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External Storage - How loud?

MWhite

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My 2010 MacBook Pro is just not cutting it anymore. I have, accordingly, ordered an M1 MacBook Pro, which should run rings around the old computer. Further, its performance should also exceed my 2010 MacPro tower which currently houses 4 hard drives. I ordered the laptop with 1TB of storage, but each and every one of you know that is not sufficient for photo storage. Thus, I will need some external storage. There are a few options, which take advantage of the Thunderbolt 4 ports on the computer. One of them is made by OWC and allows a RAID setup of four drives. I have some other, older OWC hard drive enclosures, however, and they are noisy. Leave the room covering your ears noisy... The other is made by G-Technology, actually Western Digital, and has two drives. Their RAID is said to be hardware controlled, not software controlled like OWC, so it may be a bit faster. They, too, are said to be loud. Copper (passive) Thunderbolt 3-4 cables do not transmit data at their rated speed when longer than a meter or so, so most enclosures come with short cables and have you place the - loud - enclosure next to the computer. Does anyone have experience with these or other enclosures? How loud do you find them to be? (By the way, another option is to get an optical, glass Thunderbolt cable and move the enclosure into a closet. That will require some extra wiring, holes in the wall, etc., which I would prefer not to do.)

Apologies for this long-winded post. I'll look forward to your comments.
 
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AlwaysOnAuto

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Probably not relevant to your discussion but I use a Sabrent enclosure to run my old SATA drives in when I want to access them. It isn't any louder than the HD itself running. Works with a USB cable so is slow, but it works and wasn't that expensive.
 

michelb

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I use the older 4TB version of this
LaCie Big disk

Can't say it is noisy in any way since my older External hard drives are actually noisier

I like it since it has slots for CF and SD cards and this makes for rapid copying of pictures by ThunderBolt 3 connection

Only downside is it goes to sleep after about 1 hr inactivity and it takes 15-20 seconds to wake up and i can not find how or where i can change that
 

MWhite

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Thank you both. I think I will look into the LaCie option. Since I originally posted I've fallen in the NAS storage rabbit hole and am now considering that as well. I might be able to put a NAS server in a closet somewhere and then access the files via the network. I don't think the file access would be as fast, but a combination of a local SSD Thunderbolt drive, with backup to the network might work better than stringing fragile fiber optic cable. (Our house was definitely not designed for tech.)
 

bdbits

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I'd be leery of hardware RAID. If the hardware RAID controller fails, you may require another exact - and I mean exact down to the hardware and firmware versions - matching controller to recover. In any case RAID IS NOT BACKUP. Most often, it is primarily used to improve performance or uptime. You should still want a backup solution.

SSDs have made things much quieter. The main noisemaker these days will be fans. If you go NAS or large enclosures, you could find one with larger fans (they are quieter) but there is going to be some white noise at the very least. Multi-terabyte SSDs have come down a lot. You can get 4T drives for a little over $400, 2T around $200. If it were me and I just need a few terabytes attached, I would probably just buy a nice single-drive enclosure and the largest drive I could justify and call it a day. Or two, if you want a redundant drive as backup, but remember that RAID is not backup (did I say that already?). Keep the secondary drive off-site most of the time (because fire, tornado, etc.). Bring it home to sync up the drives once in a while and maybe swap them after the sync to even out wear.
 

MWhite

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Bob, you make a good point about hardware RAID and drive replacement. And, yes, it is not backup. That is why we have our Crashplan account.

I like the idea of a SSD enclosure, but was surprised to learn that OWC's 4 SSD enclosure is frequently described as loud. I am somewhat spoiled in the MacPro which is tolerably quiet and serves as a harddrive enclosure, even though one of them is currently a 1TB SATA SSD.

I'm still not sure where to take this, but one option is to put the SATA SSD from the MacPro in a no fan enclosure and then put the remaining HDDs (all 4TBs) in a NAS, along with another 4TB HDD I use to backup one of the photo drives. (All four HDDs are fairly new.) I'll let you know what I end up doing. Synology's NAS appears to let you add and subtract drives, thus it must be software RAID. The NAS itself is supposed to be somewhat quiet (less noisy?), but the drives you put in it may be noisy. And the bigger the drives are, the noisier they get. Or so I have read.
 

bdbits

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Crashplan - cool. Just wanted to make sure. You'd be surprised how many people think RAID means no need for backups. I should have used more smileys. :)

If your HDDs are recent they might not be too awfully loud. Synology is a great NAS, I 'know' some people online who have them and like them a lot. But then I am not sure noise was something they cared much about, they are a pretty geeky bunch. I don't know, I have repurposed hard drives a lot over the years and sometimes used my old computers as low-end servers. But I moved to all SSD for my in-use drives this last year. I still have some HDDs for backup purposes, and one old laptop with an older SSD upgrade sitting in a corner. I think my case and GPU fans (Windows 10 tower) are the only thing making any constant noise for me now, and things are pretty quiet, enough so for me. Even a lot of recent HDDs are hybrids and at least some of them are very quiet. Maybe you would not find it as noisy as reported.
 

SpecFoto

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I have 2 Mobius Pro 2 bay RAID enclosures by Oyen Digital, they use hardware RAID. One for my users files to my 27" iMac and a 2nd for backup. Have 2x Toshiba 6TB drives (12TB total) in them and they sit behind my iMac on my desktop and are pretty quiet. The drive writing and reading is louder than the built in fan. One box is about 3 years old the others is 2, they really haven't gotten any louder or had any issues at all. The newer box has USB-C and transfers at about 400 MB/s R&W. I though about getting a longer USB-C cable and putting it on the floor under the side of the desk, but the noise doesn't bother me.

https://oyendigital.com/hard-drives/store/3R2-2C.html
 
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Got this article in my mailbox, warning about the misconception of thinking that RAID arrays function as a backup:
Backing up and Restoring: A Cautionary Tale

I have 2 4TB disks in my Synology NAS at home in RAID 1 configuration. The NAS box is a few meters behind my desk and is audible, sometimes annoyingly so and it's mainly the fan that makes itself heard. I make multiple backups weekly and all my files are synchronized via a Dropbox account (3TB plan).
 

MWhite

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Thanks for all your comments. I'm still pondering this. I have some time before it becomes an issue because Apple won't deliver the new computer until late January.
 

WNG

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For those who currently own noisy enclosures, one potential hack is to replace the present fans within with models that are designed for lower dB. Panasonic's hydrowave bearing fans are known for their reliability and quiet running. And many PC geeks turn to Noctua for premium quality, lowest noise aftermarket fans. Only a modest drop in CFM.
Lot of the fan noise can be caused by ball bearing fans and high rpm operation. Ball bearing models for high reliability, but those rotating balls are bloody loud. Also, if you can, PWM fans can vary rpm based on heat load, and some come with thermocouple external control. These strategies can alleviate the constant fan noise of an existing enclosure.
After years of running a laptop as a daily driver, I can't go back to the fan noise of desktop computers! (unless the desktop is in a closet or another room)
 

AlwaysOnAuto

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After years of running a laptop as a daily driver, I can't go back to the fan noise of desktop computers! (unless the desktop is in a closet or another room)
That's kind of funny. I tried using my son's old old laptop a few times and couldn't stand it burning my lap while I was using it.

Maybe I should have tried putting it up on a desk?:(
 

WNG

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That's kind of funny. I tried using my son's old old laptop a few times and couldn't stand it burning my lap while I was using it.

Maybe I should have tried putting it up on a desk?:(

I should've been more exact.... I use my fastest laptop as my 'desktop'. It's mounted under my desk, with USB hub and USB mouse/keyboard and external 27" monitor. It's also connected with external HDDs. Its fan is so quiet, I can't hear it. As compared to my actual desktops which drones away no matter how low I set the fan rpms with SpeedFan app.
I might turn on the desktop for some RAM hungry operation, but after an hour I can't tolerate it! :)

And those ancient laptops were cooktops! :D Great for a cold winter only.
 

bdbits

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Modern desktops can be every bit as quiet as a modern laptop, and if you want performance is still more bang for the buck in my opinion. My desktop has fans, nothing more than a little white noise, but you can go completely fanless these days if it bothers you.
 
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