The good people over at Promise Technology sent me over two of their RAID systems to have a look at. First, let’s talk about what a RAID system is and why it can be very useful for someone in the field of photography or video editing.
One of the biggest challenges of the digital age is how to store all the data we are creating and work with it quickly. I produce about 1TB of photos every year and a stupid amount of video content. Now that I have started working in 4K video for some of my clients that figure is only getting worse. A typical one-day shoot can produce upwards of 120GB of footage. That 2TB hard drive you got from the local computer store may not cut it for too long.
RAID systems allow you to combine a group of hard drives into what looks to your computer like one giant hard drive. There are two main ways you can configure a RAID system.
First, you can configure it for redundancy. For example you may have four 1TB drives in the system, but you only get 3TB of storage. This is because the system is spreading your data across the drives and keeping some for redundancy. This way, if one of your drives fails, your data will still be safe and you can just replace the failed hard drive and not lose anything.
The other way you can configure a RAID is for speed. This means you get all 4TB of storage from those drives and you have very fast access to them. The challenge here though is that if anything goes wrong with even just one drive, the whole thing goes kaput and you lose all your data. So why would anyone ever use this setup?!
For those who know a lot more about this stuff, I know I am over simplifying things, and for those who don’t, I’ve just explained it very simply for you – you’re welcome. :)
The two units that I got sent to review were the Pegasus2 M4 and the Pegasus2 R2+. In this review, I’ll talk about the M4 and how practical it can be for your photography workflow. The M4 is a more typical setup albeit in a very small, almost portable, setup. It comes with either 4 x 1TB laptop spinning drives or 4 X 500GB SSD drives. It also has Thunderbolt 2 which is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 1.
The M4 is designed to be a storage system on the go. Whilst it is pretty small, with 4 drives in it, it’s not exactly something you can throw into a jacket pocket, but it fits easily enough into a camera bag. Having one of these on set so that you can easily back up your footage off your cards as the day goes on is really handy. If I had the budget, I’d have two of them and create two copies of each card as I went along on a shoot.
If you want to replace the drives, it’s pretty painless as you can just push the button next to the drives, pop out the bay and replace the drive. Have the unit switched off when you do this of course.!
TIP: Never copy a copy! When creating two copies of a memory card, copy the data from the card twice from the card. Creating a copy of a copy means that if there were any issues in with the copy, they will then be in the second backup too.
The great thing about the M4 is that once you get back to your main edit suit, you can just pull it out of your bag, plug it and it start working. It’s small enough to come with you to a shoot and fast enough to be a production drive too.
The M4 has two Thunderbolt ports so that you can connect it to your computer, but then also have more thunderbolt devices connected via the M4. This is a feature that should be standard on all Thunderbolt devices, but isn’t. So I felt it was worth mentioning.!
Would I recommend the M4? For photography it may be a bit of overkill as the real advantage of having Thunderbolt2 is how fast you can work on it, but photos don’t need that much speed. Having said that I put a 1TB Lightroom catalogue on it and never had any speed issues, so if you’ve got the budget, go for it. Where the M4 really shines is with video. I had multiple streams of 4K content playing off it and it never skipped a beat. Of course it helps that my computer is pretty quick too!