Introduction and Packaging
The Drobo 5D launched a few years ago and continues to be a pricey solution, running close to $600. This was due to added complexity with its mSATA hot data cache and other features that drove the price higher than some potential buyers were happy with. Sure the cache was nice, but many photographers and videographers edit their content on a faster internal SSD and only shift their media to their external storage in bulk sequential file copies. These users don’t necessarily need a caching tier built into their mass storage device - as they just want good straight-line speed to offload their data as fast as possible.
With new management and a renewed purpose with a focus on getting lower cost yet performant products out there, Drobo relaunched their base 4-bay product in a third-generation form. We tested that unit back in December of 2014, and its performance was outstanding for a unit that typically runs in the mid-$200 price range. The price and performance were great, but things were a bit tight when trying to use Dual Disk Redundancy while limited to only four installed drives. A fifth bay would have certainly been handy, as would USB-C connectivity, which brings me to the subject of today’s review:
I present to you the Drobo 5C. Essentially a 5-bay replacement to the 4-bay 3rd gen Drobo. This will become the new base model Drobo, meaning there will no longer be any 4-bay models in Drobo's product lineup:
Subject: Storage | October 4, 2016 - 08:30 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb 3.0, Type-C, Type-A, hdd, External, Drobo 5C, drobo, DAS, 5-bay
We looked at the third-gen 4-bay Drobo over a year back, and while the performance and price were great, it was held back by its limited number of drive bays. Drobo fixed that today:
The new Drobo 5C is basically an evolution of the 4-bay model. Performance is similar, which justifies the choice to stick with USB 3.0 (5 Gbit), but we now have a Type-C port on the Drobo side (a Type-C to Type-A cable is included to cover most potential users). The added bay helps users increase potential capacity or alternatively select BeyondRAID's Dual Drive Redundancy mode without as much of an ultimate capacity hit compared to its 4-bay predecessor.
The Drobo 5C supersedes the old 4-bay unit in their lineup.
The new Drobo 5C is available today for $349, with drive package deals offered direct from Drobo. Drobo is also offering a limited-time $50 discount to 2nd and 3rd gen 4-bay Drobo owners (valid until 11 Oct 2016). I have confirmed here that a disk pack from a 4-bay model can be moved directly to the new 5-bay model with no issue.
We have a full review of the Drobo 5C coming, but we have a few questions out to them that need answering before our article goes live.
Introduction and Specifications
Barracuda is a name we have not heard in a good while from Seagate. Last seen on their 3TB desktop drive, it appears they thought it was time for a comeback. The company is revamping their product lines, along with launching a full round of 10TB Helium-filled offerings that cover just about anything you might need:
Starting from the center, IronWolf is their NAS drive, optimized for arrays as large as 8 disks. To the right is their surveillance drive offering, the SkyHawk. These are essentially NAS units with custom firmware optimized for multiple stream recording. Not mentioned above is the FireCuda, which is a rebrand of their Desktop SSHD. Those are not He-filled (yet) as their max capacity is not high enough to warrant it. We will be looking at those first two models in future pieces, but the subject of today’s review is the BarraCuda line. The base 3.5” BarraCuda line only goes to 4TB, but the BarraCuda Pro expands upon those capacities, including 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB models. The subject of today’s review is the 10TB BarraCuda Pro.
Introduction, Packaging, and Internals
Being a bit of a storage nut, I have run into my share of failed and/or corrupted hard drives over the years. I have therefore used many different data recovery tools to try to get that data back when needed. Thankfully, I now employ a backup strategy that should minimize the need for such a tool, but there will always be instances of fresh data on a drive that went down before a recent backup took place or a neighbor or friend that did not have a backup.
I’ve got a few data recovery pieces in the cooker, but this one will be focusing on ‘physical data recovery’ from drives with physically damaged or degraded sectors and/or heads. I’m not talking about so-called ‘logical data recovery’, where the drive is physically fine but has suffered some corruption that makes the data inaccessible by normal means (undelete programs also fall into this category). There are plenty of ‘hard drive recovery’ apps out there, and most if not all of them claim seemingly miraculous results on your physically failing hard drive. While there are absolutely success stories out there (most plastered all over testimonial pages at those respective sites), one must take those with an appropriate grain of salt. Someone who just got their data back with a <$100 program is going to be very vocal about it, while those who had their drive permanently fail during the process are likely to go cry quietly in a corner while saving up for a clean-room capable service to repair their drive and attempt to get their stuff back. I'll focus more on the exact issues with using software tools for hardware problems later in this article, but for now, surely there has to be some way to attempt these first few steps of data recovery without resorting to software tools that can potentially cause more damage?
Well now there is. Enter the RapidSpar, made by DeepSpar, who hope this little box can bridge the gap between dedicated data recovery operations and home users risking software-based hardware recoveries. DeepSpar is best known for making advanced tools used by big data recovery operations, so they know a thing or two about this stuff. I could go on and on here, but I’m going to save that for after the intro page. For now let’s get into what comes in the box.
Note: In this video, I read the MFT prior to performing RapidNebula Analysis. It's optimal to reverse those steps. More on that later in this article.
Subject: Storage | June 21, 2016 - 02:43 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, raid, hdd, drobo, DAS, BeyondRAID, 5Dt, 5D
Today Drobo updated their 5D, shifting to Thunderbolt 2, an included mSATA caching SSD, and faster internals:
The new 5Dt (t for Turbo Edition) builds on the strengths of the 5D, which launched three years ago. The distinguishing features remain the same, as this is still a 5-bay model with USB 3.0, but the processor has been upgraded, as well as the USB 3.0 chipset, which was a bit finicky with some earlier implementations of the technology.
The changes present themselves at the rear, as we now have a pair of Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gb/s) ports which support display pass-through (up to 4k). Rates speeds climb to 540 MB/s read and 250 MB/s write when using HDDs. SSDs bump those figures up to 545 / 285 MB/s, respectively.
Another feature that has remained was their Hot Data Cache technology, but while the mSATA part was optional on the 5D, a 128GB unit comes standard and pre-installed on the 5Dt.
The Drobo 5Dt is available today starting at $899. That price is a premium over the 5D, but the increased performance specs, included SSD, and Thunderbolt connectivity come at a price.
The current (updated) Drobo product lineup.
Full press blast after the break.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Western Digital launched their My Passport Wireless nearly two years ago. It was a nifty device that could back up or offload SD cards without the need for a laptop, making it ideal for photographers in the field. I came away from that review wondering just how much more you could pack into a device like that, and today I get to find out:
Not to be confused with the My Passport Pro (a TB-connected portable RAID storage device), the My Passport Wireless Pro is meant for on-the-go photographers who seek to back up their media while in the field but also lighten their backpacks. The concept is simple - have a small device capable of offloading (or backing up) SD cards without having to lug along your laptop and a portable hard drive to do so. Add in a wireless hotspot with WAN pass-through along with mobile apps to access the media and you can almost get away without bringing a laptop at all. Oh, and did I mention this one can also import photos and videos from your smartphone while charging it via USB?
- Capacity: 2TB and 3TB
- Battery: 6,400 mAH / 24WH
- UHS-I SD Card Reader
- USB 3.0 (upstream) port for data and charging
- USB 2.0 (downstream) port for importing and charging smartphones
- 802.11AC + N dual band (2.4 / 5 GHz) WiFi
- 2.4A Travel Charge Adapter (included)
- Plex Media Server capable
- Available 'My Cloud' mobile apps
No surprises here. 2.4W power adapter is included this time around, which is a nice touch.
Subject: Storage | April 29, 2016 - 01:36 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Seagate, helium, hdd, Enterprise Capacity 3.5, 10TB
This drive was initially paper-launched back in January, but now Seagate claims it is shipping in volume. While that original release and today’s update both lack performance specs, there are a few interesting tidbits sprinkled in there:
- This is a CMR drive, not SMR, meaning that it can be written randomly without any of the batch write penalties of Shingled Magnetic Recording.
- ‘Advanced write caching capabilities’ hints at a form of the media cache tech present in the HGST He6/He8 and also recently adopted by the WD 8TB Gold.
- The Seagate 10TB release from earlier this year stated that his model will be a 7-platter design with 14 heads. Helium enables thinner platters, and 7-platter designs began appearing in the HGST He6.
- At nearly 1.5TB per platter and an assumed spindle speed of 7200 RPM, we can infer that the base specs should be reasonably impressive.
Introduction and Specifications
Storage devices for personal computers have always been a tricky proposition. While the majority of computer parts are solid state, the computer industry has spent most of its life storing bits on electromechanical mechanical devices like tapes and floppy disks. Speaking relatively, it was only recently (less than a decade) that solid state storage became mainstream, and even today the costs of flash production make rotating media the better option for bulk data storage. Hard drives are typically vented to atmosphere, as the Bernoulli Effect is necessary as part of what keep the drive heads flying above the rotating platters. With any vented enclosure, there is always the risk of atmospheric contaminants finding their way in. Sure there are HEPA-class filters at the vent holes, but they can’t stop organic vapors that may slightly degrade the disk surface over time.
By filling a hard disk with an inert gas and hermetically sealing the disk housing, we can eliminate those potential issues. An added bonus is that if Helium is used, its lower density enables lower air friction of the rotating platters, which translates to lower power consumption when compared to an equivalent air-filled HDD. Ever since HGST released their Helium filled drives, I’ve been waiting for this technology to trickle down to consumer products, and Western Digital has recently brought such a product to market. Today we will be diving into our full performance review of the Western Digital 8TB Red.
Compared to the 6TB Red, the 8TB model doubles its cache size to 128MB. We also see a slight bump in claimed transfer rates. Idle power consumption sees a slight bump due to different electronics in use, and power/capacity figures check out as well (more on that later as we will include detailed power testing in this article).
Subject: Storage | January 13, 2016 - 02:38 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Seagate, helium, hdd, enterprise, 3.5, 10TB
Seagate updated their Enterprise Capacity line of HDDs this morning with a monster of a 10TB unit:
To achieve this capacity, Seagate switched over to a sealed, Helium filled design (similar to what HGST has been doing for a few years now). Since filling the space of a HDD with Helium helps reduce head flutter and platter thickness, Seagate was able to fit seven platters into a standard 3.5" housing. As an additional note, this drive uses the same PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) as other recent generation units, and not the SMR (Shingled) employed in their recent 8TB Archive HDD. PMR is a good thing here, as it enables random write access without the performance penalty incurred when attempting the same on an SMR drive.
The Helium filling pushes the MTBF up to 2.5 million hours. Unfortunately the release was light on the other details, and we do not have pricing as of yet, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on this one. Seagate states they are 'shipping to select customers', but given that those customers are ordering by the truckload, it may be some time before we see them in the OEM aftermarket channels.
Introduction and Specifications
It has been a while since we took a look at some hard drives here at PC Perspective. While seemingly everyone is pushing hard into Solid State Storage, those spinning platters have gotten the computer industry by for several decades, and they won't be going away any time soon so long as magnetic domains can store bits for cheaper than electrons can. SSDs have been eating away at the market for OS and single drive mobile needs, but when it comes to bulk storage, nothing beats a great hard drive for the money. Since many users would rather avoid maintaining a large array of drives, getting the capacity of each 3.5" unit higher is still a need, especially for storage hungry consumers. Enterprise units have been pushing into 8TB territory lately, but the consumer sweet spot currently remains at 6TB. Western Digital entered this area in July of last year, pushing their popular Green and Red lines up to 6TB. While the capacity was great, those two lines are mean to be power saving, slower spinning drives. When platter speeds are low, the laws of physics (and of rotational latency) kick in and dictate that they could never perform as well as their 7200 RPM counterparts.
...and now they have filled that gap, with their Black and Red Pro models now made available in up to 6TB capacities. To clarify the product lines here, the Green and Black products are intended for usage as a single drive, while the Red and Red Pro are meant for operating in NAS devices and use in a RAID. The two drives in this review are the faster spinning models, so we should see better performance all around. Spinning those platters faster means more power drawn and more heat generated by air friction across the platters, as we can look into below:
Western Digital Red Pro 6TB:
- Model: WD6001FFWX
- Max Sequential Read: 214 MB/s
- Form Factor: 3.5”
- Interface Type: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (SATA 3)
- UBER: <1 in 1015
- Power (active/idle/standby): 10.6W/7.4W/1.6W
- Warranty: 5 years
Western Digital Black 6TB:
- Model: WD6001FZWX
- Max Sequential: 218 MB/s
- Form Factor: 3.5”
- Interface Type: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (SATA 3)
- UBER: <1 in 1014
- Power (active/idle/standby): 10.6W/7.6W/1.6W
- Warranty: 5 years
For comparison, the slower spinning 6TB Red and Green models run at 5.3W/3.4W/0.4W. Lesson learned - moving from ~5400 RPM to 7200 RPM roughly doubles the power draw of a high capacity 3.5" HDD. Other manufacturers are doing things like hermetically sealing their drives and filling them with Helium, but that is a prohibitively expensive proposition for consumer / small business drives, which is what the Black and Red Pro lines are meant to satisfy. It has also been proven that Helium filled drives are not the best if their track geometry is not optimized as well as it could be.