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Thread: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

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    Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Reading Diglloyd he recommends using disc utility to Raid two or three internal drives for data- anyone here actually doing that?

    I'm more than a little worried about depending on the OS raid software to be dependable enough for day to day use. Obviously I have backups- however I am interested in whatever performance gains I could realise via raiding my data drives-

    setting up a mac this weekend, just wondering what the opinions are?

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I get a lot of help on my tech from forum friends here, but yes my Mac Pro is set up as a RAiD. I have 1 500 GB drive that has the OS and all my applications and then the RAID is with 3x2TB drives in the other bays and has all my data.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    this is what I am thinking of doing- so it has been reliable for a while now? also, did you use enterprise class drives or just good matched drives, ie; I was not going to go to the expense of WD enterprise 1gb (200$) ea but use WD caviar black which are 89 ea now for 1gb- the use will not be "heavy" ie; video, more like Lightroom and C1 and Photoshop. So looking for speed increases in save/open and Lightroom catalogue performance/preview rendering.

    I maxed out ram at the cheap point (4x4gb) on the cheap box that DL reco's, the quad 2.66.

    The whole box will come in under 2800, which is pretty great considering.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Mac OS X software raid is pretty good but a little more fault-prone than hardware RAID with a battery backed-up buffer.
    The primary issue is related to sudden power or system failures while a write is in progress. It is not at all certain that it will complete under those circumstances.

    OTOH, if you are good about maintaining backups, which you ought to be under any circumstances, then the mac OS X software raid is pretty good. I have had no raid related failures in about four years of operation.

    My own system configuration is that I use four 2TB enterprise class hard drives set up in one large array. That array is divided into two partitions:
    A small one for PS scratch and a large one for everything else including all my user data.

    For boot I use an ssd; any of the current sandforce based ssds are pretty good for this purpose.
    Boot contains only the os install, all my applications, and an admin account.
    I relocate my home directory to the large raid partition so that it is available complete if I boot from a firewire emergency disk or an alternate operating system. Relocating the user's home directory if one is logged on as an administrator (and not the account being relocated) is trivial using System preferences/Accounts then unlock by clicking the lock, after entering the administrator's password right(control) click on the user and select "Advanced Options"
    change nothing else except for the home directory which you can place on the large raid volume.

    If you have an older Macpro, maybe just a year or two old, you might consider stopping at 3 raid drives instead of 4. You may not get a significant performance increase but you will gain capacity.

    In this configuration backup is a breeze, user backup is just the user directory on the large volume and boot backup is the boot drive.

    -bob

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by robertwright View Post
    this is what I am thinking of doing- so it has been reliable for a while now? also, did you use enterprise class drives or just good matched drives, ie; I was not going to go to the expense of WD enterprise 1gb (200$) ea but use WD caviar black which are 89 ea now for 1gb- the use will not be "heavy" ie; video, more like Lightroom and C1 and Photoshop. So looking for speed increases in save/open and Lightroom catalogue performance/preview rendering.

    I maxed out ram at the cheap point (4x4gb) on the cheap box that DL reco's, the quad 2.66.

    The whole box will come in under 2800, which is pretty great considering.
    I do not recommend the WD blacks due to their higher noise and hum.
    Unfortunately a 7200 rpm drive makes a good 120 Hz hum and only the enterprise drives seem to control it well. For lower applications the WD "greens" seem to be pretty quiet.
    I also have used the Hitachi 2TB deskstars with pretty good results in an external enclosure where the fan was noisier than the drives.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I was not sure about relocating my home directory, I was just going to live with that since I use superduper to clone my backups. 1tb boot and 1tb data-via esata to externals.

    if I raid the data drive I actually end up with more, 2tb, forgot about that-

    was going to do the scratch and data partitions per your and lloyds recos.

    I'm pretty good about backup, whenever I load new pictures I do a clone before I start working, and before the cards get erased. so far no issues.

    introducing the stripe however is new and so that is why I appreciate everyones feedback. obviously my mileage will vary, but that kind of reliability sounds as good as it gets on a budget. drives are cheap, just have copies!

    ssd sounds great but price is still a little high for me vs. capacity. maybe end of 2011.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    My boot has only 35G of data.
    It is nice to have your entire home directory there and even nicer to have all your stuff in one place. Your mail, for example if use apple's mail app is located in ~/Library/Mail so getting that backed up is a good idea on a user data backup schedule and not necessarily the boot schedule.
    I actually backup both overnight every night.

    CCC or superDuper! work fine. I just backup each volume to different directories on my external drives using CCC in my case.
    I also recommend something like the voyager which I use to do monthly archival backups on a revolving basis.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I organize my system a little differently.

    The startup drive contains system, apps, admin and user accounts. I put the Lightroom catalogs on the startup drive too. Time Machine backs up the startup drive incrementally, all except for the folder tree containing the catalogs. I also clone it to an alternative boot drive every month or so with SuperDuper!, when sufficient changes (updates to software, new software additions, etc) have taken place to make it worth doing that. This leaves about 250G free on a 500G drive, which is plenty of free space for caches and Lightroom/Photoshop temp activity.

    The data volume (RAID or standalone volume, doesn't matter) includes all the original image files and output products. I use ChronoSync to make copies of the Lightroom catalog files and other critical files I want multiply redundant copies of from the startup drive as well, and then double-backup this drive to two external archive volumes, mirrors of one another.

    After trying several different ways of organizing my system, this has worked very well for me for the past two-three years with good performance and multiple redundancy, minimized risks on all important files.

    I like having the data volume be a RAID for redundancy purposes but do not depend upon it alone as a backup in case of failure. I have run the Disk Utility software RAID on several aggregated external drives for years with no problems whatever, but I never rely upon that as the sole backup.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    I organize my system a little differently.

    The startup drive contains system, apps, admin and user accounts. I put the Lightroom catalogs on the startup drive too. Time Machine backs up the startup drive incrementally, all except for the folder tree containing the catalogs. I also clone it to an alternative boot drive every month or so with SuperDuper!, when sufficient changes (updates to software, new software additions, etc) have taken place to make it worth doing that. This leaves about 250G free on a 500G drive, which is plenty of free space for caches and Lightroom/Photoshop temp activity.

    The data volume (RAID or standalone volume, doesn't matter) includes all the original image files and output products. I use ChronoSync to make copies of the Lightroom catalog files and other critical files I want multiply redundant copies of from the startup drive as well, and then double-backup this drive to two external archive volumes, mirrors of one another.

    After trying several different ways of organizing my system, this has worked very well for me for the past two-three years with good performance and multiple redundancy, minimized risks on all important files.

    I like having the data volume be a RAID for redundancy purposes but do not depend upon it alone as a backup in case of failure. I have run the Disk Utility software RAID on several aggregated external drives for years with no problems whatever, but I never rely upon that as the sole backup.
    To be clear in my case the raid is a simple stripe for performance not reliability purposes.
    Having all the user data gives me a high performance desktop (and whatever else is in my home directory) as well as a clean separation of user data and system which results in an easier to administer and more robust configuration over events such as a system upgrade.
    -bob

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    To be clear in my case the raid is a simple stripe for performance not reliability purposes.
    Having all the user data gives me a high performance desktop (and whatever else is in my home directory) as well as a clean separation of user data and system which results in an easier to administer and more robust configuration over events such as a system upgrade.
    -bob
    RAID config :: same here.

    I presume you meant "having all the user data on a separate volume". Well, the theoretical advantages don't seem to make much difference in practice. I've had no difficulties with robustness or ease of administration. There are times when I want to be able to boot up into my full environment and don't need the rest of the data volume which makes it advantageous to have my user account on the startup drive.

    Lightroom in particular is substantially faster in operation when the catalogs and original image files are on separate physical volumes, in my experience, so that's another plus to me.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    RAID config :: same here.

    I presume you meant "having all the user data on a separate volume". Well, the theoretical advantages don't seem to make much difference in practice. I've had no difficulties with robustness or ease of administration. There are times when I want to be able to boot up into my full environment and don't need the rest of the data volume which makes it advantageous to have my user account on the startup drive.

    Lightroom in particular is substantially faster in operation when the catalogs and original image files are on separate physical volumes, in my experience, so that's another plus to me.
    Then I guess you don't boot to alternative operating systems as I do.
    I also presume that you have never had an OS X version update fail leaving you with an unrecoverable boot drive as I have.
    -bob

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    re having Lightroom catalogue on separate drive from data: I was wondering about this- now I have it on the Data drive, and since that is going to be a striped 3 drive raid, I am assuming it will be speedy. ?

    I have not been burned by OS updates yet, altho 10.5 was buggier than 10.4.

    thanks for everyones input.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Then I guess you don't boot to alternative operating systems as I do.
    I also presume that you have never had an OS X version update fail leaving you with an unrecoverable boot drive as I have.
    -bob
    Nope ... I use Mac OS X, not Windows or Linux. And typically only one version of Mac OS X. I've not yet found much reason to keep multiple versions of Mac OS X alive for normal work ... and when I want alternative versions alive for testing, I want them *completely* separate.

    I have had Mac OS X installs fail (I used to do OS installation testing like this through the alpha and beta release periods when I worked for Apple ... I've probably installed Mac OS X from v10.0 alpha 1 to v10.4.11 about 20,000 times ...!), that's what the cloned startup drive in my backup set is all about. "Never do an operating system installation on any startup volume that you do not have a cloned backup for" is one of my policies of system administration.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by robertwright View Post
    re having Lightroom catalogue on separate drive from data: I was wondering about this- now I have it on the Data drive, and since that is going to be a striped 3 drive raid, I am assuming it will be speedy. ? ...
    I haven't found that having a striped RAID makes a heck of a lot of difference. Lightroom is very "chatty" with the catalog, does lots and lots of incremental updates to the catalog and previews as you work, and does a lot of reading from the original image files to update previews. If you have the 'automatically sync metadata' option turned on, it's doing a lot of writes to the original image file directories as well (writing .XMP sidecar or appending to .DNG files). A striped RAID helps to some degree but there's always a limitation to the bus bandwidth and the hard drives' seek time; having to move the heads to radically different locations on the drives all the time simply costs performance.

    My systems are relatively low performance (Mini and MacBook Pro). The difference is likely much more apparent than on the much faster Mac Pro systems. In practical terms, it might not make enough difference on the faster hardware to be bothered about. I have also run catalog + original image files on an external drive for portability purposes and it didn't render LR unusable or sluggish, just not as snappy as my preferred setup.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I have run stripped RAID on my Mac Pro for a few years, no issues. I religiously use time machine plus another method (currently CrashPlan offsite) for backup, so do not worry about drive failures. If I had one, I would just replace the drive, reinstall, and restore from the TM backup. I have found that even a stripped TM volume is recognizable on a new install.

    Performance for me has been nearly linear with increasing the number of disks, up through four. But it depends, as with everything, on how you measure performance.

    Currently I am just using an SSD for boot, and an external FW800 with hardware RAID 5 for data because I am using an iMac now. But when using a Mac Pro, I would not hesitate to use the built in SW stripping. I have no experience with SW mirrors, but assume they would work well too.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I am running 2x100G OWC SSD in RAID-0 for my main OS and Apps. I then have 4x2TB Hitachis in a RAID-0 for my local image storage volume.
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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    does it really improve things to stripe the boot drive with ssd's? WOW.

    you can turn the machine on and off and not see the blue screen either time..

    going to stripe 3 1tb drives. backing up like crazy because I need to erase my main data drive to include it in the Raid. Hitting the erase button on that volume is a little nerve wracking....

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    For sure, you want to back up any data on a RAID-0 locally, which of course I do. Speed of 2xSSD R-0 is marginally faster than a single SSD.
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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    I once had a surge that melted all my internal hds and none of my externals. I strongly urge you to all have external backups as well.

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    Re: Disc Utility Raid Mac Pro

    ended up per diglloyd's reco buying a late 2009 quadcore 2.66 machine, 1900$- then I put 16gb of ram in it from OWC (one stick has since died...) and using the stock 640gb hd as the boot drive, only 200gb filled, and then raiding the remaining three 1tb WD caviar blacks into a 2.9tb strip along with a 64bg scratch partition.

    performance is snappy- I am sure boot and application launch could be faster if I put the boot on an ssd, and I might in the future, but another 25% on top of the machine price for a few seconds is not really worth it yet to me.

    running Lr3 with a catalogue of 34000 photographs and so far it has been speedy. Ps 5 doesn't even hit the scratch volume so far with what I am doing, for example stitching 3 5DmkII images or layered retouching.

    put a newertech sata card in and have a couple lacie quadras externally as backups to the boot and photo volume. Using superduper to clone backups.

    the esata bridge in the lacies is probably crap so I am sure I could get better speeds but it will be enough until they max out and then I go to some larger enclosure.

    for me it was all about budget, you have to think adobe upgrades, applecare, memory, storage, etc and I wanted it all under 3k. Had money to spare.

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