Review: LaCie Rugged Raid Thunderbolt 4TB Hard Drive

There are certain products that I believe can’t be reviewed properly in a month, and the LaCie Rugged Raid Thunderbolt 4TB drive is one of them. Sometimes drives fail after a while, sometimes they start to slow down, and sometimes they can really put a damper on the needs of a photographer. For years though, LaCie drives have been very popular with many photographers and they continue to be. Considering that many of us are Apple users too, you’ve got access to something as awesome as Thunderbolt. LaCie’s Rugged RAID Thunderbolt 4TB hard drive has been around for a while, and if you’re a power user and use a Mac, you’ll want to grab this one.

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Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Truly rugged
  • Fell down a couple of times and kept working
  • Never lagged in performance
  • Significantly faster at transferring images so you can do more important stuff

Cons

  • A tad expensive, but it makes a lot of sense.

Gear Used

The LaCie Rugged RAID Thunderbolt 4TB hard drive was tested with the MacBook Pro 13 inch from 2012 and every single camera and lens that we’ve tested since November 2015.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from LaCie’s website.

Capacity
Internal Storage Media
Interface
Interface Transfer Rate
Performance Benchmark
RAID Modes
All-Terrain Resistance
Software
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Weight
System Requirements
Box Content
Comments
  • LaCie Rugged RAID 4TB
    LAC9000601
4TB
2 x hard drives
Thunderbolt™ bus Powered
USB 3.0* (USB 2.0** and UAS compatible)
Thunderbolt: 10 Gb/s
USB 3.0: 5 Gb/s
Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 (in MB/s)***:
RAID 0: 240 reads | 240 writes
RAID 1: 115 reads | 120 writes
Preconfigured RAID 0
Hardware RAID 0 / 1
Easy RAID selection
  • Dust & Water: IP 54 rated
  • Shock: drops up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) (in non-operating mode)
  • Pressure: 1 ton (1000 kg / 2205 lbs)▲
  • Theft: password protection with AES 256-bit software encryption
  • LaCie Setup Assistant (easily format and create partitions for use on Mac®, PC, or both)
  • LaCie Private-Public (password protection with AES 256-bit software encryption)
  • LaCie Backup Assistant
34 x 91 x 148 mm / 1.3 x 3.6 x 5.8 in.
0.56 kg / 1.2 lbs
  • Computer with a Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, or USB 2.0** port
  • Operating system:
    • Thunderbolt: Mac OS® X 10.6.8 or later
    • USB 3.0: Latest version of Windows Vista®, Windows 7, Windows 8 / Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • Minimum free disk space: 600MB recommended
LaCie Rugged RAID with integrated Thunderbolt cable
USB 3.0 cable (USB 2.0 compatible**)
Removable cover and spare
Power supply*
Quick Install Guide
* With USB 3.0 it is necessary to use the included external power supply
** For optimal performance, the product must be connected to a USB 3.0 host port.
*** These transfer rates were achieved using AJA System Test when connected to a Mac computer. Actual data rates may vary depending on operating environment and other factors, such as chosen interface, RAID mode, and disk capacity.
▲ Determined by a test that approximates a real-world scenario in which the hard drive remained functional, despite aesthetic damage, after the product was driven over by an approximately 1-ton car (1000 kg / 2205 lbs).When referring to drive capacity, one gigabyte, or GB, equals one billion bytes and one terabyte, or TB, equals one thousand billion bytes. Your computer’s operating system may use a different standard of measurement and report a lower capacity. In addition, some of the listed capacity is used for formatting and other functions and will not be available for data storage.

Ergonomics

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The LaCie Rugged RAID is indeed a rugged drive. See all that orange around it? That’s rubber–weathersealed rubber. It’s also got a lot of cushioning for shock protection. The front of my drive is scratched because it’s travelled with me and I’ve pretty much beat it up. It’s designed for it and nearly half a year later it’s still working very well.

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The drive has a built in cable that helps with its rugged design. This is convenient and also keeps the number of ports down to a minimum. The top of the drive is where the end is stores and it’s sealed with the giant piece of orange rubber you see.

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When you get to the top, you’ll find a DC cable port as well as a USB 3.0 port. But if you’re a Mac user, then you’ve got no real big reason to use the USB port.

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The cord wraps around the drive with ease. Just make sure that you tuck it in properly.

Build Quality

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So what have I done with this drive?

  • It’s been scratched by my keys
  • Went through x-Rays at airports multiple times
  • Been dropped a few times
  • Survived a rain storm with relatively little external protection

Oh and of course I’ve used it. What I really like is how the extra rubber flap on top really secures itself very snuggly. You never not know if it’s going to be secure or not.

Ease of Use

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Essentially what you’ll find yourself doing is plugging it into the computer, letting it boot up, offloading and loading images and files onto it, and working accordingly the way you would with any other typical drive. You’ll know that it’s working if the orange light comes on.

The toughest part is the initial startup. I recommend making sure that the drive has a bit of power in it first. When it boots  it will boot up two different partitions. When you eject, you need to eject both. It’ll also do some weird things too: for a month I left it plugged into my MacBook and in the middle of the night the light would come on, blink for a while, stay on for a while and then disappear after maybe like 15 or 20 minutes. Mind you, my Macbook would be asleep at night too. I recommend disconnecting it when the computer isn’t on. Depending on which MacBook you’ve got too, you’ll also need to cater to possibly being hard wired into your modem at home. If you’ve got more than one Thunderbolt device plugged in (such as by using an ethernet cable to Thunderbolt) then your computer may accidentally eject the drive. However in my months of testing the drive I’ve never had any sort of corruptions. It’s very reliable and I love it.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer LaCie rugged raid thunderbolt 4TB product images (3 of 13)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 3.5

These drives are best for the photographers who either have loads and loads of images over the years, shoot very often for commercial reasons, or travel a lot (like me.) It’s great to carry along into a cafe or something like that to edit off of; and because of the Thunderbolt capabilities you’ll get less lag through Lightroom accordingly when editing images off of the drive vs your own hard drive on the computer.

Of course if you’re traveling then you’ll also see to bring calibration devices with you for your screen; just remember that tidbit folks!

If you choose to use the USB 3.0 connection, you’ll kind of get spoiled by how fast Thunderbolt is and go back almost immediately. However, it’s a nice additional option.

Conclusions

The LaCie Rugged Raid Thunderbolt 4TB is pretty expensive, but it’s worth it for the photographer that absolutely needs faster transferring abilities, travels a lot, needs excellent protection, and can afford to spend a bit more. Of course, if you’re careful then you can negate all of these things. As it is, I’d even recommend still being careful with these, but things surely do happen.

Phoblographer-Star-rating

LaCie Rugged Raid Thunderbolt 4TB drive receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check the Amazon listing for the latest prices.