Make a large external drive from multiple smaller ones!

April 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

After years of keeping documents, photos, and other digital files on multiple external hard  drives,

I recently found a more practical, compact, and still affordable solution.

 

Over the years, I had purchased multiple 1 TB drives to store files, because one TB was the largest I could afford.

And now after a good number of years, the 1 TB drives could not hold everything, so I had accumulated a bunch of them. 

 

It sure would be more practical to not have to label each drive with what it contains and then search the pile of drives,

and connect one at a time to figure out where that document I wanted to use again was stored. 

 

Today with the cost of larger hard drives going lower and lower, purchasing a 4 TB drive or larger is more affordable.

So I purchased two 4 TB drives. Two? even though my storage needs only required less than 4 TB?

Yes! The golden Rule of Computer storage: Never have less than two back ups with the same items on them! 

 

Ok so if two is necessary and good, wouldn’t 3 be better? 

 

Yes, three duplicates of every important digital file is a great idea! Why 3?

You keep one off-site - i.e. at a friend or family’s home or in a safety deposit box.

You keep the other two on-site, so if one goes down, you can immediately use the other one.

And you rotate the 3 copies, by updating the two on-site almost daily, and then change one with the off-site unit on some regular basis

 

So after copying all the data from my original 1 TB drives onto a new 4 TB drive, I duplicated or cloned that 4 TB drive to another 4 TB drive.

Then I checked the 4 TB drives - using both repair software and visually scanning and comparing the folder structures

- just to make sure all my documents were there and that I could open them.

Making back ups is important, and testing the back up to make sure it works is essential before you erase or repurpose any older drive!

 

So now, I had a bunch of 1 TB drives left over. The information on these 1 TB drives was already duplicated twice on the 4 TB drives,

so I really did not need them, however I did not want to throw out those 1 TB drives, and I did want a third back up.

 

Of course, I could purchase another 4 TB drive to have a third back up, however there was a less expensive and still very simple solution!

I purchased an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2, basically an empty aluminum hard drive box with an internal power supply and a fan,

that can hold 4 separate bare drives. That “box” was not expensive - especially compared to another 4 TB drive. 

 

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/M3QX2KIT0GB/

 

I opened the housings of the external 1 TB drives to free up the bare drives. Then using the instructions that came with the Qx2

and the online OWC- MacSales videos, I simply installed the bare drives into the Qx2 housing and set the Qx2 up as a “span” drive. 

Then I plugged it into my computer and it showed up as a 4 Tb drive. Ta da - my third back up!  

 

Of course the Qx2 can also be set up as JBOD - just a bunch of drives - or as a RAID system, 

using a simple dial on the front of the aluminum housing. OWC has clear explanations of what RAIDs are and how and when to use them.

And you could also purchase an OWC enclosure with space for only 2 drives inside.

 

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/MED3FR0GB/

 

Now here is the interesting part! You do not need to be an engineer to accomplish this technical project!

OWC has easy to follow directions and videos that explain and show you every step.

And they explain the different RAID options  - or how you can choose to set your external drives for different purposed from storage to speed. 

 

OWC has storage options galore with clear explanations and live tech support!

That's great for us non-engineer types who only know a flat from a phillips type screw driver!


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