OWC has long been a leader in storage solutions. Everything from enterprise-class networked systems to everyday portable media is in the brand's catalog. Today, we are going to look at something right in the middle—the OWC Jupiter Mini Desktop NAS—and find out if it's a good option for creators and filmmakers. Not as basic as a USB drive and nowhere near as complex or expensive as a rack-mounted system, the Jupiter Mini appears to be the ideal option for a filmmaker with a growing business who needs to keep their data accessible and protected.
The Importance of Storage Solutions
Less flashy than a new camera or lens, advanced storage solutions for filmmakers don't often get the spotlight. This should change. Working filmmakers and videographers will quickly realize that a more serious storage solution is critical to their business. The Jupiter Mini is a great upgrade from what is potentially an assortment of portable drives strewn across a desk or drawer.
One of the biggest reasons everyone should have their own NAS is that they can be configured as arrays in much safer RAID configurations that allow for drive failures without loss of data. The 5-bay Jupiter Mini is configured as RAID-Z1 (similar to RAID 5), which will protect against a single drive failure. Assuming you are ready to act when the NAS warns of a drive failure you can be sure you won't lose any data.
For obvious reasons, losing some project files or even the original media can be catastrophic.
Let's look at the core features and specs of the Jupiter Mini:
5 x 3.5" SATA Drive Bays
2 x 10Gb Ethernet | 2 x 1Gb Ethernet
Available in 20, 40, 80, & 100TB Configurations
Pre-Configured in RAID-Z1 (Comparable to RAID 5)
Intel Xeon Processor | 32GB ECC RAM
Among the biggest claims of the Jupiter Mini—and what makes it appealing for individuals and small workgroups—is that it is easy to set up and maintain. OWC says there is no need for an IT person. It also runs the open-source TrueNAS SCALE operating system, which can run automatically in the background with basically no oversight.
I'm not an IT person, but I am very familiar with computers; I'm a little more experienced in troubleshooting and networking than simply setting up my own Wi-Fi at home. Looking at the quick setup guide for the Jupiter Mini I will say that this is incredibly simple. Nearly anyone should be able to follow these instructions to get their NAS set up.
After popping in the drives, which are secured with a very satisfying click, and then plugging the NAS into a 10Gb adapter, I spent about 2 minutes configuring the networking on my Mac before I was up and running. That is dead simple. However, if a problem were to arise for the average person, it might be in terms of understanding some of the basic requirements to get things running. The terms and settings are not intuitive. Fortunately, if they make it to the initial setup that should be almost all they need to do for years.
Running into issues is where you'll need a basic understanding of terms and networking if you want to have any hope of getting it working without reaching out to OWC's support. In any event, the brand’s support is great.
I had an issue where I set the NAS up with a static IP, yet my Mac would not connect to it via Finder's connect to server method. Accessing the Jupiter Mini's TrueNAS OS via a browser was possible so I headed there and discovered that the SMB service was not activated. I flipped a switch there and was up and running.
I didn't need an IT guy to set this up and I believe that OWC's support team would've diagnosed the issue quickly, but I want to point out that these are professional tools and not exactly designed for anyone to walk in off the street and start using. I know many photographers and filmmakers who would be calling me to sort this out if they purchased this NAS.
But this is still easier than building your own NAS and likely to be a simpler setup than many other off-the-shelf solutions. OWC did all the work getting it configured and in a very usable RAID-Z1 that made the drives instantly available once the connection was made.
The Jupiter Mini is never going to match the performance of an SSD connected directly to your computer. Even at theoretical maximums of the 10Gb Ethernet connection you are looking at 1,250 MB/s transfer speeds. You'll never see that with any device. What is important is real-world consistency. Over the course of a week testing different types of files, I saw OWC's stated 600-900 MB/s. With a single computer connected directly through an 10Gb adapter it was running in the 700s for write speeds and 900s for read speeds. That's excellent. It consistently hit those numbers over multiple tests.
Transferring over 6GB of mixed video files, including some raw clips, took less than 10 seconds. You can easily dump your daily media without fearing a terrible slowdown or having to go find something to do for hours before you can get started. And once the media is up, anyone on the network can access the files with ease and speed.
Playback of the files was smooth. A 300 Mb/s ProRes RAW file opened as if it was stored locally. I browsed a few other files, and the NAS had no problem loading them up.
Could you edit a project with media off the NAS? Maybe, but you also shouldn't be doing that. These transfer speeds make it ideal for sharing files or archiving projects. You could store your essential graphics and files on the NAS and pull them whenever you need. You can access your most recent projects to find files to use in new systems without going to cold storage.
If you haven't used many RAID arrays you will want to make sure you are getting enough storage. I was working with the base 20TB model, which, to account for protecting your data, ends up with more than 14TB of usable space. For my needs this is sufficient, but I can imagine that many filmmakers and videographers would be better served looking at the higher-capacity models.
As a final point, the Jupiter Mini is a desktop NAS that could live right next to your computer—and your ears. Between the 3.5" SATA drives spinning and the fans keeping them cool, disk arrays can be loud. Fortunately, I can report that the Jupiter Mini is quiet, and unless you are in a critical environment for audio, this will be no big deal. Besides noise, one thing I did note was that I could feel it through vibrations in the desk on some occasions.
Strengths & Shortcomings
+ Fast with ~750 MB/s write and 950 MB/s read speeds
+ Great I/O with two 10Gb and two 1Gb Ethernet ports
+ Quality construction and relatively quiet
+ Pre-configured and tested as RAID-Z1
+ Open-source TrueNAS SCALE OS
+ Easily upgraded RAM and easy-to-replace drives
- Limited support in provided guides if troubleshooting is required. However, it’s worth noting that OWC does have online guides and free phone support for setup in case you do need some extra help.
The Jupiter Mini is a fast, reliable NAS that is easy to set up and start using. It is an excellent option for filmmakers looking to upgrade their storage system to something more professional and reliable. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a lot of networked storage and isn't ready to take on the challenge of building their own system.
What do you think of the Jupiter Mini? Let us know in the Comments section, below.