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BAD Hard Drive Crash -- Starting all over and looking for Advice


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Here's the story. I have a 20" IMAC with OS X 10.4.11 and recently lost 650 GBs of .AIFF files that were stored on my OWC 1TB external hard drive. I convert bittorrent files (all legal from trade friendly artists) from FLAC/SHN to .AIFF and import into ITunes. My Itunes library (as well as my pre-conversion torrent files) were mapped to my external hard drive and I stupidly had no backup solution in place (lesson learned on not backing up). My OWC crashed when it would not mount on my desktop or showup in DiskUtility. The company thinks its the bridge board but because it is a dual drive RAID 0 configuration, data recovery will be difficult and expensive if its the hard drives themselves. On the assumption that the datarecovery service will not be able to recover any of my music, I am starting over and would like a solution that ensures large enough capacity to continue accumulating large amounts of .AIFF files for use with Itunes while ensuring a backup and storage solution that will see me well into the future and ensure no data loss in the event of future drive failure. I am exploring the LaCie 4TB Biggest Quadra as a possible solution and selecting the RAID 5 setting (which will allow for 3TB of actual storage space). I have a couple questions:

 

1. Is ITunes the best digital music management interface out there or are there higher end more professional applications available for managing large numbers of tracks and large amounts of audio data? I can find nothing useful on the internet that addresses this question in simple terms.

 

2. I like the LaCie but am worried that it is not expandable and that 4TB may not be enough -- the .AIFF files consume hugh amounts of space. On a RAID 5 setting, the available storage is only 3TB. Does anyone have any thoughts as to other large capacity backup solutions?

 

3. I am thinking I need to segregate the drive on which my ITunes library is stored from the drive that contains my pre-conversion torrent files. This may entail 2 Lacie 2TB Biggest Quadra drives. Any views about that?

 

4. Any other thoughts about organizing, storing and backing up large amounts of lossless audio files?

 

Thanks in advance and I am really glad I found this site.

 

Dan

 

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Hi Dan - Thanks for the post. I too am a real fan of AIFF files and 99% of my music is stored in this format. It does take up space, but I'm willing to spend a little more on disk space anyway.

 

Your current nonfunctioning system may have a replaceable bridge board that could allow you to access your music. There is a small chance, but a chance nonetheless. Data recovery through a service will seriously cost you and if done through the right service like Kroll Ontrack you can get everything back as long as it is on the drive. Other services will use some popular tools and give it their best shot, but as you say getting your stuff back that way will be tough.

 

On to your future disk solution.

 

1. iTunes is currently the best interface and music management system available. Nobody designs user interfaces better than Apple. Sure it would be fabulous if there was a strong database back end to iTunes and some additional functionality that pros and audiophiles could use, but it is still the best around. You can use the PLAY application but I find it more of a lab tool than a music management application. Maybe some day Apple will open up part of iTunes and allow some nice customization by the Internet community.

 

2. Personally I won't buy another LaCie product. Bad experience in the past and I haven't heard anything from people I know that's positive. Nice looks, but to me my hard drive doesn't have to look that nice. If it doesn't work it might as well be as ugly as a door stop. I think you have to go with RAID5. There are endless options, but RAID5 gives you maximum disk space and great redundancy. Size and expandability are important to you so I strongly suggest looking into the NAS device I reviewed recently. The Thecus 5200 B Pro. It holds 5 TB currently. When bigger drives come out you can always pop them in for more space. Most multi-drive boxes max out at four drives. The one extra in the Thecus box is great. You can also expand the 5200B Pro by connecting more external disk to it. If you want to be extra careful about backing up you can actually setup two 5200B Pro boxes as a mirrored NAS solution. They can even be in different physical locations.

 

3. Separating your original files is a good idea. You could go the route you suggested with an external hard drive. The chances of losing both your new RAID solution and the external drive at the same time are pretty slim. I supposed a lightening strike could wipe out both, but there are ways around that I'm sure you can work with. The LaCie 2 TB is a RAID0 solution which I really don't like, but as long as it is backup only you're probably good.

 

4. Other thoughts. In my opinion NAS is the only way to go. It gets your disk out of your listening area. RAID5 is also the only way to go. It maximizes your usable disk space and offers really good protection.

 

Let me know if I helped at all of if I only raised more questions. We're here to help.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I have seen numerous references to NAS and have nothing more than a vague idea of what it refers to. Would you mind doing a paragraph or two on the concept and advantages?

 

Thanks

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Chris: Your expertise is very helpful. On the .AIFF, I have followed the debate over ALAC and other lossless formats and chose .AIFF because it is indisputably lossless and allows the greatest flexibility for the future, is ITunes compatible and allows for transport of metadata and artwork etc.. Who knows what formats will emerge and I may be wrong but I understand that .AIFF allows for the greatest flexibility -- the only drawback is file size and I am willing to pay for storage.

 

You have given me some good ideas, particularly the Thecus 5200 B Pro. It has the capacity and expandability I am interested in. I will post again as I learn the fate of my OWC and as I begin to implement my new approach. This is the best site I have found for these issues.

 

Thanks very much.

 

Dan

 

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The issue of RAID5 comes up occasionally, so I thought I'd give you my impression. In a nutshell, I would advise against RAID5, unless there is a very specific reason. RAID5 is designed for maximum availability. So, if you need to have access to your music at all times, even in the case of disk failure, then by all means get a RAID5 setup. It's going to be significantly more expensive than a solution without RAID. Keep in mind that many such setups don't allow hot-swapping, i.e., in case a disk fails, you will have to turn the system off in order to replace the failed disk, negating much of the benefits of a true RAID5 system.

 

RAID5 also really only makes sense with at least four or more disks (three is pushing it). In the simplest case, you need one extra disk to keep the parity data, i.e., the information that provides the redundancy in a RAID system. However, to make best use of a RAID5 system, you would actually need two extra disks, one for the parity and another as a hot spare. The hot spare will automatically kick in when a disk fails and the system gets rebuilt. That's quite cost-inefficient for a small number of disks.

 

If your music fits onto a single 1TB disk, I would recommend simply getting two drives, one for serving your music, and another one to make a copy every now and then. The copy is kept in a safe place, and - most importantly - it isn't constantly spinning, so it won't degrade.

 

I would recommend that route, even if your music would require two 1TB disks. That's essentially called 'JBOD' ('Just a Bunch Of Disks'). You can get enclosures that can harbor several disks, or you could use individual enclosures. Keep in mind that the multi-bay enclosures are usually quite noisy, if that is a concern. Individual enclosures also allow you to easily carry a disk wherever you want to, e.g., a friend's place, or work.

 

By the way, a NAS is simply a data storage device that can be attached to a network and that is available to all computers on a network. "Normal" storage devices are connected to a computer directly. You can turn any disk into a NAS by connecting it via USB to a router (either through a hub or directly), provided your router allows that, of course. An excellent example for a nice NAS is Apple's Time Capsule. You could keep your music on the internal 1TB disk and attach another one (or many), which you turn on only when needed (for example, when making a backup of your primary disk).

 

Hope that helps. Best - MM

 

 

 

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Hi Dan - I think you are right on with your analysis of ALAC v. AIFF. Choosing AIFF removes any ambiguity and is flexible. People can argue all they want over the differences in sound quality, but that is a very subjective issue. Choosing AIFF for the other benefits is objective, but not without people on both sides of the issue. People ripping 1000 albums to a lossless compressed format will really be mad when a new compression method is released that is supposedly "better" or reduces file size by half. Time to convert all those albums! Either converting to a new lossless format directly from the previous lossless format or converting back to uncompressed then to the new lossless format just doesn't appeal to me on many levels. I'll stick with uncompressed music just as it is stored on the disc.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Hey MM - Thanks for the opinion on RAID5, but I respectfully disagree on the major benefit for us audiophiles. In a business setting RAID5 is great for maximum availability. But, my recommendation for RAID5 in a music server situation is mainly for ease of expandability and ease of redundancy. For me keeping several different enclosures and keeping the backup enclosures off until I want to backup the data is not in the cards. I'm not a fan of JBOD at all. There is a lot of uncertainty about getting your data back if one drive fails. Plus, you essentially have to duplicate your drives to make a backup copy. Thus you have double the disk space, whereas in a RAID5 config you get maximum disk utilization and built-in redundancy without doubling your disk space.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris - I hear you. My opinion was about small storage needs (up to 2TB). It sounded like the OP doesn't have more than 1 TB of data, but that may of course change in the future. If one has more music to store, a RAID5 system is certainly an excellent option, but is otherwise not worth the trouble and expense (in my experience). Best - MM

 

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Hey MM - Agreed.

 

I was considering the original poster's comments about future needs:

 

"I like the LaCie but am worried that it is not expandable and that 4TB may not be enough -- the .AIFF files consume hugh amounts of space. On a RAID 5 setting, the available storage is only 3TB. Does anyone have any thoughts as to other large capacity backup solutions?"

 

Anyway, we're on the same page here I'm sure.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Hey Rick - I'll try to give you some good info about NAS as it is relevant to our audiophile needs.

 

NAS is simply Network Attached Storage. Got it, good, OK I'm done. Just kidding :-)

 

A NAS hard drive is very close to a physically attached hard drive like USB or FireWire. If you remove the USB connection on your external drive and added an ethernet port you'd have a NAS drive. In terms of how you would see this on your desktop, it is no different. The NAS drive mounts and shows up as an icon on your desktop just like a USB drive does. I have a little app that auto-mounts a NAS drive at login so no user intervention is required.

 

A huge advantage for us audiophiles is that we can move the disk storage out of our listening room. My NAS box is connected to my wireless router via Ethernet in a closet far from my listening room. Also, a NAS drive is accessible by anyone on your network. This would be a great solution in your store as you could have one source of all your music that is accessible by all your music servers. Plus you can have it in a back room somewhere out of sight and ear-shot. So, you get a new CD and rip it only once instead of going to each computer and ripping it.

 

One disadvantage is speed when ripping CDs. With my NAS box I have no problem with music or movie playback, but ripping CDs and running a Time Machine backup does take a little longer. Still the benefits outweight any negatives by far.

 

As MM said a really simple NAS solution is to connect a USB hard drive to an Apple Airport Extreme. This accomplishes everything discussed above, but a purpose built NAS device like the Thecus 5200B Pro I reviewed is really the ultimate solution.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Whatever you do stay away from RAID0 (but you knew that), the only purpose of that is speed and the problem is that you are done if any single drive fails.

 

I am also using an iMac 20" because it is easy to use and really quiet. I simply use the internal 500Gb HD, but it should be simple enough to put a 1Gb drive in. Relying only on the internal disk makes for an easier setup and keeps power use well controlled.

 

I then use two external 500Gb disks to make regular copies (need to start storing one of them off-site). The advantage of that compared to a RAID5 solution is that I also guard against user error, the probability that I would do something silly and wipe my music collection is at least as high as that of a disk failure. The backup drives are dirt cheap and doesn't have to be powered up all the time (I am a strng believer in reducing my energy use).

 

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I have to hand it to you for honesty -

 

"The advantage of that compared to a RAID5 solution is that I also guard against user error, the probability that I would do something silly and wipe my music collection is at least as high as that of a disk failure. "

 

We're all thinking the same thing, but your the only one bold enough to admit it!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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