Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

All your general support questions for OpenZFS on OS X.

Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

Postby robbrown99 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:27 am

I have been running with OpenZFS without issue for years now on my Mac Pro 2009. Now Apple is no longer supporting the OS, and app developers aren't either, it is time for me to consider upgrade paths.

My current setup is 2x 1.5TB internal drives, mirrored. I store my 20 year image library (as primary) on here.

Code: Select all
zpool status

   NAME                                            STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
   BigDiskZFS                                      ONLINE       0     0     0
     mirror-0                                      ONLINE       0     0     0
       media-768C27ED-1283-44FF-8F3D-A91A4DC8E6A4  ONLINE       0     0     0
       media-98876398-784F-4E46-B1E2-7DFB1AB655A7  ONLINE       0     0     0

zpool version
zfs-1.9.0-1
zfs-kmod-1.9.0-1


I am considering going with a Mac Mini, and buying an external Thunderbolt enclosure, such as a 5 bay or 6 bay that supports JBOD. I just use my Mac for image editing and management (need graphics card for 2D accelerated image processing only), browsing web and email.

My plan is to:

- Have that enclosure have: a) my main ZFS storage drive for my images; b) potentially have one disk be HFS+ for time machine backup.
- 4-5 magnetic 3.5" disks for the main ZFS pool. I want a bit more protection than my current 2 disk setup offers. Not really sure what the benefits of the various RAID options are.
- A thunderbolt enclosure so that it is backwards compatible with the Mac Pro, and forwards compatible with the new Mac Mini when I get that.
- Ideally have an easy migration path whereby my ZFS pool name and contents are installed into the new set of disks on the enclosure. I want to do this so that my image libraries (e.g. Lightroom), and automation scripts all work without me needing to reconfigure anything.
- I'd like to setup the new ZFS pool with brand new disks, move the data from the original pool, and then make the new pool name = the old one.
- Migration to the new enclosure would be all done on the 2009 Mac Pro, then at the point in time that a new ARM based Mac Mini is available I will get that (assuming of course OpenZFS still works with whatever Apple does with that migration. That's another topic we shouldn't go into here)

I'm not sure if the above is possible, but thoughts appreciated, including good tips on a nice (high quality!) enclosure or other ways of making this not painful. If I have to end up with a new ZFS pool name, then so be it.

My understanding of ZFS is that it is somewhat limited for growing a pool of disks, so I don't think I can just stick my existing 2x disks in the enclosure and 'add drives' like one could do with Drobo, Unraid, Synology etc. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

I am considering FreeNAS also, but don't think that would run very fast for direct storage.
robbrown99
 
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Re: Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

Postby Sharko » Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:40 am

Hi, first of all your 2009 Mac Pro doesn't support Thunderbolt of any variety (Thunderbolt is a function that requires newer CPUs than our Mac Pro will support), so your external storage solution will need to have at least one other port type (USB or Firewire) to be able to connect it to your old computer... and here's where you run into the first problem: looking over the Other World Computing options for multi-disk external storage solutions you can only get USB3 gen 2, or Thunderbolt 3, not both. Obviously Thunderbolt 3 is the better long-term solution, but it may preclude you from being able to ever connect it to your existing 2009 Mac Pro. I'll let someone more knowledgeable comment on the advisability of setting up your pool using the internal storage SATA bays of the Mac Pro, and then transferring the disks to the external storage box for use with the future Mac Mini. I believe that it can be done, but it may come with some caveats.

I did find this G-Technology 2 disk box (with TB3 and a USB-C port) on Amazon, with mixed reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/G-Technology-G-R ... 071HKLP7K/
It claims to have a USB-C port that supports USB3 gen 2 protocol; your Mac Pro will accept a USB 3 PCI card, and you should at least be able to connect to it at some level of USB3 speeds.

You can enlarge an existing zpool IF you have set it up as a mirror. The process basically involves substituting a larger disk into the mirror, and letting zfs resilver that larger disk. Then you repeat the procedure for the other disks in the mirror. Mirrors are generally faster and allow better upgradability in size, while raidz pools are more space-efficient, more inflexible, and slower.

You shouldn't have any issues with pool names; you can give your new pool a temporary name while you transfer data to it. Then when it is ready for use, export both the old and new pools, then import only the new pool with the old pool's name:

Code: Select all
% sudo zpool import NEW_POOL OLD_POOL_NAME


Cheers,

Kurt
Sharko
 
Posts: 128
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Re: Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

Postby robbrown99 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:23 pm

Thanks for the reply Kurt

Regarding the resize of the pools, great that makes a lot of sense to take out one drive, resilver, then when complete do the other one. Since I have a mirror already, I could just do that inside my Mac Pro! I guess I could just keep going with a 2 disk setup in the Mac Pro, and grow it to 4TB each drive.

Then when the new Mac Mini comes along I could just get a 2 or 3 bay JBOD enclosure and then put the disks inside that. Would I need to repoint anything, or do the disk IDs remain the same no matter where they are?

A 3 (or 4) bay enclosure would allow me to stick a disk in for time machine backups and format that one as HFS+.

Regarding Thunderbolt 3 to Firewire, it seems it is possible to do it via adaptors since thunderbolt is backwards compatible: https://www.apple.com/shop/question/ans ... YPXTX49UF7

I have done it successfully for Thunderbolt V1 to Firewire 800.

However, with the above method of just expanding the pool within my Mac Pro, I think things may be a bunch easier.
robbrown99
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:43 am

Re: Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

Postby robbrown99 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:28 pm

Kurt, thanks also for that link to the G-tech enclosure. I've had good luck with them in the past, including a mini one that my wife still uses - going strong after 12 years!
robbrown99
 
Posts: 13
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Re: Moving to external enclosure and adding some disks

Postby Sharko » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:28 pm

Well, you learn something every day... I would never have guessed that cobbling together Thunderbolt adapters in that way would allow a Firewire host to drive a Thunderbolt peripheral! I still wouldn't believe it based on your link (which has a Thunderbolt host driving a Firewire peripheral), but apparently you've actually seen it work. Good on you.

I happened to cruise through Other World Computing's sale page, and they actually have a two bay external drive enclosure that sports both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 technologies:

https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB2U3MED0GB/

That seems to fit your needs, and is one that I would probably consider given that the difference between TB2 and TB3 is probably moot with spinning drives in the cabinet. You would still need the Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter, however.
Sharko
 
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