CES 2014: Seagate's FAST backup

CES 2014: Seagate's FAST backup

Summary: Seagate introduced a FAST RAID0 drive at CES. Is it for you?

TOPICS: Storage, Mobility, CES

SSDs are good at random reads. But the sequential speed of hard drives is very good, especially considering the price/performance.

If you are a pro videographer or photographer who regularly works with multi gigabyte files or hundreds of 20MB+ raw images, this could be just the device you're looking for. Ingesting files at 200MB/sec over USB 3.0 will make short work of a long day.

Seagate's new Backup Plus FAST puts two 2.5" 2TB hard drives into a RAID0 configuration to maximize read and write performance for large files. RAID0, despite the RAID name, does not offer any redundancy. If one drive fails all of your data is gone - forever.

Thus the name Backup. This drive assumes you have at least one other copy of your data. The small, lightweight drive is bus-powered, perfect for notebook on-the-go use.

For desktop users it is another story. If your back up software only copies changed files - as most do - the additional speed will be wasted because most of us change only a few gigabytes or less of data every week.

The Storage Bits take
The key to using this drive is to make sure that it does not hold the only copy of critical files. While individual drives are reliable, having two doubles the annual failure rate.

But the bigger problem isn't RAID0, it is power. Power supplies and power distribution are less reliable than individual disk drives.

I had a dual Drive RAID1 that I used happily for a couple of years. And then, it disappeared from my Mac desktop and when I went to recover the data found that both disk drives were fried, apparently from a power supply problem.

The chances of two 2.5 inch disk drives failing in less than two years is tiny, but power supplies and some power distribution components have MTBF's that are less than disk drives. Power issues are a common failure source.

If you are using this to back up video or RAW camera files, you also need to copy your data from the camera's SD or compact flash cards to another storage medium before reusing your flash memory.

I commend Seagate for offering a high-performance backup solution. But I caution professionals to keep two copies of your files at all times.

Comments welcome, as always. Which have you found more unreliable, drives or power?

Topics: Storage, Mobility, CES

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  • Reliability Issues

    Having used and supported many brands and models of hard disks in the last 20 years, I have seen more problems with reliability on the newer models. "The chances of two 2.5 inch disk drives failing in less than two years is tiny" may have been true in the distant past. I would not say so for recently manufactured drives, especially Seagate drives marked "Made in China". We recently had an 18-month old Seagate drive with 4,000 hours usage suddenly go completely bad. There were no warning signs, and then it started to buzz loudly. No data could be retrieved. This my second disastrous experience with Seagate drives in the last year. I own many of them, but for now am switching to their competition. Mr. Harris is absolutely correct to never, EVER allow any drive to contain your only copy of important data.
  • MTBF

    It's not surprising that modern drives fail more often than drives used to. If you increase the data density, each bit is stored on a smaller area of disc so a small area going bad will affect more bits than the same sized area going bad on a drive of lower capacity, and more bits going bad means less chance of error correction and data recovery.
    At work we had 2 RAID drive systems go bad. In both cases one drive died and when we removed the dead drive and inserted a new replacement, a second drive in the array died, and the system couldn't recover from 2 drives going bad. Fortunately we take daily backups so the data loss was minimal. But the moral of this story is "Don't rely on RAID, even when it does really mean Redundant Array of Independent Discs".
    The problem with RAID arrays is that usually all the drives are new at the same time and so if one fails, the likelihood of another in the same array failing is pretty high - and the more discs in the array, the higher the chance of a second one failing.
    My advice is that any RAID system should have its drives replced on a regular basis so that you never have 2 discs of the same age.
    Personally I use individual drives at home but I always make sure I have at least 3 copies of valuable files so that even in the unlikely event of 2 going bad together, I've still got the 3rd.
    • "3 copies of valuable files"

      You have chosen wisely!

      My basic backup strategy as well!

      R Harris
  • The Seagate brand is an issue here

    By far the worst drives I've used over the years have been branded Seagate. Power supply failures have not been an issue but firmware on Seagate drive and possibly the hardware too have been a problem Whether the drives are manufactured in China, India or anywhere else is not the quality issue IMO. Poor quality control by the brand has forever colored my expectation. Love the speed but from my experience with Enterprise Seagate drives I wouldn't trust one and having two in RAID0 doubles your chance of losing data. No way!