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Ask Max: Protecting Your Investment With The Best RAID Solution

Asked on 09/22/2008:

Glad to see there’s a well-informed person out there who’s willing to help people out with suggestions. I don’t know much about what I’m asking – I was assigned to research and find out the best way to store the images, so I found out about RAID, then immediately started looking for the best kind, and skipped all the steps in between there. So I apologize if I seem way out of my league.

I work for a successful photographer based in Seattle, WA, and we’re having a bit of a storage dilemma. Right now, we’ve got about 1TB of images, worth well over $1 million total, sitting on two cheap drives, and our trust in them is starting to falter. We’ve decided that a RAID system is probably the best way to go. With that, we’re looking for a large level of redundancy in order to store the images, something along the lines of what the ProStudio RAIDs by EZQuest do. At this point for us, cost is no object, we’re just looking for the absolute best, most reliable way to store (and mirror) the images many times over. What do you suggest?


Working with RAID storage systems is a complex subject. The way you interface with the storage is just as important as what RAID type you are using for redundancy. It is essential to note that RAID 0 (zero), also know as a Striped RAID, offers no data protection and should not be considered as a viable backup / long-term storage solution. You are looking for a guarantee that the files your studio makes its income from will survive a drive failure. For that you need to look at a RAID 1 or other complex RAID system.Many RAIDs are selected for Speed, Capacity, and Redundancy. The first two concerns are less of an issue for your needs, this is more important for a video editor or database server. What you really are interested in is the redundancy to protect your files, which makes the available selection much wider. In your situation you have to limit the large list of options down, so connectivity is a great way to do this. The ProStudio RAID by EZQuest is a fine RAID solution for the Video editing crowd but it requires being tethered to a Mac Pro. Depending on how you process images in your studio it may make more sense to have a variety of connections that all systems can connect to when depositing files or retrieving them.

If what I am suggesting is appealing to you, then try looking at one of the LaCie Biggest Quadra 4TB. You would want to run it in a RAID 5 or RAID 0+1. With this setup, practically any computer you use will be able to connect to the drive, freeing you up from system downtime affecting your ability to access your files.

The one thing missing in this setup is concurrent access to the files. This setup is aimed at one computer at a time connecting to the drive. If you have many computers needing to access these files, you will want to look at a file server instead. A custom ordered Mac Pro with an internal RAID and OSX Server installed would work well for that purpose.

I hope this gets you started, as you can see it is much more than a simple ™this is the best RAID™ conversation. It may be worth talking about your options with one of our sales consultants. Anyway, I hope this helps!

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