NAS Storage Blog

NAS storage news, reviews, tips and tricks

My OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 480 GB is now installed

I just installed my OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 480 GB n my Macbook Pro and it is working like a charm. It gives me more disk space and it seems very fast. I do not know if OWC SSD is faster than my Intel 520 but it is definitely not slower.
The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 480 GB is not cheap. I paid almost 480 euro + VAT so what do you get when you buy a SSD at that price?

  • You get a SSD with 5 year warranty (This is great)
  • A SSD that is targeted IT professionals
  • A SSD that delivers great performance (550 MB/s read and 520 MB/s write at the top)
  • A SSD with RAID support

The whole process of cloning, replacing and booting with a new SSD has become a task that I have done so many times over the years. Not just at home but also at work. A few months ago I replaced an old WD hard disk with a 480 GB Intel 520 SSD in my 27 inch iMac 2009 and voila you got what feels like a brand new computer. I simply just love Solid State Drives. Even an old iMac with SSD becomes a beast when it comes to demanding operations when playing around with software development. I/O is pure pleasure.

Cloning my Intel 520 180 GB

Before I can use the new OWC SSD I will have to clone the data from my existing Intel SSD onto my OWC disk. In order to clone the data I use my old but very useful hard disk docking station from Sandberg that mounts the disk as an external disk and then I am ready to clone data.

I use Carbon Copy Cloner which is great piece of software that will backup your data. Carbon Copy Cloner is one of the key tool in my software backup process. Always have a good backup strategy when it comes to your precious data.
Cloning 160 GB data from one SSD to another SSD took about 2 hours which is OK considering that the my hard disk docking station is using USB 2.0.

Installing the OWC SSD

Replacing my Intel 520 SSD with the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 480 GB in MacBook Pro is easy as long as you got the right tools.
I use the Newertech 11-Piece Portable Toolkit which is perfect for almost every hardware upgrade. With Torx and Philips screw drivers, tweezers, scissor clamp and much more you are good to go. Very recommendable toolkit.

Unscrew all the screws on the back of the MacBook Pro with a small Philips screw driver, remove the aluminum plate on the back, replace the old SSD with the new SSD and screw the plate back on again.

Testing the OWC Mercury Extreme

After the SSD replacement we are ready to boot the MacBook Pro and if all goes well we are ready to use the MacBook again after a short while and get back to work.
The first test is to see if you MacBook starts after the SSD install process. Hopefully all goes well. Next I use to run Disk Speed Test which is a free tool that can be downloaded via Apple Mac App Store. It will test the read and write operations on your SSD.
With an average write of 250 MB/s and an average read of 505 MB/s on compressed data I am very pleased. Good performance.
I would strongly recommend some of the videos that can be seen on macsales that compare SSD with traditional mechanical hard drives. You will be amazed.

Where to buy an OWC Solid State Disk online

There are several places where you can s Solid State Disk from OWC online. If you live in the US I will recommend that you buy directly from MacSales.com. If you live in Europe I will recommend macupgrade.eu.

Ordered an OWC SSD today


I am running out of disk space on my MacBook Pro. Currently I have only 20 GB left on my 180 GB Intel 520 SSD, so I ordered an OWC 480 GB Solid State Disk today. Hopefully I will have this disk by the end of the week. I can not wait to see this disk in action and get some disk space.
To be specific I ordered this disk: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD 480GB 6G. Rumor has it that should be a little faster than the 520 SSD’s from Intel. I have never owned a Solid State Disk that was not from Intel but now I am going to buy an OWC disk.

I have read some very positive reviews about the quality and the performance when it comes OWC disk. Anandtech and Mac Performance Guide have both been very excited about the OWC Solid State Disks.

Since I live in Europe I have bought the disk from Macupgrade.eu. I do think it would be to expensive to buy the disk directly at OWC’s webshop due to tax, transport, VAT and so on.
Some times I do wish I lived in the US because many gadgets are so cheap compared to European prices.

The Fusion Drive concept ported to a NAS device

I love my Synology DS211+ and I would love to increase the performance but that is expensive if you want a one or more SSD in a NAS. But what if you can port the Fusion Drive concept to a NAS?
The term Fusion Drive is used by Apple and I would like to start this article by saying that the Fusion Drive is not one hard disk that is a hybrid between a flash storage and an ordinary mechanical hard drive. Actually the Fusion Drive is two storage devices: a flash storage and a mechanical hard drive. But Mac OS X see both storage devices as one storage unit.
It is possible to configure one of the new 2012 iMac’s from Apple with a Fusion Drive. With a Fusion Drive in your iMac you get a 128 GB flash storage and 1 TB or 3 TB mechanical storage. So you will get a 1.1 TB data storage og 3.1 data storage when choosing Fusion Drive.

How does Fusion Drive works?

Mac OS X Mountain Lion is stored on the 128 GB flash storage along with some preloaded applications and can then be accessed very quickly. The whole idea is that Mac OS X will detect the files that are most used and place them on the flash storage and the less used files will be placed on the mechanical storage.
A 4 GB buffer is used for writing data and that should be sufficient for most write operations. But when you write data that is larger than 4 GB you will see a performance decrease compared to an entire flash drive.

The whole concept is actually very interesting.

Fusion Drive concept and NAS

I would love to port the Fusion Drive concept to a NAS device and see how it performs. It should be possible for a NAS vendor like Synology to create a NAS device that would have a Fusion Drive setup. A NAS with a flash storage and one or more mechanical storages. But many files that are stored on a NAS could be very large so the write buffer would be filled very quickly and thereby work overtime.
So the questions is: Would the Fusion Drive work on a NAS with the same performance as on a normal computer like an iMac? It should not be hard to port the Fusion Drive algorithms to a Linux distribution so that part should be easy enough.

I would love to hear from some one that has heard or seen a working flash/mechanical storage setup on a NAS device.

Synology Apps work great on iPhone 5

I just bought the iPhone 5 last week and I am very pleased with this new gadget. The 4 inch screen is perfect for all my Synology apps well all apps just works perfectly with this screen.
One of my favourite apps is the Synology DS File and it is just great to have a longer list with folders and files.
Another one of my favourite apps is the Prompt app which is a SSH client. The big retina screen on the iPhone 5 is just perfect when you got a terminal window and you are about to restart an Apache server.

Expansion units for your Synology NAS

If you need more disk space on your existing Synology NAS do not buy a new one, instead buy an expansion unit and thereby increase the storage capacity. An expansion unit can be a good solution if you run out of disk space or you want to have a backup solution for the data on your NAS.

Synology has just released two new expansion units that will assist you in adding more storage capacity to your existing Synology NAS:

  • DX513 – Increase the capacity with five additional hard disks.
  • DX213 – Increase the capacity with two additional hard disks.

It is not all Synology NAS servers that can use these expansion units so check if your Synology NAS is designed to support an expansion unit. If your NAS is equipped with an eSATA interface the odds for adding an expansion unit should be pretty good. But do read this from Synology before buying an expansion unit.

DX513

With the DX513 you have the opportunity to add up to five hard disks to your existing NAS. For some Synology NAS models you can add two expansion units. The DS1812+ and DS1512+ can handle two DX513 expansion units.
Find more informations about the Synology DX513 here.

 DX213

With the DX213 you have the opportunity to add up to two hard disks to your existing NAS.
The DX213 is one of the smallest expansion units but it can still be a good backup solution for your data even though it only will increase the hard disk capacity by two hard disks.
Find more informations about the Synology DX213 here.

 If you currently are using the DX513 or the DX213 I would be glad to know what good or bad experiences you have. I do not have the need for an expansion unit but I think the expansion concept is very interesting and useful.

SSD Trim Enabler for Mac OS X

If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) in your Mac and the SSD is Sandforce driven I will recommend you to enable TRIM for you SSD in Mac OS X.
I love Solid State Drives and my MacBook Pro and my Mac Mini which both have SSD’s (Intel 520 – 180 GB and Intel 310 – 160 GB) and both disks deliver great performance and stability. TRIM is especially a good thing when it comes to my Intel 520 SSD which has a Sandforce controller.

2 months ago I downloaded the Trim Enabler for Mac OS X and the application works with Mac OS X Mountain Lion. What the application does it that it enables TRIM on Mac OS X so that it is possible for the operation system to do some house keeping on the SSD.

What is TRIM?

TRIM is a operation system command that will inform the SSD when it can remove unused blocks of data and thereby increase the write performance in the future. TRIM is garbage collection of unused data blocks. Garbage collection is also well known process that new programming languages like Java and .NET uses in order to remove unused objects on the heap.

SSD write operations on blocks with existing data can decrease performance significantly and we do not want that. We want the SSD to perform at all time. The overwrite process on block level data can be very expensive on Solid State Drives.
TRIM is house keeping of the SSD.

Download and install TRIM Enabler

You can download the TRIM Enabler for Max OS X here. It is a small application and extremely easy to use.
Copy the application to the Applications folder and then start the application. Enable TRIM by selecting ON on startup. You might have to reboot your Mac.
I can not say that I know that the application is working well but many reviewers say that the application do work.
Good luck using the TRIM Enabler.

Synology releases new 2-bay NAS: DiskStation DS213+

Synology releases a new 2-bay NAS: DiskStation DS213+ that will replace the DS212+. When I think of it the DS212+ was not around for very long. It was replaced by the DS213+ after only 10 months. I do not know why it was replaced so fast, but Synology must have their reasons. My guess it that is DS2xx+ models are some the best selling models and in order to sell more Synology has put in more features.

The new NAS DS213+ has a dual core CPU, 512 MB RAM and is capable of having 2 hard disks with up to 4 TB data. If you have a DS212+ I see no reason to upgrade to a DS213+. I would not even upgrade my DS211+ to a DS213+. The DS213+ is not that feature rich so I skip an upgrade but I am still considering buying two Western Digital 2 TB Red hard disks that are made for NAS devices for my current DS211+.
My Synology DS211+ is now just a storage server.

I have moved all running services to my Mac Mini because some of these services is quite demanding and use a lot of resources and thereby leaving my NAS with to much load. I recently added 4 GB RAM to my Mac Mini so the total amount of RAM now is 8 GB which is perfect for a mini server. So I now have two servers: Synology DS211+ NAS and a Mac Mini. A perfect setup so far.

If you are looking for a great 2-bay NAS I would recommend the Synology DS213+ but if you have an DS211+ or DS212+ there is no reason to replace it with a DS213+. Unless you got a money tree or similar.

My Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt is working as expected

My brand new Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt is working great as expected. I can now daisy chain my non Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display (ACD). No need to buy an extra Thunderbolt Cinema Display (ATCD) in order to get two Apple Cinema Displays. This is just great and I am very happy with the setup.

I have owned several Lacie external hard disks and they have all worked great so I do know the quality of the Lacie products. Lacie do make some fine hard disks with a nice design that will fit on most desks.
The Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt is hub is a bit hot but nothing compared to my MacBook Pro that is capable of getting extremely hot when demanding processes are running. The Lacie hub has a great design in my opinion. I do like the big blue power led and the aluminum enclosure (perfect cooling).

In all the Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt hub is a great hub for your daisy chain and your ACD can be useful as the second display if the display is connected to the Lacie hub. It is much cheaper to buy a Lacie hub than buying a Lacie Thunderbolt hard disk, a Promise Pegasus storage or a Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo. The Lacie hub costs about 200 US dollars and is much cheaper than a storage device with thunderbolt.

Just bought a LaCie eSATA Thunderbolt Hub for my daisy chain setup

I just bought a LaCie eSATA and Thunderbolt Hub for 199 US dollars in order to put my non Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display at the end of a daisy chain. Daisy chaining is a wiring scheme where devices are connected in sequence or in a ring. I have also bought an Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Cinema Display (ATCD) as the second display on my desk. I have always wanted two big displays on my desk and now I can have this setup eventhough I have an old Apple 27″ Cinema Display with no Thunderbolt (ACD).

My initial setup was simply to buy an Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Cinema Display and connect it to my MacBook Pro and then connect my old 27″ Apple Cinema Display to the Thunderbolt Cinema Display, but the non Apple Thunderbolt Cinema Display will NOT light up with this setup because there is no Mini DisplayPort throughput from the Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Cinema Display to the non Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display. So the solution that is needed in order to fix this issue is to insert a Thunderbolt device with Mini DisplayPort throughput like the Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt hub.

My daisy chain setup

As I previously wrote I had to insert the LaCie eSATA Thunderbolt Hub between the Apple Thundbolt Cinema Display and the Apple Cinema Display with no Thunderbolt in order to make both displays light up. So the setup now looks like this:
Apple MacBook Pro 15″ → Apple Thunderbolt Cinema Display → Lacie eSATA Thunderbolt Hub → Apple Cinema Display.
It is bit frustrating that I will have to insert a Thunderbolt Hub in the daisy chain in order for the ACD to work but then I will have a fast hub on the desk. This new daisy chain setup will require more power so I will have to change the power setup around my desk but this is going to be fantastic to have this setup.

Western Digital releases the WD Red HDD line for NAS devices

Western Digital releases the Red HDD line for NAS devices. Harddisks that are made for NAS devices are good news for NAS owners. As a big fan of Western Digital harddisks and Synology NAS, it is good news that WD releases a series of disks that are made for NAS. WD is creating some of the best harddisks in the world in my opinion.

WD Red are made for NAS devices

The Western Digital Red series are made for NAS devices and unlike the Blue, Green and Black series the Red disks are created by WD, but WD has worked together with some of the big manufactures of NAS devices like SynologyQNAP and Thecus in order to ensure compatibility. WD has seen the a potential new market with NAS owners and created a bundle of new disks that is targeted this new market.

WD Red specifications

Western Digital has created the WD Red for NAS devices so the Red harddisks are the best features from the Green and Black harddisks. Power saving and good performance. WD has created NASware which is a firmware that is built into the red disks that will ensure stability to NAS RAID systems. Below are listed some of the most useful WD Red specifications.

  1. Cache: 64 MB in all Red models.
  2. Interface: SATA 3.0 (6 Gbit/s)
  3. Capacity: 1 TB (WD10EFRX), 2 TB (WD20EFRX) or 3 TB (WD30EFRX).
  4. Form factor: 3.5 inch.
  5. RPM: IntelliPower (speed, transfer rate and caching algorithms designed in order to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance)

I am looking forward to read some reviews of these WD Red disks. I hope Anandtech will make fantastic performance review of these new disks with in a few weeks.

WD Red prices

The prices for the WD Red are known to be: 1 TB 109$, 2 TB 139$ and 3 TB 189$.