One of the first concerns I had about the enclosure was that all the RAID configuration was done by pressing some buttons on the front panel. With a design like this, it would seem at first that changing your array accidentally would be easy to do, resulting in complete data loss. However, there are a few things that need to be done before you can just simply change your RAID settings accidentally. The enclosure’s backside sports 3 sets of DIP switches that allow various RAID modes and need to be configured according the number of hard drives you plan on housing. Confusing to me is why you would offer a four bay drive unit the ability to run RAID modes with only two drives… kind of defeats the purpose of buying a four drive enclosure eh (BTW, I am not Canadian… I just like “eh”)? Anyway, as my pappy always said… “it is better to have more than not enough.” To further complicate, cough, I mean secure things you must power the unit, press and hold the “Mode” button for three seconds, press it repeatedly to find your desired RAID mode, then reach around back and press the “Confirmation” button. Once you do all that, if you did it quick enough, the system (not your computer) will reboot and !!!! you are all set! This “Confirmation” button is hidden in the back behind a little plastic door and is the reason why I am no longer scared of little curious fingers losing my data due to a RAID reconfiguration; and thus, she lives on top of my desk with confidence. You also have to hold down the power button to turn it off… good thinking!
Neighbor to the “Confirmation” button are the F6-pin FireWire, eSATA, and USB ports. The previously mentioned DIP switches, and a removable cooling fan capable of spinning up to 2500 RPMS reside here as well. Wait… I thought I said there were FireWire 800 ports too? And where/how do I power this thing? Look no further than the side for those. As to why StarTech chose to put the DIN power connector on the side, I will never know. I would certainly have liked to see everything on the back panel instead but real-estate is expensive these days I guess.
Now the analyst side of me comes out. While configuring this enclosure for the first time, I decided to load her up with 4 Seagate 1.5 TB drives and run them in a RAID 5 configuration. This seemed the most logical for me as I wanted backup storage and redundancy should a drive fail. However, I couldn’t get it working at all! Everytime I loaded my drives and set the RAID mode, the “error” LED would slap me around and I didn’t know why. I swapped out drives relentlessly, moved them around, but never noticed that there were undocumented LED’s inside to let me know what drive was failing. That is right, I said UNDOCUMENTED, meaning there was nothing online or in the manual stating that they existed. Once the problem drive was replaced everything was smooth sailing.