caldigit vr 4TB review {maryland photographer workflow}

Sorry, this is a long post. If you are a fellow photog this might interest you. If not, just look at the pretty pictures… :)

I’ve been trying to find a good way to back-up all my photography and design work. My usual work-flow is right after a shoot, I copy all my RAW files to an external hard drive (usually Western Digital MyBooks) and then burn DVDs of the files as backup. However, because I shoot in RAW, the files are SO LARGE that I’ve found my external hard drive collection growing exponentially! I now have 6 external hard drives- none of which are the same!! So that means- 6 different drives, 6 different power supplies, and a bunch of cords to go with it. It was starting to be a pain in the a@@. There has to be a better way! So I did some research and weighed the pros and cons of each (along with costs – short & long-run). I know I still wanted to utilize external hard drives for easy access- but need some sort of data redundancy like a RAID set-up. I needed something with preferably a Quadruple Interface (eSATA, firewire 800, firewire 400, usb 2/usb 3).

PLEASE NOTE: I am in NO WAY an expert in computers or IT. I just wanted to share with you my problem and solution to data storage for my photography needs. It might not have been the “best” solution but it was the best solution for me at the current time…

Option 1: DROBO S = $399 for JUST the BOX. $1200 for Drobo 8TB -includes 4 – 2TB drives

Drobo 8TB Bundle with 4 X 2TB Western Digital (WD20EARS) Hard Drives

Drobo 8TB Bundle with 4 X 2TB Western Digital

I researched and read up about the DROBO  – a very user friendly/mac friendly system. It utilizes “BeyondRAIDTM technology” for data reduncy. It’s hard for me to explain so refer to Drobo’s website for more info. The site states “Drobo S protects your data without any user interaction, even in the event of multiple drive failures. It can hold up to five hot-swappable drives, for on-the-fly drive capacity expansion with zero downtime.”

Sounds pretty sweet huh? I’ve read a lot of photogs use this system- some love it, some HATE it due to drive failures and/or long rebuild times in the event of drive failure. I decided NOT to go with the Drobo because 1.) Inconsistent reviews + slow data transfer rates ,  2.) The big price tag,  3.) Did I really need 4 drives of redundant data????

Option 2: Wiebtech SilverSata Series 2TB (1000GB x 2 drives) $428

SilverSATA II SJ features dual swappable SATA drive bays, two independent eSATA connections for two fast mountable drive volumes to your computer. I would set this up as a RAID 1. Good option but only comes with 2 – 1 TB drives. I’m a DATA SPACE hog.

Option 3: Lacie 4TB Quadra : $699.99

I’ll admit, I was going to buy this drive strictly based on it’s looks. Ain’t it futuristic looking? So pretty too! However, with my past experience with Lacie Drives failing it was a no brainer to stay far far away from Lacie products.

Option 4:  Western Digital MyBook Studio LX 2TB: $250

Still utilizing external hard drives but just keep consistent with the brand and model of drive. I love that the MyBook Studio drives allow you to “label the drive”. I can see a bookshelf full of these drives labeled by the year for easy reference. However, I’ve had 2 WD MyBook drives fail on me recently (oh the horror! Thankfully they were still under warranty. I’ve sent one back to the company – still need to send the other one back.) NOTE: WD sends you a new drive but say goodbye to your data! Thankfully I had already backed up my backup. Can we say- Trace Buster Buster! (only those who are Marky Mark fans will remember this from one of his early flicks “The Big Hit”)

Option 5: Caldigit VR 4TB $899 , current special pricing $599

The CalDigit VR is the most advanced two drive RAID array on the market, supporting a quadruple interface for easy connectivity. Its design provides two hot swappable drive modules and an easy to read frontside LCD.

What I went with: CALDIGIT VR 4 TB

In the end, I decided to invest in the Caldigit VR – 4TB system. It comes with 2 – 2TB drives that are hot swappable. I could set it up as a RAID 0 (which means it would just act as my other external hard drives did when copying over) or I could set it up as a RAID 1 – which means one drive would mirror the data on the other. So if one drive ever fails, the other one has all your data backed up. I’m sure there are plenty of IT folks who think RAID 1 isn’t the best way to go and would suggest multiple RAIDs but remember- I’m just a one- woman shop so RAID 1 works for me at the present time.

This is only my first week of using the Caldigt VR 4TB drive but so far so good. The only complaint- it’s really not a 4TB drive…more like 3.6TB! What’s with the ROUNDING??? I later found out on the Channel Register forum that, “A 4TB disk is in reality only a 3.6TiB disk, or 90% of the advertised “capacity”. WTF? Okay, so they cheated me out on .4TB, not that big of a deal though they should really put that in the specs section…

The Set-up was pretty easy. I decided to do a RAID 1. The drive comes with a CD with software for Macs and PCs. Installing the software was easy but it took awhile for the program to actually start up when I tried opening it. At one point my finder froze…. Note- it is advised to read the install directions carefully. I tried skimming through it. Had I actually gone step by step, I think the RAID 1 setup would have gone a lot faster. :}

What I like about the Caldigit VR is it has an easy to read frontside LCD so you can check on the status and health of your drives. I also like that it uses hot swappable drives – so when my drive reaches it’s 1.8TB capacity, I will archive the drives in this handy dandy Caldigit archive box and buy a new SATA drive for new data.

archival box-

Caldigit VR Spare Drive

I also like the clean sleek look of the drive. The bays can be accessed from the rear with a key.

So far, so good with the Caldigit VR 4TB (err…3.6 TB) two bay array. You can read more about the Caldigit VR here.

Eventually this year, I’m going to also need to invest in some online storage system (just in case anything happens to the physical drives). Online storage – Roughly $200/year and I would like to add a BluRay Disc Burner to my arsenal ($250 for burner, $10 per  disc) Sigh…the cost of doing business…

2 thoughts on “caldigit vr 4TB review {maryland photographer workflow}

  1. So, the first week was good, what about the rest? I’m seriously thinking about buying the 6TB or 8TB VR2 because my iMac is absolutely full and so is the 2TB WD MyBook Studio. My idea is using the CalDigit to keep my stuff (5Dmk2 RAW pics from holidays and some works and my HD film library) safe in Raid 1 and the MyBook for time machine backups.
    Would you recommend it to me right now? I never heard about CalDigit but i think is one of the best raid boxes for that price right now! Thanks from Spain!!

  2. I have been using CalDigit for a few years now to back up my jobs (I’m a wedding and event photographer). I currently have three 4TB Raid systems and two 1TB drives. BEWARE. There are partition issues with my drives, even the newer ones. The manufacturer is COMPLETELY disorganized and they completely messed up one of my drive out of pure human error, and did not take responsibility for it whatsoever. I had to spend hundreds of dollars on recovery and I am now speaking with my lawyer about it all because I feel like I can’t trust CalDigit at all, the lifespan is NOT good and they care very little for their consumers.

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