SoftRAID News

SoftRAID 6.2.1 – Better Than Ever

With any software product which has been shipping for a long time, it is important every so often to stop working on new features and instead spend time fixing difficult bugs and performing extensive testing. SoftRAID has been shipping since 2003 and during the past 2 decades, we have periodically switched gears to focus on fixing these difficult bugs. SoftRAID 6.2.1 is the result of one of these efforts. It has been four months of research, testing, and coding to fix these problems.

The work on SoftRAID 6.2.1 started last summer and involved many months of testing, both at our main development location in California and with our hardware team in Taipei. Our testers were focused on duplicating the difficult bugs, some of which only a few of our users had reported. We also had help from Apple engineers understanding some of the undocumented aspects of macOS.

Bugs fixed in this version
Here is a detailed list of what we fixed in this release:

Prevents Disk Utility from hanging macOS when erasing a SoftRAID disk

Since around macOS 10.11, a user could get Apple’s Disk Utility program to hang by selecting a SoftRAID formatted disk and erasing it. They could then force quit Disk Utility, but the Mac was left in an unstable state which did not get fixed until the Mac was rebooted. If the disk remained attached, any application which subsequently tried to access the disk would hang (e.g., Disk Utility or SoftRAID). The Mac would also hang when the user attempted a shutdown or restart, requiring a forced restart by holding down the power button.

After trying many different techniques, we finally figured out how to get macOS not to enter this state. Users must still unmount SoftRAID volumes in the Finder before erasing a disk using Disk Utility as Apple’s program does not understand the connection between SoftRAID volumes and disks.

Prevents a kernel panic when a SoftRAID disk is connected via a USB-A port on an M1 Macs

Ever since the M1 Macs shipped we have known about a kernel panic that occurred when a SoftRAID volume on a USB disk or enclosure is attached to the USB-A port on these new Macs. After lots of research and testing, we figured out how to change the SoftRAID driver so that this kernel panic no longer occurs. It was a simple change but so hard to find.

Prevents a kernel panic when a SoftRAID Time Machine volume is disconnected:

If a user disconnected a SoftRAID volume which is used as a destination for Time Machine backups, before shutting down the Mac, a kernel panic would occur. This was another one that was hard to figure out, but we now have a fix in the SoftRAID driver which works 100% of the time.

Fixes an occasional kernel panic with heavy i/o:

While trying to track down another bug, we found that the Mac would kernel panic after 4 – 6 hours of sustained, heavy i/o. This only happened on Accelsior 4M2 and 8M2 cards which were installed inside a 2019 Mac Pro and not if the Accelsior cards were in a Helios or ThunderBay Flex 8. During our tests, the SoftRAID volume could perform 200 – 400 million reads and writes before the kernel panic occurred. We figured out that this problem happened only when 2 reads or writes happened really close together in a certain specific order. SoftRAID version 6.2.1 contains code to keep this condition from occurring and therefore prevents these kernel panics. We can now run this test for 3 days without encountering this problem.

Reenables validating SoftRAID nonRAID, RAID 0, 1 and 1+0 volumes:

Our users reported that they were no longer able to validate nonRAID, RAID 0, 1 a 1+0 volumes. This bug was inadvertently introduced in the move to SoftRAID version 6.

Fixes a bug that caused the SoftRAID Monitor to display the “Volume Locked” dialog:

After macOS 10.12 started shipping, users started encountering volumes that became corrupted while in use. We spent months investigating this issue and finally determined that it was caused by a disk ID in the OS being reassigned to a different physical disk while in use. After this, all reads and writes which were supposed to go to the first disk would go to the second disk, and all reads and writes to the second would go to the first. With a RAID volume, this very quickly results in a corrupted volume.

As you can imagine, we spent months trying to duplicate and gathering information from users. We also scoured the SoftRAID driver source code looking for what could be going wrong. Then we discovered a user who had it occur with AppleRAID and another who had it occur with a Disk Utility nonRAID volume. Mark, one of our customer support engineers, discovered that if a user kept disks from going to sleep, this problem no longer occurred.

We then figured out how to detect this condition as it was occurring by occasionally reading from the physical disk and making sure the disk’s unique ID agreed with the value read when the disk was first connected. If these two values are not the same, the SoftRAID driver locks all volumes on the disk and the SoftRAID Monitor displays a warning dialog.

Unfortunately, this driver code was mistakenly marking some volumes as locked for a small number of users. This condition is now fixed in this version of the SoftRAID driver.

No more unmountable exFAT volumes:

This one slipped by when we originally added support for exFAT volumes. If a user entered a volume name that was longer than 11 characters either when they were creating an exFAT volume or erasing one, the volume would be unmountable. We fixed this by checking the length of the volume name before creating or erasing the volume.

SoftRAID 6.2.1 for Mac is now available

At OWC, we work constantly to deliver the best software and hardware solutions so our customers have the best computing experience possible. We are excited to announce the release of SoftRAID 6.2.1 for Mac which adds compatibility for macOS Monterey 12.2, as well as bringing new features and improvements to SoftRAID.

Highlights of SoftRAID 6.2.1

– SoftRAID 6.2.1 is compatible with macOS Monterey 12.2.
– IMPROVED: support for exFAT volumes.
– IMPROVED: the driver to mark all SoftRAID volumes as removable in the IORegistry. This prevents a kernel panic when a SoftRAID Time Machine backup volume is disconnected.
– PREVENTS: a hang when erasing SoftRAID disks with Apple’s Disk Utility application.
– PREVENTS: a kernel panic when connecting SoftRAID disks to the USB-A port on M1 Macs.
– FIXED: an occasional kernel panic during prolonged i/o to a SoftRAID volume composed of NVMe blades.
– FIXED: a bug in the SoftRAID driver which causes the “Volume locked” dialog to mistakenly be displayed when a Mac comes out of sleep. Note: Users still receiving this error message in 6.2.1 have a hardware issue where disks are renumbered during sleep.
– FIXED: a problem in the SoftRAID driver which prevents validating nonRAID, RAID 0, 1 and 1+0 volumes.

You can download SoftRAID 6.2.1 here.

OWC Announces Release of SoftRAID 3.0 for Windows

OWC, the premier zero-emissions Mac and PC technology company, and a respected provider of Memory, External Drives, SSDs, Mac & PC Docking Solutions, Network Attached Storage, and Performance Upgrade Kits, announces the release of SoftRAID 3.0 for Windows. The latest version of its powerful RAID management solution now includes support for RAID 5 on Windows 10 and 11.

SoftRAID 3.0 for Windows enables users to create powerful RAID 0/1/5 solutions for maximum drive capacity, fast data access, and robust data protection. SoftRAID for windows provides faster RAIDs with management and drive monitoring that other Windows utilities fail to provide. SoftRAID’s streamlined interface makes it incredibly easy to set up and manage RAID volumes and provides a level of performance and protection you can’t get with other RAID solutions.

What’s New in SoftRAID 3 for Windows

  • New RAID level: adds RAID 5
  • Compatible: Works with Windows 11 and 10
  • “SoftRAID for windows provides faster RAIDs with management and drive monitoring that other Windows utilities fail to provide. RAID 5 has been one of the most requested features from our users, so we’re excited to add RAID 5 to SoftRAID for Windows and expand the cross-platform capability SoftRAID,” said Rick Rockhold, Vice President Software Development, Windows & Mobile. “RAID 5 opens up the next level of data protection and access to our Windows customers.”

    SoftRAID is ideal for anyone who needs to safely store and backup massive amounts of data, including video editors, audio producers, photographers, and graphic designers.

    SoftRAID Highlights:

  • Advanced: Create RAID 0/1/5 with Windows and RAID 0/1/4/5/1+0 (10) with Macs
  • Universal: SoftRAID works with both Windows and Macs and built-in OWC MacDrive technology lets you seamlessly move SoftRAID volumes between OSes
  • Protected: SoftRAID Monitor constantly watches your disks and alerts you if problems are detected
  • Validated: Volume validation ensures sectors can be read and parity is correct
  • Certified: Checks disks before use to ensure they are safe for data storage
  • Vigilant: Error prediction helps protect against unexpected failure
  • SoftRAID’s core RAID creation and management technology has been finely tuned over 20 years of development. It’s ideal for voluminous data roles including audio/video production and editing, photography, graphic design, database servers, financial applications, and more. Basically, it is the brain for running, maintaining, and protecting your RAID arrays.

    Pricing & Availability

    SoftRAID for Windows 3.0 is a free update for current SoftRAID 2.0 users. To purchase a new license, upgrade from SoftRAID 1.0, or add additional seats to a current SoftRAID license please visit the OWC Software Store (software.owcdigital.com). You can try SoftRAID for FREE with the full featured 14-day trial.

    SoftRAID also ships with select OWC enclosures including ThunderBays, ThunderBlade, Express 4M2, Mercury Elite Pro Quad, Mercury Pro U.2 Dual, and Accelsiors.

    Compatibility
    SoftRAID 3 for Windows compatible with Windows 10 and 11. SoftRAID is licensed per computer, additional discounted seat purchases are available https://software.owcdigital.com.

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    What are customers are saying

    Using SoftRaid for Windows Lite Version and have 2 Western Digital M.2 NVME SSD’s in Raid 0 and speeds are incredible. No issues whatsoever. What we love is that SoftRaid for Windows supports TRIM while Windows build-in raid Does Not. Trim is essential for SSDs drives. Highly recommend SoftRaid for Windows.

    Had issues after upgrading from 5.6.7 to 5.7.3, submitted a request for help and Mark James provided quick response and excellent service to resolve the problems.

    Delighted to see my experience is far from unique! Looks like SoftRaid gets the Nobel Prize for 4.99 Star average! Sure get my vote. Nothing like having support that responds like you’re family! By far best experience in my decades of computing. In a universe by ourselves!

    I wish more companies would take note of how support should be run. Mark offered near immediate response, addressing all my questions in plain to understand English. I wish more companies would take note of how support should be run. Thanks SoftRAID!

    The new version has performed flawlessly! I was just thinking about you guys today and how reliable the software is interacting with my MacBook Pro. I did have some trouble at first but you guys got me back up and running and at the time it honestly seemed like magic.

    Have been using SoftRAID Version 5(.x) since around 2014 with external (Thunderbolt) OWC RAID arrays. Perhaps the best thing I can say is that since then, except for replacing drives from time to time as needed, I’ve barely thought about SoftRAID, everything has just worked.

    But what prompted me to post this review tonight was how quick/helpful/friendly tech support was late today (Friday) helping with recovering a volume. My initial email was answered within a few minutes and after maybe 5-6 back and forths (mostly waiting for me as I was also working on something else), everything was wrapped up about 2 hours later.

    I was a little surprised at the quick response, but realized then I had used support once before for some type of recovery situation (and questions) and had a similar experience. While I’m sure there are plenty of issues that just don’t lend themselves to quick/same-day resolution like this, my (admittedly limited) experience with the tech support folks has been great, nice folks.