Like so many other photographers and filmmakers working with high-resolution imagery, I never seem to have enough free storage on my external drives. Ever on the lookout for more space and faster transfer speeds, I was excited to try LaCie’s 18TB 1big Dock, a desktop powerhouse designed with creative workflows in mind. Could this be the next home for my archive?
With “big” in its name, I expected a hulking drive that would never budge from my desk once I plugged it in. I was pleasantly surprised upon opening its box to discover a much more portable device than I had envisioned. Would it replace the 5TB Rugged drive I take with me every day? Let’s not get carried away. However, should I need to take the 1big Dock on the road, it is reassuring to know that I can do so without it being much of an ordeal. Weighing a very manageable 3.75 lb, it can easily fit in a backpack or camera bag.
The 1big Dock has a desktop footprint of 4.2 x 8.55"—roughly the depth of a small laptop. It features a minimalist, all-black finish, aluminum housing, and blue indicator light. The first attribute that caught my attention out of the box was the drive’s front interface, which includes SD/SDHC/SDXC, CF, and USB 3.0 Type-A ports. Eliminating the need for card readers, you can plug compatible cards directly into the drive to speed up workflow. The USB 3.0 port can be used to transfer data from mobile devices quickly or to connect additional peripherals. All thoughtful additions for photographers, I wish these were more common on desktop drives.
On the other side of the device, the 1big has two Thunderbolt™ 3 ports: a host port to connect to your computer and a peripheral port, which can be used to daisy-chain up to six additional devices. I was able to back up files quickly from my Rugged Drive to the 1big Dock without having to worry about occupying another port on my computer. The 1big Dock can also provide up to 70W of pass-through power to your laptop if you plug your laptop’s USB-C power supply into the drive’s peripheral port. Without a power cord, the peripheral port can still provide 45W of power to one device or 30W when daisy-chaining multiple devices. There is also a DisplayPort 1.4 video output for playing 8K / 60Hz, 4K / 120Hz, 1080p, and 720p video.
At the heart of the drive is a Seagate IronWolf Pro 7200 rpm SATA 3.5" HDD, capable of 300TB/year workloads. LaCie advertises a maximum read speed of 280 MB/s and write speed of 240 MB/s. Using Blackmagic Design’s Disk Speed Test, I was able to clock a slightly slower 262.8 MB/s read speed and slightly faster 242.6 MB/s write speed. Expanded results from the test can be found in the table above. For my purposes, this is more than fast enough. If you are working with 8K footage, however, LaCie makes 2TB and 4TB SSD versions of the 1big Dock, capable of transfer speeds up to 2800 MB/s.
LaCie provides a five-year product warranty, as well as Rescue Data Recovery Services—perks that are well worth the five minutes of sign-up time. Proprietary Toolkit software is also available for download, which lets you schedule backups and sync files across devices. A more organized version of myself would take better advantage of these features. The drive comes preformatted exFAT for Mac and Window compatibility but can be reformatted if needed. If you ever need to swap out or remove the HDD, the front of the enclosure opens via a button on the side of the drive.
There is a lot to like about LaCie’s 1big Dock if you are a photographer. The many ports and pass-through power option are useful additions to a high-performing drive. As someone working with medium format cameras for stills and full-frame cameras that record video, an upgrade from CF to CFast and CFexpress ports would be more useful for my specific workflow. This switch has already been implemented on the SSD versions of the 1big Dock and I would expect future iterations of the drive to match whatever cards photographers and videographers are using more closely at that later date. The 1big Dock is also available in 4TB, 8TB, 10TB, and 16TB sizes. Finally, it is also available in 2-Bay RAID designs (8TB, 16TB, 20TB, 28TB, 32TB, and 36TB) for even more backup possibilities.
Have you used LaCie’s 1big Dock? Share your experiences in the Comments section, below!