CES 2014: Seagate's FAST backup

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

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?