009/2010 Mac Pro, including seeing no sleep/wake issues. Performance is solid, as can be seen in the graph below. It is within 5-10MB/sec of the tests on the 2013 MacPro.

There is one minor catch: the drive bolt holes are changed in some newer-model drives like the He8. To mount the drives in the internal bays, use the nifty OWC Hard Drive Bracket
for 2009-2012 Mac Pro
. The bracket is compatible with both newer and older drive mounting holes (simply use the screws in the matching holes for the drive).

See also:

Performance across 8TB capacity of HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8, internal bay of 2009 Mac Pro
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

OWC Weekender Deals

See all OWC Weekender deals.

Things that catch my eye:

The OWC Aura upgrade can be installed in the MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air, for a 480GB or 1TB SSD.

Separately, B&H Photo has MacBook Airs all marked down, some down by $150 after a previous $100 markdow (up to $250 off).

OWC Featured Specials
Used Macs, memory, power, sound, SSDs, Upgrade Kits, more!

OWC Announces SoftRAID 5.5: allows users to convert Apple RAID volumes to SoftRAID

SoftRAID user interface

Get SoftRAID 5 or SoftRAID Lite at MacSales.com.

Given recent Thunderbolt disconnect discussion, the “can now detect problems which are occurring on the Thunderbolt port of a Mac” point is interesting.

SoftRAID is also bundled with the OWC Thunderbay RAID solutions (see review of OWC Thunderbay 4 and review of OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini).

See also Walkthrough: How to make a RAID Stripe Using SoftRAID 5.1 as well as all RAID topics.

Download SoftRAID 5.5 (demo available).

April 11, 2016 — SoftRAID version 5.5 - Convert Apple RAID volumes to SoftRAID

OWC Holdings, Inc. announced today the release of SoftRAID version 5.5. This update to the highly regarded SoftRAID product allows users to convert Apple RAID volumes to SoftRAID as well as operating in four languages. SoftRAID version 5.5 is a free update for all version 5.x users of SoftRAID.

SoftRAID is the premier disk driver for Mac OS X, and replaces the RAID functionality that was removed from Disk Utility in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Now with SoftRAID version 5.5, users can convert their existing Apple RAID stripe (RAID 0) and mirror (RAID 1) volumes to SoftRAID and preserve all the files on those volumes. This provides a seamless way for existing Apple RAID users to start using the great features of SoftRAID.

SoftRAID Lite, just $49 — For $49, users can purchase SoftRAID Lite and convert their Apple RAID volumes to SoftRAID. Not only will they be able to start using the highly optimized SoftRAID driver which has been shipping since 2003, but they can also take advantage of all of SoftRAID's advance disk health monitoring and logging features.

Convert Apple RAID stripe volumes to SoftRAID RAID 1+0

Users who purchase the normal version of SoftRAID can not only convert their AppleRAID stripe (RAID 0) volumes to SoftRAID but can also convert those volumes to RAID 1+0. A stripe (RAID 0) volume becomes unusable if a single disk fails whereas a RAID 1+0 volume will continue to function after a disk fails.

RAID 1+0 volumes are a stripe volume where each stripe unit consists of a pair of disks, if one disk in the pair fails, the other continues work as part of the volume.

The SoftRAID application and SoftRAID Monitor now in 4 languages

With SoftRAID 5.5, the application and SoftRAID Monitor now support 4 languages: English, French, German and Spanish. "About 40% of our sales comes from outside the United States" said Tim Standing, VP of Software Engineering. "It is important that we add support for non-English speaking users so they can know the true power and reliability of SoftRAID."

Better logging of errors — SoftRAID version 5.5 includes an entirely new error logging mechanism. "We realized that our old error logging mechanism was occasionally truncating or mangling messages. This made it hard for users to determine which disk was failing" said Tim Standing VP of Software Engineering. "We want to give our users the best tools possible for diagnosing disk problems so we wrote a new error logging mechanism which is much more reliable and better able to handle information for failing disks."

When a disk starts having problems or fails, one of the first places to look for information is the log file. If the failing disk produces lots of errors, the old logging mechanism could sometimes mangle or truncate log messages which made it hard to determine what exactly went wrong. The new logging mechanism can handle many simultaneous log messages without truncating or scrambling any of them. This makes it much easier to figure out which disk is failing and why.

SoftRAID now detects problems with Thunderbolt ports

SoftRAID version 5.5 can now detect problems which are occurring on the Thunderbolt port of a Mac. These problems can cause disks to be ejected while in use. When these errors occur, SoftRAID version 5.5 notifies the user and suggests possible ways to keep these problems from reoccurring. For more information, see: https://softraid.com/pages/support/faq/faq_disappearing_disks.html

Great customer support

SoftRAID has some of the best tech support in the industry. We know that you don’t just work 9 - 5 on weekdays, so our tech support team is available to help you on nights and weekends. We pride ourselves in getting to the bottom of each and every customer problem. Don’t just take our word for it, visit our web site and see what customers say about SoftRAID: https://softraid.com/pages/reviews/customers_comments.html

SoftRAID is actively supported and improved

At SoftRAID, we don’t believe that software should be shipped and then forgotten. We are constantly refining and improving our product. That is why we love our what we do!!

System Requirements:

SoftRAID 5 requires an Intel based running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later. Support for TRIM commands on SSDs requires 10.7.5 or later.

Partial list of SoftRAID Features:

  • Support for all Intel based Macs with Core Duo 2 processors or later
  • Runs with any version of Mac OS X from 10.6.8 through the current version Mac OS X 10.11
  • Converts AppleRAID stripe (RAID 0) and mirror (RAID 1) volumes use SoftRAID
  • RAID 0, 1, 1+0, 4 and 5 (and non-RAID volumes) - (RAID 4, 5 and 1+0 volumes are not available in SoftRAID Lite)
  • All SoftRAID volume can be startup volumes
  • Up to 16 disks per volume
  • Up to 32 total volumes per Mac
  • Support for Thunderbolt 1 & 2, eSATA, SAS, FireWire and USB
  • Automatic rebuilding of RAID volumes
  • "Fast Rebuilds" for accelerated rebuild times
  • Disk error reporting
  • Email notification
  • Predictive failure analysis
  • Disk certification and verification
  • Volume validation
  • SMART testing on all disks which support SMART
  • I/O and error counters for each SoftRAID disk and volume
  • Extended disk information including: hours of use, reallocated sector counts and media wear for SSDs
  • Disk labeling and LED blinking to aid in disk identification
  • Complete logging of SoftRAID events
  • Command Line interface

Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan Support: SoftRAID version 5.5 is compatible with all versions of Mac OS X from 10.6.8 through the current release of 10.11. We work hard to ensure that SoftRAID is ready for each new release of Mac OS X.

30 Day Trial: SoftRAID version 5.5 is available as a 100% fully functional trial version, which allows prospective customers to try all the features of SoftRAID for 30 days for free.

Pricing: SoftRAID version 5 is available for just $179 for the electronic download version and includes one year of free technical support via email. It can be purchased via the SoftRAID website, through your Apple Certified Consultant and via retail outlets worldwide.

SoftRAID Lite is available for just $49 for the electronic download version and includes support via our online forum. SoftRAID Lite supports only non-RAID, stripe (RAID 0) and mirror (RAID 1) volumes. It can be purchased via the SoftRAID website, through your Apple Certified Consultant and via retail outlets worldwide.

Users of SoftRAID version 4 can purchase an upgrade to version 5 for $89.

For more information about SoftRAID version 5.5 or to receive a review copy, please contact us at sales@softraid.com.

About SoftRAID

The SoftRAID team is headquartered in Mill Valley, California, and has been developing high quality applications for Mac OS for over 17 years. During this time, SoftRAID has earned its reputation as a rock solid product which comes with great technical support.

SoftRAID has been shipping for Mac OS X since 2003. SoftRAID has been first to market with many key features including: fast mirror rebuilds, full email notification, bootable RAID volumes, disk certification, RAID volume validation, TRIM support on all RAID Levels, disk failure prediction and more.

SoftRAID and the SoftRAID logo are registered trademarks of OWC Holdings, Inc.

SoftRAID user interface
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina

Late 2015 Apple iMac 5K: a Display Without Peer for Sheer Viewing Pleasure

See iMac 5K: Building a High-Performance Configuration as well as Photography / Videography: Enhancing your iMac 5K (or Mac Pro).

Get the new iMac 5K at B&H Photo (thanks for using MPG link). MPG computer gear wishlist.

I (Lloyd) have been using the late 2015 iMac 5K for some months as an adjunct to the 2013 Mac Pro for intensive photography work.

Specifically the late 2015 iMac 5K Retina with 4.0 GHz Intel Core i7 (Skylake), 1TB Flash, 8GB memory, AMD Radeon R9 M395X GPU (4GB GDDR5) with 64GB OWC memory.

Add AppleCare for iMac because its all-in-one design may not be as robust as the Mac Pro, and because parts like the display backlighting are very expensive to fix. AppleCare covers things for a total of 3 years, versus one year for factory warranty.

The late 2015 iMac 5K remains as impressive as ever on the performance front, but the 5K display is really what impresses as an unrivalled image presentation device without peer for color imagery and for black and white imagery. See iMac 5K: Building a High-Performance Configuration. The image below is a screen shot, but what cannot be communicated on any other display is the sheer richness of the blacks, the outstanding contrast, and of course the fine details (see more on that in my photography blog).

Screen shot (greatly reduced size) of late 2015 iMac 5K displaying black and white imagery
Sony RX10 III: 24-600mm Zoom!
Ultimate travel camera? Top image quality! Bright f/2.4-4 lens, 4K video + WiFi + high-res EVF!

SSD Performance: Sufficiency for the CPU Cores

Get OWC Aura and Aura Pro SSDs at MacSales.com (480GB and 960GB).

OWC Aura SSD

Following up on my review of the OWC Aura SSD upgrade for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina, the question of performance arises: the upgrade is on par with the prior SSD in the MacBook Air for the real world test, but not as fast as the SSD in the late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina (and later models).

When is SSD performance an issue? Consider:

  • If too little internal capacity forces use of an external SSD, then the hassle factor increases, and the performance drops.
  • If the SSD can “feed” the CPU cores with enough data fast enough, then a faster SSD won’t help much.
  • Very few programs make more than relatively brief use of disk I/O. Moreover, the system caches a great deal.
  • Very few programs use all CPUs, so typically the I/O demands are throttled. This is a dual edged sword in which a very fast SSD can keep single-threaded tasks running faster. But it also means no top end performance (with only one CPU used).

Shown below, diglloydTools IntegrityChecker (command line version) is part way through checking 223GB of files. IntegrityChecker uses sophisticated multithreading techniques and thus can drive even a 12 core Mac Pro as fast as the drives can deliver data—gigabytes per second.

In this example there are only two real (non virtual) CPU cores in the MacBook Air 6,2, so 200% means full CPU usage*. With this MacBook Air, the CPU cores are the gating factor; a faster SSD would not get the job done faster.

Would an SSD twice as fast be better? Of course (and more expensive)—it would help fractionally with some tasks, being snappier. But this particular example is as I/O intensive as it gets, and the CPUs are already maxed-out. On faster 4-core MacBook Pro Retina, the SSD speed can be more of an issue, but it all comes down to usage, and if struggling with a too-small internal SSD, the benefits may accrue in favor of capacity. But perhaps now that the tech is solved, OWC will follow on with a 4-lane higher performance solution for demanding users?

* 4 virtual cores, but in real world tests, virtual cores look busy, but accomplish nothing as can be proven by disabling them with a developer tool so as to use only true hardware CPU cores.

Below, the 2 CPU cores in MacBook Air fully utilized with OWC Aura 960GB SSD.

CPU cores in MacBook Air 6,2 are fully utilized with OWC Aura 960GB SSD
(200% is full usage, virtual cores are extraneous)
Cycling

Upgrading SSD Boot Drive: USABLE Capacity Increase Is Even Better Than It Seems

Get OWC Aura and Aura Pro SSDs at MacSales.com (480GB and 960GB).

Usable capacity with minimal system: 120GB vs 960GB

Following up on my review of the OWC Aura SSD upgrade for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina, the question of value arises: cost is a factor of course, but also the actual gains in usable storage.

When considering an upgrade of the internal SSD, the right comparison is not the nominal SSD capacities, but rather the increase in usable storage. That is, baseline storage requirements determine the actual increase in usable storage.

Consider as shown at right a minimal system: fresh install, and the only extra app of Adobe Photoshop, with no user data at all. With this very basic system, the actual usable capacity difference is 9.4X, not the 8X implied by the SSD capacity (120GB vs 960GB).

But for most users, a minimal system with various apps is likely to be closer to 60GB*, which makes the ratio (960-60)/(120-60) = 900/60 = 15X. In other words, a 1TB (960GB) SSD upgrade from 128GB offers an 15X increase in usable capacity, even though the SSDs are only 8X different in size.

That ratio diminishes when upgrading from a 256GB or 512GB SSD but is still highly favorable. Moreover, some users have fairly demanding baseline storage requirements.

Lloyd’s laptop situation

Fixed storage needs of 290GB
on MacBook Pro Retina 512GB

Lloyd’s own real-world travel requirements for photography require working web sites and git repositories on the MacBook Pro Retina while traveling.

Along with system and apps, these requirements eat up 290GB of a 512GB (499GB) SSD, leaving only 209GB of usable storage.

Thus for Lloyd’s particular usage, upgrading from a 512GB (499GB) Apple SSD to a 1TB (960GB) SSD represents an increase in usable capacity of (499-290)/(960-290) = 670/209 = 3.2X, a far greater benefit than the nominal 2X capacity difference.

In the real world, usable capacity gains are all that matter—not the nominal capacity. So figure out your own situation and thus the real gains in usable storage, your “room to roam”.

* Minimum capacity for a system involves the need for application installations, virtual memory swap space, some unused space to avoid show-stopper system halts and poor performance, etc. A minimum of 20GB free space is advised to avoid headaches.

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

REVIEWED: OWC Aura 960GB SSD Upgrade for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro Retina

Get OWC Aura and Aura Pro SSDs at MacSales.com (480GB and 960GB).

Previously discussed at announcement, the OWC Aura for the 2013 and later MacBook Air or MacBook Pro Retina is an internal SSD upgrade to 480GB or 1TB*, which is up to 8X as much storage for the MacBook Air, and up to 4X as much for the MacBook Pro Retina.

MPG tested the 960GB Aura in the MacBook Air 6,2. Similar performance is expected when installed into the 13" or 15" MacBook Pro Retina.

OWC Aura 960GB SSD Upgrade for MacBook Air or MacBook Pro Retina

Includes a discussion of repurposing the original Apple internal SSD into the optional Envoy Pro USB3 case, as well as thoughts on when and why upgrading make sense.

OWC Aura SSD
Time in seconds to make a series of images of various sizes

Performance testing by DiskTester, part of diglloydTools.

Transfer speed vs transfer size for OWC 960GB Aura SSD in MacBook Air
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Thunderbolt on OS X: Spontaneous Drive Disconnect

Spontaneous Drive Disconnect
(Thunderbolt, OS X)

SEE ALSO: Thunderbolt Cabling Reliability: Check the Fit and Tension. MPG suspects that at least some disconnect issues relate to poor physical design of Apple’s Thunderbolt ports (loose/sloppy fit).

For a while now, I’ve had drives disconnecting spontaneously in my Thunderbolt enclosures. Not often, but frequently enough to be a problem, including a tendency to do so while making backups. It also seems to be provoked by having more than one OWC Thunderbay turned on at the same time. I am unsure if daisy-chaining is involved.

I’d been meaning to blog on this issue, but no one else had written with the issue, I was unsure if it was OS X or the hardware.

MPG now has reliable information confirming that the drive disconnect issue is a Thunderbolt bug in OS X — more Apple Core Rot. Does Apple have an Emoji for “my drives just went AWOL and I worry about data loss?”. It’s always a good idea to check file integrity with IntegrityChecker when drives are affected and then effected.

MPG can unequivocally state that disabling the Power Nap feature does not solve the issue* as per Eric S below. Just last night drives disconnected spontaneously while doing a clone backup, again this morning, as shown at right. Power Nap was off as it has been 'forever' and the system did not / was not sleeping but in active use (by me). It is possible that disabling Power Nap might reduce the frequency of spontaneous drive disconnects, but MPG has no sense of whether that is valid or not.

UPDATE: this morning, I am unable to complete backups because the drives are disconnecting every half hour. Now making a 3rd attempt!
UPDATE 2: even after reboot, a 3rd failure occurred (again during backups). Trying again (4th time), the backups finished. Another failure about half an hour later, for a total of five events in about 6 hours—once per hour roughly. UPDATE 3: I now have highly credible information that the issue affects all Macs with Thunderbolt ports. Update 4: with the two Thunderbay units in question on the iMac 5K and under heavy load, seeing no issues. I suspect Mac Pro hardware issue.

Update 8 April 12:40: I cannot reproduce the issue on an iMac 5K after two hours. Same two Thunderbay units, but different cable. Unplugged that cable from iMac 5K, plugged into Mac Pro, replacing prior cable. Doing so sent other units offline by jostling the other cables, a known Apple physical design flaw that I discussed back in 2014 (loose/sloppy ports on Apple Macs). Rebooted with the two Thunderbay units on the different cable, now running same procedures to see if problem recurs. After running clones all afternoon, NO MORE ISSUES. Could it have just been cabling and/or replugging Thunderbolt cables? Time will tell over some more days. But if that were the case, how does a system go bad over time? It doesn’t add up as a cabling issue.

* Disabling all features that might cause the machine to wake up still does not prevent the Mac Pro from waking up every hour, all night long, which is super annoying (spins up all Thunderbolt devices too).

Disable PowerNap in OS X Energy Saver preferences
(might or might help with Spontaneous Drive Disconnect)

My take on this so far (8 April 2016)

  • Clearly the result of OS X PCIe reconfiguration—looks strongly like an Apple bug (see system log below). But could also be a hardware bug with some particular machines.
  • Not brand specific to the storage device.
  • Can be machine specific, and can come and go. For example, de-cable and move the machine and it won’t happen any more.
  • The same Thunderbay on another machine may show no issues at all.
  • If units are daisy-chained, all units on the chain go down, but units on other busses do not.
  • Seems to be provoked by heavy I/O such as doing more than one clone at a time.
  • Usually not an issue when devices are idle. When cloning it would happen regularly; when idle it did not occur for hours at a time.

System log

What a mess. It’s clear that the system wants to reconfigure the PCI bus. My information is that OS X does this regularly. Clearly something goes awry. Here are eight drives going down in two daisy-chained Thunderbay units on a 2013 Mac Pro.

2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: [ PCI configuration begin ]
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: [ PCI configuration end, bridges 48, devices 45 ]
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk15s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk15s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk17s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: no such device.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: media is not present.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: media is not present.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: media is not present. ...
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: disk16s2: media is not present.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.000 kernel[0]: *** kernel exceeded 500 log message per second limit - remaining messages this second discarded ***
2016-04-06 14:08:07.619 SoftRAID Driver[81]: A disk (disk12, SoftRAID ID: 068A737720301A40) for the SoftRAID volume "Backup2" (disk13) was removed or stopped responding while the volume was mounted and in use.
2016-04-06 14:08:07.620 com.apple.xpc.launchd[1]: (com.softraid.softraidd[81]) Service exited due to signal: Broken pipe: 13
2016-04-06 14:08:08.141 lsd[51805]: LaunchServices: Could not store lsd-identifiers file at /private/var/db/lsd/com.apple.lsdschemes.plist
2016-04-06 14:08:08.169 lsd[51805]: LaunchServices: Could not store lsd-identifiers file at /private/var/db/lsd/com.apple.lsdschemes.plist
2016-04-06 14:08:08.000 kernel[0]: hfs: unmount initiated on S1 on device disk16s2
2016-04-06 14:08:08.000 kernel[0]: hfs: unmount initiated on S3 on device disk14s2
2016-04-06 14:08:08.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk14s2: close: journal is invalid. aborting outstanding transactions
2016-04-06 14:08:08.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk16s2: close: journal is invalid. aborting outstanding transactions
2016-04-06 14:08:09.000 kernel[0]: hfs: unmount initiated on s4 on device disk15s2
2016-04-06 14:08:09.000 kernel[0]: hfs: unmount initiated on S2 on device disk17s2
2016-04-06 14:08:09.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk15s2: close: journal is invalid. aborting outstanding transactions
2016-04-06 14:08:09.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk17s2: close: journal is invalid. aborting outstanding transactions
2016-04-06 14:08:10.000 kernel[0]: [ PCI configuration begin ]
2016-04-06 14:08:10.000 kernel[0]: [ PCI configuration end, bridges 62, devices 45 ]
2016-04-06 14:08:11.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk6s2: replay_journal: from: 50946048 to: 72523776 (joffset 0x7474000)
2016-04-06 14:08:11.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk12s2: replay_journal: from: 99184640 to: 121249792 (joffset 0x7474000)
2016-04-06 14:08:11.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk8s2: replay_journal: from: 451321856 to: 476307456 (joffset 0x7474000)
2016-04-06 14:08:11.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk9s2: replay_journal: from: 9330688 to: 33148928 (joffset 0x7474000)
2016-04-06 14:08:11.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk25: replay_journal: from: 445345792 to: 485974016 (joffset 0x48d0000)
2016-04-06 14:08:12.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk24: replay_journal: from: 192376832 to: 234356736 (joffset 0x48d0000)
2016-04-06 14:08:18.324 SoftRAID Driver[61255]: A disk (disk8, SoftRAID ID: 068A73771FD3F840) for the SoftRAID volume "Backup2" (disk13) was removed or stopped responding while the volume was mounted and in use.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.330 SoftRAID Driver[61255]: A disk (disk6, SoftRAID ID: 068AB68DDD7DA4C0) for the SoftRAID volume "B1" (disk10) was removed or stopped responding while the volume was mounted and in use.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.336 SoftRAID Driver[61255]: A disk (disk9, SoftRAID ID: 068AB68DDD7DAC80) for the SoftRAID volume "B1" (disk10) was removed or stopped responding while the volume was mounted and in use.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk12s2: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.341 SoftRAID Driver[61255]: The SoftRAID volume "B1" (disk10) encountered an error (E00002E4). A program attempted to read or write to a volume which was no longer accepting i/o requests.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk6s2: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.347 SoftRAID Driver[61255]: The SoftRAID volume "Backup2" (disk13) encountered an error (E00002E4). A program attempted to read or write to a volume which was no longer accepting i/o requests.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk25: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:18.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk24: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:19.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk9s2: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:19.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted B1 on device disk25
2016-04-06 14:08:19.869 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/B1/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (56730 8 57767)
2016-04-06 14:08:19.889 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/B1/.fseventsd getting new uuid: 5335FFCC-AE16-4557-B3B8-29B5CFFD9E8B
2016-04-06 14:08:19.928 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778b356 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.929 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778b356 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.929 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778ada7 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.929 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778ada7 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.929 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778db55 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.930 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd/fc0075e79778db55 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.930 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd/fc0075e7977905e1 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.931 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd/fc0075e7977905e1 (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.931 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd/fc0075e7977905de (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:19.932 fseventsd[49]: disk logger: failed to open output file /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd/fc0075e7977905de (No such file or directory). mount point /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd
2016-04-06 14:08:20.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted s4 on device disk6s2
2016-04-06 14:08:20.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted S2 on device disk12s2
2016-04-06 14:08:20.386 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (1458 9 1479)
2016-04-06 14:08:20.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted B2 on device disk24
2016-04-06 14:08:20.492 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/s4/.fseventsd getting new uuid: FB2AB8CA-1002-4179-AFA7-8A8FCFA6FF49
2016-04-06 14:08:20.665 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (1072 9 1093)
2016-04-06 14:08:20.711 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/S2/.fseventsd getting new uuid: 1847267F-0227-45F1-862F-248623617B5B
2016-04-06 14:08:20.728 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (56984 9 57768)
2016-04-06 14:08:20.735 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/B2/.fseventsd getting new uuid: D627C826-90DC-4277-9A5E-5F11636AE7AF
2016-04-06 14:08:21.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted S1 on device disk9s2
2016-04-06 14:08:21.248 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (1447 10 2493)
2016-04-06 14:08:21.000 kernel[0]: jnl: disk8s2: journal replay done.
2016-04-06 14:08:21.337 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/S1/.fseventsd getting new uuid: 53AD83ED-CFDA-445A-B604-23A17BA7FF12
2016-04-06 14:08:23.000 kernel[0]: hfs: mounted S3 on device disk8s2
2016-04-06 14:08:23.322 fseventsd[49]: event logs in /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd out of sync with volume. destroying old logs. (2317 12 2493)
2016-04-06 14:08:23.389 fseventsd[49]: log dir: /Volumes/S3/.fseventsd getting new uuid: 4884B6FC-F84B-45CA-A721-2CEBF55F7B91

Reader comments

Eric S writes:

I have a tip I wanted to share with you as follows:

Quick background- I just upgraded my 2009 Mac Pro to the 2013 'Trash Can' Model. I had never dealt with Thunderbolt before, everything has been eSATA for me previously. Anyway, ran into a big problem right away while transferring data from my RAID volumes. Once mounted, they would abruptly hot disconnect, damage my data, physically damaged one of my drives, and crash the computer. Not good. These were stored previously inside the 2009 Mac Pro, connected to the internal bus and always functioned perfectly. For new Mac Pro, I had them connected externally, via thunderbolt OWC ThunderBay enclosures.

Meat of the story: so finally figured out a solution to this unnerving and debilitating problem and I would like to pass along this tip as I do not seem to find it on your site previously.

Under Apple System Preferences => Energy Saver, Apple looks like they did something rather confusing and not immediately apparent. For older Mac models, the panel had two sliders, one for Computer Sleep and one for Display Sleep. For newer models, they removed the Computer Sleep slider and added a “Power Nap” option. Apparently, Power Nap is now what controls the computer sleep and may also introduce other variations in the way internal and external hardware operates with OS X and the computer. This is not immediately apparent, at least I did not realize the connection until I stumbeld across this blog post from someone who was having the same drive hot disconnect problem: http://www.extensions.in.th/amitiae/2014/04_2014/disks_4.html

His solution was to keep the Power Nap box unchecked (it installs as checked by default and may periodically switch back on its own after further system installs) and he still never conclusively resolved whether this was the problem, but my findings are fairly confident this is the cause.

As long as external drives are connected via ThunderBolt and mounted, this Power Nap setting must always be unchecked. After any Apple system software updates, you must immediately go back and look to make sure it is still unchecked, as I have had it go back to default on it’s own a couple times.

Anyway, that is my problem and determined solution which I hope you may find useful.

If you have already come across this, I’m sorry and please disregard.

Please keep up the great work, your information is invaluable and a must have reference for so may topics not covered anywhere else.

MPG: PowerNap is definitely not involved; that’s a red herring.

Pedro F writes:

I have a Mac Pro Late 2013 and I’ve been having thunderbolt drives disconnecting occasionally, It’s been driving me nuts for months. I have been searching for a solution and was frustrated, I didn’t find any conclusive evidence it was a software problem or a drive problem and the thunderbolt cabling seemed faultless, thunderbolt cables entered normally and seemed secure in the New Mac Pro. But then while searching around the internet I read in your site that newer Macs have loose thunderbolt ports. So I put tape around the Thunderbolt cables I use and boom! Never had any single disconnect since then. The bottom line is, is it possible that all this problems you are having with your drives are not a software problem but one with the thunderbolt ports?

MPG: It’s possible, especially since I hear that replacing the Mac sometimes makes the issue disappear. I’ve replugged my cables and there is not much I can do—the fit is solid and tight on the OWC Thunderbay (excellent ports), but on the Mac Pro the six Thunderbolt ports are so darn tightly grouped that all one can do is to make sure the cables go straight in; no way to put tape around one cable with cables running into all six.

Hans M writes:

Spontaneous disconnect has occurred with me also, using an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual on Thunderbolt with my MacPro 2013. This drive was used as a TimeMachine backup. After a few weeks TimeMachine announced it couldn't find the disk. Checking the disks with SoftRAID indicated they were ok.

You raised the question if it could be provoked by having more than one OWC Thunderbay turned on or daisy-chained. To the contrary I can inform you that the same occurred with one of my children I loaned a drive to. The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual was connected by Thunderbolt to the most recent iMac as a TimeMachine backup. It also disconnected after a few weeks with TimeMachine suddenly being unable to find the drive.

MPG: My information is that it can happen on any Mac or any brand Thunderbolt device (e.g. brands like Pegasus). This report is consistent with that idea on the “any Mac” front. However, it also seems to be a good working theory that the Mac itself is the issue—a hardware problem, and that replacing the Mac may make the problem go away. Hence those with unaffected Macs scoff at those who are affected.

Eric S writes:

Ahh, mine also too 'has a mind of its own'. It does as you mention intermittently sleep and wake up on its own. I witnessed this tonight.

I thought I had fixed it by in checking Power Nap, but realize now this does not absolutely solve it. System sleeps and wake ups still are happening throughout the night with drive hot disconnect errors popping up upon return from wake and there seems nothing I can do about this.

I have gone ahead and spent the last week transferring all data to RAID 1+0 configurations via SoftRAID and had to buy additional Thunderbay enclosures and drives. Still scarred though as my Data rests in a unstable and non-consistent state as long as drives are on and computer is plugged in. Lol. What a piece if shit. Was not counting on this upon spending the thousands of dollars I just plucked down for the 'upgrade'. To be honest, surprised but also not surprised.

During the course of last several major OS X upgrades at various times, they have upon install completely destroyed all my years worth of saved Apple mail, destroyed the contents of my iTunes media library, (now way in hell I am trusting them to store all my photos in the cloud as I suspect this will also break at some point wiping away all my years worth of precious photos, something I can not conceivable let happen,) and so now looks like they are after destroying all my Data altogether. Have a hard time thinking that any of this would have been possible had Steve Jobs still been around. Just a final post script to this story. Again, thanks for posting about it. Can't imagine how anyone else is seriously using this with any degree of confidence by this point.

Oh, I just got it...It's nicknamed the Trash Can, not because of its shape, but it's because it's where all your data goes to die!! Funny /s

MPG: Apple’s credibility has never been lower on the software front, but hardware woes are nerve wracking.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Corporate Security Breaches: Best Practices, and Why Sensitive Info Should be Removable

Why is the WSJ customer letter that follows unacceptable? Think about such issues with all companies that you deal with.

  • No company should ever store credit card information unencrypted. How does WSJ protect my CC infoand why is that question not unaddressed after a security breach?
  • My CC was charged last night for an auto renewal. I never want auto renewal because among other things it requires storing my CC info. And why was there no “heads up” a few days prior? It worried me coming out of the blue like that.
  • How can I “protect my personal information” if WSJ and other corporations with far more resources fail at it, and fail to provide options to customers to minimize risk?
  • Specifically, I was unable to delete my credit card using the WSJ web site, which also regularly malfunctions with error messages (in general). I had to phone in and be transferred to a special line to have my CC info manually removed. This is unacceptable and is in direct contradiction with the statement “Protecting our customers’ information is of the utmost importance to us”. Really? Then why is my CC stored at all (I never select auto renew), and why is there no option to remove such sensitive info right in the customer portal?
  • Why do companies insist upon storing information that I do not want them to have at all?

Of course WSJ has no desire to see customer information compromised. But statements and actions are different things: risk starts with bad approaches to data retention, with the most core principle being minimizing what is stored and giving customers control over those choices, then encrypting everything else. Then communicating exactly what safeguards are in place clearly and without generic platitudes.

October 9, 2015

To our customers:

Protecting our customers’ information is of the utmost importance to us. Out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying you that we recently determined there was unauthorized access to our systems. While we recognize that no company is immune to cyberattacks, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect our customers.

To date, our extensive review has not uncovered any direct evidence that information was stolen, and we have taken steps to stop the unauthorized access. We devote substantial resources to cybersecurity and we want to assure you that we are taking additional steps to further fortify our systems.

We have been working with law enforcement as well as a leading cybersecurity firm to assist with our investigation. We understand that this incident was likely part of a broader campaign involving a number of other victim companies. It appears that the focus was to obtain contact information such as names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers of current and former subscribers in order to send fraudulent solicitations.

As part of the investigation to date, we also determined that payment card and contact information for fewer than 3,500 individuals could have been accessed, although we have discovered no direct evidence that information was stolen. We are sending those individuals a letter in the mail with more information about the support we are offering. If you do not receive such a letter, we have no indication that your financial information was involved.

In general, it is important to safeguard your personal information. Some easy steps you can take include watching for possible phishing attacks (suspicious emails enticing you to click on attachments or links), avoiding calls or emails from unknown sources that solicit your personal information and using trusted security software that is set to update automatically. For more information on best practices to protect your personal information, please

visit http://www.onguardonline.gov/. In addition, we encourage you to call customer service at 1-800-JOURNAL

(1-800-568-7625) if you have noticed any suspicious activity related to your Dow Jones account or have any questions. If you are calling from outside the United States, please use the applicable number available in the Contact Directory section of our Customer Center.

While we are taking the appropriate actions to handle this incident, I wanted to inform you of the situation personally because I take these matters seriously and value your relationship with Dow Jones.

We regret any inconvenience or concern this may have caused. The need to stay ahead of those who seek to do us and our customers harm is an ongoing priority; we will continue to do everything we can to protect our customers and our systems.

Best,

William Lewis
Chief Executive Officer, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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Selling that Computer? Wipe Out Personal Files First

diglloydTools

The iMac 5K has gone back to Apple (see comments on why it’s a fine machine but just not for me). See also the review of the iMac 5K.

Having copied over my stuff including mail and source code and various, I didn’t really like the idea of just emptying the trash, so I wanted a fast and efficient way to overwrite my files.

Enter the wipe command command in diglloydTools, which wipes files efficiently without any need to erase the drive. The command also wipes out metadata in the file system catalog as well as renaming each file to a random long gibberish name, before finally deleting it. Double confirmation is needed before any files are actually wiped.

NOTE: the wipe and wipeFree commands are available in Terminal (command line) only at present (advanced users).

  • A full erase/wipe is always better if the drive is to be sold, but this is not viable or convenient when/if the drive is in active and continued use. (Very high security requirements would require physical destruction of the drive, or at the least, a complete erase and block-level wipe by booting off another drive).
  • Since wiping files on an SSD doesn’t really wipe those actual blocks, I followed the wipe-files command with the dgl wipeFree command, letting it erase all free space down to the last free byte. Then I repeated; with most of the drive unused, this effectively cycles through all blocks on the SSD.

The wipe command also supports an easy to use convenience feature: appending the suffix -wipeMe to any file or folder tags it for wiping (“dgl wipe”). All local volumes are scanned for such files in highly efficient fashion, making it convenient to mark many items for wiping, then do it in one invocation.

Other users for wiping free space

As it turns out, my most frequent use of the wipeFree command is to wipe free space on Disk Utility disk images so that they compress down to the smallest possible size (e.g. when I zip compress one for downloading).

See also

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What a Bad Hard Drive Fails Like when Running diglloydTools 'fill-volume'

diglloydTools

Purchase diglloydTools.

I received a 2009 Mac Pro with four internal 2TB hard drives from a friend whose computer systems I updated/replaced. That Mac Pro contained an SSD and 4 X 2TB hard drives, each with about 2.5 years of power-on time—realtively old and thus “suspicious”. He had been having strange delays and the drives might have been the culprit.

Accordingly, I decided to test all 4 of those fairly old hard drives for reliability. Generally an in-depth reliability test* is best done with the test-reliability command, but in this case I elected to do a fill-volume in order to be able to graph the results—and because fill-volume almost always kicks out a bad drive.

As shown below, -36 is an I/O error, which indicates a hardware failure of some kind.

What’s interesting about this particular test is that the failure did not occur during the write phase, but during the read phase, the implication being that a drive can be written, then later fail to be readable—a disaster for backups.

Recommendation: Users with hard drive backups might (always keep at least three) should probably make a practice of erasing a backup once a year (and one at a time), and then doing a fill-volume to see if the drive operates correctly through the entire write and read phases. If it passes, return it to backup duty.

Even brand-new hard drives can fail in this manner; most hard drives are not media-tested before being shipped. While bad blocks can be and are mapped-out, this shows up in the graph from fill-volume as erratic performance instead of a steady pattern.

* The test-reliability test is very thorough and can take several days if run fully.

Test excerpt

Shown below, an excerpt of the test log shows that the drive failed with a -36 I/O error about halfway through the read phase.

Scanning "/Volumes/bad1/disktester-blobs"...1000
1000 files in 1 folders.
---------------------------------- Iteration 1 ---------------------------------
Reading 1000 files totaling 1.81 TiB...
IO method: single synchronous read buffer of size 128 MiB
# Files     Amt Read MiB/sec(all)   MiB/sec(1)  MiB/sec(10)  MiB/sec(30)
0      768 MiB      inf           na           na           na    
0     1.50 GiB      inf           na           na           na    
1     2.23 GiB      156          130          130          130    
...
536    992.7 GiB      119          105          106          107    
536    993.3 GiB      119          105          106          107    
537    993.9 GiB      119          106          106          107    
537    994.5 GiB      119          106          106          107    
537    995.1 GiB      119          106          106          107    
FileReaderTask::ReadAll:  caught error: disk error (I/O error) [-36], file = "/Volumes/bad1/disktester-blobs/blob-0537.blob"
CatalogInfo for "blob-0537.blob":
Path: "/Volumes/bad1/disktester-blobs/blob-0537.blob"
CreatorCode:      BLOB
FileType:         BLOB
DataFork:         1987051520, 1987051520, closed
Locked:           false
TextEncoding:     0
CreationDate      2016-03-25 15:04:28
ContentModDate    2016-03-25 15:04:46
AttributeModDate  2016-03-25 15:04:46
AccessDate        2016-03-25 20:47:57
BackupDate        1903-12-31 16:00:00
Parent dir ID     113
Node ID:          652
FileReaderTask::ReadAll: exiting
Task FileReaderTask exited with error: disk error (I/O error) [-36]
Read 537 files totaling 995.4 GiB in 8584.08 seconds @ 119 MiB/sec

Some of the other 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:

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iOS 9.3: Setting up NightShift feature, to Help Sleep

An case that offers serious iPhone or iPad protection: the NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 6s, 6s Plus.

Having had some sleep issues in the past year, I’m keen on anything that might help.

The idea with Night Shift is that the human brain responds to blue light as daylight, which can interefere with normal sleep patterns. By making the screen much less blue (that is, yellow), the desire to sleep is not impaired.

The bad news for me: I often work late, so the phone is not at all the issue; the computer screen is the issue, and it has to be color accurate for my photography work. So it doesn’t really help me, but many people have phones permanently embedded in their palms, so there.

Setting up: go to Settings and select Display & Brightness.

iOS: Settings => Display & Brightness

Select Night Shift settings which then offers choices for scheduling or not, and more/less warm. There is an option that enables Night Shift from “Sunset to Sunrise” based on your location as well. phto

 
iOS: Night Shift scheduling
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