NAS Storage Blog

NAS storage news, reviews, tips and tricks

Voyager Q Disk Docking Station – Easy disk access

I just bought the Voyager Q Disk Docking Station from Newertech that will replace my old Sandberg Disk Docking Station. I am big fan of disk docking station because of the flexibility with raw disks. Take a raw 2.5 or 3.5 inch hard disk and put in your docking station, connect the docking station to your Mac/PC and you have data access. Very easy and very useful. It use my docking station once a week when I am backing up the data on my Mac Mini. A docking station is an important part of my data backup strategy. I use the docking station to create an identical clone of my data so I can insert the cloned hard drive into my Mac Mini if needed.
My plan is also to use the Voyager Q to clone of my mirrored disks in my Synology DS211+ NAS once a week if possible.
The reason that I bought the Voyager Q was it that has many port/interfaces so there are many connection possibilities and I like that. I am used to use USB 2.0 on my Sandberg docking station but the Voyager Q uses USB 3.0 which is a LOT faster. When I clone or create a disk image based on the data on my Mac Mini disk (120 GB data currently) it will take about 30 minutes, that is more than 50 minutes faster than before.
I gave nearly 85 US dollars for the Voyager Q but I use a docking station very often, so I do not mind buying a quality docking station like the Voyager Q.

Voyager Q features

The Voyager Q has many nice features and I will list some of them here:

  • Support 2.5″ and 3.5″ SATA I/II/III drives and SSD drives.
  • Support drives up to 4 TB.
  • Hot-Swap for multiple SATA drives.
  • Nice compact design.
  • Easy Plug and Play for Mac/PC.
  • Weighted base and rubber feet. (A lot more stable than my old Sandberg docking station)
  • Eject button for easy disk removal.

Voyager Q specifications

Here are some of the most important specifications on the Voyager Q. I do like the high transfer rates.

  • 1 x eSATA port
  • 2 x FireWire 800 (1394b) ports
  • 1 x FireWire 400 (1394a) port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port (compatible with USB 2.0)
  • eSATA transfer rates – 3.0Gb/s
  • FireWire 800 transfer rates – 800Mbps
  • FireWire 400 transfer rates – 400Mbps
  • USB 3.0 transfer rates – 3.0Gb/s

Voyager Q includes

The Voyager Q is bundled with a cable for each port available on the base station so no need to buy cables. It is all there. The following cables are included:

  • 1 x Double Shielded FireWire 800 connecting cable (9-9 Pin cable).
  • 1 x Double Shielded FireWire 400 connecting cable (6-6 Pin cable).
  • 1 x USB 3.0 (Standard-B to Standard-A) USB 2.0 backwards compatible cable.
  • 1 x Double Shielded eSATA connecting cable.

Conclusion

The Voyager Q is a great tool and if you have lot of data that you want to backup this is the tool for you. You can transfer much data very quickly and time is money.

Just upgrading my new Mac Mini 2012 2.6 i7 with 480 GB SSD and 16 GB RAM

The new Mac Mini 2012 2.6 i7 is a little killer when upgraded with a 6G 480 GB SSD and 16 GB RAM. How do I know this? I just bought a Mac Mini 2012 2.6 Quad Core i7 and replaced the original hard disk (1 TB 5400 RPM) with a OWC Pro 480 GB Solid State Drive and replaced the original 4 GB RAM with 16 GB RAM.
After this upgrade I am the proud owner of a Mac Mini that just flies when it comes to performance. The hardware upgrade took a little bit longer than expected and after this upgrade I had some problems booting the Mac Mini. I will describe the problems later in this post.

Upgrading the Mac Mini

Upgrading the Mac Mini 2012 with a new SSD and more memory is no more different than upgrading the Mac Mini 2011 which I did in the Spring of 2012, so I do have some experience when it comes to upgrading the Mac Mini unibody. The Mac Mini is a small box and the components are placed very tight inside so you will have to be careful in some aspects of the upgrade. But I have found some tutorials on the Internet. Ifixit have some of the best tutorials around when it comes to replacing hardware in a Apple Mac.

The tutorials that I used are listed here:

  • fixit – replacing the hard drive in Mac Mini 2012
  • Matt Saunders on Youtube

Make sure you have a good toolset before you begin otherwise you are stuck before you know it. I do recommend Newertech 11-Piece Portable Toolkit.
The following components in my Mac Mini were replaced:

  • 1 TB 5400 HGST HD was replaced with an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G 480 GB SSD.
  • 2 x 2 GB RAM was replaced with 2 x 8 GB OWC 1600 Mhz RAM.

My problems after the hardware upgrade

I did ran into some problems after the upgrade. First I did not put the hard drive logic board connector. Big mistake. After this fix my Mac Mini would not start as my OWC SSD was corrupted. Then I had to use Apple Internet recovery to clean my OWC SSD, reinstall Mac OS X and finally restore with Apple Time Machine. This was actually the first time I used my Apple Time Machine backup. Works perfect by the way.
These operations took some time. I could not figure out why the SSD would not boot on the Mac Mini. But my Mac Mini is now running well but I have seen some problems with my dual display setup even though the Mac Mini should be able to handle two Cinema Displays.

The Intel HD 4000 graphics should be powerful enough to support two large displays and this setup has been confirmed to work by other users.

Performance testing and improvement

My new Mac Mini 2.6 Ghz Quad Core is fast, very fast. I did some Geekbench tests in order to test the little devil in both 32-bit and in 64-bit and the results were very impressing as you can see from the results below. Some of my installed programs are running very smoothly. I have never seen IntelliJ open so quickly before. Building some of my code projects goes VERY fast. 2 seconds to compile and create a Java war file that is ready for deployment. Perfect!

Geekbench performance test 32 bit

Geekbench performance test 64 bit

Apple MacBook Pro no more

My MacBook Pro early 2011 had a battery replacement but this replacement was fatal. My MacBook Pro will NOT see this new battery. Extremely frustrating and I can see that I am not the only one having this problem when batteries are replaced. A lot of posts on many different Apple related forums show this problem.

I have tried many fixes but nothing seems to solve this issue so I am taking the computer to the nearest Apple repair dude in order to diagnose the problem. I sure hope it is a minor hardware issue and not a logic board replacement. That would be way to expensive. When the MacBook is hopefully fixed I will sell it. I currently do not need a laptop.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mac Mini 2012 is not that hard as it seems to be and you will love the power that the machine now has. The Mac Mini is fast and silent.

Synology releases DSM 4.2 for NAS devices

Synology has just released the DSM 4.2 for all their NAS devices. Many new features are available. I downloaded the DSM 4.2 version last week and I have not found any bugs so far, so thumbs up for all you testers out there. Good job.
We NAS users have some (many) feature requests and I think Synology does a very good job implementing these features and acknowledge future demands.

Synology DSM 4.2

As usual a Synology DSM minor release like the 4.2 is full of new features. Just by looking at the release notes from Synology was quite overwhelming. A lot of work has been done here. So many features and I will list some of them here:

  • Storage Manager – Global Hot Spare Disks and S.M.A.R.T. Test Scheduler.
  • File Services for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Major performance improvements when data is transferred between devices.
  • Package Center – New design in order to browse packages.
  • LDAP/AD Accounts for business.
  • Task Scheduler – Automate tasks.
  • Bluetooth Support – Stream music with Bluetooth.
  • Firewall & Security – Denial of Service (DoS) Protection and Customized block and allow IP List.
  • Disk Usage Report.
  • And much more.

If you have a Synology NAS that can support this DSM update download and install the new DSM version.

Testing Macbook Pro performance with Geekbench 2.4.0

As a hardware geek/enthusiast I had to see how well my Macbook Pro 2011 performed after some Geekbench tests. Geekbench is the preferred tool to use when performance tests are to be executed. You can get Geekbench for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. You can even get it for Android and iPhone mobile devices.
I bought Geekbench 2.4.0 for 13 US dollars on Mac App Store and ran the following tests in order to see the performance.

  1. 32-bit benchmark
  2. 64-bit benchmark
  3. Hardware stress tests (3 iterations)

I was curious to see how my Macbook Pro was performing compared to similar Macbook Pro models.

These are the specifications for my Macbook Pro 2011:

  • OS: Mac OS X 10.8.2
  • Model ID: MacBookPro 8,2
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-2635QM @ 2.00 GHz (4 Cores, 8 Threads)
  • L1 Instruction Cache: 32.0 KB x 4
  • L1 Data Cache: 32.0 KB x 4
  • L2 Cache: 256 KB x 4
  • L3 Cache: 6.00 MB
  • Memory: 16.0 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 (2 x 8 GB OWC RAM)
  • BIOS: Apple Inc. MBP81.88Z.0047.B27.1201241646

32-bit test result

Test score: 7318
My test result is a bit lower than the average test score uploaded to primatelabs but I did noticed some background processes consuming some resources during the tests, so this could be the reason for this low score.

64-bit test result

Test score: 9060
The test result was nearly the average that was uploaded to primatelabs.

Conclusion

My Macbook Pro is performing well and compared to other similar models there is nothing to worry about, but I do want a desktop computer again. I need a fast computer this year.

Apple Mac Pro release 2013

Apple has confirmed that they will upgrade the Mac Pro desktop in 2013 and I think the upgrade will be released in March or April and we will see new Cinema Display’s also.
This is just another Mac rumor but I do think that Apple will have the kindness to release a new Mac Pro in the spring of 2013.
I am in the need of fast desktop computer so a new Mac Pro will be good news for me.
I have already saved some money for a new desktop computer and if I am about to buy a Mac Pro I will need between 2 – 3000 US dollars just for the basic components. I can always upgrade the RAM, graphics, hard disks and so on if needed. But I do have to save some more money in order to buy this machine.
BUT I must say that you can get a lot of computer components for a Intel based Microsoft Windows or Linux PC for half the price of the Mac Pro.
You can get a fantastic homemade PC for 2000 US dollars made of quality hardware but you will have to build it yourself.

Why is the release date in March or April?

First of all I do NOT consider this website to be another Mac rumor site but I do think that I want to share my thoughts on the Mac Pro release this year.
In the four years that I hav e been following Apple and their products releases their seems to be some sort of a pattern:

  • The release of new Mac computers almost always occurs in the first 6 months of a year.
  • The release of new iPads almost always occurs in the first 6 months of a year.
  • The release of new iPhone’s and iPod’s almost always occurs in the last 6 months of a year.

The Mac Pro will most likely be released along with a brand new Apple Cinema Display that will be based on the same concept as the screen on the iMac’s from 2012.

I do think that I will have to write a post about what I can expect from the Mac Pro 2013.

The hardware that I am going to spend some money this year is the following:

  • A brand new fast desktop computer (An Apple Mac Pro or Linux PC).
  • A brand new 4 bay Synology NAS unit.

So my first Apple Mac rumors is now in the open. I do not know if it will be the last one but there will be some time before I release another one. Apple do not disappoint me and upgrade the Mac Pro this year.

I need to replace my MacBook Pro laptop with a fast desktop

I love my MacBook Pro but there are things that are starting to anoy me: noise and speed. There some scenarios were I just get so frustrated I am using my MacBook Pro. When I use the machine for software development or using the Airplay function to render a movie on my TV it is very often the case that my MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM, a fast SSD and semi fast CPU is under heavy load. For some reason I am not able to find the root cause but some indications points to a hardware problem which is not good at all. I changed my Intel 520 SSD with a OWC SSD and I must say that I have experienced some strange behaviours in Mac OS X since then:

  • Unexpected screen black outs
  • Unexpected OS log outs
  • Suddenly heavy load

These problems might not disappear when I get a new computer but a new computer is always a good thing. My problem is what to choose. Since I switched from Windows to Mac I promised myself not to go back to Windows but I might just buy a highend Intel based computer and install some sort of Linux distribution.
I would love to get a Mac Pro but it is not cheap. You can get PC which has the same specs as Mac Pro for half the price of a Mac Pro but then you will not get Mac OS X unless you create a hackintosh computer. I have been looking at some of the golden hackintosh builds at tonymacx86 and I must say thät I am keen to get a computer with that much power and Mac OS X for a lot less than a Mac Pro.

I would love to develop software on an extremely fast desktop with a lot of memory, fast CPU(s) and fast SSD’s.

Stream video from your Synology NAS via Airplay with Synology DSM 4.2

Synology DSM 4.2 is now in Beta and one of the new features is video content streaming via Airplay. I am a fan of Apple products (not all products) so this new feature in Synology Video station is just good news for me. This new Airplay streaming feature from Synology make it possible to use a device like iPhone or iPad as a controller. As I got both gadgets I simply can not wait to try this.

If you want to try out this new Video Station feature from Synology I would suggest that you join the DSM Beta program. When you have joined the DSM Beta program it is possible to downlad and install the DSM 4.2 Beta. But if you find any bugs you should inform Synology about this in that way you helping all to stabilize the DSM.

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.