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Forums Storage & Archiving Softraid vs Apple Raid?

  • Softraid vs Apple Raid?

  • Philip Owens

    February 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    Just got a Thunderbay4 from OWC, and they’re very clearly keen for one to use Softraid. I understand its advantages (particularly Raid 10+ etc, and drive health monitoring), but installation is quirky – it requires T2-equipped Macs to bypass OS security check at startup, documentation and licensing is not clear. It feels like the old days of the 90s and 2000’s where non-standard extensions to the system were more trouble than they were worth. I formatted the RAID with it, and then uninstalled and used Apple Raid setup instead – performance appeared to be identical. So, I’ve gone with Apple Raid for now. But are there very compelling reasons why I’d jump through hoops a little with my machines to use non-standard drive software over the Apple option?

    In short, is Softraid worth the trouble?

  • Philip Owens

    February 3, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    To be clear, I’m striping the array, RAID 0, for now anyway.

  • Jim Curtis

    February 3, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    You probably answered your own question. For RAID 0, Apple RAID is probably all you need. SoftRAID allows those other RAID levels. I have one of the OWC RAIDs also, and had a hassle just getting my RAID to mount on one of my laptops. But, I finally got the app & extension installed on all the computers I wanted to use it on, and it’s become mostly invisible since, luckily.

    There is a Validate function on SoftRAID that I haven’t seen any signs of in the Apple Drive Utility.

  • Bob Zelin

    February 4, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Raid 0 – smart choice.


    Good luck.


  • Tim Jones

    February 4, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks, @Jim_Curtis. Also, SoftRAID 6 is nearing release and new RAID 5 support is coming with the update along with Big Sur (except 11.2 – kernel bug – being fixed in 11.3) and M1 support. To clarify, if you’re using SoftRAID under Big Sur – please hold off on the 11.2 update and wait for 11.3 to release.

    @Bob_Zelin – RAID 0 is very effective when performance and capacity are more important than redundancy – especially if you also have a backup plan in place to another environment (like LTO 🙂 ).

  • Tim Jones

    February 4, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Philip, I’ve shared your note with the tech team on SoftRAID for macOS. I know that they are working on a permanent resolution for the security bypass, and the new documentatin for SoftRAID 6 is a huge improvement.

  • Philip Owens

    February 4, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    I’m very aware that RAID 0 gives me precisely four times as great a risk of total failure, and lord know, like anyone, I’ve lost plenty of drives over the years. Hence the clone preparation. But also, there are multiple offsite copies of the clone ‘shuttle’ with my assistant, director and associate, so I feel pretty secure. If there’s a RAID failure, and my clone plan is working, I should lose no more than an hours work (if I haven’t created any new media, maybe I’d lose no more than the auto-saves, which go to a different drive anyway). I can carry on working on the clone, swap out the RAID drive, re-copy all the media overnight, and I’m off again. It’s a risk worth taking for the performance gain, and the downtime isn’t an issue.

  • Bob Zelin

    February 4, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    Philip – just stop this nonsense with RAID 0.

    from Dec 18th 2020 –

    We are releasing a M1 (Apple Silicon) version of SoftRAID today with the SoftRAID 6 beta.

    We have performance optimization to work on for new volumes, but older volumes should be OK.

    There are still some issues, feel free to post any differences you see, but at least you can be working with SoftRAID now.

    and more –

    Here is an announcement from Tim Standing, Vice President Engineering, OWC.

    Many of our customers are wondering: Is SoftRAID going to work on Big Sur? Will SoftRAID continue to work on Macs with Apple silicon?

    Let’s start with a little background on the team behind SoftRAID for Mac: We have already been through, not 1 but 2 processor architecture changes. First the one was from Motorola 68000 to PowerPC and the second was from PowerPC to Intel. So of course we’re going to conquer this transition as well.

    We already have a Mac mini with Apple silicon on our way from Apple, we ordered it registered for one 5 minutes after the web page went live. In anticipation of the Mac mini arriving next week, we have already started implementing the changes required to support this new CPU. Just like the move from PowerPC to Intel, for this change, the majority of the code for SoftRAID will not require any changes. There are just a few key areas we will have to change.

    With the switch from PowerPC to Intel CPUs, the major change was that areas of memory which stored numbers larger than 256 were set up in the reverse order in the Intel CPU. This mean that any number, that was used by the SoftRAID driver to determine what type of volume was in use, had to be swapped around right after it was read from disk and right before it was written back out.

    With this new CPU, the key changes are the way the processor counts time and the way each of the CPU cores determine if memory has been altered by another CPU core. We have already finished the changes to the SoftRAID code which rely on getting time. We have also started a code review of both the driver and SoftRAID tool to determine what needs to be changed to accommodate the new multi-core CPU memory access architecture.

    If you have access to a Mac mini with Apple silicon and would like to try out beta builds of SoftRAID which support this new CPU, please let us know and we will give you access to the beta testing program. Obviously, you won’t be able to use it with Thunderbolt enclosures, as these test Mac minis don’t have Thunderbolt, but you will be able to use it with USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosures like the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad. We will be testing it with 4, 8 and 16 disk RAID volumes to ensure our implementation is robust.

    I’ll post more on this thread when we have a beta ready for testing with this new Mac hardware architecture.

    Tim Standing
    VP Software Engineering – Mac
    Other World Computing, Inc.

  • Bob Zelin

    February 4, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Mark James is your contact at OWC for questions about SoftRAID.

    Bob Zelin

  • Tim Jones

    February 9, 2021 at 9:34 pm


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