Having purchased a new style Mac Pro I finally decided to bite the bullet and migrate from an ad-hoc series of internal drives and external backups to a more structured system. My main LR catalog is now 3Tb in size and ever increasing so I thought I'd future-proof myself by getting a 12TB pegasus R6, which has thunderbolt 2 and which supports all levels of RAID. It also has a hardware RAID controller so it should be very fast, with six striped disks all pumping out data at once.
First impressions seemed good. It has to run a 'synchronisation' routine which takes about 7 hours before you do anything else and i spent that time wondering whether to stick with the RAID 5 with which it was shipped or to set it up as RAID 10, which gives you more speed, the same redundancy but reduces your effective drive space to 6TB.
However, all the options on the 'Wizard' that allows you to set the array up were greyed out - so I started trying to work out why. At which point I learned that Promise technical support is glacially slow and seems not to be very good at getting to the point - and that their Knowledge Base is very thin for this product. Even finding the instructions, which are not included with the product, takes a while and frankly I am not overly impressed with them.
All this paled into insignificance the next morning when, having decided to stick with RAID 5 for now and maybe do a migration later (giving me the opportunity to see how fast the system was overall with RAID 5 and reserving the option to gain speed at the cost of lost capacity later if needed) I decided to copy a bunch more folders to the one Logical drive on the array. Context: I had already transferred my main LR catalog and images files and was now dropping a load of C1 folders onto the drive, such that the total data on it would have been about 3TB.
I say 'would have been' because after a few seconds, the drive alarm buzzer sounded and it froze, with two of the drive bay lights going orange.
A quick look at the GUI indicated that two of the drives were tagged as "Physical Disk is marked as DEAD due to forced offline state"
I won't bore you with further details save to say that this was over thirty hours ago and since then I have not managed to get any clear answer from their tech support people despite attaching the relevant system logs. They seem to take many, many hours to answer anything and frankly I find their use of English poor bordering on ambiguous - and they don't always seem to address the actual questions you put to them.
After a bit of googling around I find that quite a few people seem to have had issues with their drives and with their tech support. Some people feel that drives that suddenly go offline for no good reason can be caused by having an iPhone near the cable, for example, or using the right hand rather than the left hand Thunderbolt port. In other words, people are resorting to witchcraft to try to solve and understand problems that should not happen and, if they do, should be sorted out by proper technical support and properly engineered solutions.
So here's the bitter irony: having relied on consumer level, non RAID, ad hoc storage and backup solutions for years, and having never had a drive fail that resulted in data loss, I finally decide to spend a LOT of money on a really grown up solution and yet two out of six of the drives are 'marked as dead' within 24 hours of opening the box. I can't even get any sense out of Promise as to whether there is lost data or not (I do have backups). I even found a third party pro solutions website that advised how to use the Terminal on OSX to force the drives back online - this worked and frankly, I only did it because Promise support were so slow in responding - but I was later told by support that I should not have done this. Maybe if anywhere in their instructions or knowledge base I had been able to find some advice, I wouldn't have!
I know that a lot of other photographers are being forced into larger storage solutions by ever-increasing file sizes so I relate all the above as a cautionary tale: the Apple store sells Promise RAID setups, and that might make you think they are reliable, properly documented and offer good support. My experience has been unhappy, to say the least, and could have been critically dangerous.
Think twice. I wish I had.