Thanks to raw files ballooning in size from the never-ending megapixel war camera manufacturers have waged, photographers have had to deal with storage issues. Many photographers end up moving files onto cheap external hard drives as a quick fix to make room on their computers, which inevitably end up getting tossed into a drawer or cabinet. Most of these external hard drives are poorly organized, never adequately maintained, and lack any sort of redundancy in the event of hardware failure. This is why RAID storage solutions like the LaCie 2big RAID have become go-to options for many creatives with demanding workloads that require large storage footprints.
For this review, we tested the 8TB model of the LaCie 2big RAID. 4TB and 16TB options are also available, and all of the models within the LaCie 2big RAID family are functionally identical save for the difference in storage capacity. And to be honest, there isn’t a lot for photographers to complain about.
Pros and Cons
- Ample amounts of storage space (8TB when configured in RAID 0, 4TB when configured in RAID 1)
- Clean, minimal design
- Quiet operation
- Easy to use configuration and management software
- Supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds via USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connector which is backward compatible with older USB connections
- User serviceable
- Backed by 5-year Rescue Data Recovery Services
- Pricier than standalone external hard drives (MSRP US $529 as tested)
We tested the LaCie 2big RAID with a custom built PC (running Windows 10 Professional, version 1903 – May 2019 Update) and an Apple MacBook Pro (running macOS 10.14 Mojave).
Tech specs for the LaCie 2big RAID taken from LaCie’s official product page.
- Interfaces: USB 3.1 Gen 2 (USB-C)
- Works with: USB 3.0, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3
Internal Storage Medium
- 2 × hot-swappable 4TB Seagate IronWolf Pro 7200 RPM/128MB cache (or greater) Enterprise Class Hard Drives
- Reduce power consumption by pressing the rear button to spin down drives (short press initiates power-saving model long press turns off product completely)
- Kensington® lock compatible
- Preconfigured for Mac and PC
- ExFAT RAID 0
- Hardware RAID 0 (STRIPE) / RAID 1 (MIRROR) / JBOD
- Easy RAID configuration with LaCie RAID Manager
- Aluminum enclosure with improved internal heat dissipation
- Thermoregulated Noctua® cooling fan: effective and whisper-quiet cooling
- LaCie Toolkit Software Suite
- LaCie RAID Manager (provides system monitoring and email alerts for temperature or RAID events)
- The latest version of macOS 10.12 or later / Latest version of Windows 10 or later
- A minimum of 600MB of free disk space recommended
- Power Supply: 100-240V, 50/60Hz; 36W
- Acoustics: Idle mode: 20dBA | Operating mode: 23dBA | Operating max: 34dBA
- Dimensions: 118 x 217 x 93.3 mm | 4.7 x 8.5 x 3.7 in
- Weight: 2.9 kg | 6.4 lbs
- LaCie 2big RAID
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) cable
- USB 3.0 cable
- External Power Supply
- Quick Install Guide
LaCie’s approach of marrying minimalist aesthetics with functional industrial design continues with the 2big RAID. The space gray colored enclosure is constructed mostly out of aluminum and matches a lot of Apple hardware photographers will have. The RAID houses a pair of Seagate IronWolf Pro Enterprise-class hard drives within their respective drive bays and comes in at 8.5 in (217 mm) long, 4.7 in (118 mm) wide, and 3.7 in (93.3 mm) tall. These hard drives are hot-swappable and can be accessed easily by pulling on the right side of the drive tray cover. The top drive tray cover is adorned with the LaCie signature blue orb found on almost all of their other storage devices. Under normal operating conditions, the blue orb will turn red as a visual alert in the event of any hardware failure. Besides the two drive trays and the blue orb, there’s not much else to see from the front. Visually, this makes it less intimidating for photographers.
Looking at the back of the LaCie 2big RAID, you’ll find the power button, cooling fan, Kensington lock, power port, and a Thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Type-C) port. Simply plug in the included power supply and connect the 2big RAID to your Mac or PC via a USB Type-C cable and you’ll be able to start moving data onto the device. It’s a straightforward storage solution that has mostly plug-and-play operation.
LaCie’s opted to go with a space gray finish this time around for the 2big RAID’s aluminum enclosure rather than the usual silver-colored brushed aluminum finish found on most of the company’s other products. This is likely because Apple seemed to have made space gray the “default” color for most of its desktops and laptops. While I certainly like the stealthier look of the space gray enclosure, fingerprints, dust, and other blemishes appear to be more noticeable. You’ll probably want to have a microfiber cloth handy if you’re a stickler about keeping it spotless. The aluminum enclosure helps to passively cool the pair of hard drives and other internal components while the Noctua fan in the rear helps to keep temperatures from getting out of hand when the LaCie 2big RAID is under heavy load. Despite the drive tray doors being made from plastic, they don’t feel cheap. Practically speaking, the only time photographers will be popping the drive trays out of the LaCie 2big RAID is if one of the hard drives bites the dust. I’d still have preferred if there was a way to lock the trays so that they won’t be easily tampered with. If you’re the fidgety type, resist the urge to play with the drive tray doors at all cost, lest you want to screw up the storage array.
Ease of Use
Like the LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 which we have previously reviewed, the LaCie 2big RAID is one of the most user-friendly RAID storage devices currently available for photographers. This time around it eschews the card readers and additional connectivity options of a purely a local storage device. Setting the LaCie 2big RAID up is a straightforward affair. The only things you’ll need to connect are the power supply (to a power source) and the USB-C cable (to a desktop or laptop). The hard drives in the 2big RAID come preconfigured in a RAID 0 configuration by default, so we suggest you change the RAID configuration to RAID 1 for redundancy purposes using the LaCie RAID Manager software (see screenshot above). Although this will effectively slash the amount of total storage available in the 2big RAID in half, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that data redundancy provides. You can also configure LaCie RAID Manager to send you an email alert if anything catastrophic happens to your 2big RAID. If you happen to be a photographer who travels a lot, you’ll be glad to know that LaCie has included adapter plates for the included power supply for pretty much every type of power outlet found around the world, so you can take the LaCie 2big RAID with you on the road if you choose.
While the LaCie 2big RAID certainly carries a price premium over conventional external hard drives on the market, most of them aren’t utilizing Enterprise-class hard drives or USB-C/Thunderbolt connections, and they lack the peace of mind that data redundancy provides. The LaCie 2big RAID is practically plug-and-play out of the box, so even photographers with basic computer competency should be able to use it without much issue. Backed by five year Rescue Data Recovery Services along with a five year warranty, you can rest easy knowing your data will be in good hands stored on the 2big RAID.
The LaCie 2big RAID earns five out of five stars. Want to add one into your own setup? You can find it on Amazon.