How to Save an Old RAID and Connect It to Your New Mac

by Barrett

Stop! Don’t retire your old RAID external drive. Though technology has moved on, and it doesn’t look like your new Mac can talk to the RAID, there could be a way to save your external drive from the trash pile.

Would you like to know how spending $27.29 can save you $650?
(I thought this might peak your interest.)

I might have mentioned that I just bought myself a new iMac. Last time, I blogged about opening up my wallet to the digital gods to bring home some extra peripherals. When it comes to external drives, I think I suggested that money was no object.

That’s up to a point.

Once upon a time, I dropped a boatload of money on a G-Technology G Speed Q 4TB 4-bay RAID storage solution to protect all of my home video files and also have enough speed to serve up those videos for editing in FCPX.

And it was great working with a FireWire cable. I haven’t cared that Apple has since moved on to Thunderbolt.

The Curse of Newer Ports with Faster Transfer Speeds
The problem was I wanted to use that same RAID drive with my new iMac, and as it turned out, there was no apparent way to hook it up. My new iMac is generations beyond FireWire technology and only uses USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

My old G Speed Q does have a USB 2.0 port, which could connect to my new iMac. But USB 2.0 is slower than even rusty FireWire.
(Pass)

But upgrading to a new G-Technology product is wicked pricey:
I’d go for the G-RAID with Thunderbolt 3 8TB External Drive.
($649.95. on Amazon)

That’s a sweet unit with blazing-fast Thunderbolt 3.
But I don’t need the pricey upgrade yet. My old RAID works just fine.
(And for those of you who would remind me of my mantra to “always side with newer drives,” I will remind you that this is a multi-drive RAID, which can survive when one drive fails.)

So this time, I’d prefer to keep my credit card in my pocket.
Now, what’s a tech geek to do?

Activate your inner MacGyver and figure out a workaround!
So that’s what I did…

Don’t Try This at Home (Really)
The very concept of wanting to adapt a Thunderbolt port to a FireWire cable is an absurd idea, because FireWire is so darned slow.

But that’s where I began.
I Googled “FireWire to Thunderbolt adapter.”
Bam!
Apple makes one of those!
Sweet!
Click!

The adapter came in the mail, and I almost ripped it out of the box in anticipation. I did the Cinderella glass slipper maneuver, and
Screeeeeech….

Wait a minute…. It didn’t fit!

What?

I did a little more Googling.

I had bought myself a Thunderbolt adapter.
My new iMac has Thunderbolt 3.0 ports.
They’re physically different!

I need a Thunderbolt 3 connection.
Not Thunderbolt….
Nor Thunderbolt 2!
(D’oh!!)

This adapter is… old!!
And useless for my needs.
(Bad Barrett for messing up his research. #Don’tRushYourTechDecisions.)

Life moves pretty fast in the tech world. If you blink, you could miss it.

But wait. There’s got to be a workaround to the workaround…
And there is…

It’s Apple’s Thunderbolt 3.0 to Thunderbolt 2.0 adapter.
The Thunderbolt 2.0 side could then connect to the Thunderbolt part of the original adapter. And that creates a Thunderbolt 3.0 to Thunderbolt adapter.

But it’s an adapter, connected to another adapter, connected to a cable.
That ‘Franken-solution’ doesn’t feel so solid.
I found a few conversations online about this, and nobody supported this plan. At best, it would be glitchy solution. Some said it didn’t work at all.

Hmmmm.
Pass.

So what was left to try?

eSATA to the Rescue
My old G Speed Q also houses an eSATA port, which I’ve never touched.
Honestly, I’ve never paid attention to eSATA anything.

Turns out this is a 2nd generation eSATA port that boasts 3Gbps speed.
(Faster than FireWire, but slower than USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt.)

All right… so is there a way to get from eSATA to Thunderbolt?
I couldn’t find one.

eSATA to USB 3.0?

Yes!

It’s made by StarTech.com and costs $27.29.
3ft USB 3.0 to eSATA Adapter Cable

Their tag line is “Hard-to-Find Made Easy.”
Hope so…
The reviews on Amazon were overwhelmingly positive. So I gave it a shot.
Click.

The package came in the mail. I ripped open the… yada yada yada…
And…

It worked. My old RAID mounted on my new iMac!

Snatched from the Grip of Obsolescence
So I spent 27 bucks to keep my old G-Technology drive in business.
Now, that’s a big win!

Is my solution as beefy and speedy as a new Thunderbolt 3 drive?
Of course not.

But does it work?
Yep.
(Thank you StarTech.com.)

Did I save $650?
Affirmative.
(Technically $622.71)

Are my files safe?
I think so. It’s a RAID, right?
(Not trying to invoke the wrath of the tech gods)

Done.
(For now)

Advertisements