At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: G-Technology

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

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.

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.”
Apple makes one of those!

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

Wait a minute…. It didn’t fit!


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!

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.


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?


It’s made by 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.

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

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?
(Thank you

Did I save $650?
(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)

(For now)

Two Devices Your New iMac Needs Now

If you’ve just purchased a new Mac, and you think you’re done… you’re not. Your computer needs some friends to play with!

So you just bought yourself a shiny new Mac to replace your old Apple machine. Congrats. Now for the bad news… You’re probably not done adding to your shopping cart. You’ve got a couple more important decisions to make…

Apple Refresh
I’ve just upgraded to a 2017 iMac and thought that as a veteran Mac owner I knew all of the ropes. Guess what? I don’t. If you’re like me and like to hold onto your Apple products for as many years as possible (versus always having the latest and greatest) you may not be entirely up to speed on current needs and best practices to properly get your new Mac up and running.

Here are a couple of items I had to consider after unboxing my new pride and joy:

New External Drive for Time Machine Back Up
Cost: $199.95

Eliminate the Weak Link
You might be wondering… “What about Barrett’s old backup drive? Can’t he use that with his new iMac?”

Well, sure I can. But the idea of a years-old drive working to back up all of your files worried me more than a little byte…
(Bad joke)

I say buy yourself a brand new backup drive, and get a good one.
I’m a big fan of G-Technology drives. They’re not the cheapest game in town, but the extra bucks are well spent when it comes to preserving your digital life.

I could have gone with either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 3 drives (similar pricing) but figured on reserving my two iMac Thunderbolt 3 ports for faster needs than Time Machine backups.

You’ll Always Need More Storage
Now, you must be thinking, “Wait a minute! Why get a 6TB drive to back up a 3TB machine?!”

Good question.

The answer is if you’re like me… eternally generating lots of photos and videos and plan to move into the 4K video landscape… you’re going to need plenty of storage.

Yes, a Time Machine drive can do double duty and simply store files along with Time Machine backups.

I recommend always buying a bigger drive than you think you’ll need. Trust me.
It was only another thirty bucks for an extra 2TB.
(Isn’t that crazy cheap?)

External DVD/CD Drive
Cost: $79

How Old is Too Old?
Thinking about whether I need one of these gives away how ancient my old iMac is.
(If you’ve read this far, I hope you’re a friendly tech geek or a Luddite who’s turned over a new leaf. Either way, I’m hoping you’re not going to judge me when I admit my old iMac is from mid 2010.
(Be gentle.)

Can you believe it’s seven years old! And it’s still ticking. Yes, it’s slower and glitchier, but it’s doing okay. Still, sometimes you’ve just got to call it, before the circuits just don’t fire up anymore. So when Apple announced the 2017 iMac refresh, I knew my number had come up… before my iMac’s did. I think by all reasonable considerations it was time to do the upgrade.

At Home with Discs
So my iMac slid out of its packaging looking lean and mean and without a slot for discs. Actually, Apple eliminated native optical drives in iMacs a long time ago.

Your choice is to buy an Apple USB SuperDrive to plug in or utilize “DVD or CD Sharing” from another Mac.
Apple explains how to do that here.

I appreciate the work-around option, but remember that CD transfer project you started but never finished? Yeah, I’ve got one of those too. I’m not quite ready to entirely eliminate discs from my life yet.
(Maybe I’ll be disc-free in time for my next iMac upgrade!)

  • Apple’s USB SuperDrive is only $79.
    Considering how much we’ve already spent on our new Mac, I think we can give ourselves permission to take this step.
    (However backwards-thinking it may seem)

And yes, there are cheaper third-party optical drives on the market, but if you’re buying a Mac, there’s probably a part of you that doesn’t want to immediately turn it into a ‘Franken-computer’ with some no-name drive attached to it.

I give you permission to keep it all-Apple.


Sticker Shock?
Spending an extra $280 to activate your new iMac is not insignificant. On the other hand, there are always add-on devices to any all-in-one solution. The iMac is no different.

The only choice here is whether to spend a little more on better quality.
When it comes to maintaining your digital harmony over the long term, that’s always money well spent!

A Glitchy Drive Can Ruin Your Trip Back in Time

This is the steady glow of your digital life. If it starts to flicker, you’d better be paying attention! It contains Time Machine, the portal to your digital past!

This is the steady glow of your digital life. If it starts to flicker, you’d better be paying attention! It contains Time Machine, the portal to your digital past!

Face it: You can’t go back in time if your gear gets glitchy.

Time Machine is wonderful software to back up all your precious content on your Mac, but you also need healthy tech to support it.

Last month, my G-Technology external hard drive was running its regular Time Machine backup, and something very odd happened.

The 2TB G-Drive ‘quit’ unexpectedly, and of course the backup failed on my iMac.  I stared at my tech companion, unaccustomed to this kind of problem.

So I rebooted the drive and tried again.
This time, the silver box behaved, and the backup completed without incident.

Was this a one-time glitch or a sign of things to come?
I tried to erase the unpleasant episode from my head.

But as we all know, little tech glitches rarely just go away…
(and eventually, they turn into “The Terminator!”)

Last week the glitch came back.
And this time my failing G-Drive did a number on my Mac and froze it up quicker than you can say ‘Flux Capacitor.’

I couldn’t bring my stunned iMac back to life without performing a hard power shut down via a Vulcan neck pinch to the back power button.
(It doesn’t get much worse unless you yank the power cord out of the wall!)

Yes, the third time was the charm, and Time Machine completed its backup.
But it was clear I had a problem with my external back-up drive…

Countdown to Disaster
I mentioned my little story to a couple of colleagues last week, and I swear their faces turned slightly white. It was like I was holding a time bomb in my hand.

In a manner of speaking, I was.

After a few moments of uncomfortable since, one whispered, “You’d better do something about that.”

The other one simply looked away as if I was a Morlock…

I’ve talked before about the importance of backing up your data.

Yes, I’ve got both local and cloud-based backup solutions in place.
But you can never be too careful when you’re talking about your digital life.

Now it was clearly time to practice what I preach…

I’m a big fan of G-Technology drives.
(I’ve been running this particular G-Drive for over 3 years.)
But no drive lasts forever.

So let me repeat this a different way…

Every drive you own will eventually fail.
It’s just a matter of when.

And when that happens, your personal portal to your past disappears…

The fix:
Time to buy a new backup drive…

How Big a Backup Drive Does Your Computer Need?
So another problem with my failing G-Drive drive is its storage capacity.
I’ve got a 2TB hard drive sitting in my iMac, and my G-Drive is also 2TB.

Common logic says your Time Machine drive should be at least 1.5 to 2 times the size of your computer’s internal drive.
That’s because Time Machine is capturing more than what’s on your computer right now. The whole point is to save older versions of your existing content in case you need to go back to it…

I’ve always known that when I got through more than 50% of my iMac’s internal drive, I would start to stretch the limits of my G-Drive.

I’ve already crossed that threshold, and even though I haven’t specifically run out of space yet, that problem is waiting in the wings… ready to pounce.

I’d rather avoid that little fire drill all together…

So as I started shopping for a new Time Machine drive, I focused on 3TB and 4TB sizes.

Checking Out Glyph
Even though I’m a longtime fan of G-Technology, it’s always a good idea to review the competition when buying anything, right?

Remember those colleagues who treated me like the plague after they heard about my tech woes…?  They both suggested Glyph drives as a well-regarded (though expensive) solution.
Glyph also offers a generous warranty as well as a limited data recovery service when you buy one of their drives.

All very nice!

I took a look online, and Glyph has a new 4TB GPT50 coming out with USB 3.0.  But it’s not being released until later this month…

Sticking with G-Drive
The new Glyph GPT50 looks interesting, but I really needed to address my Time Machine crisis right now.
(It’s not wise to tempt the Fates of Tech.)

So it was back to another G-Drive for me.

Their 4TB model with USB 3.0/FireWire is listing for $320, but you can pick in up from Amazon closer to the $300 mark.
(I don’t need the pricier Thunderbolt model, since I have an older iMac without Thunderbolt.)

Yes, $300 is expensive compared to the competition… but this is your digital life we’re talking about…
(“Don’t cross the streams,” and never skimp on your drives!)


Should You Transfer Old Backups to Your New Drive?
So my new tech pal showed up on Friday via Amazon Prime, and I quickly introduced it to my computer.

Then I faced a choice.

Should I start from scratch and do a full backup with the new G-Drive or first transfer over the old backups from my failing drive?

My first instinct was to transfer all the files over from the old drive, but I ran across a dissenting opinion online from
(This website from James Pond is a treasure trove of Time Machine goodness.)

He suggests that first transferring the old backups would take a “very long time.”

And with my old drive in its weakened condition, perhaps an extended transfer session would be too much of a stressor…

I figured the time spent saving my precious data was better focused towards completing a brand new backup…

(Granted, I wouldn’t have access to my old backups… but I’m thinking/hoping I don’t need them…)

Let the Massive Backup Session Begin!
So I powered up my hungry 4TB protector, selected it as my new Time Machine drive, and then I went to bed.
(Initial backups also take a wicked long time.)

I quickly slipped off to sleep, because my mind was clear.
My soul was cozy, believing all my beloved personal digital content was again protected…

  • My hundreds of home movies, thousands of family photos,
    and my future blog ideas (all three of them)

Is it all a dream?
(I’ve only got two ideas in the cue.)

When I awoke the next morning, I checked out the progress of my backup.
My iMac glowed wearily, ‘About 19 hours’ to go.


$300 and 19 more hours?!
This part was definitely not a dream.

But if you want to keep your personal time portal to the past operational, and you don’t happen to have access to an Omega 13 device from another galaxy,
that’s the price you pay to protect your digital life.

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