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SoftRAID and OWC (macsales.com)
 


2016-12-27 at 16:10 #11962   (1)
In the process of setting up a new-to-me 2011 iMac, I downloaded the latest SoftRAID to install. (Earlier versions of SoftRAID have saved my data bacon, so I'm a believer, even in non-RAID configurations.)

I noticed that the copyright statement in their footer says "© 2015 OWC Holdings, Inc." That's the parent entity of OWC (macsales.com). I was a bit surprised! A little checking on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine indicates this happened sometime between October 26, 2015 and November 9, 2015.

I could not find any trace of an announcement on SoftRAID.com or OWC's various domains. But if it enables the continued development of SoftRAID, it's fine by me – OWC has been a fine steward of the venerable Newer Technologies brand. Crossing fingers that they will continue SoftRAID as well; it seems to be an integral part of their newer multi-bay RAID products, so I probably have little to be concerned about.

But worth noting the change.


2016-12-27 at 19:08 #11982   (2)
That's kind of cool news. Because, you know, rockets.

Poking around in the back rooms of OWC, there was this, which certainly reads like SoftRAID is part of OWC:

OWC wrote:Other World Computing Announces All-New SoftRAID Lite and SoftRAID 5.1
Blog version here, both dated Nov. 11, 2015.


2016-12-27 at 19:51 #11984   (3)
Guest
(2016-12-27 at 19:08)Colleen Thompson wrote:  Blog version here, both dated Nov. 11, 2015.
Had known about this for what seems a year now, so the above was probably the post I saw regarding the matter. The redesigned SoftRAID web site a few months later was the other clue. They now have more resources available to them, which can only be a good thing. Have been using this since way back in the WGS days. Today, it gets the most use from me in certifying various HDD, and USB flash drives.


2016-12-28 at 11:10 #12002   (4)
(2016-12-27 at 19:51)Guest wrote:  Have been using this since way back in the WGS days. Today, it gets the most use from me in certifying various HDD, and USB flash drives.
I am given to understand that zeroing out flash cards for cameras improves performance by effectively erasing all the cells. Does this also disable any bad blocks found in the process?

I'm also curious to know if there is any benefit to zeroing out a new SSD; I'm inclined to think not since the drive firmware should be handling block management itself.


2016-12-28 at 15:22 #12028   (5)
Guest
(2016-12-28 at 11:10)Robert Mohns wrote:  I am given to understand that zeroing out flash cards for cameras improves performance by effectively erasing all the cells. Does this also disable any bad blocks found in the process?
Will not profess to being an expert in this field. For me, using SoftRAID to certify disks of various types is a binary process. Put more trust in SoftRAID's certify process for finding defects than Apple's Disk Utility and zeroing out the drive. If a drive fails using SoftRAID with bad blocks I no longer use the drive. If it passes, I feel confident enough to use until the next time I test as long as it has not been reallocating bad blocks. I do use SMART Utility to keep track of my SSD and HDD stats. Usually, I try to backup then test each of my drives once a year or when I feel it appropriate, such as in a move of large amounts of data.

If I had to venture a guess as to why zeroing out a flash card improves performance, I would guess that it has more to do with having a clean slate to write files, much [for] the same reasons why you might run DriveGenius to optimize an HDD or run DiskWarrior to optimize and repair the directory. You can accomplish much the same by backing up a drive, formatting it, and then copying the files back. As for mapping out any bad sectors, yes, that should occur during the process as needed, [a] function of the OS and the disk controller. This is done during the write, not the read, of the sector. So, if a sector fails in a write, it should be mapped out as bad.

(2016-12-28 at 11:10)Robert Mohns wrote:  I'm also curious to know if there is any benefit to zeroing out a new SSD; I'm inclined to think not since the drive firmware should be handling block management itself.
I am of the opinion this is a waste and does nothing more than add wear to the SSD. Here, I would rely more on encryption, FileVault or otherwise, of important data instead of worrying about zeroing data in an attempt to remove any trace.


2016-12-28 at 16:07 #12029   (6)
(2016-12-28 at 15:22)Guest wrote:  ...I am of the opinion this is a waste and does nothing more than add wear to the SSD. Here, I would rely more on encryption, FileVault or otherwise, of important data instead of worrying about zeroing data in an attempt to remove any trace.
On the other hand, certification also tests the rest of the storage system, including the hard drive cable (notoriously defective in some MacBook Pro models).

See also the notes below from SoftRAID:

SoftRAID wrote:Certify your SSDs as well as your HDDs

SoftRAID doesn't just certify rotating drives. You can use SoftRAID's certify feature to test new SD memory cards before you use them in your digital camera, video recorder etc. Whether it's an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card, SoftRAID will let you know if your new card has any bad sectors on it that could put your data at risk. Remember to use at least 2 certify passes; 3 is even better.
Use certify to "revitalize" your SD cards

It's a good idea to regularly "revitalize" or "recondition" your SD memory cards, and SoftRAID's certify can help you do that.

SSDs that don't use TRIM (such as all USB flash media) get slower the more they are used, because instead of actually erasing old data, flash just labels those sectors as "clean". When you need to write to these previously used sections, data has to be erased first, slowing the process down. In addition, the more you write to an SD, the harder it is to find 'clean' areas to write to.

Certifying your SD card will fill the memory with zeros, essentially 'erasing' all the data, and making it behave like new. However, always remember that certifying will erase all the data from your drive, so be sure to back up your data first. (It's not possible to restore data from a card that's been certified as the data has been overwritten with zeros.)

Note: You must use at least a 2 pass certify on any SSD or SD media to recondition the memory.


2016-12-28 at 23:10 #12051   (7)
Guest
(2016-12-28 at 11:10)Robert Mohns wrote:  I am given to understand that zeroing out flash cards for cameras improves performance by effectively erasing all the cells. Does this also disable any bad blocks found in the process?
Are you having a problem where your camera is producing data too quickly to be written to the flash card? If not, what other performance improvment might you be looking for here?

I shoot with a Canon 5D MkII and haven't found a card that's too slow for it... well ever. 25-megpixel images and 1080p, 30fps video. (I suppose high speed video would be the most likely culprit for overloading a memory card.)


2016-12-28 at 23:50 #12053   (8)
(2016-12-27 at 16:10)Robert Mohns wrote:  I noticed that the copyright statement in their footer says "© 2015 OWC Holdings, Inc." Crossing fingers that they will continue SoftRAID as well; it seems to be an integral part of their newer multi-bay RAID products, so I probably have little to be concerned about.
But worth noting the change.
Gee, that's news to me as well. I share your hope nothing changes; SoftRAID works well; the developer(s) are very helpful, and the software is a usable alternative, while Apple's Disk Utility remains flakey.


2016-12-29 at 00:31 #12054   (9)
As a long time artist/professional photographer/reporter/journalist for small town newspaper, etc., with a bit of technical expertise on the subject, I offer a few notes on this topic. It is widely held and supported by several experiments - none of which would pass scientific rigor - but still of value, that a card (particularly newer, faster, large capacity CF cards) are best served being reformatted in camera, allowing the manufacturer's routines and file system to be installed fresh.

Mostly CF and SD cards use the ancient FAT system, though use of the newer XFat structure is growing, due to increased efficiency. Given a camera that can shoot 14fps, each of which is 25-40MB in size, one can see just how valuable speed and efficacy in a file system becomes. (The current Canon 1Dx Mk II can shoot 30+ RAW shots before it begins to bog down due to the write buffer becoming full.)

I often return home having covered back-to-back girls' and boys' basketball games with a 128 GB (running at 160MP/s) card over 60% full. I am not a "spray and pray" photographer, but trying to catch a fast break all the way to the ball hitting the rim does benefit from being able to capture much of the extremely quick action. I shoot with identical parallel cards, writing to them simultaneously. This is a "just being careful" policy on the off chance I have card failure.

The latest cameras are now offering in-body, low-level formatting, which does block-checking and other nice things. The newly established Cfast standard provides even faster write speeds, and only Nikon and Canon's latest top-of-the-line tools (1D--- and D---) have begun this, as it requires a different architecture. It's backward-compatible but much quicker. Needless to say, these cards are about 2.5X more expensive than high-end conventional cards. When I look at the stack of two dozen or so cards all outdated by increased size and faster write speed, I can only shake my head at the money spent.

As for SoftRAID, I couldn't even begin to handle the complex 8-drive/dual-enclosure storage system that provides the work drive, immediate backup followed by secondary and then tertiary redundancy to "long term" storage. My several interactions with SoftRAID have been with a single person who is technically superb, though a bit short on "bedside manner." Hopefully OWC will continue to support and expand this critical tool. Without SoftRAID, I would be forced into hardware-based RAID at a dramatically increased cost.


2016-12-29 at 15:14 #12087   (10)
(2016-12-29 at 00:31)bizbeblu wrote:  Mostly CF and SD cards use the ancient FAT system, though use of the newer XFat structure is growing, due to increased efficiency.
I assume you mean exFAT. It's a good file system (especially for flash cards used in video cameras, much less so for primary storage) but it is unfortunately encumbered with Microsoft patents and restrictive licenses, which means there is questionable utility in using it on cards that must be shared among many different computers running many different operating systems.

Current versions of Windows and macOS support exFAT. We can assume that Apple is paying for a license. Although Linux has support, it is not integrated with the kernel, due to fact that there is no license, and Microsoft could choose to sue in the future. (See also this Linux Magazine article.) A lack of a formal license also means that the Linux implementation is based on reverse-engineering and may not completely align to the (non-published) spec.

Note that exFAT is completely different from FATX. FATX is a variant of FAT (incompatible with normal FAT) used by XBox-series consoles. As far as I know, this is only used by the XBox platform.