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Question About SoftRaid Manual: Certifying Disk In Mac.....

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(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member

Upgraded the computers in early '21 to mid '21 and got on SoftRaid with a ThunderBay Flex 8 last Fall. Still learning a lot. Some questions persist. So.....

I am currently on the Mac OS the computers shipped with. Big Sur was out but they shipped with Catalina 10.15.7 -- out of an abundance of caution and being in no rush, I never updated the Mac OS. Now, because I am in-between projects with current backups on known good (certified, mirrored, you name it) drives, I am considering an OS update due to some minimum system requirements for video applications now requiring at least Big Sur. So here is my question...

If I do this, and if I do a clean/fresh install, it seems like it would be now or never if I were so inclined to certify the disk in my Mac just for certainty. To be clear, I understand that the Mac OS on the startup volume needs to be the same as the version on the normal startup volume, so it seems the way I would need to do this is to update the OS first, then create the external startup volume, and reinstall the same OS by rescue booting the Mac. This is my question that I've had about this specific part of the manual for a year now:

When the manual says: "Then you can install Mac OS X onto it by rescue booting your Mac. The version of Mac OS X on your alternate startup volume should be the same as the version on your normal startup volume to ensure that all SoftRAID operations work correctly."....

In the linked Apple article (from the SoftRaid manual https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201314) it is not clear to me how I would startup from the external volume. It's clear to me about reinstalling the OS X from the  the rescue boot page, but I'm not clear on where/how to load the startup volume. The external startup volume would contain the SoftRaid application, correct? Obviously I would need to get into the program in order to initiate the certification of the internal Mac drive. 

I'm just a little confused on how the process exactly would work, if I were so inclined (and brave) enough to do it. For a variety of reasons (mostly Pro Tools/music related since a good recording computer is to be protected at all costs to me), I don't like updates. But when minimum system requirements force me to update, I just want to understand better how this all works.  

Thanks,

Sean 

 

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 1:51 am
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member

Quick follow-up/additional question (since I don't see a way to edit my original post now). As I investigate into the early morning hours, I now see how to startup from an external volume here ( https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/change-your-mac-startup-disk-mchlp1034/10.15/mac/10.15) but so far as certifying the internal Mac drive goes, does the T2 chip impact/affect/compromise/make this more scary than it already seems? Or would I really just boot from the external boot disk, get into SoftRaid, select the internal Mac drive, certify, and reinstall the OS X? Wouldn't I of course need to create a new "Mac HD" volume after certification, given that certification destroys all volumes and data? Is that how the whole process would work?

 

(the reason I ask about the T2 chip is due to finding this on another page from Apple: Important: The storage drive of a Mac with an Apple T2 chip is encrypted with keys tied to its hardware to provide advanced levels of security. Because the encryption features make it difficult to recover files, it is critical that you set up Time Machine or another backup plan to back up the contents of your computer to an external drive regularly.)

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 2:03 am
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member

One final apology for adding another note in the middle of the night before the thread has been approved (if I could edit and/or delete, I'd make this much shorter and to the point....but I've been stumbling my way through it post 2 a.m. now). I *may* understand now. Still reading and understanding comes slowly to me sometimes, but I think I just got it. If anyone could kindly tell me if this is correct --- or wildly wrong --- I would appreciate it!

To do this, I would have to:

Step 1: Install an external storage device. Load SoftRaid. Certify & Create Volume on External Storage Device. 

Step 2: Rescue Boot the Mac

(Here's where I still have a question but think I might be on the right track)

Step 3: In MacOS Recovery, select "Reinstall Mac OS....."

Question, leading to possible Step 4???

Possible Step 4: At that point, does it present the option to select WHERE to install that Mac OS? If so, then I would select the volume on the external disk, and install the Mac OS onto that????

Possible Step 5: Restart, hold Option, select volume on external storage device to boot from.

Possible Step 6: Now I'd be up and running again from the external volume. Load SoftRaid, select the internal Mac drive, certify THAT. Create new volume upon completion of certification??? (could this please be verified? I'd need to correct?)

Possible Step 7. Shut down, Re-Install Mac OS onto internal drive via MacOS Recovery

Getting some sleep now. Any advice, help, or just clarification will be forever appreciated 

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 2:40 am
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

Attach a SoftRAID tech support file, so I can be more clear.

Note that Apple makes it harder and harder to boot from externals. You can give Carbon Copy Cloner a try, it still works with Big Sur to create Startup volumes. that is your easiest solution.

If you have space on your internal drive, another option is create a new APFS volume inside your "container". It will share space with your existing volume. Only do this set of steps if you are using less than 50% of your total capacity.
Backup non System files and delete them, to help. (Like music/movies, etc.)

Get the Big Sur updater, but install it as a clean install into your new volume.

Either, make this a truly clean install, and install your apps afterwards, or

Use migration assistant and import all data into this new volume. this leaves your Catalina volume working intact. (which is why you need more free space, as this copies everything onto the new volume)

I think this gives the best option for you. Before you are committed, you have two volumes to work with.

Then delete the Catalina volume when you no longer need it.

One other option you may run into, with Catalina, you may have needed to set "reduced" security" to enable SoftRAID to load. I would re-enable that before installing Big SUr (Keep all your external volumes disconnected while going through this update process) You do this in recovery mode again, using csrutil enable to turn it back on.

There is one side effect to having had csr disabled, that future macOS systems may quarantine the SoftRAID driver. you can test this after installing SoftRAID by this terminal command:

xattr /Library/Extensions/SoftRAID.kext

I can give you the long solution to this if it is the case.

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Posted : 11/08/2022 10:57 am
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @softraid-support

@guitarflex 

Attach a SoftRAID tech support file, so I can be more clear.

Note that Apple makes it harder and harder to boot from externals. You can give Carbon Copy Cloner a try, it still works with Big Sur to create Startup volumes. that is your easiest solution.

If you have space on your internal drive, another option is create a new APFS volume inside your "container". It will share space with your existing volume. Only do this set of steps if you are using less than 50% of your total capacity.
Backup non System files and delete them, to help. (Like music/movies, etc.)

Get the Big Sur updater, but install it as a clean install into your new volume.

Either, make this a truly clean install, and install your apps afterwards, or

Use migration assistant and import all data into this new volume. this leaves your Catalina volume working intact. (which is why you need more free space, as this copies everything onto the new volume)

I think this gives the best option for you. Before you are committed, you have two volumes to work with.

Then delete the Catalina volume when you no longer need it.

One other option you may run into, with Catalina, you may have needed to set "reduced" security" to enable SoftRAID to load. I would re-enable that before installing Big SUr (Keep all your external volumes disconnected while going through this update process) You do this in recovery mode again, using csrutil enable to turn it back on.

There is one side effect to having had csr disabled, that future macOS systems may quarantine the SoftRAID driver. you can test this after installing SoftRAID by this terminal command:

xattr /Library/Extensions/SoftRAID.kext

I can give you the long solution to this if it is the case.

Just generated the support file. It is attached. 

Today it looks like the possible is becoming the inevitable, and I'm going to have to update my Mac OS X at least on the video computer. Now it's no longer just camera software but has come to my attention that DaVinci Resolve 18 (which I should upgrade to) will not run on Catalina. The question then returns to how I am going to do this calmly with minimum stress and maximum "rightness." 

Do you suggest only updating to Big Sur and not going to Monterey, given that Apple is phasing out external booting? More importantly,

If I do in fact go 110% and elect to certify the internal disk on the Mac and perform a clean install of the next (Big Sur or Monterey....depending on what is most advisable) OS X, I'm still a bit unclear on what happens after performing certification on the internal NVMe SSD drive. I was reading until 4 am and understand that since Catalina, Apple has a volume it boots from for the OS and a second/separate data volume. Are these created upon installation of the OS X or after a disk certification, would I then have to create any volumes in SoftRaid before re-installing the OS X on the computer? If it sounds like I don't quite know what I am doing, I'm asking all of the questions (including any that may sound stupid) precisely to avoid a catastrophe. 

Alternatively, I suppose I don't really need to Certify the internal disk. Just figured if it was ever going to be on the table, now would be that time. 

Thanks for the help,

Sean 

 

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 2:34 pm
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @softraid-support

One other option you may run into, with Catalina, you may have needed to set "reduced" security" to enable SoftRAID to load. I would re-enable that before installing Big SUr (Keep all your external volumes disconnected while going through this update process) You do this in recovery mode again, using csrutil enable to turn it back on.

There is one side effect to having had csr disabled, that future macOS systems may quarantine the SoftRAID driver. you can test this after installing SoftRAID by this terminal command:

xattr /Library/Extensions/SoftRAID.kext

I can give you the long solution to this if it is the case.

Next Question. I remember this well. It was a big deal at the time since I wasn't sure what I was doing when I started out. I had to go into Recovery Mode, then Startup Utility Manager, and had to change the Security Settings (after reading on the site how it's not really a vulnerability). Then the SoftRaid driver would load. 

I just checked some things and, currently, No Security is still selected and it looks to me like all I would have to do is select the radio-button selector back to "Full Security." Am I missing something here? Why/where would I need to run the csrutil enable? And if so, would I do that from Terminal within Recovery Mode? Is moving the button back to "Full Security" not enough?

Secondly, I just checked to see if my Carbon Copy Clone is bootable, and alas, I had to go back into Recovery/Startup Security Utility, select "Enable External Boot" and restart with Option into the Startup Manager....

When I did, no external disk shown, so either the backup isn't bootable at all, or it's the USB-A hub-powered drive not being recognized that early in the process over a TB3 dock connected to the Mac (hub-powered Seagate connected to the dock via USB-A). I have an Angelbird SSD2Go (that I use with a video switcher/recorder) that I can clear the contents of and try, since that provides a direct USB-C connection

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 5:48 pm
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member

Yet one more update, given the previous note (I'm sort of stumbling forward at a slow harmless pace but stumbling all the same to figure this all out).....

I have the ThunderBay Flex 8. Bay 1 has a 4TB NVMe Aura P12 SSD in it. I just finished an archive last week and offloaded everything so I have a blank 4TB SSD currently. Now cloning to that from Carbon Copy Cloner to see if it can be used as a bootable backup, but in the process, this question occurs to me....

Could I just install the next Mac OS (Big Sur or Montgomery) to the external P12 SSD? Literally run the "updated" OS X for awhile from the ThunderBay and audition it. See if there's that issue with the SoftRaid driver, or if the driver is quarantined. Update my BlackMagic Cameras software at a bare minimum. Perhaps even audition Davinci Resolve 18 and see if it's really enough of an improvement for me to permanently commit to changing the OS on the computer itself. 

Any downside to this or advice to not do this? Of course that precludes certifying the internal Mac disk and fresh installing a new OS which is how this whole thread began but not to belabor the point. Any words of wisdom about trying it out that way, specifically as it pertains to gauging the SoftRaid performance? To see if we'd run into that issue with the driver on an OS update? 

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Topic starter Posted : 11/08/2022 6:29 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

Two things to check for: One is yes, set Startup Security to on.

run this in terminal:

csrutil status

If it says enabled, no problem. If disabled, then you need to startup in Recovery mode and enter

csrutil enable

in terminal.

These were only needed in Catalina. (and Big Sur 11.1, 2 and it was fixed in 11.3)

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Posted : 11/08/2022 10:40 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

Intel can boot from externals still and SoftRAID's driver can load, even in Monterey. So not so much of a problem.

And Carbon Copy Cloner can create a startup volume.

SoftRAID performance is irrelevant to all this, as long as you get the driver loading, all else is OK.

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Posted : 11/08/2022 10:41 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

There is no real need to certify an (in use) SSD, unless you seriously suspect problems.

However, in Disk Utility, you can create a new volume inside your "Container". (APFS is confusing). Install macOS into that and see how you like it. You can delete either volume afterwards.

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Posted : 11/08/2022 10:44 pm
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @softraid-support

@guitarflex 

run this in terminal:

csrutil status

If it says enabled, no problem.

Ran that in terminal. It says enabled. Hopefully this reduces/eliminates the chance of what you said earlier that: "future macOS systems may quarantine the SoftRAID driver." 

Will have to keep you posted. I seem to have confirmed that my Carbon Copy Clone (to the Aura P12 Pro over TB3 -- it was blazing fast to clone) is not currently bootable, so it wasn't as simple as the slow USB-A drive not being recognized over a hub. Once I tried the clone to the ThunderBay and allowed external devices in Startup Security Utility, the computer still doesn't recognize an external device to boot from. I was reading about this on the Carbon Copy Cloner page/site and assume that it's truly not creating a bootable backup now. They say that in order to make a Standard Backup bootable, to install macOS onto the backup disk to make it bootable. However, after downloading a Catalina installer (to make it a Catalina bootable disk, as I'm still on Catalina), I got an Apple notice: "Installation failed. An error occurred while installing the selected updates."

I have not tried since but it's 1:30 am now and perhaps tomorrow will see some steps forward. Right now I'm a little fried from the past few days! Thanks for your help and support.  

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Topic starter Posted : 12/08/2022 1:33 am
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

Catalina on intel should be possible to boot it.

Erase it again with Disk utility.

See if you can command r restart, and install it from there?

This post was modified 4 months ago by SoftRAID Support
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Posted : 12/08/2022 1:04 pm
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @softraid-support

@guitarflex 

Catalina on intel should be possible to boot it.

Erase it again with Disk utility.

See if you can command r restart, and install it from there?

Just to make sure I'm understanding (and to clarify any confusion I may have caused before!), are you talking about the bootable backup via CCC, or are you specifically referring to a bootable Mac OS installer drive/disk/stick? Right now I'm just trying to get my CCC Backup to be bootable. This may necessitate reaching out to the folks at CCC although the help article says I should be able to just download the installer and install it onto the backup disk, which is where I got stuck last night. The Catalina installer didn't download from the App Store but I'm working on re-trying today. I found a long webinar on YouTube linking to a GitHub page where you're supposed to be able to download installers but I'm not sure I want to take a chance with anything that doesn't come straight from Apple so it's back to trying again today. Will keep posted. At this point, obviously it's a CCC support issue but I do thank you for the ongoing help/suggestions/guidance. To be continued.

(from CCC:)

"If your data-only backup resides on a non-encrypted APFS volume, you can install macOS onto the backup disk to make it bootable.

Intel-based Macs

  1. Download and open the macOS Installer: [Catalina(link is external)] [Big Sur(link is external)]
  2. When prompted to select a disk, click the Show All Disks... button and select your backup disk
  3. Proceed to install macOS onto your backup disk"
This post was modified 4 months ago by GuitarFlex
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Topic starter Posted : 12/08/2022 2:25 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

@guitarflex 

You are getting problems, so keep it simple.

initialize your extenal with Apple Disk Utility, startup with command r, and reinstall macOS, and point it to your drive.

DOn't bang your head against the wall when it hurts. Do the Apple approved way. If that does not work, nothing is likely to.

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Posted : 12/08/2022 3:40 pm
(@guitarflex)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @softraid-support

@guitarflex 

You are getting problems, so keep it simple.

initialize your extenal with Apple Disk Utility, startup with command r, and reinstall macOS, and point it to your drive.

DOn't bang your head against the wall when it hurts. Do the Apple approved way. If that does not work, nothing is likely to.

We have major progress but now a very specific SoftRaid question. Just spent 45 minutes on the phone with AppleCare which sorted out the installer issues and I very conclusively do now have an installer for Catalina (to get a bootable backup).

I cloned the computer to the ThunderBay slot 1, Aura P12 NVMe SSD. CCC help says to install the macOS to the backup drive. When I open the installer now, it tells shows the external volume but is greyed out with a note "You may not install to this volume because it is part of a SoftRAID." The volume was created as a non-RAID. 

I can certainly use Disk Utility instead and start over, but wanted to ask here before erasing the clone and starting over via DiskUtility. Thanks again for the advice. I realize this is taking longer than expected and wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for bearing with me through the process.

SoftRaid notice

 

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Topic starter Posted : 12/08/2022 4:14 pm
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