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Here's a warning for others purchasing a new SSD: I just bought a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and a 500GB Samsung T5. As I always do, I used SoftRAID's Certify feature to test them prior to putting them into production (one for backup, one for a photo library). The Samsung T5 tested fine, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable failed certification with write errors.
I tried a second time after removing and replugging the cable a few times, but it failed again, so I'm going to have to send it back to Amazon, and I wanted to let others know, because this type of failure may not be obvious unless you do something like this certification procedure.
DriveDX didn't show any errors in the SMART data, so I don't know where the problem is ...
Did you by any chance allow your computer to sleep or do another task while certifying was in progress? I had the same experience with a Samsung 860 EVO 4TB (El Capitan Mac Pro mid-2010, VoyagerQ USB3). Certification quit after some time, with a bunch of errors and a suggestion to return the SSD for a replacement. I tried again, this time setting all the "savers" to "never", and the SSD certified perfectly. I have been using it only for a couple of weeks, so I can't say that this is any more than coincidence, but it is a data point.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Did you by any chance allow your computer to sleep or do another task while certifying was in progress?
That's a good question, but I had enabled Caffeine to prevent sleep (and the errors didn't take long to appear).

The computer (2018 MacBook Pro 13" on macOS 10.14.4) wasn't doing anything else (unless Apple was doing something funny in the background).

I normally do this on a MacBook Air, but that had somehow lost its mind after being turned off a few days and wanted to reinstall macOS. (Haven't dealt with that problem yet...)
 


Here's a warning for others purchasing a new SSD: I just bought a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and a 500GB Samsung T5. As I always do, I used SoftRAID's Certify feature to test them prior to putting them into production (one for backup, one for a photo library). The Samsung T5 tested fine, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable failed certification with write errors.
I tried a second time after removing and replugging the cable a few times, but it failed again, so I'm going to have to send it back to Amazon, and I wanted to let others know, because this type of failure may not be obvious unless you do something like this certification procedure.
DriveDX didn't show any errors in the SMART data, so I don't know where the problem is - possibly the cable, but it's defective, wherever the cause lies. I have another 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable that I bought previously that hasn't shown any problems, but I'll probably enable Carbon Copy Cloner's "Find and replace corrupted files" option next time I do a backup to double-check it.
On my server running Sierra, I had Drive Genius start telling me that a couple of SSDs that were running had problems. (I have eight disks, both spinning and SSD connected to the server Mac Mini.) This was a result of a periodic automatic scan. I went to SoftRAID, and SoftRAID reported that nothing was wrong.

I did not do a Certify but, rather, depended on SoftRAID's standard checking. (I have experienced several automatic integrity checks where both Drive Genius and SoftRAID agreed.) I trust SoftRAID.

(I do think that the disk-checking software struggles with SSDs as compared to SATA hard disks. I wonder if the variety of firmware systems in SSDs makes it harder for the testing software to be accurate over all brands.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I do think that the disk-checking software struggles with SSDs as compared to SATA hard disks. I wonder if the variety of firmware systems in SSDs makes it harder for the testing software to be accurate over all brands.
This hasn't been my experience, and hard drive firmware and technology are changing, too (e.g. the introduction of high-capacity helium-filled drives).
 


I use TechTool Pro's "check for bad blocks" tool (forgot the exact name) on every hard drive and SSD I want to put into service. It's found bad drives (hard drive/SSD), and I return or exchange them. I realize the SSDs work differently than spinners, but TechTool Pro's "block tool" seems to work reliably for me. No SSD vendor has ever argued with me when I tell them the reason for the return/exchange.
 


I have a number of spinning hard drives in two multi-bay USB3 enclosures, as well as 15 or so single USB3 drives (various brands in Toshiba cases, WD, Seagate 8TB, a couple of "docks").

I had one particular drive that, although passing my TechTool Pro tests, started reporting write errors through Carbon Copy Cloner. I disconnected the drive from its hub and connected it to my Mac where it, again, passed all tests.

Then I remembered that the USB hub where it had been connected was some oddball brand that was a gift, not one of the 7+3 port Ankers I otherwise exclusively use. I swapped out that oddball hub for an Anker and *presto* everything was perfect again.

Like I really needed reminding but top-quality USB3 hubs are essential (as we all know). I can daisy-chain through four Anker hubs and expect perfection. The oddball hub is going to the recycling center; I'd feel guilty giving it to another user.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I normally do this on a MacBook Air, but that had somehow lost its mind after being turned off a few days and wanted to reinstall macOS. (Haven't dealt with that problem yet...)
OK, I reinstalled macOS High Sierra from Recovery on the MacBook Air, rebooted, updated the SoftRAID driver, and ran SoftRAID Certify again on the 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, connected to the USB 3.0 port. Within a few minutes SoftRAID again reported errors. This SSD is clearly defective and will be returned to Amazon.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
MCE Technologies MacBook Air and MacBook Pro SSD (flash) upgrades still look good to me, but I don't see AHCI options for the MacBook Air, so macOS 10.13 is required for these (but NVMe also provides much higher performance):
Meanwhile, OWC has a new SSD upgrade for the MacBook Air, promising both better reliability vs. its earlier upgrades and support for macOS 10.12 Sierra (though I'm not sure how that works with an NVMe device).
MacSales.com said:
Aura N
  • Consumes less power and runs cooler than earlier models
  • Designed for macOS 10.12 and beyond
  • NVMe – PCIe 3.1 x2
Lastly, there are inexpensive adapters to use standard NVMe SSDs with Apple's non-standard connectors. (These also require macOS 10.13 or later, and low-power/low-heat SSDs are recommended - Samsung's 970 seems to use much more power than OWC's Aura N or a WD Blue NVMe SSD.)
Amazon said:
 


Meanwhile, OWC has a new SSD upgrade for the MacBook Air, promising both better reliability vs. its earlier upgrades and support for macOS 10.12 Sierra (though I'm not sure how that works with an NVMe device).
It turns out that Sierra actually supports NVMe SSDs, but only if they have 4K block sizes. Most consumer NVMe SSDs are configured with 512B block sizes; however, some can be reformatted for 4K block sizes. They can then be used natively in Sierra without any hacks.

High Sierra introduced support for 512B block sizes, making it universally support all NVMe drives.
 


I did the firmware update this morning... and still it booted to gray afterward, even though from the other boot volume I had selected the Accelsior as the Startup Disk. I'll try the battery next, but probably this weekend.
If the battery doesn't fix it, and I will be surprised but delighted for you if it does, it's the drive.

SATA SSDs are incredibly cheap now. You might want to install one as a way of troubleshooting. If the system boots correctly on a new drive, that would tend to confirm the problem is your OWC drive. Too bad the Mac Pro 5,1 is only SATA II, because cheap SATA III SSDs aren't that much slower than your OWC. It might be possible to get closer to the full capability of SATA III drives with a PCIe > SATA III card, or even set a couple of those up in RAID 0?

I looked for ways for force Garbage Collection to run on Sandforce controller SSDs, and did not find the trick. Crucial once published how to force Garbage Collection to run on its drives, and that involved having TRIM enabled, deleting a bunch of files, shutting down the Mac, then powering it up but stopping the boot process before it completed. This fed power to the SSD, but didn't burden it with activity that conflicted with Garbage Collection. I left mine in that state overnight, and it worked much better and continued to do so.

Your drive is effectively two SSDs in RAID 0. That makes me dubious about the option of booting to the LiveUSB of Linux Distro PartedMagic and doing a secure erase.

Best of luck!
 



... Too bad the Mac Pro 5,1 is only SATA II, because cheap SATA III SSDs aren't that much slower than your OWC....
Samsung does SATA II controllers well. I found SanDisk does not, and will, instead, yield SATA I speed. PNY CS1100 is also okay with SATA II. But OWC has SATA II SSDs that are designed for this purpose.
 


Personally, I'd want to use an Angelbird Wingz PX1 PCIe card and something like a Samsung 970 EVO on it, if that meets requirements. Unfortunately, that card seems to have been discontinued. :-(
PX1 still available but re-badged as a Wolftech Pulsecard:

I have them booting macOS 10.3.6 with Samsung 970 Evo NVMe in Mac Pro 4.1 and 5.1 with the Mojave firmware. They can saturate the PCIe 2.0 (slot 3 or 4) bus read and write!
 



Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint.

First, is Thunderbolt 3 vs. 2 compatibility bi-directional? (That is, I know a Thunderbolt 3 Mac can use a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with adapter, but can a Thunderbolt 2 Mac use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure?)

It seems very hard to find Thunderbolt 2 enclosures for 2.5" drives now. All the compact enclosures seem to be going to USB-C, which her MacBook can't support. I'm not sure USB less than 3.1 [Gen 2] would really take best advantage of the SSD. Any suggestions?

Thanks.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint. First, is Thunderbolt 3 vs. 2 compatibility bi-directional? (That is, I know a Thunderbolt 3 Mac can use a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with adapter, but can a Thunderbolt 2 Mac use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure?)
Yes, but... the adapter does not pass power. As I've described in earlier posts here, this means you cannot use the ultra-fast Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 SSD directly with your 2015 MacBook Pro, even with the Apple Thunderbolt adapter, because it won't get any power. However, you can use it by connecting it to a Thunderbolt 3 powered dock that's in turn connected to the Thunderbolt 2-Thunderbolt 3 adapter (see this post, for example). Similarly, you should be able to use a self-powered Thunderbolt 3 storage system with the Apple Thunderbolt 3-2 adapter and the 2015 MacBook Pro.
It seems very hard to find Thunderbolt 2 enclosures for 2.5" drives now. All the compact enclosures seem to be going to USB-C, which her MacBook can't support. I'm not sure USB less than 3.1 [Gen 2] would really take best advantage of the SSD. Any suggestions?
Plain old 5Gbps USB 3 is almost fast enough to saturate common SSDs, so you don't lose much hooking one up to your computer that way. All you need is a USB-C to USB Type-A cable, which comes in the package with a Samsung T5 and similar devices (or you can use a cheap adapter to bridge any USB-C and USB 3 devices).

If you want to push into the next level of SSD performance - for example an SSD RAID 0 or NVMe - then the added speed of 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 may be helpful.* But optimized 10Gbps USB setups are an unusual configuration when Thunderbolt 3 is so much faster at the high end, and standard USB 3 works fine on the lower end.

(*A USB-C port may support either 5Gbps or 10Gbps USB 3, or it may host 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, all depending on what you connect to it and what the port's own capabilities are.)
 


I have a refurbished mid-2015 MacBook Pro with a 1TB internal SSD, to which I have hitched an Akitio Thunder 2 Dock, to which I have attached by USB a Ugreen hub with three USB ports and one Ethernet port. The Thunder 2 Dock has one Thunderbolt 2 port, 2 eSATA ports, 2 USB 3 ports and FireWire 800 port.

The other day I was downloading a bunch of videos in 6 parallel streams via the Ethernet port. Two of the three USB ports were each at the same time connected to two 4 TV Samsung 860 EVO drives. I have not noticed any obvious speed difference when the machine is booted from one of those as compared to when it is booted from the internal SSD. I also have, but have not yet needed to use, a Mini DisplayPort hub that feeds DVI, HDMI or VGA, which I am assured will feed an external display from a Thunderbolt 2 port.

So not all is lost if you have only Thunderbolt 2.
 



Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint.
I recently got a Samsung T5 SSD (500GB) and am completely satisfied with it, running on a late 2013 MacBook Pro 13" Retina with 500GB internal SSD. I notice very little difference (if any) when running from the external, which is USB 3.0 (at least, as reported in System Report). Unless she is doing lots of heavy graphics, I suspect this would suffice for most work situations. I believe this drive has been recommended here on MacInTouch before, and I would add to any recommendations.

That's not to say that others would not work, but this one is relatively small and not particularly expensive.
 




I was wondering about that route. I have the HighPoint version on our Mac Mini server. Makes swapping backups to the safety deposit box actually convenient.
Amazon sells the OWC "OWC Drive Dock" for the same price as OWC. Reviews are not encouraging. "Disconnects" seem to be the complaint. Perhaps that would be alleviated by the little foam ClingOn gadget OWC sells for about $7 ea.

Neither dock comes with a Thunderbolt cable. So, add that to your order if you don't have an extra.

The OWC dock says it really is Thunderbolt 2. It also has two Thunderbolt ports, so I'd presume it can be part of a daisy-chain. The HighPoint is Thunderbolt 1 and can't be daisy-chained, as it has only one port. Relative speed won't matter, as both Thunderbolt 1 and 2 throughput is enough for a SATA SSD.

I gifted my son-in-law with the Highpoint Drive Dock in November, 2015. It has worked flawlessly for him.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Relative speed won't matter, as both Thunderbolt 1 and 2 throughput is enough for a SATA SSD.
That's true enough, but if you put two fast SATA SSDs in a RAID 0 (e.g. with SoftRAID), it might push that 10Gbps Thunderbolt 1 limit.
 


That's true enough, but if you put two fast SATA SSDs in a RAID 0 (e.g. with SoftRAID), it might push that 10Gbps Thunderbolt 1 limit.
Individual reviewers on Amazon report both the Highpoint and OWC Drive Docks support RAID 0. That seems a really unlikely use case for docks in which drives are exposed to be jostled around. Discontinued on Amazon, but relevant re Thunderbolt 1:

From the article linked below, running two SSDs in RAID 0 doesn't result in multiplying throughput by 2, it's more like 1.7, in range of the Akitio. Thunderbolt 2 would add some breathing room, but probably not improve throughput with a dual SATA SSD RAID 0.
Enterprise Storage Forum said:
For speed, if you have Thunderbolt 3, a single NVMe drive in a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure would be much faster and hopefully not scary.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Just tested a 500GB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD in a Fledging Shell 10Gbps USB-C enclosure (which features a built-in cooling fan). Here's a comparison using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (5GB file size).

Write (MB/s)Read (MB/s)
Thunderbolt 31.19402643
USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)2.420420
USB-C (10 Gbps)3.945944

Other previous tests for comparison:

1. 2018 Mac Mini Thunderbolt 3 to Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box with Angelbird Wings PX1
2. 2015 MacBook Pro 15-inch, USB 3.0 port
3. 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch, USB-C port


#benchmarks
 


I have a friend's 27-inch iMac running Yosemite and want to upgrade it to Mojave. It has a fusion drive.

Normally, I erase the boot drive, do a clean installation of the new OS, then migrate the files and settings back. I'm hesitant to erase the fusion drive, as I don't want to break the fusion.

Is it too much of a jump to install Mojave on top of Yosemite? If so, what is the best way to do this upgrade? Will Disk Utility from Yosemite doing an internet recovery startup allow me to erase the boot partition without breaking the fusion?

I thought about just trashing everything on the boot drive after starting up from a flash drive, then running DiskWarrior (the iMac is currently HFS+) to clean up the directory, but that doesn't really make much sense.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Normally, I erase the boot drive, do a clean installation of the new OS, then migrate the files and settings back. I'm hesitant to erase the fusion drive, as I don't want to break the fusion.
Here's a relevant Apple help article:
Apple Support said:
How to fix a split Fusion Drive
If your Fusion Drive appears as two drives instead of one in the Finder, it's no longer working as a Fusion Drive. Here's how to fix it.
 


worried about performance and Trim issues and Thunderbolt problems with external drives (and there’s a documented Thunderbolt bug with the new Mac Mini)
My belief in Trim is in part from personal experience with filling SSDs and having them slow to a crawl. That was on Macs before "trimforce enable" and addition of the Trim function at, I believe, the end version(s?) of Snow Leopard.

Still, times have changed since 2008 when the first generation 80GB Intel X25-M arrived at $700, or $8.75/GB. Without Trim. I remember reading that those drives were designed to fail when filled by making one last write to over-provisioning cells, hoping data could be read off a drive that no longer sustained writes.

Today I just pulled up Adata SU655 960GB SSD on Amazon for $85. I have some Adata drives, no complaints, and the tech reviewers are favorable.

That's $0.0885/GB At that price, I'm willing to forfeit the benefits of Trim and boot Macs on clones connected by USB 3. The price per GB gets higher in the Adata line, at least, as total size rises, but a $27 240GB drive is even more disposable. The 120GB at $18 is less than I've paid for many USB flash drives.

StarTech offers a couple of USB to SATA adapters starting at $8.99. The USB-C to SATA adapter at $19 offers 10Gb/s.
 


Normally, I erase the boot drive, do a clean installation of the new OS, then migrate the files and settings back. I'm hesitant to erase the fusion drive, as I don't want to break the fusion.
So long as you just use "Erase" on the Macintosh HD volume, it should not break the Fusion functionality.

Is it too much of a jump to install Mojave on top of Yosemite? If so, what is the best way to do this upgrade?
An in-place upgrade from Yosemite to Mojave is fine, and that is probably how I would do it.

Will Disk Utility from Yosemite doing an internet recovery startup allow me to erase the boot partition without breaking the fusion?
Yes, as per above, that should work fine.
 


I have been building my own using either G-Tech G-Drive Mobile drive cases or Buffalo MiniStation cases.
I need to append my earlier comments about "building my own" SSD Thunderbolt external, using the G-Drive Mobile in particular: The installation where I installed that earlier this year experienced a meltdown, which I traced to the overheating of the SSD in that external case. The beefy case has a lot of metal, and I expected it to dissipate heat adequately but it did in fact run hot to the touch and the drive did in fact get way too hot according to a post-mortem with DriveDX. I was using a Crucial 1TB M550 SSD. I have not yet tried putting a different SSD in the case, I will -- on a testing basis, not a live installation, at this point. I'd like to determine if all that heat is endemic, or if my drive failed on its own and overheating was a symptom, not a cause. Just be careful of this hazard if you "roll your own" as I've described.
 


The installation where I installed that earlier this year experienced a meltdown, which I traced to the overheating of the SSD in that external case.
The Crucial M500 you mentioned is subject of a teardown here:
Gough's Tech Zone said:
Since the case seems to be held on by easily accessible screws, you could possible remove the "works" from the case and place in your enclosure, recycling the internal thermal pad to connect directly with the aluminum external case.

But is the heat generated by the SSD itself, and trapped in its factory case, then further trapped into the external enclosure, or is much of it generated by Thunderbolt 3? I don't have any Thunderbolt 3 devices, but plain old USB-C thumbdrives get very hot.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I need to append my earlier comments about "building my own" SSD Thunderbolt external, using the G-Drive Mobile in particular: The installation where I installed that earlier this year experienced a meltdown, which I traced to the overheating of the SSD in that external case.
All the external cases I've seen for NVMe SSDs are designed for a thermal pad to connect the SSD to the external case to aid cooling. The Fledging USB-C case even has a tiny fan built in, though, oddly, their Thunderbolt case doesn't.
 


I'm looking for an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure that takes at least two NVMe drives, 2TB each. This is for a desktop application. Having a hard time finding something, and what I've found at Newegg is outrageously expensive. OWC doesn't seem to have one.

I'm planning on using the drives at RAID 1. I'm upgrading from an old Thunderbolt 2 OWC case - 4 drives including 3 older/smaller SSDs that are spanned - only way to get enough room. My image collection (≈15k pix, ≈1.3 TB) lives on it. The drive is outrageously noisy. OWC shrugged off my complaint, so I live with it. Since I work images in real time from these drives,and TIFF files can get huge, I think NMVe would give me near boot drive response? Anyone working a setup like this?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch


All the external cases I've seen for NVMe SSDs are designed for a thermal pad to connect the SSD to the external case to aid cooling.
I looked and found no direct comparison report on thermal differences among 2.5" SATA III, M.2 SATA III, and M.2 NVMe.

I did find this which explains the differences, though without benchmarks.

MSI FAQ said:
MSI FAQ Note this is a downloadable PDF
One of the most pressing concerns with PCI-e (NVMe) SSD is its greater susceptibility to temperature throttling. Due to the slim form factor, SSD’s inability to effectively disperse heat gives an easily overheat result under heavy load. Once SSD’s temperature reaches a certain threshold, SSD’s overheating protection mechanism will be activated and may cause the performance drop, or even worst forced the system shut down.
The FAQ is dated June, 2016. Things have improved since, including motherboard designs that expose NVMe capable slots to better air-flow and heat sinks on the drives themselves. Still, it is necessary to get that heat away from the drive, which makes choice of an external enclosure important.

For many use cases, a "cooler" running and cheaper 2.5" SATA III or M.2 SATA III may be the economic choice.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Longevity and throughput of electronics are not helped by excessive heat, or throttling to help gear survive that heat.
Here's a related article:
Photography Life said:
M.2 NVMe Drive Overheating and Failure Issues
Without a doubt, the release of ultra-fast M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD drives has played a huge role in not only the IT world as a whole, but also in the photography community, where more and more photographers are choosing to build their own machines in order to speed up their photography workflow. Using M.2 NVMe drives for storing Lightroom catalogs, RAW files and cached data can speed up performance considerably, which is why many photographers, including myself, have been choosing these drives for our needs. However, after using M.2 NVMe SSD drives in my PC builds, I realized that they come with overheating problems, which can potentially lead to more frequent failures than hard drives or standard SSD drives. Having seen a couple of M.2 drive failures in the past few years, and having recently experienced a complete drive failure myself in a build that is less than two years old, I wanted to warn our readers about use of these drives in their environments.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
That OWC NVMe Thunderbolt 3 case is only one x1 lane per NVMe drive, so to get the full R/W speed you need all 4 slots populated and running the drives in RAID0.
Yes, I did some benchmark testing, and we figured that all out and documented it here previously. (It is also noted in the Amazon reviews.)
 


That OWC NVMe Thunderbolt 3 case is only one x1 lane per NVMe drive, so to get the full R/W speed you need all 4 slots populated and running the drives in RAID0.
I have several of these enclosures and can tell you that RAID 4/5 is pretty fast, as well. And with that, you get space and redundancy. While I would like to have more lanes per NVMe drive, I think that you are somewhat limited, unless there's a way to use two or more Thunderbolt 3 connections per enclosure.
ThunderBolt Technology
  • 40 Gbps Thunderbolt™ 3 – double the speed of Thunderbolt 2
  • Bi-directional, dual-protocol (PCI Express and DisplayPort)
  • 4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3
So, even if the OWC enclosure connected the additional lanes, the connection to the computer can't use them.
 


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