RAID 1 Experience?

Posted by Dan Brockett 
RAID 1 Experience?
April 16, 2009 07:26PM
Hi all:

I am hoping that some of you have some RAID 1 experience? I am setting up a P2 workflow for a documentary project and based upon reviews here and elsewhere, the CalDigit VR looks to be a contender. I would like the convenience and reliability of the RAID 1 workflow when downloading P2 cards to the drives.

In the past, I tried setting up a RAID 1 workflow using two physically separate drives of the same size and brand. I discovered that while the dumping portion of the operation went fine, when we would separate the two drives, wanting to send one of the drives to the editor and keeping one for safety, the separated drives would not boot correctly and were basically freaking out, looking for the other RAIDED drive. This was a few years ago, but I recall, we used Apple Drive Utility or some other third party software to set up the RAID 1. Is there some sort of formatting operation or option that is needed when you physically separate one RAID 1 volume from the other?

The CalDigit VR looks to be a great drive but I need a work flow that will allow me to dump all of the P2 cards to the two volumes, then I want to separate the volumes, one for backup and one to the editor. I contacted CalDigit and they told me that I am not allowed to switch out the drives on the CalDigit VR anyway, it voids the warranty and dark clouds of the Apocalypse will gather over our shoot. This sort of seems to negate the whole idea of the RAID 1 CalDigit VR workflow. I need a drive setup that I can setup as RAID 1, unload the drives, and then load new blank drives, format them and configure for RAID 1 again and do the same thing. My editor will need to take this RAID 1 formatted drive, mount it on his FCP system and edit away. Is this a strange workflow? What I have been doing instead of this is bringing two separate drives to shoots, dumping all of the cards to one drive, then cloning the cards in the breaks in between. This is stressful and non-automatic, it requires concentration and awareness of exactly what has happened to each P2 card. I can do that, but it requires either a P2 tech or a lot of my time and attention, which is tough as I am typically DPing and or producing the shoots as well.

I believe the CalDigit VR contains regular Hitachi SATA drives don't they? I cannot understand why, if I rotate the stock drives out with identical OEM drives from Other World Computing, it would void the warranty. The VR has easily removable drive trays. Why have removable drive trays if you cannot change out the drives? It seems to not make any sense.


1. Can you separate RAID 1 volumes on a hardware RAID 1 setup and use the two drives separately without the drives freaking out and looking for their RAID mate?

2. Has anyone used the CalDigit VR and successfully changed out new raw, SATA drives?

Thank you!

Dan Brockett
Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 16, 2009 07:47PM
Hey Dan,

I hear you man. I asked the same question about the Firewire VR - got the same answer. No can do & you are on your own if you try. I was told the VR drives are "optimized by CalDigit to run in our units". They come prebuilt with sleds on them already.

As far as splitting out the drives, I never tried it and I could be wrong but I would venture an guess that you cannot split out the drives on a RAID 1 because the Unit sees both drives as one RAID volume so you NEED both mirrored drives to be seen or it will "freak out"...kind of like twins getting separated from each other. The benefit of the RAID 1 is that if you lose a drive, you snap in a new sled and the RAID rebuilds itself. I think if your editor tries to run it without it's twin, it will not show up.

For the amount of money they cost, I would just get a separate VR unit, duplicate the work for the editor & hand the whole unit off. Plug & play from there. There's a new Caldigit VR Bus Powered unit coming. From what I understand, you can use the firewire port for power and the ESATA port for data / speed. I may move over to those myself for my MBP grinning smiley.

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 16, 2009 08:00PM
Hey Dan

Use a simple software RAID 1 with a couple of FW HDDs

That way you can send the mirror to the editor and keep one for yourself.

Another option - I use a hardware case with RAID 0/1/JBOD which is seen as one drive on one FW connection I think it was from NetStor and relatively inexpensive.

Or Drobo...

Michael Horton
Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 17, 2009 11:47AM
Hey Dan,

There is no reason that you cannot pull one of the RAID 1 drive modules out of the CalDigit VR and mount it using a 3rd party SATA adapter. However, once this is done, if you put the drive back into the CalDigit VR, the OS will see it as corrupted & you will have to re-format. Many people use this work-flow for simple transfer of digital assets during acquisition. As long as there are suitable backups this is a very efficient work-flow.

We have several users utilizing this work-flow.

Shameless plug for NAB?

See us at NAB SHOW 2009 Booth Booth SL13610
& of course the FCP SUPERBOOTH at SL10129
Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 17, 2009 03:52PM
Hi Jon:

Thanks for the response. But if I pull out one of the drives and send it back home from another country, I still need to load another blank drive into the CalDigit VR to keep going, correct? And if I do that, won't the existing drive then try to rebuild itself by cloning itself to the new blank drive?

We will be shooting huge amounts of P2 in Africa for a month and a half for a doc and we cannot afford to buy 10-20TB of CalDigit VRs or any other solution really to use them as dedicated RAID 1 self contained units. What we can afford is to buy a single CalDigit VR and a stack of inexpensive 1TB Hitachi blank drives. I understand that the VR is calibrated to use specific specially formatted drives that you sell, but I have not seen any prices on what you retail the "approved" separate drives for, but it must be a lot more than we can buy regular Hitachi 1TB drives for from OWC, etc.?

We really need is a solution that allows RAID 1 simultaneous backup as we dump P2 cards, but we then need to keep one drive with us for safety and we need to send one to our editor back here. I wish that there was a way to format two drives in an enclosure as RAID 1, dump to the two drives, then separate them by "turning off" RAID 1 formatting, then be able to easily and cheaply insert two more blank SATA drives and start over again. If you come up with a reliable, clean and relatively cost effective way of doing this, P2, SxS and RED CF card users will rejoice. RAID 1 is great technology but I wish that there was a method to use it when you need it (dumping P2 cards) and then to be able to turn it off when you don't (needing to keep one archived backup and sending one to an editor to begin editing elsewhere). As most of us are converting to or have already been shooting solid state media. This need will arise more and more.

I understand that some of the Panasonic P2 readers/devices will allow dumping to separate drives via FireWire, but it is still one drive at a time. You then have to clone that drive to have a dual backup, which is time consuming and sometimes just not possible when you are on the move. Mirrored drives that can be "un-mirrored" at will seems to be a good solution.

BTW, do you have a more concrete date on when we will be able to purchase the CalDigit VR Mini? All of the press releases just say "Summer" and we leave at the beginning of June. Seems as if the VR Mini would be ideal for us as our main RAID 1 while there.

Thanks so much,

Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 17, 2009 04:01PM
grafixjoe Wrote:

> As far as splitting out the drives, I never tried
> it and I could be wrong but I would venture an
> guess that you cannot split out the drives on a
> RAID 1 because the Unit sees both drives as one
> RAID volume so you NEED both mirrored drives to be
> seen or it will "freak out"...kind of like twins
> getting separated from each other. The benefit of
> the RAID 1 is that if you lose a drive, you snap
> in a new sled and the RAID rebuilds itself. I
> think if your editor tries to run it without it's
> twin, it will not show up.
Right, and that is the whole issue. I have tried that workflow in the past with just regular externals setup on a RAID 1 and that is exactly what happens.

I would love to be able to purchase enough CalDigit VRs for this production so that we could just keep them as regular dedicated drives but our estimates are running that we may need as much as 12-15 TB of space and we just cannot afford the budget to buy that many VRs. Someone in the drive business should see that this is an untapped market. When you can buy raw Hitachi SATA 1TB drives for $89.00, that is a viable market for solid state media users who need to shoot massive amounts of footage and back it all up in the field as they shoot. Redundancy is needed as the cards are dumped.

I did a two day corporate training class last month with three P2 cameras rolling for 8-10 hours a day. It is physically impossible to keep up with making any kind of clones as you shoot when you are shooting that much media continuously. So we shot all day, backing up as we shot to a single drive, then I brought the drives back to the office and made backup clones. All went well. But I could have been in BIG trouble of a drive failed or I dropped one. It makes me so nervous to shoot SS media until I have at least two versions on two separate drives.

Re: RAID 1 Experience?
April 17, 2009 04:35PM

I understand your point & you're correct in your question answering yourself on the work-flow.

CalDigit VR Drive modules have an MSRP for 1TB of $249.00 with MAP or Minimum Advertised pricing being lower.

As to the CalDigit VR Mini, Summer 09' is our official stance, I'm sorry I can't nail it down to a month or an exact date.
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