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Thunderbolt 3 External JBOD


JazzMan
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Can anyone comment on how well DP would work with a Win 10 laptop and a 4 bay TB3 JBOD?  I've used DP for quie a while, but had most success with internal drives.  I did have an external USB 3.0 JBOD some years ago but it was rather flaky, often dropping the pool under sustained load (say copying a few hundred MB in one operation), which would then (as I remember) lead to needing to reboot the computer (I don't think re-plugging the USB cable or power cycling the JBOD was usually enough) and DP wanting to rescan the pool before I could use it again.  I blamed that mostly on the JBOD hardware/firmware though, and not DP.  Will TB3 provide a more stable pool, or am I likely to face similar issues?

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I have 2 4-bay MediaSonic ProBoxes and another 9 external USB HDDs all connected via USB 3.0 to my DrivePool server. DrivePool works just fine on my system. The MediaSonic ProBoxes have a feature to auto reconnect upon boot. I make sure that is always on. I can't say the ProBoxes never drop out - because it just happened to me last night - but that was the first time in about 3 months. I did not have to reboot the computer because when the ProBoxes came back online, DrivePool went through the re-measure task, and everything is working fine this morning. I have only run DrivePool with external drives and it works fine.

I do not have the TB3 JBOD you are asking about specifically, but the MediaSonic ProBoxes I have can be connected via USB 3.0 or eSATA. The 4-bay ProBoxes I have recently increased in price to around  $120 new, but you can also buy renewed boxes at Amazon for current price ~$89. The ProBoxes I have do not have any special JBOD software, which might be an advantage, because I have no problems to speak of with DrivePool running everything. With the 4-bay ProBox, the 4 HDDs all show up as separate HDDs in Disk Management, but they are all contained in one box. It's an option to consider if you continue to have problems with your TB3 JBOD box.

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43 minutes ago, gtaus said:

I have 2 4-bay MediaSonic ProBoxes and another 9 external USB HDDs all connected via USB 3.0 to my DrivePool server.

[...]

It's an option to consider if you continue to have problems with your TB3 JBOD box.

I didn't name a brand, but the MediaSonic was the USB 3.0 JBOD I was having trouble with.  I got rid of that and built a small ITX PC with internal drives. That was about 5 years ago. I agree eSATA was more stable, but isn't an option in my current setup.  I don't have any experience with Thunderbolt (JBOD or otherwise) so was looking for some input in that area.  Glad your USB 3.x setup is working for you.

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2 hours ago, JazzMan said:

I didn't name a brand, but the MediaSonic was the USB 3.0 JBOD I was having trouble with.

Well, shoot, I have had great success with my ~7 year old ProBoxes. The newer boxes have upgraded firmware and can hold larger capacity HDDs then the models I have. I believe the new ProBoxes are USB 3.1 and can support 12TB HDDs. It may still be an option to consider especially if you have something like Amazon Prime and you can return the box if it does not work for you.

I will say that, in general, my external USB 3.0 HDDs connected via USB hubs are just as effective as the ProBoxes, or maybe even more so, because if a single external USB HDD goes off line, you don't have 4 HDDs offline at one time. And if you want to save money, I have found external USB HDDs with case and power supplies are often cheaper than standalone 3.5 internal HDDs. For my DrivePool media storage server, I find the cheapest external USB drives hold up just as well as my more expensive internal HDDs. But, again, my DrivePool media storage server does not ask too much from the HDDs.

If someone has a better solution for JBOD storage, I'd like to know, too, because I have maxed out my ProBoxes and will need to buy something new in the future for further expansion.

Just one final thought, I used to have disconnects with my ProBoxes and external USB HDDs until I put them all on surge protected battery backup supplies. But I live out in the country and stable electricity is not guaranteed. The battery backup supplies have saved my equipment from many problems.

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I also have a Mediasonic 4 bay w/ USB 3.0 and it's rock solid. Have 6 drives internal and 4 in the Mediasonic using 2 pools. Been using it for over 6 years. Used to use eSATA but had to move to a new MB which didn't support it. I haven't seen any dropoff in performance. I've been looking at getting a Skull Canyon NUC8i7HVK and the Mediasonic 8 Bay USB 3.1 and try it out. Probably overkill for a server but it's light on the footprint.

I too live out in the country and have everything running through a UPS. Line conditioning is critical out here.

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I've been using Mediasonic 4 bay with eSata for about 9 years.  I now have six of em and they're rock solid reliable.  I use x3 duplication for the entire pool - about 37 TB in total with 26 TB free space (I really love the duplication feature of DP - in 9 years I've had drives fail but never ever lost a file).  This is on Windows Server 2019 standard.

I did, however, encounter one anomaly.  I have 4x 4TB Seagate SMR drives and I had extremely slow transfer times when adding them to the pool and doing a rebalance. At the time I had x2 duplication.  I was getting duplication speeds in the 500K/sec range on eSata.  It was so slow I gave up and the SMR drives sat unused for over a year.  Eventually I put all four SMR drives into their own Mediasonic enclosure, connected to a different computer through USB 3, and ran a robocopy job weekly to duplicate the pool to the SMR's as a backup (using DP on the second computer to make the 4x 4 into a ~16 TB pool).  I consistently got 100 MB/sec duplication speeds - even on the initial copy which involved copying 10 TB of data.

Well, you know how it is, I had to know why.  I still don't but earlier this year (2020) I added the 4x 4 SMR drives to my main pool, in the Mediasonic enclosure via USB3 and to my amazement I saw ~100 MB/sec balancing speeds.  It was still x2 duplication at that time.  Then I turned on x3 and let it rebalance/reduplicate.  I still saw ~100 MB/sec to the SMR drives.

So how could eSata be so slow and yet USB3 achieved the transfer rates one would expect?  I don't know.  CMR drives on eSata perform exactly as expected.

I now have all Mediasonic enclosures on eSata - even the one with SMR drives.  I add maybe 10 Gigs a week and that doesn't cause any slowdown.  I don't do rebalances at all - when you're adding photos in the 10 Meg range the balancing evens things out pretty well and no drive contains more than a gig over what it's size would dictate.  When you're talking 3, 4, 5 and 6 TB drives a gig is nothing. Even adding 1 gig video files evens out after a fortnight.  DP is awesome! :-)

I'm thinking it may be time to ditch the eSata interfaces (a decision aided by the fact that it seems to have dropped out of favour) and stick with USB3.  It's fast and in the six or seven months I ran that SMR enclosure on USB3 I never saw a single dropout.

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