Mac OS X’s included Disk Utility may be more flexible than you think. One enterprising Mac user named Daniel Blade Olson has managed to craft together a RAID system using, of all things, a series of
RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks, is a common way for users of multiple, identical hard disk drives to spread out data across them either to improve overall performance or overall reliability. Apple’s Disk Utility included with Mac OS X supports this capability, providing a way for users to create RAID Level 0 — with data striped to two or more drives, for enhanced performance; or RAID Level 1 — disk “mirroring,” which duplicates data on two or more mechanisms for enhanced reliability.
The Web site documenting this odd effort came to light earlier today following a post by Cory Doctorow on the popular
Web log. Olson told Maccentral that he’s delighted with the attention the site has gotten so far.
Olson — Manager of Sales and Marketing at peripheral maker Y-E Data Corp. — started out with a Bondi Blue iMac upgraded to 500MHz with a Sonnet Harmoni G3 running Mac OS X 10.2.4. He connected five of his company’s 1x USB floppy drives to the iMac, formatted five floppy diskettes, and ran Mac OS X’s Disk Utility. Less than 20 minutes after starting his effort, according to Olson’s calculations, he’d created a viable floppy-based RAID system with a whopping 3.9MB capacity.
Olson said his unique floppy RAID is faster than a single drive, and it definitely works: He was able to transfer a 3.6MB MP3 file to the new RAID array in about 32 seconds. Not content to leave well enough alone, Olson has duplicated his success with an array of Y-E Data’s 2x USB Floppy Drives, as well. “It was able to transfer the same awesome DEVO song in just 16 seconds,” noted Olson enthusiastically. He’s also done the same with a collection of Y-E Data’s Sony Memory Stick readers.
The oddball RAID systems may be little more than curiosities to most folks, but as an avid Mac enthusiast and professional Olson is hoping that his “USB FDD RAID” serves as an inspiration, too.
“I hope it also inspires people to try stuff with their computers and push them to do things that no one else has,” he told MacCentral. “This is how we can innovate. I love OS X because it is so flexible and stable that I can do such a wacky project so easily.”