Panic was palpable in the Mac community. Without room in the new Mac Pro for extra hard drives, where would all the storage go?
After all, our old aluminum perforated 2010-2012 Mac Pro towers had bays for up to four 4 TB drives.
After lots of phone calls, advice from experts like AJA’s Jon Thorn and others, we’re happy at the moment with LaCie’s 5big Thunderbolt 20 TB massive storage cube. There are 5 bays. Each bay holds one 4 TB Seagate hard drive. (You can also buy the 5big with 10 TB total storage, 5 x 2TB). One supplied Thunderbolt cable connects the LaCie 5big to the Thunderbolt connector of your new Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iMac, or MacBook Air. We’re using dual 27″ Apple Thunderbolt displays daisy chained together.
The LaCie 5big comes configured in RAID 0 (where it appears on the desktop as one giant 20 TB drive) but I prefer the JBOD mode: Just A Bunch Of Disks. JBOD mode is closest to what we had on the old Mac Pro: one Drive Icon on the desktop per drive:
Drive 1 is dedicated to Film and Digital Times content and layout. Drive 2 is a Carbon Copy Clone for scheduled data backup. Drive 3 is for FCP Video and RAW still “negatives.” Drive 4 is for AVID media and projects. Drive 5 is where we send files for archival storage. Note that FCP and AVID editing is done at proxy, “offline” resolution here.
I played around with software Raid 1 (Mirrored) configurations, but that was annoying because after removing a drive to shuttle (sneaker-net) data to another machine, the mirrored set became “unglued.”
The LaCie 5big is blissfully quiet. Its aluminum Neil Poulton designed chassis and large, dual fans dissipate heat so silently that the only way to tell it’s on is by the large blue eye on the front or the little LED drive lights in back.
Installing your own drives voids the warranty, but since LaCie is owned by Seagate, you can purchase spare drives from 2 to 4 TB in hot-swappable trays.
JBOD is not the configuration of choice for native 4K editing. For that, you’ll want to consider other RAID scenarios. More on that later.