By Brady Betzel
In our datacentric world, needing storage that exceeds 1TB or 2TB is commonplace. Beyond that, pros typically need something that can be quickly formatted to ever-changing RAID demands. One day I might need a RAID-0 configuration for multimedia tasks, including video editing, and the next day I might want to have a little safety net with RAID-1. Or I might want to treat my RAID as a bunch of different disks so I could eject and insert the drives at different times (known technically as a JBOD — just a bunch of disks).
RAID-0 combines both drives into one larger drive to achieve higher speeds than if separate. RAID-1 duplicates the data being transferred to both drives, so in case of a single-drive failure the other can still function with minimal data loss — although you are limited to the size of one of the drives (i.e. in this 8TB drive you only have 4TB of usable space). JBOD is the same as having both drives plugged in separately — it allows for flexibility in terms inserting and ejecting disks (handy when running drives between multiple removable drive docks).
Out of the Box
I was sent an 8TB G-RAID stocked with two HGST (remember Western Digital? HGST is owned by them) 4TB drives, SATA 6.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM drives enclosed in removable drive bays. On first look, the external RAID looks exactly the same as any G-Tech drive that you are used to seeing — the polished aluminum (much like the older Mac Pro towers), front grate with the “G” logo, status light directly under the “G,” and multiple connections on the rear.
I was intrigued by this drive because of the removable drive bays. I had seen G-Tech drives with non-removable drives and I was not a big fan, simply because if something goes down you have to send the entire thing in for warranty repair (if you are within your warranty). You can’t just get another drive and be quickly back up and running. With this latest release, if you are in a time-critical environment and a drive fails (barring the loss of data), you can have a spare and be back up and running in under an hour instead of days — all thanks to the removable drives. Keep in mind G-Technology does not warranty against data loss, only hardware failure due to technical problems, not wear and tear.
Getting around the hardware is pretty simple. To open the bay and get to the removable drives, you push the G on the front of the external enclosure. Once inside you can push another G to release the drive bays, slide them out and back in. Around the back are the connections — the dual FireWire 800 ports, one USB 3.0 port and one eSATA port. In addition you have the power connection, power button, rear fan and Kensington lock port. For some reason I do not care for the push button power switches on the G-Tech external drives; they feel a bit flimsy to me, although it doesn’t affect the drive (unless the switch breaks). The power supply that was sent is made by Asian Power Devices, but is referred to as the G-RAID/G-Dock ev power adapter on www.g-technology.com, in case you need to buy a replacement or an extra for $24.95.
Once plugged in I wanted to immediately format the RAID into a RAID-0 for testing. Luckily for me the G-RAID comes pre-formatted in RAID-0 configuration for Mac computers. I quickly found out that in order to properly interact with the formatting on this drive I had to download the G-Technology RAID Configuration Utility. G-Tech makes a version for Mac and Windows, and I would suggest that you download it first, here: http://support.g-technology.com/support/g-raid-removable. This way your computer will be able to easily prepare the G-RAID for RAID-0, -1 or JBOD configuration. Keep in mind that this is necessary to communicate properly with the hardware RAID that is used onboard the G-RAID. You must run this when configuring a new RAID, then open Disk Utility on a Mac or right-click on “My Computer” and click manage in Windows. Formatting drives can be a little tricky if you aren’t familiar, so do some research before formatting any drives.
Once formatted, I used AJA’s System Test on each of the connection ports on each of the different RAID configurations. I emulated a 1920×1080 10-bit video file at 16GB. Here are the results:
USB 3.0: Read – 118.6MB/s – Write – 187.6MB/s
FireWire 800: Read – 67.9MB/s – Write – 52.8MB/s
ESATA: Read – 226.2MB/s – Write – 207.1MB/s
USB 3.0: Read – 115.4MB/s – Write – 163.6MB/s
FireWire 800: Read – 67.5MB/s – Write – 52.6MB/s
eSATA: Read – 163.6MB/s – Write – 162.1MB/s
USB 3.0: Read – 116.0MB/s – Write – 163.6MB/s
FireWire 800: Read – 66.9MB/s – Write – 51.4MB/s
eSATA: Read – 163.8MB/s – Write – 164.2MB/s
Keep in mind these are raw results. Factors such as an empty or full drive can affect the outcomes. But overall they seem par for the course. If you are looking for something that is far and away faster, definitely check out the G-RAID with Thunderbolt 2. It will knock your socks off.
In the end, the drive looks good next to a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or older Mac Pro tower. The array of connections helps when lending the drive to a client or another editor. If you have a few bucks, I would suggest buying a second power adapter just in case yours gets lost or gets cut in half somehow, and maybe even a spare drive just in case. (I like preparing for the worst.) If only one drive to goes out, and you put your G-RAID into the RAID-1 configuration, you might be able to put that spare drive in and rebuild your RAID.
G-Tech gives a three-year limited warranty with this particular G-RAID, which will cover any errors in craftsmanship of the drives or enclosure itself. If you drop it, no warranty for you.
G-Tech is one of those names that everyone recognizes and has in their mind when purchasing an external drive, if you are a single person editing or a VFX company, check out G-Tech’s line of RAIDS, including this 8TB monster!
I leave you with these highlights: Removable dual enterprise class (7200RPM) drives; USB 3.0 (2.0), FireWire 800 and eSATA compatible; and RAID-0, RAID-1 and JBOD configurations supported.
Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim Murray Productions. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.