Fast Data Storage for Video – OWC ThunderBay 4 Review

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to making videos for YouTube is figuring out how to store archived footage. There’s been numerous times that I’ve needed to come back to use old footage that I’ve shot.

There’s quite a few options out there and 10GbE NAS is usually the best route. However I don’t have a 10GbE capable switch, Ethernet cable or adapter — the 10GbE to Thunderbolt adapter is around $200 alone! A 10GbE NAS is also around $600-800 for a decent one.

So I ended up going down the direct attached storage route. I did quite a bit of research and found the OWC ThunderBay 4 to meet my needs the closest.

It has quite a simple design and is made from black metal. I wanted something quite unobtrusive, so that it can sit beside my desk and not be noticed.

In the box you get the unit itself of course, a thunderbolt cable, keys and some screws to attach hard drives.

On the back you have two thunderbolt ports, a DisplayPort, on/off switch and the power connector. The two thunderbolt ports allow you to daisy chain thunderbolt devices which is awesome. So you can connect another hard drive or even connect a whole other ThunderBay 4. I’ve used it to connect my Samsung X5 SSD drive, which I use as my scratch disk, so I can quickly copy over video from it to the ThunderBay 4.

I purchased four 8TB IronWolf hard drives to go in the ThunderBay. My plan is to set up as a RAID 10. Giving me 16TB of usable storage data.

Now you’re probably wondering “what is RAID 10”? It’s when you set up two drives to store your data and then the other two make a backup of your data.

I used this tutorial from Lifewire to make a RAID 10 setup using DiskUtility on my Mac. It’s very easy and you don’t need any external software as DiskUtility comes pre-installed on every Mac.

Installing the drives is super easy. They’re held in place with thumb screens, making it easy to take drives in and out if you need.

When it comes to read/write speeds I was getting around 450MB/s. Which means I can transfer around 100GB of video files in around 3-4 mins.

Previously with my Synology NAS, I was only getting around read/write speeds of around 20MB/s. Which is terrible! It took way too long to transfer large files.

All set up, beside my workspace, it looks pretty good. However it definitely does make noise. Nothing too intrusive but with it being spinning drives, they’ll naturally make noise when running.

I don’t actually have it running all of the time. My plan is to connect it whenever I need to archive footage. The rest of the time it’ll sit switched off.

This doesn’t have to be used for video of course. It’ll be great for anyone who needs large data storage at fast speeds. I highly recommend it if you’re the only one that’s accessing the files and don’t care too much about accessing them over a network.

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