- Insane read / write speeds
- Small footprint
- A handsome devil
- Noisy fan
- 900 bucks is an awful lot for 240GB of external storage
Hardware and setup
Like many of LaCie's other external storage devices, the new Little Big Disk (LBD) has a ribbed aluminum shell and glowing blue orb on the front that serves as both a power button and drive activity indicator. There's a matching aluminum stand that slides onto the bottom, and around back you'll find a duo of Thunderbolt ports, the power plug and a Kensington lock. Along with the drive itself, you get a power brick, a utilities disc with Intego Backup Manager Pro software onboard and not much else. Unfortunately, you'll have to purchase the necessary Thunderbolt cable separately, but at least it comes with a smattering of plug adapters so world travelers can use the LBD wherever they go.
Hooking the drive up is a snap. Simply plug in the power cable, connect it to the Thunderbolt port on your MacBook Pro and let the data flow. We also connected a monitor with a DisplayPort adapter to the LBD, and the video pass-through functionality worked flawlessly from the jump. The drive has quite a small footprint, as it measures just 1.6 inches wide, 5.5 deep and 3.3 inches tall, so odds are there's room for it on even the most cluttered desks. Though you may not be so keen to have it there, as the fan keeping those dual SSDs cool does make a fair bit of noise. Not as loud as a laptop when the fan kicks on at full bore, but it's a noticeable sound that doesn't stop while the drive is powered on.
Update: After speaking with the folks at LaCie, it turns out that erasing the Little Big Disk -- particularly with a secure wipe like we performed -- can confuse the GUI on Disk Utility and render it unable to reconfigure the LBD. However, we were able to break the RAID using OS X Terminal and then reformat the drive into RAID 1 using Disk Utility. After doing so, we found that the drive performed the 200MB, 1GB, 5GB and 10GB file transfers in the same amount of time as when the drive was in RAID 0. Backups, however, took a little longer than before. Our Time Machine backup took just under 30 minutes, and we were able to create a bootbable backup with Intego in 41 minutes at a rate of 29.8 MB/sec. As expected, speeds from the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test were also slower: 127.4MB/sec writes, and 423.9 MB/s reads.
The included backup software from Intego is a flexible tool that's easy to use. Once you've installed the software from the included CD, customizing it to suit your needs is a painless process. There's a standard tool that allows you to select individual files and folders, and you can schedule backups, create rules and exceptions to handle files the way you want. You can even set your system to sleep or un-mount the drive once it's finished safeguarding your data. Of course, the software also lets you create a bootable backup of your system and set up synchronization of folders as well. It's a comprehensive suite, and one we could see ourselves using regularly.