LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2: "An instant smile"
As my Apple iMac and LaCie NAS Pro are becoming already a bit older, I was thinking about some new investments … Spending money is always a good thing, no? :)
So I’m thinking to replace my iMac by a new version of the iMac or a new Mac Pro. One thing needs to be clear: it needs to be very fast and (if possible) all photos and Lightroom catalog can be on a new Raid 5 external hard drive system.
To replace the LaCie Nas Pro, I need to have an incredible fast external hard drive system with Raid 5 (more on that topic later) and at least 10TB available disk space.
Why so much space? As a semi-professional photographer, I shoot always in RAW. So every image I take is around 45 up to 80MB/picture. That is a lot of data if you count that I shot more than 100.000 pictures over the last 5 years. So I need more than 1,5TB each year for only my pictures …
I will tell you later what I decided between the iMac and the Mac Pro, but for the replacement of the NAS Pro, this review is about the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2!
The LaCie NAS Pro is a Nas (Network Attached Storage) and the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 is a DAS (Direct Attached Storage). In a few words: The NAS is attached to a network and available for multiple devices, the DAS is attached to one device. Both are devices holding 5 hard drives. The Thunderbolt is available in 10TB, 20TB, 30TB and 40TB storage. Keep in mind that this is not the available volume space! (More in the RAID section!). I received the 20TB version for my test.
What can I say … After the first tests I had an instant smile of happiness on my face and stayed there for the whole testing period! If you ask yourself if the external drive is quicker than the internal one, than you know it’s fast, extremely fast!
Safety and Raid?
This section is rather long, because I can only pray for the day that EVERYONE will understand the importance of a good backup plan! Almost weekly, I receive mails from people who lost all their photos and documents due to a hard drive failure. Sometimes it’s said with a joke, but be sure: Every hard drive will crash one day…
So if you already had a backup plan, it started (and stopped) with a simple hard drive. But also this disk can fail, get stolen or even get burned in a fire at your home (I hope none of these things will ever happen to you!). So I always propose to people to have an onsite, offside and cloud backup. These 3 needs to be sufficient to cover everything and never lose one file anymore.
For the onside I consider to take a system of multiple disks with an RAID technology to protect the damage when a drive fails. Raid levels of security and performance can be found on internet, but my personal opinion is to stick with the LaCie default: RAID 5! This is the best combination for security AND performance. Even when 1 of the disks fail, not even one single picture or document will be gone…
Next to the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2, you will find an external power supply, Thunderbolt cable 0,5m, key to open the drive bays, a cable clip and a basic quick install guide. Do not expect to find a lot of fancy plastic covers or other stuff, you will not find it. LaCie’s idea: Less is more!
Setting up and operation:
Unboxing of the 5big Thunderbolt 2 is done in 2sec, but setting up requires some attention. First you need to install a raid manager from LaCie on your pc/mac.
In this program, you will be asked to choose the RAID number and even a possibility to configure an e-mail alert when the device discovers a problem. Everything is really easy, but you need to follow all steps and like I said: Keep the raid system on “5”! :)
The 5big can be bought in 10TB, 20TB, 30TB or 40TB. I received the 20TB version for my test. This means that there are 5 hard drives in this device containing 4TB each. With RAID 5 technology applied, this means that there is 16TB available capacity.
For my work, this means I can shoot with my Nikon D800 camera about 205.000 pictures to fill the drive or if I count it in years: >10 years! Sounds like an investment for years :)
But what if you need more space? Only good news, because the Thunderbolt technology is made to chain up to 6 devices no need to worry for the rest of my life …
For me the most important section of the whole review of this device …
As you might know from earlier reviews, I don’t like numbers, but I do like the personal impression when working with these devices … Theoretically, this disk will read your data at a speed of 700MB/sec and writing even 20MB/sec faster, but what does these numbers say? I want to work with it and feel if it’s fast enough.
What is my goal for the review? Store all photos and Lightroom catalog on the device and be able to work with it without having to wait every single time when I postprocess my images. Be able to keep ALL files stored on this device and nothing on the computer itself anymore.
Over the last weeks I have been testing this device and I did not have one single time a short delay! I’m blown away by the performance … This is a “must have” for each photographer as onsite storage!
Five disks in a small product together working so hard, there must be heat coming from these disks. Heat is really bad for hard disks, so the product must have a really good fan to cool everything down. The high-performance cooling system from the 5big is made with a quite Noctua NF-P12 fan. You can hear the fan running smoothly without getting disturbed. The only noise you can have is when the drives ar hitting the aluminium box, but this isn’t so hard to solve …
If you combine a great design, extreme speeds of Thunderbolt 2 and LaCie’s sustainability, then you know that this isn’t for everyone and the price might be the biggest deal breaker. The product is sold in 3 versions: 10TB is sold for a bit more than 1100€, 20TB is sold for less than 2000€ and 30TB is yours for about 2500€. For the top version with 40TB of storage need to be 4000€ paid. Serious amount of money, but it’s an investment over many years.
Might sound like a strange comparison, but if this device gives me an instant smile for the next year, it’s more than 0,55€/day worth :)
The LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 is an incredible fast DAS (Direct Attatched Storage) device with 5 hard disks on board with 10, 20, 30 or 40TB. The speed is so fast that all photos and Lightroom catalog can be stored on the safe Raid 5 system and you can edit without delay! I made up my mind ;)
PS My investment on the computer side will be published around Spring 2017 :)