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Author Topic: Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive  (Read 515 times)

tonysiciliano1

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Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive
« on: July 06, 2021, 12:54:30 pm »

I'm about to upgrade my 10 yo Mac system by purchasing a MacMini M1 (or M2 if it comes out this year). Because of my age, it will be my last system, so I'm splurging. I want to create a 12 TB SSD external drive (there are no 12 TB SSD drives available). My current bottleneck in my workflow is saving large PSD and TIFF photos (many over 1 GB, quite a few 2-4 GB) to my 12 TB 7200rpm external drive via USB 3. My thought is to buy 3 Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB NVMe PCIe M.2 2280s and combine them in an enclosure to create a fast external 12 TB SSD. Three questions:
1. Recommendations for an external thunderbolt 3 SSD enclosure. I am thinking of the OWC Express 4 M2 4 slot NVME m.2 SSD Enclosure. Any thoughts about this, or other suggestions?
2. From my reading, am I correct that the RAID system to combine three SSDs to create a large single volume is JBOD?
3. Is the native MAC OS software sufficient to create the JBOD, or to I need to pay extra to get specialized software, like the OWC Softraid system which costs $100.

I am aware of the problems with RAID 0, that if one drive fails, the whole system goes down but it is not a big concern for me. This 12 TB SSD drive will be backed up by my current spinning 12 TB external hard drive, plus a cloud backup on Backblaze. And yes I know that an SSD external drive for photos is probably not necessary, but you only live once...And, yes I could change my workflow to create smaller PSD and TIFF files, but I don't want to.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 01:10:59 pm by tonysiciliano1 »
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langier

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Re: Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2021, 02:43:47 pm »

I've got a "server farm" under my desk with a few JBOD boxes and some large USB drives, somewhere above 30TB on my MacPro.

My "solution" to the bottle neck is to work locally then save globally.

I, too, work on massive files, many over 1GB and many quite close. It's easy to create files with lots of layers and with hard drives so large and cheap, it's not time efficient to continually have to down-size files to save a little space like it was decades ago when drives were expensive, small, slow and unreliable.

My internal and close-by drives are SSD and spinning RAID-0 for working files and once ingested, metadata installed, processed, winnowed and processed, I take my time and simply back-up at that time. In the short term, everything is backed-up using TimeMachine so there's redundancy in the system.

For my library/archive, they are all on spinning disks, several years on each and then as drives get cheaper/larger every few years, get combined into newer disks, the others stashed off-site with multiple copies.

For your work in progress, why not back to a Thunderbolt drive, and every week/month, back-up to large, off the shelf but smaller and slower than you wish, available/inexpensive USB 3 drives? Backing up even at the end of the day on slower drives while you do something else works well for me. The last back-up to a fast drive took several days and was simply a matter of dragging folders from one drive to a newer drive every evening and then turning out the lights for the day. I figured it was also a good way to make sure that if the drive did fail, it did it early on and while under a pretty good and long load.

My eventual plans are like you with my "last computer" as I'm no longer hacking nor wanting to spend a bunch of time with the overhead I once did decades ago. I want a computer like my 2009 MacPro that will last for a decade with little effort and great reliability.

My guess is that I'll take the drives out of my "server farm" of JBOD boxes and simply migrate/consolidate on larger/newer/faster Thunder/USB boxes, but we'll see when the times comes. I'm almost thinking that even an M1 iMac in one of the fancy colors may be all I need, but there's plenty of time to see what happens in the next few months as what I have is working swell.

You've got lots of time to hash things out and if your system is working well, bide your time!
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mcbroomf

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Re: Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2021, 03:25:37 pm »

JBOD will give you the 3 separate drive volumes.  You need to use Span to create one volume.  Not sure what happens if one drive croaks.  I'd suggest staying with JBOD and manage some directories in each as your data spills over.

Having said that I have the 4 bay OWC Thunderbolt mini enclosure that takes 2.5" SATA drives.  It's filled with 4x4TB SSD drives, 2 each as Raid 0, ie ~8TB each, one for my "current" Raws (about 1 year's worth) and one for my Lightroom catalog.  I have a good number of files in the 10GB range from up to 30 layer lightpainting.  All safely backed up of course, both on and off machine.

I tried the OWC softraid as it was free with the enclosure (the basic version) but on Windows it did strange things to the volumes and I dropped it in favour of the windows disk management.
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Daverich

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Re: Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2021, 05:51:23 pm »

JBOD is an acronym for “just a bunch of disks” and means just what it says, you’d have three separate disks. RAID 0 will do what you want as long as you understand that the failure of one is a loss of all data on the drive. RAID 0 will also read and write faster than the individual drives. I have 4 drives in an enclosure that way that writes 1800 Mbps. Mac Utilities can set up the RAID for you.
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tonysiciliano1

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Re: Combining three 4TB SSDs to create an external 12 TB drive
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2021, 09:53:49 pm »

In the Mac OS, using Disk Utility it is possible to combine three separate 4 TB disks into a 12 TB disk:
https://support.apple.com/guide/disk-utility/create-a-disk-set-dskua23150fd/mac

What I am asking is there any advantage to using a paid software like OWC SoftRaid over the Mac OS?

And concerning the post suggesting work locally and save globally, I already do that and am tired of moving files around. I have 70,000 RAW photos on my external drive subdivided into over thirty or forty locations, and I am constantly going back to that drive to re edit or edit anew a single photo, then saving it, and I am tired of waiting for the slow USB 3 spinning drives to save my large PSD and TIFF files. I have ten or maybe fifteen years left to play on my computer and am ready to give up watching the spinning ball!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 10:28:41 pm by tonysiciliano1 »
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