Every now and then, I stumble upon an elegant hardware or software solution that really impresses me, especially if it fulfills a need I didn't even know I had. The Stardom Pro Drive is one of those. The minute I saw it I recognized its potential. And, the more I thought about it, the more possibilities came to mind.
Stardom Pro Drives are clever little RAID enclosures designed to fit exclusively inside Apple MacPro towers, in any of the four internal drives bays.
What's so cool is that the Pro Drive houses two tiny 2.5-inch laptop hard drives in the space originally designed to house just one 3.5-inch hard drive, making it possible to install both the system drive and its backup in just one slot. It's ingenious.
The Pro Drive model PD2510 that I tested is a dedicated, fault tolerant, mirrored hardware RAID 1 configuration. It provides an instant, maintenance-free, real-time backup of my computer's system drive.
I installed two small 500Gb Seagate Momentus 2.5-inch laptop hard drives in the Pro Drive enclosure (the PD2510 can accommodate drives as large as 1Tb). The tiny Phillips-head screws supplied with the unit can be a bit tricky, but with the proper screwdriver the installation is pretty simple.
After carefully sliding the PD2510 enclosure into an empty drive bay in my MacPro and replacing the computer door, I fired-up the machine and opened the Apple Disk Utility to configure the two new drives.
When Disk Utility opened, I was initially surprised and concerned to see that only one new hard drive appeared in the window. However, after thinking it through for minute or two, I remembered that I was dealing with a hardware RAID. I realized the Pro Drive's chipset would control the configuration and operation of both drives as though they were one, and that is precisely how it works.
The two drives installed in the enclosure show up as a single drive in Disk Utility.
The Pro Drive's onboard chipset builds and formats the two hard drives in RAID 1 configuration that's invisible to the user. It constantly mirrors everything on the primary drive to the secondary backup drive, and does it all automatically.
At this point, all that was left was to clone my present working system drive to the new RAID 1 on the Pro Drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. That took about and hour, and when it was done, I booted to the clone by simply holding down the Option key as I rebooted the computer, then selecting the newly installed drive.
The new RAID 1 configuration worked perfectly after I rebooted the computer, and it still does. It gave me an immediate sense of satisfaction and continues to give me a great sense of relief, knowing that I no longer have to worry about losing anything to a catastrophic system drive failure.
RAID 1 PERFORMANCE:
Why mirror a system drive, but not media drives?
Though I've always been leery of using or recommending mirrored hard drive configurations in media storage applications, I suspected it was an ideal scheme for protecting a system drive, and as it turns out, I was right.
Media, or video storage, because of its huge files, is relatively expensive. Its primary requirements have always been massive storage space; high throughput, for smooth video playback without dropping frames; and finally, file protection, which is more important than ever today as tapeless workflows become the norm.
A RAID 1 mirrored configuration for media storage, while providing excellent file protection, is not nearly as efficient as RAID 5 or RAID 6 in terms of either hard drive space or throughput. However, in spite of a minor decrease in disk write speed of only about 4%, measured with when testing with the AJA Disk Read/Write Test, the Pro Drive's RAID 1 mirrored configuration had no noticeable impact on system performance that I could detect.
Since installing the Stardom Pro Drive, my Mac operating system, all of my applications, and all of my data files, such as: contacts, calendars, Word documents, etc., are now safely backed-up at all times. And, I'm completely out of the loop. Once I screwed in the two hard drives, slid the enclosure into it's slot in my MacPro, cloned my system drive onto the primary drive and booted it up, that was it for me; the chips onboard Pro Drive handle the backup continuously with no effort and no worries. It's actually been very liberating, and one less thing I have to think about.
The Stardom Pro Drive 2510 lists for $129.95: with the addition of two 500Gb 2.5-inch hard drives (approx. $65 each) that were used in in the configuration I'm testing, the total cost of installation would be just about $260 for most users. I think you'll find that the peace of mind instilled by the RAID 1 mirrored backup of the PD2510 makes it well worth every penny.
ADDITIONAL PRO DRIVE MODELS
In addition to the Pro Drive PD2510 I tested, Stardom also sells two additional models, in its Pro Drive series, each of which has been designed to fulfill specific needs.
The Stardom PD2520 is a dedicated 2-drive hardware RAID 0 configuration, designed for maximum I/O performance and delivering about 30% faster data throughput than a single 3.5-inch SATA hard drive. This model is better suited for media storage. Think of it a 2-drive RAID 0 that occupies just one slot in a MacPro.
The Stardom PD100 is a single drive enclosure, designed for maximum storage flexibility in a MacPro system, making it possible to mount any type, size, or capacity of hard drive. The PD100 accepts 3.5-inch, 2.5-inch, and even high-performance solid state drives.
5 COW Rating
I give the Stardom PD2510 a well-deserved 5 out 5 Cow rating; it's well designed, works exactly as claimed, and delivers an innovative and efficient solution for constant and unattended system backups.
The Stardom PD2510 is available all over. To find out where check out the Stardom website at: http://www.stardom-usa.com/
or contact Stardom Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2011 David Roth Weiss and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
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