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Hard Drives: Staying the Course with Higher Performance and up to 8TB Capacity

While I’d of course love to have a couple of 8TB Viper SSDs (or even one), the cost is commensurate with the outrageous performance, or so I’m expecting as soon as I can get one to test.

Meanwhile, hard drives (HDD) keep increasing their merit by delivering speeds over 200MB/sec, and capacities of 5TB, 6TB and now a whopping 8TB. The 8TB Ultrastar He8 hard drive offers 1/3 more capacity than 6TB but at about double the price. Still, 8TB drives should drop substantially in price fairly quickly as consumer (non enterprise) models appear.

MPG’s diglloyd swapped to 5TB drives for main storage in multiple OWC Thunderbay 4 units less than a year ago, but done today, it would now be the HGST 6.0 TB Deskstar NAS drive*. See the performance tests; it’s a 'killer' fast drive.

* For the 2009/2010 Mac Pro models, I’ve had two reports that at least some production batches might have warm restart issues (cold bootup is fine), e.g. do a restart and the drives won’t appear, but shut down and start up and they come up fine. I cannot confirm this as a general issue, but it is something to be aware of in those Macs when used *internally* (no reports of issues externally). Possibly it involves a certain production batch, etc—no way to be sure.

Storage design

How to configure storage for backup, reliability and fault tolerance (everyone’s needs can vary) is a subject I often cover during consulting.

The best setup for any system is to:

(1) Utilize an SSD (“flash drive”) for the boot/system/apps volume and for any files that benefit from high performance, such as Adobe Lightroom catalogs, scratch space, video transcoding temp files, databases, etc.

(2) Utilize hard drives for main storage of large files: image files, video footage, music, etc. (But ).

While USB3 drives make good choices for single drives (e.g. for backup), a tangled pile of separate drives can lead lead to frustration and reliability issues of various kinds.

Instead, MPG strongly recommends investing in a high quality 4-bay unit like the OWC Thunderbay 4. Its 4 bays are eminently flexible, allowing drives to be used singly and/or in various RAID flavors, including RAID-5. Nearly all current Macs have Thunderbolt, a wonderful solution compared to past years.

For those desiring a smaller form factor and/or easy SSD support, there is the 4-by Thunderbay 4 Mini, which can be configured to use SSDs and/or HDDs. (2.5-inch drives).

See also Backing up High Capacity Storage: Partitioning for Practical Backup.

* HDD = Hard Disk Drive Spinning magnetic media as compared with an SSD which uses memory chips, no moving parts.

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