Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

Now Shipping: OWC Thunderbolt Helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis

The about $280 OWC Thunderbolt Helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis is in stock and now shipping from

Use PCIe Expansion Cards with any Thunderbolt 3 Equipped Mac or PC

Mercury Helios 3 is the ideal way to access the PCIe card you need and is perfect for video capturing, video editing, media transcoding, audio processing, ultra-fast networking, data storage, and more via its Thunderbolt 3 interface. Get empowered with the flexibility to upgrade the capabilities of almost any workflow and workstation.

Install One PCIe Card + Daisy Chain

Mercury Helios 3 supports one half-length (up to 7.75"), full-height, double-width x16 PCIe 3.0 card to provide a vast array of expansion options. 

  • One PCIe card slot + daughter card support
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Thunderbolt daisy-chain up to six devices
  • One mini DisplayPort

Thunderbolt Performance Juggernaut

The Mercury Helios 3 is the perfect solution to enhance and expand the computing capabilities of any Thunderbolt 3 equipped Mac or PC. Utilizing Thunderbolt high-performance technology, Mercry Helios 3 is a tour de force that provides the flexibility to use a multitude of PCIe cards with the bandwidth to support their capabilities.

Durable, Cool, and at the Ready

A whisper quiet variable speed fan keeps the inside of the Mercury Helios 3's durable aluminum ventilated chassis running cool. It automatically powers on/off with your computer, so it's at the ready whenever you are.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

FOR SALE, cheap: three (3) Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer

The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer is a very fine printer, which I discussed a few years back. It is a $379 printer still in production that after a $250 mail-in rebate is about $130.

I have three of the Canon PIXMA PRO-100 printers in my garage: one has seen very light use, and the other two are brand-new in box never used. A total of 17 ink sealed cartridges also (can’t vouch for ink usability as it is some years old).

I hardly ever print, I want the space back, and I also have a PIXMA Pro-10. I am eager to clear them out of my garage, so I will let them go very cheaply, provided that you come and pick them up near Palo Alto, CA (too large and heavy to ship cost effectively).

Make me an offer.


Security: Phishing Email Purporting to be a Buyer Complaint

A few weeks ago, this blog discussed Phishing Email Purporting to be a Password Reset Notification.


Nearly all phishing uses bait (and you’re the fish). Bait can be subtle, threatening or insulting. Don’t bite. All bait is designed to provoke a reaction: fear, anger, your innate desire to help or solve a problem, etc. Appeals to decency and honesty work because most people want to set things right, even if they did not cause the problem—it’s the desire to help. Don’t let your good side be baited into helping someone hack you.

Below, the attached file looks like an HTML file in the Apple Mail window. The recipient is urged to open it in order to resolve a problem with damaged goods. But it is really an encoded javascript with inscrutable purpose. If the html attachment (an encoded javascript) is opened, it will rewrite a web browser window, sending the browser to a web page with evil purposes.

...script type="text/javascript">

Why does Apple Mail EVER allow this level of exposure to risk? It is security malfeasance for an email program to present users with such risks. There is near zero virtue in supporting such attachments in email, since the 99.9% case is malware or spam. It’s about time Apple fixed such sloppy security practices in Apple Mail: users should not have to be aware of such risks—the risks should be eliminated.

Below, a bogus return path (, unprofessional greeting, incorrect grammar, etc are all giveaways. But what if the hackers aren’t this stupid and the approach has none of those easy to spot faults? See Apple Mail Security: Viewing Mail Headers.

Phishing email purporting to be a problem with a shipped product

Source code for the ad.

Source code of phishing email purporting to be a problem with a shipped product

See also:

B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 4 hours unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
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Big Discounts on Mac Pro and iMac 5K

Here are some great savings on used and factory-refurb Macs and storage too.

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

Deals on Hard Drives

Right now, there are some excellent hard drive deals at

Hard drives slow down as they fill up, so even if capacity needs might fit into 6TB, an 8TB drive is a better long term investment. Ditto for 6TB vs 4TB, etc.

The MacSales 90-day replacement guarantee is something to consider when buying a new hard drive: waiting weeks for a hard drive manufacturer to send a refurb is an unpleasant plight.

OWC is proud to offer an extended replacement window of 90 days on new internal hard disk drives* (unless otherwise noted in the product description) and Pioneer DVR devices. Once a return authorization number has been issued and we receive the problematic drive back, you will get a brand new replacement drive, rather than a factory refurbished drive.

MPG also recommends buying drives with the OWC Thunderbay 4, to benefit from not only the full burn-in process but the excellent warranty.

Each ThunderBay undergoes OWC's multi-hour drive "burn-in" performance certification procedure prior to shipping. This ensures your ThunderBay arrives operating properly and ready for demanding use.

Back in late 2015 I invested in two OWC Thunderbay 4 units incorporating eight 8TB HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8 enterprise-grade hard drives, which cost a pretty penny. Those drives are still serving me well except for one failure, which was replaced by MacSales.

Deals on Hard Drives
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

macOS 10.12.5 Update

Updating to macOS 10.12.4 was an unhappy day that cost me two days of headaches from the sudo problem.

The release of macOS 10.12.5 so far seems good on three machines: 2013 Mac Pro, 2015 MacBook Pro, 2015 iMac 5K. See the release notes for macOS 10.12.5 and security fixes.

This time, I made a clone backup of the boot drive before updating, just in case.

macOS 10.12.5

Paul R writes:

Mac OS 10.12.5 and 10.12.4 are still problems for me and my 40" 4K monitor on my Mac Pro (late 2013). The problem is I can't control the Night Shift feature. After install and restart, the Night Shift feature is always on and no way to turn it off in the Display control panel. It's a known problem. Here's a few links which identify the problem and some possible indirect (and undesirable for me) ways to control it.

I'm going to wait for next Mac OS update and hope fixed then. Until then, I've again reverted back to 10.12.3.

MPG: I had no trouble with NightShift with the NEC PA322UHD 4K display, but in the end I decided against using Night Shift at all, and disabled it. The color shift was unacceptable for my work.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

On Ransomware

MPG offers personalized consulting to help you or your business choose and configure a Mac. And/or to design a robust backup strategy for the worst case scenarios.

Just yesterday I wrote about backup reliability and the critical importance of robust backup strategy. Today, all over the news is the worldwide panic about ransomware attacking PCs running Microsoft windows, for example Global Cyberattack Spreads as Experts Try to Limit Damage.

The reporting is awesomely bad in one way: it fails to emphasize that this is yet another in the litany of tens of thousands of Microsoft Windows attacks, dropping the huge context elephant in the room: operating system. I state upfront that macOS is NOT immune to cyberattacks and that threats will grow steadily, but as far as can be told, there is no in-the-wild wildfire malware that has EVER taken down any significant number of Macs via something as nasty as ransomware. Readers, please point me to documented evidence of such an event and its impact and event horizon, if I am incorrect (and Trojans inserted into “free software” don’t count, thieves deserve what they get).

At any rate, one reads little about widespread malware issues with macOS. I mean the Real Deal, stuff that spreads on its own across wide numbers of Macs and does real damage.

And so I ask:

  • No business deserves to remain in business that cannot be bothered to execute a backup strategy for customer data and accounting and other critical business data. It is incompetence at the most fundamental level of a business. Failure to maintain offsite backups (NOT on the internet in any way) is the only thing that makes ransomware succeed, because a ransomwared PC can be physically destroyed and replaced if need be, but data is irreplaceable.
  • Why in this day and age is ANYONE in a business environment allowed to click on a link in an email? MPG has long advised to NEVER CLICK ON LINKS in emails. Why do mail programs allow this? Why don’t corporations insist on mail software that disables all links and trackers and beacons in emails? If nothing else, require plain text only.
  • If someone told you as a business owners that armed thugs would show up at your door and hold all your data for ransom (and if refused, destroy all your computers thus destroying your business), wouldn’t you do something about it, like keep another copy offsite? It’s mind-boggling that ransomware could take down any business. Do businesses go without liability or fire insurance and not pay taxes and so on? How is it even possible that existential risk to critical business data is ignored so that ransomware is more than a nasty nuisance?
  • Why does Apple (at the least), still not offer a “disable all external links in emails” option? As well as defeating certain types of encoded spam, misleading headers versus "reply-to", etc? It’s computing malpractice by Apple and everyone else as to where it stands today. There is just no reason for Apple or any other company to sit on its hands while these sorts of attacks happen. And if link-clicking is allowed, why not “sandbox” any browser window started via a link in an email? The level of technology today is so primitive in its failure to take reasonable precautions that it is computing malpractice.
  • Why are PC's considered a bargain? It’s one of those jokes in the “bubble” (those in the bubble cannot see out of it): the cost of a system has only marginal relation to the initial cost of the hardware! It’s like saying you can fly coast to coast every month on a $19 ticket but there is a 1 in 3 chance you will die in the next few years due to a plane crash. This is not a good deal by my reckoning. No business in its right mind should be running Windows because it is the #1 target for all types of malware. Maybe Windows 10 qualifies, and maybe it doesn’t, but the reporting I see in the press is pathetic as it does not tackle the key question: how many more PCs than Macs are disastrously compromised each year and year over year, at what economic cost? THAT ought to be the #1 consideration for any sane business person or individual when buying a computer (or even a phone).
  • Why is our government (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc) not finding security holes, treating them as national security issues and thus immediately (privately) demanding that companies fix them, rather than exploiting them and thus leaving millions of people and businesses at risk? Isn’t it the first (and only proper) role of government to protect its citizens, including private individuals, businesses, power plants, dams and other infrastructure, all of which of the latter some batch of idiots hooked up to the internet.
  • Why are companies with sloppy software practices not held liable for such defects? Car manufacturers that never did have real problems have paid out billions, but software companies get a free pass?

Who knows what this email is below? It is unwanted spam, but non-nefarious? Phishing and dangerous? It looks like one more phishing attempt, and it is base64-encoded (thus hiding its content), so it is almost certainly hiding some nasty stuff. Everyone likes free stuff but why should any business allow its employees to EVER click on links in such an email?

See reader comments that follow below.

That “unused credit” may cost you everything you have.

David B writes:

As it relates to the ransom ware attacks currently I don't encrypt my own files but if I did would that prevent someone else from being able to do it? Might that be a good defensive measure?

I find myself leaving my externals disconnected, which is really inconvenient but figure it's wiser to turn on the computer and see if there's been an attack before connecting in all my data.

MPG: encrypting your data accomplishes nothing in this context: the malware would encrypt the encrypted files and demand payment in order to decrypt them. Decrypting them would restore the originals, whether they are your own unencrypted or encrypted files.

Leaving local backup drives disconnected or off is some measure of defense as mentioned above. However it is wholly inadequate from a backup perspective: real backups should be stored offsite at a separate location and not connected to the internet in any way (unless it’s a cloud backup and that cloud backup is an adjunct, not a primary backup).

Keep in mind that if cloud backup is automatic malware might encrypt your files, then the cloud backup could replace the unencrypted files with the malware-encrypted files and you would be hosed, making such cloud backup 100% useless. If the cloud backup keeps older versions (the ones not encrypted by the malware), then there is some recourse. If not—bye-bye data.

The foregoing is why MPG has recommendd for many years to keep at least three (3) separate offline backups not connected to the computer or located near it and not on the internet, such as in a safe deposit box. Moreover those backups should NEVER be risked by bringing them all at once to the same site; cycle through them once a week or month. This why having 4/5/6/ copies is ideal; update the oldest backup once a week or so.

Is Apple’s Time Machine Broken Yet Again

MPG strongly recommends clone backups as a “real backup”. TimeMachine withreally a toy that is good for a few days (and quite useful in that regards). The “toy” comment might seem unfair or even outrageous, but history proves is perhaps too complementary. More on that below.

Which is why something like a 4-bay OWC Thunderbay 4 in a non-RAID configuration* is so useful: one drive can be for Time Machine and another can be for a clone backup. I call these “half backups” because if the computer is eaten by aliens or burns up in a fire or is stolen, always-attached backup drives have zero value. Keep separate external (away from the computer) as your #1 priority of course. Both are ideal so that backups happen every day and the offsite backups for Plan B for the worst-case scenario.

* RAID is NOT a Backup nor is it advisable to use RAID for backups, excepting only certains specialized situations.

Time machine failing?

A May 13 post I came across macOS Sierra bug not fixed: Time Machine backups still stop working seems eerily familiar with troubles reported here on MPG back in 2012. A bit different, but the same bitter pill.

The old bug in macOS Sierra, which has been present since its first release last year, resulting in Time Machine backups and other background tasks becoming highly irregular and unreliable, has not been fixed in Sierra 10.12.4.
After a variable period of continuous running, usually longer than 7 days, sometimes over 30 days, Time Machine backups and other activities which are managed and dispatched by the Duet Activity Scheduler (DAS) will cease being scheduled correctly. They then become extremely irregular and unreliable – backups may be made several hours apart, for example. All activities managed by DAS are affected.

Besides ceasing to operate entirely or partially, there have been crashes in Time Machine and a variety of other problems that MPG has seen over the years. Hence my “toy” comment with respect to Time Machine: backup software has to be rock solid, both for backing up and restoring. MPG recommends Time Machine, but ONLY as an adjunct for a few days or few weeks—max.

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

Mac Users Want NVIDIA GPUs, Apple Keeps Doing AMD—a Disconnect a Future Mac Pro Might Resolve

Survey on GPU preference surveyed Mac users and found that 80% want NVIDIA GPUs:

Based on our survey, the most popular Mac Pro configuration is a Tower with 8 CPU cores, 64GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GPU, two external 4K displays, and 2TB of internal storage. The top three most desired ports are Thunderbolt 3, Ethernet, and USB 3.1 Gen2.

NVIDIA keeps taking the lead and has better support for GPU APIs:

NVIDIA Accelerates AI, Launches Volta, DGX Workstation, Robot Simulator, More

It’s all fueling demand for more AI computing power. Two years ago, cutting-edge image recognition systems needed seven exaflops of computing power, Huang said. Now, researchers tackling real-time language translation need more than 100 exaflops of power, he explained. By comparison, the cumulative peak performance of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers is under one exaflop.

This demand comes as Moore’s law has stalled out. The single-threaded performance of traditional CPUs is now growing just 1.1x per year. By contrast the GPU performance — powered by improvements in the performance of everything from silicon to software — is still growing by 1.5x per year.

Built with 21 billion transistors, the Volta V100 delivers deep learning performance equal to 100 CPUs. Representing an investment by NVIDIA of more than $3 billion, the processor is built “at the limits of photolithography,” Huang told the crowd.

Why isn’t Apple on board with NVIDIA, instead foisting AMD on Mac Pro and iMac users (soldered on or non-upgradeable) all these years? Maybe the promised vaporware ~2019 Mac Pro will solve the issue by being expandable:

Apple’s Promised Mac Pro Powerhouse

The GPU has its problems, but for some users (video, 3D modeling, etc) it is the #1 consideration.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

OWC Mother's Day Deals

Deals at OWC include used macs with warranties, memory, laptop upgrades, add-ons, etc.

B&H Photo Mother's Day Deals and More

Deals just seem to never stop these days. It’s like Black Friday, but in May.

Some items below have special deals and offers not necessarily shown below (click).

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Security: Phishing Email Purporting to be a Password Reset Notification

Playing off the now-common practice of companies sending emails for logins from new IP addresses and so on, this latest type of phishing email is very dangerous.

NEVER CLICK ON LINKS in EMAILS (in general), particularly ones like this.

Evil phishing email purporting to be a password reset request notification

This one even uses a font similar to what Apple uses:

Evil phishing email purporting to be a password reset request notification

Well, almost never; if it arrived right after you yourself requested a password reset—that’s a reasonable case. Otherwise, if you were born yesterday and actually think it is legit, go to the claimed site by entering the web address manually, e.g., type in or whatever.

In MPG’s view, Apple Mail is remiss in not adding technology to counter such emails, if only popping up a little display with the URL when the link is moused-over. It’s just insane in this day and age to not have much better intelligence in Mail softtware—self driving cars while phishing runs rampant?

See also:

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Tired of Being Tracked and Bombarded with Ads? Ghostery

I have “do not track” enabled (in Safari, Preferences => Privacy => Ask websites to not track me). Fat chance—ad trackers and advertisers totally ignore this. That setting is all but useless and toothless.

I do not object to a reasonable number of ads on a site that are tailored to that site and relevant to that site. That’s totally fair and appropriate.

But I do object to poor response time, ads that follow me around the web across unrelated sites, a willful crossing of what I deem a “red line”: having ads follow me around the web with trackers that clearly are recording all my online site visits. That is offensive.

Experience anything like this?

  • A certain stock charting web site I was seeing annoying delays, making me wait a second or two for every one of 30 tabs or so, an irritating experience.
  • Products I had looked at on a certain photography store kept following me around on a dozen different other websites.
  • A vast array of ads cluttering some sites, including obnoxious animated ones, including ones resulting from tracking from other sites.
  • On my laptop in the field using my iPhone as a personal hotspot, response time is massively faster for some sites (personal hot spots can have latency issues and tabs can just die). The benefits are HUGE when the signal is at moderate or low strength.
  • And so on.
Ghostery tracker and ad blocker

If this is the Google and Facebook model, it seems doomed because it disrespects customers. I won’t put up with this any more. So I finally installed Ghostery:

  • The stock charting site works instantaneously; it was using a dozen or so trackers, all of which I disabled.
  • The photo products I looked at no longer follow me around on all sorts of other web sites.
  • Most all ads just vanish, cleaning up the godawful mess on some sites..

Because I’m not sure which trackers are the bad actors, they all lose—I just shotgun all of them to disabled using Ghostery. I’d rather be fair, but I am just not going to sort through 13 different ad trackers and half a dozen beacons (whatever those are) just because some ill-conceived site has no respect for my experience.

Now I know that “free” means “somehow has to pay for it” and that means ads are needed. As noted above, I accept that core idea, but not the ugly attempt to practically force me into buying something as well as the eerie feeling of being tracked no matter where I go—unacceptable.

Accordingly, this is justice: an advertiser willing to cross that red line deserves to have their ads become unseen, for tracking to no longer work, etc. Good riddance, my browsing experience is faster and cleaner now with Ghostery. I didn’t ask for the mess, but the red line means I have now cleaned it up in the only way I could.

Chris R writes:

What an excellent recommend that ‘Ghostery’ extension is, installed it on my browsers here and as you say works immediately, speeds the browser up too! .. result! Here’s another good extension you might like, it’s called - SearchLock it prevents Google from storing all your information on search you may do using your browser, you can now keep your searches to yourself -

MPG: I hve not yet tried SearchLock.

Jeff K writes:

I used Ghostery for a few years , I don't like tracking or long page
load times either.

Even though I found Ghostery useful, and free, I just uninstalled the
extension due to it's acquisition by Cliqz!

Whether I'm right or wrong about this I spent the $10 on 1Blocker after
some good references from like-minded people.

The app is very effective, very fast and customizable with the database
updating over the net so you don't have to update the app.

Keep up your impressive work.

MPG: on the Ghostery home page one will find “Ghostery© is a Cliqz company. Learn more about Cliqz”. Cliqz has an agenda for sure. Its news page says a few things, including “Cliqz GmbH has been majority-owned by Hubert Burda Media, one of Europe’s leading media corporations. In August 2016, Mozilla joined as a strategic minority investor”. Clearly it’s worth paying attention to this area as the acquisition by a for-profit corporation seems at odds with the original mission. The major risk would of course be having a plugin like Ghostery be repurposed for tracking of its own. At this point, I have no position on this matter other than it raises issues I’d rather had not come to pass, and I don’t like rabbit holes and it does what I want it to do for now.

The #1 Optimization for Photoshop Users: Speed up Save/Open by up to 20X

Want to configure or optimize for Photoshop or Lightroom or video? MPG consulting.

Saving files can be up to twenty (20) times faster in Photoshop, but I find that few consulting clients of mine are aware of it.

The Disable Compression of PSD and PSB files checkbox in Photoshop File Handling preferences means that Photoshop skips the compression step, which is a slow single CPU core operation.

The amount of speedup depends on how fast the drive is—that’s why saving and opening on a single hard drive will be much slower than on a fast SSD.

Disable compression of PSD and PSB files for up to 20X faster saves and opens in Photoshop CC 2015
Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

OWC Accelsior Pro Q: Rock Solid and Blazingly Fast

Get OWC Accelsior Pro Q and OWC Helios and OWC SSD at

I’ve been running two OWC Accelsior Pro Q PCIe SSDs in an dual OWC Helios enclosures as a RAID-0 stripe for nearly a month now.

See the MPG review of the OWC Accelsior Pro Q PCIe SSD.

Operation has been rock solid, and strange in a sort of way: I just don’t notice that there are any drives involved. That is, when I save or open in Photoshop, it’s so quick that the drive ceases to be a consideration. Ditto for any other operation.

Well, almost—Photoshop itself remains a gating factor, clearly not writing or reading optimally, even with Disable Compression for PSD/PSB files enabled. Photoshop is just not built (yet) for working with extremely fast SSDs—internal inefficiencies keep it from utilizing full drive speed.

Integrity Checker verify MB/sec: 2TB OWC Accelsior Pro Q RAID-0 vs 960GB Accelsior RAID-0

Great Deals on 10 Core Mac Pro

OWC has 10 core Mac Pros at an excellent price.

View factory refurbished 10 core Mac Pros

View deals on 6/8/10/12 core Mac Pros

Apple never sold 10 core machines; the CPU in these have been upgraded from 6 core to 10 core by OWC (I use a 8-core 3.3 GHz upgraded one myself). Ten CPU cores are excellent for video work, Capture One Pro and Iridient Developer, and any software that will use all the CPU cores.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Reviewed: OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini USB-C

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini

The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini is an ultra high performance mini hardware RAID portable drive with two bays for 2.5" laptop drives, which can be any hard drive, hybrid drive or SSD.

The huge plus for over previous generation units is its use of USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), which doubles the speed of USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps). The port at unit rear is a USB-C port; OWC supplies two cables one of which is USB-C and the other is USB-C to USB-A.

Compatible with existing Macs, it delivers double the performance on the 2016 MacBook Pro—see the test results.

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini USB-C

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports
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