I've been using OWC RAID drives at my studio for around 15 years, and the Gemini is the latest version we purchased. Ostensibly simply used as an external hard drive to store data, this unit is described by OWC as a "Thunderbolt Dock and Dual-Bay RAID External Storage Enclosure." It can be purchased "empty" of actual drives, like we did, or purchased pre-loaded with capacities up to 40 TB. It holds the standard 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA drives (SSD or HDD). But what makes it a "dock"? There are more ports on this enclosure than my first computer, with connectivity for two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, two USB 3.2, good ol' Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.2, and a front SD 4.0 card reader. This could easily be the hub for a system where one plugged in a laptop, accessed the monitor, mouse and keyboard (via the USB), and get a backup going while they got to work. Handy? Yes!

I used to think people who talked about hard drive enclosures and "raw" internal drives were only computer nerds. Now I know better. Recently, I joined the ranks of the nerds, buying empty enclosures and naked SATA drives. Why? So I could get good prices on SATA drives, drop them into a quality unit like this, later popping them out, labeling them for storage, and starting again with fresh drives. This system has now replaced the growing pile of older OWC RAID drives in my office with much smaller Ziplocked baggies of raw hard drives. I prefer to do all our studio tracking onto a RAID system instead of a solitary drive. Setting the Gemini to RAID 1 means that the two internal drives mirror each other, lessening the risk of losing data. Another advantage is that one could skip RAID and install two quite different drives, like using a smaller SSD drive for current work while backing up to a bigger HDD drive – all in one box.

When we installed a new Mac Studio M1 Max computer at Jackpot!, we decided to retire our previous OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual (Thunderbolt 2) as we were now forced into the Thunderbolt 4/3/USB-C universe. The OWC Gemini enclosure looked like a smart addition to this new system – stick with what you know – so we purchased one.

Here's a little side story, and it's totally my fault and I feel dumb: I pulled the two SATA drives from our previous RAID enclosure and tried to swap them right into this enclosure. Don't ever do this! Transfer the data between actual enclosures. My result was two unreadable SATA drives. Luckily, we only lost one mix session out of 1.5 TB of data; our staff had mostly backed up all their work. Why didn't I back them up first? Dumb move, LC.

I'd already purchased two Seagate BarraCuda 2 TB drives ($50 each), and installation was simple. A quick format (via Mac Disk Utility), and we moved over sessions we were all currently in the middle of. It's been the data center of our studio for a month now, and everything is working smooth, plus the fan is quieter than the older OWC enclosure. Is this Gemini drive enclosure/dock overkill for our studio? We don't use any of the ports beyond the first Thunderbolt 3, but the robustness of an OWC drive is what drew me in. Our previous OWC drives held up under constant use for years on end – they make dependable enclosures. Keeping the sessions running is number one at Jackpot!, and I'm sure all our readers understand this need. Back it up and keep tracking!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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