Ashley Morrison's Blog

October 3, 2017

To be sure, to be sure.

Over the last few weeks, I have been busy updating all my computers; as well as my backup systems too – which is something that was long overdue, as it’s been nearly 10 years since I have really made any major changes to my set-up.

“If it’s not broken, why fix it” – type of thing Smile

Anyway, having noticed that some of the computers were now starting to play up a bit and/or seemed to be running quite a bit slower than they should – with a bit of time on my hands, I decided to update a few of the boxes to the right of the screen…
Mac Pro and G-RAID
.. as well as what was inside some of those boxes too.

So after a few weeks looking on eBay, to see what others were selling, I’m now only about 7 years behind the times – having purchased a Mac Pro 5.1
macOS-Sierra replace my 3.1 system – which I also decided to updated too, by using Carbon Copy Cloner to move everything over onto a new hard drive; as well as installing Yosemite and then El Capitan onto a 2nd new hard drive.

Which means it can now be booted up from either hard drive – should I wish to use Mac OS X Snow Leopard (version 10.6.8) like I did before or El Capitan (version 10.11.6) which is the max Operating System version that I can use on that Mac Pro “Eight Core” 3.2 (2008) model.

Anyway, that makes for a good backup computer system – with the Mac Pro 5.1 now begin my main workhorse, which is the last version of these big classic looking aluminum machines…
Mac Pro 5.1 work station
.. which has room for 4 internal 3.5″ SATA hard drives, as it has 4 individual ‘sled type’ mounting bays.

A beast of a machine compared to Apple’s latest Mac Pro version, which they released at the end of 2013 – but I don’t mind that, as it works great with the old Hasselblad & Phase One camera system that I use…
Hasselblad system
.. as well as the old MacBook Pro too, as FireWire 400 & 800 is what they both mainly use.

Anyway, with 4 internal bays to play with, all new hard drives were naturally bought – each of which can be seen on the right-hand side of the desktop screen…
Screenshot of the Mac Pro 5.1 desktop.
.. along with the connected G-Drive, G-Raid, a ‘DropBox’ folder and the all-important Photoshop icon.
So with “Automatically hide and show the Dock” turned on, it’s just these few main icons that appear on the screen to start with – so minimum clutter, which is how I like it Wink.

The hard drives in and connected to the Mac Pro…
Hard drive disks in and connected to the Mac Pro 5.1
.. the first of which is the (Macintosh HD) main one that I use, to basically do everything with…
Screenshot of the main hard drive disk on the Mac Pro 5.1
.. and put everything on to start with – so I used a 1TB Solid State Drive here, as that is about as fast as it gets these days – plus with no moving parts, then it should be pretty maintenance free too, I would have thought.

Time will tell, talking of which, the Time Machine then records whatever is on that drive – on the hour, every hour – into the 4th Hard Drive here…
Screenshot of the Time Machine hard drive on the Mac Pro 5.1
.. before saving each day into a single fold.

So great for what I would call ‘short-term’ backups – as it records everything that is on the main hard drive, including all the programs and applications too – so should the main hard drive ever fail or should I delete something throughout the day by mistake, then this is the drive that will suddenly be worth more than it’s weight in gold Wink.

It was this Time Machine hard drive I was able to use, for example, when my Mac Pro 3.1 stopped working – a few days after I bought the 5.1 model – so after installing a new hard drive (as that was what had died) I was able to go back in time and resort everything – so when it finally booted up again, it was just like it had been, on the last hour of the old drives life.

A perfect copy too – as everything worked just like it did before.
So when it comes to saving one’s bacon, the Time Machine definitely gets two thumbs up from me – especially when it comes to ‘short term’ backups.

The 2nd hard drive (HD2-4Tb) is where all the finished jobs and/or final pictures are saved to – which I then put into ‘yearly folders’ at the end of each year…
Screenshot of HD2-4Tb hard drive on the Mac Pro 5.1
.. so lots of folders within folders here – as each folder may contain lots of other folders – as the ‘Licence to use’ documents, behind the scenes shots, quotes, invoices and anything & everything else that had to do with each job, is saved into different folders within each of the Job folders – which starts with the date in reverse, followed by a name, e.g. 20171002-Today – because the computer will then automatically put them​ all in order, with the most current Job being the last one.

So that is what I use the 2nd hard drive for – which is a fast 4Tb WD Black Hard Disk Drive – as I would put a copy of each image in there too, after I had finished saving it onto the main hard drive.

The 3rd hard drive (HD3-4Tb) is were all the Raw Capture files from each Job are saved to…
Screenshot of HD3-4Tb hard drive on the Mac Pro 5.1
.. similar to how I save each Job on the 2nd hard drive.

Which normally I do, before I would start processing any of them on the main hard drive – so these would be like the original raw files, just like the ones from the Job that would have been transferred over from the MacBook Pro… which is backed up using it’s own Time Machine onto a small portable drive like the one sitting on top of the G-RAID unit here…
Mac Pro and G-RAID
.. which has 2 FireWire 800 ports, as well as a USB 3.0 port at the back.

So everything is basically backed up – and then backed up again and again throughout each day, onto each of these hard drives inside this machine.
Plus, at least once a week, everything would also be copied on to external hard drives, like the G-Drive or the small portable ones which I would keep in the back of the Land Rover – so ‘off-site’ in a safe place… which is always close by, even when I’m out on location, hundreds of miles away Wink.

And so that is basically what I have been doing for the last 10+ years – and I’m pleased to say, that pretty much every image that I have produced, since I started shooting digital back in 1999, is still safe and sound Smile

Still, since I was going to all this effort to upgrade everything here – which included putting a new 1TB Solid State Drive into the MacBook Pro as well – I started to read up on this thing which I had heard a lot about, but had never really looked into that much, as it actually sounded a bit scary, to be honest – and that was RAID.

RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is a data storage virtualization technology that combines multiple physical disk drive components into a single logical unit for the purposes of data redundancy, performance improvement, or both.

Data is distributed across the drives in one of several ways, referred to as RAID levels, depending on the required level of redundancy and performance. The different schemes, or data distribution layouts, are named by the word RAID followed by a number, for example,​ RAID 0 or RAID 1. Each schema, or RAID level, provides a different balance among the key goals: reliability, availability, performance, and capacity. RAID levels greater than RAID 0 provide protection against unrecoverable sector read errors, as well as against failures of whole physical drives.”

Anyway, as it did sound like something that I could use to back up all of the above to – thanks to all those who talked about it on the internet over the years, as well as to those who have posted various YouTube videos about it all too – I now have a G-RAID removable hard drive unit, sitting beside the Mac Pro – which I put two 8TB HGST Deskstar NAS drives inside and set it to RAID 1…
Screenshot of the G-RAID with is connected to the Mac Pro 5.1
.. which Carbon Copy Cloner then automatically copies everything onto at the end of each day, that has been put into both the 2nd hard drive (HD2-4TB) and the 3rd hard drive (HD3-4TB).

And because it has been set to RAID 1, then that means that everything is automatically copied onto both 8TB drives at the same time – both of which can then be removed from the G-RAID unit and used as single or independent drives if need be.
Which was something that I was actually worried about, i.e. if the actual RAID unit itself were to stop working, could I still somehow read what was on the two hard drives ?

Well, I’m pleased to say I can – no problems at all – which Colin also talks about here…
G-RAID Review
.. on G-Technology G-RAID Hard Drive Review Smile

Anyway, this basically now means, at the end of each day, everything is on at least 2 different hard drives – or 5 different hard drives, if I have saved the work into the 2nd hard drive (HD2-4TB) and the 3rd hard drive (HD3-4TB) – which like I said before: I usually would do manually, by dragging & dropping, throughout the day anyway.
Or 6 different hard drives, if I saved it onto the one in the Land Rover – and it could be as many as 8 different hard drives, if it is still on the MacBook Pro and on it’s Time Machine hard drive as well – which normally everything will be left on and won’t be removed or delated, until I need the space – by which time – as there is now a 1TB Solid State Drive in there and few jobs would use up more than 30 or 40GB – everything should have been well backed up on the above.

So that’s what I have been doing over the past few weeks – “To be sure, to be sure” as we like to say… just for you Smile


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