Animator in need of assistance
June 12, 2008 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Halp! Need advice on a storage solution for a man with media!

So I'm having issues figuring out a hard drive setup for my personal/work network.

About my setup:

Here she is.

I'm a 3D animator. My day job is at a large animation studio in Los Angeles, CA, but at home I also do some freelance animation from my Macbook Pro C2D 17" running the latest Leopard. Right now I have two drives - a 250GB Western Digital that I use SuperDuper to nightly back up my 160GB internal Macbook Pro hard drive to. And a 500GB Western Digital MyBook which stores all my project files and media (photo library, movies, and music).

I'm quickly filling up the 500 GB Mybook and I'm looking for a cost-effective solution for what I should do with my media server. My plan is to move everything thats non-project oriented to a new 1TB drive while leaving the MyBook to run my animation files off of.

Would I benefit from getting a hard drive that supports FW800? Its seems like 99% of the enclosures or external drives I look at support USB2, but I'm looking for something that I can boot from. From my understanding, getting an eSATA card for my Express 3/4 slot isn't an option because you can't boot from external eSATA drives.

I've looked at the Drobo, which looks like a great deal but a) its expensive as hell and I'd want to use DroboShare and b) it only supports USB at this point.

Any suggestions for a stable and fast 1TB hard drive solution that would work ?
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should also mention that I've lusted for quite awhile on those G-Tech drives (which most Mac users rave about), but they're just too expensive for my purposes.
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2008

There are lots of enclosures with USB2 and eSATA external connections. USB would give you something you can boot from now and connect to virtually any computer, plus you would get a free speed boost if Apple ever releases a firmware update that supports booting from eSATA.
posted by PueExMachina at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2008

Usb 2 has a bad rep for media drive purposes, it takes a lot of ressources and it's not as fast as FW800 or Esata.
I would advice esata as it is the faster transfer rate available on a budget. You'll lose the abilty to boot from the drive but you'll have the garantee that you won't drop frames and you'll be able to work in high resolutions with some headroom.
I guess you're stuck with FW800 if booting from the external drive is really important to you.
The problem with FW800 is that it's becoming increasingly rare, i was looking for a 2 drives raid capable enclosure with usb2, esata and FW800 and i wasn't able to find one. I had to settle for a usb2 and esata.
posted by SageLeVoid at 10:57 PM on June 12, 2008

As someone who had a Drobo and then sold it, if you're looking for fast, Drobo isn't it. The reason that it doesn't have a firewire port is because the unit can't even saturate a USB 2 port, especially as it fills up.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:25 AM on June 13, 2008

I don't do any animating like you, but I've enjoyed some success with LaCie extrenal drives with my Mac. If you want to cover all your bases, try the models with "triple interface" or whatever they call it these days; USB2, FW400 and FW800. All work, and there's no difference (other than throughput speed) or problem swapping from one connection to the other. They can also be daisy-chained; I have one that's hooked to my Mac via FW800 with other drives hooked into its FW 400 and USB 2 ports; each operates properly as an independent drive.

As a rule of thumb, USB 2 should be just fine for storage; for production work at your level, and to boot from, you'd need FW. If you don't need access to all your projects at once, there's no reason you can't store work on a USB 2 device, then move it to the HD on your Mac when it's time to work on it (the local HD will probably give you best performance anyway).
posted by bartleby at 1:40 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

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