For longer than I care to admit, my entire collection of music and photos have lived on a single external hard disk attached to my MacBook Pro. In an effort to make a backup I used Mozy but recently it stopped working and Mozy’s tech support gave up on me.
I looked long and hard at Network Attached Storage from Synology (and Apple’s Time Capsule) but there were limitations with iPod syncing and streaming to my Xbox 360. The solution was another external drive but in what configuration?
Having good experience with Newer Technology’s miniStack V2, I opted for their Guardian Maximus. A hardware-based RAID-1 solution using the Oxford chipset, it’s a sleek aluminum housing with a single fan and myriad connections of USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800.
I chose the “add your own drives” version and saved myself about $100. Unscrew the case, screw down your drives, reassemble, plug-in to your Mac. I used two Western Digital SATA drives of 750 GB formatted to two volumes: 400 GB to hold my media and another 300 GB for Time Machine (or any other backup method).
What’s to say so far? The Maximus works.
The case is well-built, aluminum, and jet black. I wasn’t sure how this would look contrasted with my aluminum MacBook Pro but it’s perfectly discreet.
Small and not over-bright LEDs provide a status display for Power, HDD activity (each drive), and a Rebuild indicator. Colors for HDD and Rebuild cycle green/orange/red based on status.
The Maximus isn’t silent like the IcyDock due to the fan at the back of the case. It produces a modest whir but nothing distracting and would be fine in your office or living room. Using FireWire, each drive goes to sleep if your settings are configured as such. I didn’t test this under USB 2.0.
There is no heat coming off the case or fan.
RAID-1 in a Box
According to Newer Tech’s documentation, any failed drives will automatically rebuild once replaced in the case. I didn’t have (or take) the opportunity to test this but you can use the device while the array rebuilds. Newer Tech does state the drives should match in make and model which could present an issue down the road with replacements but I’ll take the chance.
Unfortunately you can’t expand your mirrored pair by replacing one drive at a time (the Synology NAS can do this). Using an external drive as an intermediary should work then populate both (new) drives into the Maximus case. Just a theory.
If you want to operate the Maximus in RAID-0 or independently you’ll need to look at OWC’s Mercury Elite instead. Considering each enclosure looks identical (except color), there must be an agreement in place to offer products with opposing features. A shame, really, because I’d love a matching set of Maximus’ in whichever configuration I choose.
Both cases have jumpers which are used to change operating modes but Newer Tech tells you to leave them alone or void your warranty. I’m guessing RAID-0 is but a jumper away for the Maximus if you wish to dabble.
Real World Usage
I’ve been using the Maximus for about 24 hours with excellent results. Hammered it with file copies. Chained it to a G-RAID2 via FireWire 800 and captured DV footage into Final Cut Pro. No issues.
The Maximus would make an excellent device for editors wishing to have disk redundancy at a smaller cost than RAID-5. However, a second external drive synced with ChronoSync would work similarly.
What’s Enough Backup?
What else of my backup strategy? The Maximus gives me disk redundancy for my media and a Time Machine backup for my MacBook Pro’s hard disk. I will make periodic dupes to my wife’s external drive. Lastly, I’ll balance this off with another shot at Mozy or uploading my photos to Flickr.