The Rugged RAID is available in a single configuration: two drives, each of which is 2 TB in size. The Rugged RAID can be set up for RAID 0 or RAID 1, but the array comes set for RAID 0. This mode combines the two drives to give 4 TB of storage and its fastest speed.You can switch the RAID configuration to RAID 1 via two small buttons that are accessed using a paper clip. One button selects the RAID mode and the other confirms the selection. This two button method prevents you from accidentally changing the RAID mode, which would wipe out any data already on the drive.
When set for RAID 1, the drives are "mirrored": data is duplicated across the two drives as it’s written to the array. If one drive fails, you’d still have all of your data. Just as with any RAID system—the Rugged RAID or any other—RAID 1 sacrifices speed compared to RAID 0.
Connection to the drive is either via Thunderbolt, using the integrated cable, or via USB 3.0. By "integrated," I mean that the Thunderbolt cable is permanently attached to the drive. When not in use, the cable wraps around the case, fitting into a slot on three sides. The connector is then nuzzled into the end cap, which covers the end of the drive. The Thunderbolt connection doesn’t need additional power, but the USB connection requires power that’s provided by the included power adapter.
Since "Rugged" is its middle name, it should be noted that not only does the rubberized case help minimize data loss due to drops and occasionally getting run over by a car, it also offers some protection from the environment. Rated for IP54, the LaCie Rugged RAID protects your data from dust and water. Now, IP54 doesn’t mean you can go swimming with it, but it should offer you some peace of mind if rain starts to fall. In order to make sure the drive is protected, you need to ensure that the end cap is in place. The end cap can be used even while the integrated Thunderbolt cable is being used. (This isn’t the case for the USB connection.)
When I tested the Rugged RAID, I dropped it a couple of times from about shoulder height (about five feet). Once, the drive landed on one of its corners; another time, it landed flat on one of its sides. The drive and my data showed no ill effects from this test.
Using the AJA System Test DiskWhackTest with 2 GB (4096×2160) 10-bit RGB, I was getting write speeds of about 241.5 MB/s and read speeds of 238.4 MB/s via Thunderbolt connection to a field-used MacBook Air. (LaCie’s spec is 240 MB/s.) This was in the standard RAID 0 configuration and the drive was about 25% full. With the Rugged RAID set for RAID 1, the speed drops by about one half. But, as mentioned, that speed reduction also provides data redundancy.
Rugged, with great speed performance, large capacity, flexibility in connection and the benefit of not having to keep track of a Thunderbolt cable, this unit makes for a great field drive when your data matters.
The LaCie Rugged RAID works on both Mac and Windows, and has an MSRP of $419.99. It comes with a three-year limited warranty.
Contact: LaCie, www.lacie.com.