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Alex Hare Photography

Say Hello to my L’ill Friend! Hard Drive Capacity Solved
Kit, Caboodle & Reviews

Nov 18th 2016

I’ve just thrown a large sum of money at a data storage problem because I honestly could not find a better alternative!

My current 4TB drives are all full and I’ve been using another spare to take the overspill of my photography and then another drive for all my time lapse and video work.  It’s a bit fragmented, shall we say…

Solution: spend big at OWC!  I’ve bought a 20TB OWC Thunderbay4.  It should last me a while.  I hope.  In fairness, this drive would probably have been unbelievably expensive a few years ago; smaller storage of up to 4TB isn’t too bad price wise but huge multi drive external HD's like this are a different thing altogether.

The 1metre Thunderbolt cable it comes supplied with isn't quite long enough to allow me to place it on the floor.  That said it's actually quite small given the vast capacity and fairly quiet.  It would be better on the floor on the noise front though...

Why have I plumped for this option?  There are others, like Drobo out there that seem to offer good solutions and I looked into these.  The nagging issue for me was that I found plenty of rave reviews but also a worrying number of rotten tomoatoes.  Who do you believe: the majority that says they’ve lasted for years or the small-but-significant-enough-to-get-you-spooked minority that says they crashed and burned with all their data?  I just dont have enough experience to know or time to learn the technical info needed to understand for myself.

So, I was prepared to spend big-ish, avoid any shortcuts and hope that putting my faith in something well established for doing this job would cover me.  Finding the product in question was the tricky part; all the options I found on the usual websites were just not quite right; too little space, right space but too expensive or, as I said, just not 100% confident they were the safest option.  I needed someone in the know to advise me on the best options for me.

I trust the guy who writes the MacPerformanceGuide blog/website and his advice was to go for one of one of these ThunderBay4 drives from OWC.  I'd never heard of them before but I could see how it suited my particular circumstances with a fair amount of data to hold now (and with plenty more to follow in the future) coupled with Thunderbolt connectivity it would have the fastest data transfer speeds possible.  My Mac is Thunderbolt 1, although the cable is Thunderbolt 2 it's backwards compatible.  Again, it should be enough for me doing short video production work when coupled with my pumped up iMac carrying 32gb RAM.

He’d tried and tested them and they have a clever soft RAID solution for protecting against drive failures.  Basically, 1/4 of the drives capacity (5TB) in my case is assigned to Soft Raid to rebuild any data losses on the other three.  I’m no expert so I can only take advice on this but it’s better than cleaving your drive in half with more common RAID options.  Provided it works…

I will still run a backup of my data onto my old 4TB drives, I’ll just have to split the data across them to avoid them becoming too full.  In a perfect world, I’d have bought two Thunderbay4’s with one to back up the other.  In an even more perfect world I’d get in my time machine and go back to pre Brexit when I had a much better exchange rate against the US dollar…

Footnote: if you do buy this product do bear in mind the import duty you’ll also need to pay to get it shipped in. 

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