Disks, disks, disks

This Cyber Monday I decided that it was time to relook at my storage situation.

My current setup

Computers

  • iMac with 500GB flash storage – 125GB free
    Attached a Samsung T3 250GB portable SSD ]and a Samsung T5 1TB portable SSD
  • Macbook Pro with 500GB flash storage – 175GB free

NAS Storage

  • A 2TB Buffalo NAS configured as a RAID0 disk array – 300GB free
  • A 2TB Airport Time Capsule (serves as my Wifi router also) used for Time Machine backups for both my machines
  • Another 2TB Airport Time Capsule used for Time Machine backups for Maureen’s MacBook
Current Setup

Managing my assets

My Digital Archive (permanent home)

I think of the 2TB NAS as the long-term resting place… the ‘safe home’ for all my assets from before the current year. By assets i mean the image and video source files as well as some produced videos. When we had to evacuate our home last year, I literally grabbed the NAS and threw it in the car along with my MacBook Pro (since that had all my recent work synced – more on that below).

  • PROBLEM 1: It should really be a RAID1 or RAID 5 configuration, since RAID0 doesn’t provide any failure protection. But since the drive is almost full, this cannot be fixed.
  • PROBLEM 2: It doesn’t include my most recent work (this is on the iMac and MacBook Pro and also on the SSDs attached to the iMac)
  • PROBLEM 3: It is terribly slow over the 1Gb/s network. I get around 20MB/s read and write speed. This is very slow when transferring assets to and from this drive
  • PROBLEM 4: If the house burns down and I am not there to grab the NAS, then all that work is lost. Granted, so would everything else in the house, but there are some assets that I cherish very much on that drive that cannot be replaced

My ‘Working’ Assets

I use free software called Resilio Sync to sync files peer-to-peer between my laptop and my desktop. This effectively creates a distributed RAID0 setup between these two computers and my current-year pictures and videos/movies (as well as my Personal documents) are synchronized across both machines. This works incredibly well and I can switch back and forth between machines and always work on the latest versions. I highly recommend this setup if you have multiple machines. However… I do have some issues with my ‘working’ Final Cut Libraries.

  • PROBLEM 5: My 2018, 2019, and Unfinished Final Cut Libraries are all sitting on the Samsung T5 SSD… not backed up anywhere! They are currently excluded from the iMac’s Time Machine backups. They are close to 1TB in size… This is BAD.

Backups

I use the Airport Time Capsules for backups of all the Macs at our home. It works well for the Desktop because it is connected to the network permanently, but it is very slow and sometimes doesn’t back up for my laptop which is often off the network. It is really just a convenient way to get to earlier versions of files, or get to deleted files.

  • PROBLEM 6: Time Machine backups are very slow
  • PROBLEM 7: My backup strategy doesn’t cover my most valuable assets which are sitting on the NAS
  • PROBLEM 8: Apple stopped supporting the Airport Time Capsule

Welcome to my new setup

Well, I haven’t set it up yet, but here is what I just ordered from B&H on Cyber Monday:

External Drive for all my Digital Assets

I decided (thanks Masud for your recommendations!) to go with an NVMe SSD solution (2x 2TB SSDs… and there would still be 2 open slots!), supporting a whopping 2,000-2,500MB/s. This is 4x faster than even the Samsung T3 or T5 SSDs connected through USB-C to my iMac. This will become the home for my Digital Archive (see above). I will move everything from the Buffalo NAS (nearing 2TB) to these SSDs, and share it through the iMac to other machines on the network. No more NAS in the house… just a 4TB shared drive on my iMac.

Backup solution

I bought a massive external drive (USB-C) as a time machine backup for my iMac. This will now also back up all my Digital Assets (the 4TB of NVMe storage). I plan on sharing it as a Time Machine drive through my iMac for use with the other Macs at home, effectively freeing me from the Apple Time Capsules. I also plan on buying another one of these at some point and will every now and then switch them out and store one of them offsite.

My new setup

Does it solve all the problems stated earlier?

  • PROBLEM 1 – SOLVED – All my assets will be on the NVMe SSDs as well as the Time Machine backup.
  • PROBLEM 2 – SOLVED – See above
  • PROBLEM 3 – SOLVED – Yes, a speed increase from 20MB/s to 2,000 MB/s!
  • PROBLEM 4 – SOLVED (will be…) – Once this is set up, I will get another 14TB drive and rotate them out as described above
  • PROBLEMS 5, 6, 7 – SOLVED along with problems 1 and 2
  • PROBLEM 8 – SOLVED – won’t use the Time Capsule drives anymore

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