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Thread: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    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.
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    I feel your pain. That's a well known problem though.
    This is the RAID for you. Areca Technology Corporation

    I have a nMP as well, 6 cores, 64 GB, 1TB, D700s.

    As I am heavily invested in FirmTek eSATA enclosures I got FirmTek's Thunderbolt to eSATA adapters. They work like a charm, robust and fast. Out of a 4-port enclosure with Crucial SSDs set up as a RAID I can sustain around 600 to 700 MB/s write and read bandwidth.

    If I weren't invested in those Firmteks I would have gotten the ARC-8050T2 (Thunderbolt 2 to 6Gb/s SAS RAID Storage)

    Good luck to your efforts.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Tim,

    Sorry to hear about your RAID woes. As you're probably aware, losing two drives in a RAID 5 set is basically fatal to your data stored there and is relatively easy to do if there are any power issue or the RAID controller has issues. Been there, done it, spent the three days restoring my data after a power brown out in my MacPro with RAID 5 ...

    If and when you get back up and running I'd use either RAID 6 or RAID 10 for protection as you've considered.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    The RAID should also be protected by an uninterrupted power supply.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Thanks for the advice chaps - though sadly it seems that the Areca gear is backordered with no ETA here in the UK.

    I need a solution quickly so I think I'm going to go for Lacie Little Big 20Tb with Raid 6 or 10 and then a 10Tb to do time machine backups. That should cover me for quite a while I hope.

    I am astonished at Pegasus - how can they risk their position on Apple Store by allowing this issue to be, as far as I can see, widely known but unresolved and still be selling the units? I hope I am not misunderstanding something but to me it seems that having two drives marked as dead within 24 hours is little short of shocking!
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Two dead drives is pretty unlucky to say the least. Did the Pegasus tell you why they were marked bad? With the Apple RAID once a drive is marked bad there's no published (or hidden on google) way to unmark it with the controller. In my case the drives were actually fine but the power drop caused the issue. I had to move them out and couldn't clear them - thankfully your Pegasus allows for that.

    Agree though that this shouldn't happen. Good that you found out in 24 hours rather than later I suppose.

    I've increasingly come to the conclusion that a two tier approach is required - mass storage with replication and fast drives for current active work.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Tim,

    Lacie is the last provider I would choose...

    These guys perform...would rather create a RAID solution with these while I waited for the Areca.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/HE...B309a%252B32ce

    Bob
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Like Bob I've had good experience with G-Tech drives and arrays. The drives are high quality and LaCie aren't a patch on them in terms of reliability. Luckily they're close by where I live because I've had to return three drives in the past.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Two dead drives is pretty unlucky to say the least. Did the Pegasus tell you why they were marked bad? With the Apple RAID once a drive is marked bad there's no published (or hidden on google) way to unmark it with the controller. In my case the drives were actually fine but the power drop caused the issue. I had to move them out and couldn't clear them - thankfully your Pegasus allows for that.

    Agree though that this shouldn't happen. Good that you found out in 24 hours rather than later I suppose.

    I've increasingly come to the conclusion that a two tier approach is required - mass storage with replication and fast drives for current active work.
    Not completely Pegasus' fault...I have not been impressed with RAID solutions on OS X ... seems to degrade them in a very short time for no viable reason.

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Tim,

    BTW, do you know which drives they used?
    I have very good experiences with the 4 TB Hitachi Deskstar 7200 RPM drives.
    HGST 4TB Deskstar 3.5" SATA III Internal Desktop 0S03355

    There recently was a paper by an Internet storage company about failure rates of their roughly 50,000 online drives. An interesting read for sure.
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Thanks again people - I will look at the Gstars. I have one 4TB gstar already, it's my time machine backup drive and seems to be pretty good but its not thunderbolt.

    The drives in the Pegasus are Hitachi 2TB. According to the tech support, "the controller forces a going to be defective drive offline to prevent any further issues" so I assume that they think the drives were showing some fault that implied they were about to become defective. I, however, think the drives are probably fine and that there was some software of firmware glitch. I didn't have a UPS on (will now order one) but I did have surge protection and there was no power cut - everything else on the system continued perfectly.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    But regarding Gstar and Lacie, I've used a lot of Lacie drives over the years and not had a problem. Also, the largest Gstar thunderbolt in the UK is 8Tb, which is only 4TB in RAID 10 whereas the Lacie go to 20TB.

    It seems that the mere fact of putting drives in a RAID array makes them more liable to fail. I might just get two Gstar 8TB and run one as a RAID 0 and one as a daily backup, with an old drive as a 'keep it in the safe' weekly time machine backup?

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Just remember that when drives are typically put in a RAID, they're powered on and rotating full time. There's a reason why you pay a premium for RAID grade drives. I'd seriously look at your requirements. Do you really need your entire archive available with instant access or can you afford slower access and migration to faster storage for working purposes?

    If you've got redundant mirrored storage I don't really see why the Lacie wouldn't work for you. I use the G-RAID 6TB enclosures but I have multiple drives, but I also use a Lacie Quadra 4TB for my time machine backups. Slower but more redundant works for me. If I need to work files it's more economical to copy them to faster storage and then archive later. Just a thought.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Unfortunately for me, I review a lot of stuff and that often requires comparison to a vast database of old images with various camera and lens combinations - so it is a lot easier for me to run one LR catalog and to be able to access any image at any time. It is a bore, because it means that, assuming my catalog hits 5tb sometime in the next year or so, I probably need at least a 10Tb main drive with RAID 6 and 2 x 5TB backup (daily, weekly for the safe).

    This ain't cheap. And I should have known from my photography that even throwing a lot of money at a solution won't necessarily get you one that is reliably good at doing what you want it to do!
    Last edited by tashley; 23rd March 2014 at 17:24.

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Throwing this at the wall...may not stick...al dente thing

    Ansel Adams was quoted at one point ... to the effect that if he had a dozen good picture per year he was pleased.

    We tend to archive a bunch of stuff that down the road we probably would not want to claim ownership....

    Personally I feel that maybe 10% would meet our most grand expectations of our vision or our art...why drag it down with the rest....

    Family, commercial projects aside...the rest might benefit from a scorched earth approach...if it is not great ... may not be so in a fortnight or a decade.

    In short the ability to archive most anything makes us akin to the hoarders depicted on the tele....may God protect me from all of the critics who might see my seconds...let alone what I view as my firsts....

    My short take on this is that OS X does not allow an elegant inexpensive RAID to cover our desires...and throwing a bunch of money at a solution at this point may be unproductive.

    RAID solutions have crashed on me so many times that I use multiple non-RAID backups and an offsite archive for the best of the best....not ideal but manageable.


    Just a few thoughts from my small view of the universe....


    Bob
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    But regarding Gstar and Lacie, I've used a lot of Lacie drives over the years and not had a problem.
    It seems that the mere fact of putting drives in a RAID array makes them more liable to fail. I might just get two Gstar 8TB and run one as a RAID 0 and one as a daily backup, with an old drive as a 'keep it in the safe' weekly time machine backup?
    Tim,

    I had multiple Lacie complete meltdowns...as have a number of my colleagues...the nice thing about G is the ability to spec the commercial drives from Fujitsu...rated 24/7 365 with MTBFs of 2M hours...

    Raid 0 for speed and an archive to protect your data covers a lot of ground.

    Bob
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Thanks for the advice chaps - though sadly it seems that the Areca gear is backordered with no ETA here in the UK.

    I need a solution quickly so I think I'm going to go for Lacie Little Big 20Tb with Raid 6 or 10 and then a 10Tb to do time machine backups. That should cover me for quite a while I hope.

    I am astonished at Pegasus - how can they risk their position on Apple Store by allowing this issue to be, as far as I can see, widely known but unresolved and still be selling the units? I hope I am not misunderstanding something but to me it seems that having two drives marked as dead within 24 hours is little short of shocking!
    Tim,if you want reliability then look at G tech (made by Hitachi)..they are very good.I use the Pegasus R6 12tb and I had to do a full rebuilt just a few days after setting it up.

    Tim,Span in London have an Areca thunderbolt 2 in stock,they have only one..

    Areca Thunderbolt2 RAID Enclosure ARC-8050T2 8-Bay, SAS/SATA RAID 0/1/5/6; 2x TB2 Buy now on SPAN.COM

    You might want to consider this...

    Rob

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Thanks Bob and Rob. The Pegasus is going back, IMHO both it and its combined ecosystem of documentation, knowledge base and support are not to be trusted. I am going to regroup and consider my options, though the problem with the gstar stuff is there's no big thunderbolt raid array available.

    Bob, I hear what you're saying about letting go of all the dross but the truth is that there are a lot of needles that i really might need stuck in that huge 40,000 image haystack and so I think I'm better of keeping the haystack but being more disciplined in future!

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Rob, I spoke to the guys at the company you link me to and he said that even a 5 disk RAID5 array with 7200rpm drives won't be able to pump out data as fast as USB3 let alone Thunderbolt 1 or 2. In fact he said that TB is really only useful if you are using SSDs in the enclosure. So he directed me to a much cheaper 5 bay USB 3 solution from Netstor which could have 5 x 4 Tb drives in for around £600 less than the Pegasus I am returning...

    I am getting more confused not less! Such is the way of the (data) warrior!

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Tim be careful not to jump out of the frying pan into the fire with reliability ,I'm not familiar with the brand but it may be ok,you could use those Hitachi deskstars and they're proven but the controller is the component I would be concerned about.

    Another very fast but perhaps price solution is the G technology es speed pro array's G-SPEED® eS PRO | G-Technology ,these are extremely fast and you could use an Atto raid card in a pcie chassis by helios OWC Mercury Helios Thunderbolt PCIe Expansion Chassis - OWCHELIOSTB1 | MACUPGRADE

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Regarding speed,I ran AJA system tester on my nMP with the Pegasus R6 (not the R2,tb1) and these are the speeds, write 762 and read 858...

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Interesting> I thought i smelled a mild rat when the chap I was talking to at Span told me that the fastest a 6 sick road 5 array could do with hard drives was only about 120...

    Lord is it ever hard to get sense out of the world sometimes!

    So what I want is Pegasus speed but with someone else building it!

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by docmoore View Post
    Throwing this at the wall...may not stick...al dente thing

    Ansel Adams was quoted at one point ... to the effect that if he had a dozen good picture per year he was pleased.

    We tend to archive a bunch of stuff that down the road we probably would not want to claim ownership....

    Personally I feel that maybe 10% would meet our most grand expectations of our vision or our art...why drag it down with the rest....
    Hi Bob
    I'm completely with you here - I'm trying to get really ruthless with my images - not just because I don't need [email protected] images, but also because it's so very hard to find the good stuff amongst all the dross!

    Just this guy you know
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Interesting> I thought i smelled a mild rat when the chap I was talking to at Span told me that the fastest a 6 sick road 5 array could do with hard drives was only about 120...

    Lord is it ever hard to get sense out of the world sometimes!

    So what I want is Pegasus speed but with someone else building it!

    120.. Wow,thats nuts..the guy is in the wrong job..the eS Pro enclosures with Atto card will do the job and be reliable,and will connect to Tb using the Helios,there is also this G-DOCK ev

    The OWC thunder bay enclosure uses only 4 bays and still returns these figures RAID 0: 720 / 753 write/read MB/sec
    RAID 5: 534 / 563 write/read MB/sec
    RAID 1+0: 364 / 375 write/read MB/sec

    Lloyd Chambers recommend's it but I'm not sure if it's available in the UK. test is here MPG blog - Reviewed: OWC Thunderbay 4-bay Thunderbolt Enclosure

    Regarding the Areca,even with only six bays used in raid 5 it is still very fast at read 597 and write of 640,, you can read the review here.. Final Cut Pro Training | Product Review: Areca 8050 Thunderbolt RAID | Final Cut Pro Training & Classes


    Rob

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Thanks again Rob... I have been using that AJA utility to test some files on the MacPro SSD, the Pegasus and a smaller one-drive Lacie 3Tb thunderbolt. The Pegasus is faster than anything else, astonishingly so - it's just a pity it isn't reliable.

    I am thinking that for now I'm going to KISS and get an 8Tb G Raid with thunderbolt and see how it does: it should be capable of over around 300 read in RAID 0 and I can use my older non-Thunderbolt 4TB G-Drive as Time Machine, then migrate the G-Raid to backup later when the market has matured a bit and maybe SSD prices have come down enough for me to make an 8TB raid 0 out of SSDs...

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    I will never ever buy another LaCie product. Their customer support is worse than useless...

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Here's one thing I don't understand:
    If you are not dependent on your drives every second of the day, why run RAID at all. Since the beginning of time (Time, in my case, started in 2005), I've had the following setup:

    One 4 bay Probox with primary drives, at the moment 3 x 2TB for photo and 1 x 1TB for other data, and one identical box with identical drives as secondary (backup) drives. Backup runs automatically (CCC) once per day as long as the computer is powered on. If it's not, it will start when I switch on the power.

    Once per week, I run backup to a portable (soon to be changed to 2 x 5TB) box, which starts automatically when connected to the computer. I have two of those which circulate every week to another location where they are connected to a third Probox, identical to the 2 first ones. The download to the third box also starts automatically when the portable box is connected. I have an old Mac Mini there that takes care of this.

    When I started this routine, I chose it because it was cheap and because it seemed reliable. It's still cheap and it has proven to be 100% reliable. I've never lost one bit of data, and there are 5 copies of all the data that I own. The portable boxes are small enough to go with me wherever I go, which means that I'm safe even in case of war, earthquake, revolution or marriage. Highly recommended!

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Jorgen, RAID is a lot faster - that's why. My Macbook Pro was running Lightroom a lot faster than my late 13 Mac Pro, because the catalog files are on the SSD whereas my main LR catalog is huge and has to be external.

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Jorgen, RAID is a lot faster - that's why. My Macbook Pro was running Lightroom a lot faster than my late 13 Mac Pro, because the catalog files are on the SSD whereas my main LR catalog is huge and has to be external.
    How much faster? Compared to the time you and others spend dealing with RAID problems, I believe that speed gain must even out over time

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    How much faster? Compared to the time you and others spend dealing with RAID problems, I believe that speed gain must even out over time
    So true - however, there are millions of stable RAIDS operating and, having seen what a really fast one can do when it works (utterly blistering) I am quite keen to pursue the matter... as for "how much faster" well, my external Thunderbolt 1 single disk drive gets around 100mb/s on average over read and write whereas the pegasus, when it worked, could get over ten times that speed and that really does make a difference...

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Just jumping in to say some good things about G-Tech. I've had 2-boxes for a couple years now with no problems. My main box is the 16TB (4-drives) that stay fulltime in the studio and a 2-drive 2TB that I use for the road and business file backups in the studio. I'm on a PC so can't speak to any Apple issues however these 2 boxes have been work great since the day I got them.

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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    Again G-Tech is Hitachi...the big RAIDS can be spec'd with Ultrastar rather than Deskstar drives...these are rated for 24/7/365 use and are worth the upgrade.

    Bob
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    The trouble is, at least from the Apple store, you can't spec any other drives for the Pegasus and regardless of whether or not there are any real differences between enterprise quality and consumer quality drives, I have heard (unconfirmed) that the Pegasus drives are consumer grade.

    It really is a shame. Damn that thing was fast. It got essentially the same speeds as my internal SSD drive, and that was in RAID 5. In RAID 0 it must be scary!

  34. #34
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale


  35. #35
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    Re: Promise Pegasus R6: a cautionary tale

    I have really good experiences with Promise. I bought a 6 disk TB1 box and recently upgraded storage from 2TB to 4 TB drives giving me a total of 24 I configured it in RAID6 though. I always keep an extra spare in case on goes offline so I can swap it which happened twice in 2 years

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