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Future Proofing SoftRAID

(@crhendo)
Active Member Customer

I have been using SoftRAID for a number of years now and have been very happy with the product and the support that comes with it. So satisfied in fact that I recently finished consolidating four hardware RAID arrays onto three Thunderbay arrays running SoftRAID.

Before Christmas my plan was to sell my remaining two Thunderbolt 2 RAID arrays on eBay (LacIe 5big and G-Speed Studio). This plan changed however when I was caught up in the Catalina upgrade issues that have haunted this forum over the past few months and am now a little concerned about the future of SoftRAID.

With the introduction of a "more secure" macOS environment where both hardware and software dependencies based around a proprietary Security Chip are now in play, Apple has now effectively created an environment where many 3rd party suppliers such as SoftRAID will struggle to survive.

We are now months into the rollout of Catalina and well into the second release of 10.5.2 without any comforting words from SoftRAID describing how they will play (or survive) in this new world. We hear of "regular meetings" they are having with Apple however to date there have been no outcomes forthcoming.

Naturally it would be great to see a joint press announcement between SoftRAID and Apple detailing how they will work together to allow SoftRAID to be totally integrated into the new secure environment however this should have coincided with the final release of Catalina.

I think it's time for some carefully crafted words from SoftRAID to give us some clue as to how this issue will be solved and allow me to sell my hardware based arrays on eBay before they depreciate to nothing.

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Topic starter Posted : 12/01/2020 11:54 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

SoftRAID is an ongoing technology and is not disappearing.

The problems are complex, but we are staying on top of them as best we can.

Secure Boot: there is no solution on this yet. As I think I have mentioned, worse comes to worse, we have a non-optimal solution for this, but would not implement it before "10.16". We are also anticipating a change in OS X in "10.16" that would enable us to avoid this Secure Boot issue. But 10.16 is not in beta, and when it is, we won't be able to discuss the change, except to say that we do not anticipate with the next OS that Secure Boot will be an issue. Apple is secretive and we are under NDA, so you have to understand that position. But we are already investigating SoftRAID technology for future OS X releases, which should be re-assuring. There are tens of thousands of users of SoftRAID and OWC depends on SoftRAID. So it is not going anywhere.

Booting: You cannot boot from SoftRAID volumes with Catalina. Again, this is something we would like to change, but do not know the future. We anticipate a future driver model in macOS that might enable this again, but it is speculation on our part. For now, we do not know if SoftRAID will ever be able to startup Macs again, but can hope.

APFS: We are taking our time on SoftRAID 6 and APFS support, as APFS is not fully developed yet and there is a huge penalty in performance for using APFS still. We do have APFS support in beta, but are still mapping out how the user experience should be, as APFS is so much more complicated than create a "volume".

Hope this is reassuring. SoftRAID will be around for many years.

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Posted : 14/01/2020 2:18 pm
(@hikingwithcamera)
Active Member Customer

For me, that actually was very encouraging. I will admit to a bit of hesitancy over the Catalina issue. I was on the fence about whether to go the OWC enclosure route with SoftRAID, because I also believe in what Apple is doing in regards to securing the OS. But it's encouraging to hear an update on this and that you are continuing to move forward with plans.

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Posted : 28/01/2020 8:26 am
(@petewilson)
Active Member Customer

SoftRAID is an ongoing technology and is not disappearing.

....
Booting: You cannot boot from SoftRAID volumes with Catalina. Again, this is something we would like to change, but do not know the future. We anticipate a future driver model in macOS that might enable this again, but it is speculation on our part. For now, we do not know if SoftRAID will ever be able to startup Macs again, but can hope.
....

Hope this is reassuring. SoftRAID will be around for many years.

Yet another thought about booting from SoftRaid:

Suppose it can never be done. So here am I with my nice new ThunderBay 4 mini with a couple of 2TB SSDs and a couple of 4TB SSDs. (Honest, it made sense at the time..)

So I softraid the two 4TBs - basically, they're safe storage for photos etc. The 2 TBs are daily working storage and boot disks.

True, I can never boot from them if I softraid them.

But could you not put as it were a 'soft softraid capability' in, which I use one of the disks as a non-softraid boot disk, and my installed softraid simply does an copy to the second 2TB of stuff that's changed, on perhaps an hourly (but user settable) interval. A bit like having Carbon Copy Cloner run regularly...

This would make almost all of the I can't boot from a softraid volume go away for most people - or am I (as usual) missing something important?

Thanks!

-- P

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Posted : 29/06/2020 10:14 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Apple has no interest in any capability of starting from RAID volumes. So we are considering ideas to help ensure users are actively backed up, both in their boot volumes and Data.

We have nothing to announce at this time, but what we do will depend on the direction Apple goes with Silicon on a Chip (ARM) processor technology and other technology.

Apple claims they have "adequate' backup methods for more critical users, but it is not encouraging when even Target Mode is disappearing. So there may be plenty of opportunities for third parties to add value here.

Thanks!

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Posted : 29/06/2020 10:24 pm
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