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OWC ThunderBlade

Support Manual

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Introduction

1.1 System Requirements

Operating System & Hardware:

  • Works with any Thunderbolt 3 or later equipped:
    • Mac: macOS 10.13 or later
    • PC: Windows 10 or later

1.2 Package Contents

  • (1) OWC ThunderBlade
  • (1) External power supply and cable
  • (1) Thunderbolt 3 cable
  • (1) Ballistic hard-shell case
  • (1) 3-Year SoftRAID XT Upgrade and Support Plan
  • (1) SoftRAID XT License (see bottom of the OWC ThunderBlade)

1.3 About This Manual

The images and descriptions may vary slightly between this manual and the unit shipped. Functions and features may change depending on the firmware version. Screenshot images may vary slightly from the applications you seen on-screen. The latest product details and warranty information can be found on the product web page. OWC’s Limited Warranty is not transferable and subject to limitations.

General Use Precautions

  • Read this user guide carefully and follow all recommended usage steps and precautions.
  • To avoid damage, do not expose the device to temperatures outside the following ranges:
    • Environmental (Operating)
      • Temperature (ºF): 41º — 95º
      • Temperature (ºC): 5º — 35º
    • Environmental (Non-Operating)
      • Temperature (ºF): -4º — 140º
      • Temperature (ºC): -20º — 60º
  • Always unplug the device from the electrical outlet if there is a risk of lightning or if it will be unused for an extended period of time. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of electrical shock, short-circuiting or fire.
  • Do not use the device near other electrical appliances such as televisions, radios or speakers. Doing so may cause interference which will adversely affect the operation of the other products.
  • Protect your device from excessive exposure to dust during use or storage. Dust can build up inside the device, increasing the risk of damage or malfunction.
  • Do not block any ventilation openings on the device. These help to keep the device cool during operation. Blocking the ventilation openings may cause damage to the device and cause an increased risk of short circuiting or fire.

Safety Precautions

  • Read this user guide carefully and follow the recommended steps for assembly.
  • Use proper anti-static precautions while installing drives into this enclosure. Failure to do so can cause damage to your drive mechanisms and/or the enclosure.
  • Do not attempt to disassemble or modify the device. To avoid any risk of electrical shock, fire, short-circuiting or dangerous emissions, never insert any metallic object into the device. If it appears to be malfunctioning, please contact technical support.
  • Never expose your device to rain, or use it near water or in damp or wet conditions. Never place objects containing liquids on the drive, as they may spill into its openings. Doing so increases the risk of electrical shock, short-circuiting, fire or personal injury.

1.4 Front View

1. LED Indicator - Power & Data Connection = Solid Blue / Data Activity = Blinking Blue

1.5 Back View

2. Thunderbolt 3 ports - Attach the included data cable

3. Power Port - Connect the power cable to power the device

4. Ambient light sensor

Getting Started

2.1 Device Setup

This section describes the process of setting up the OWC ThunderBlade if purchased with pre-installed drives. The OWC ThunderBlade is available assembled with (8) NVMe SSDs configured as a SoftRAID XT RAID 0

  1. Plug the power cable into the OWC ThunderBlade power port located on the back and into a power outlet. The LED indicator will illuminate a solid white.
  2. Connect the included Thunderbolt cable into one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports located on the back of the OWC ThunderBlade and into a system. The LED indicator will illuminate a solid blue.
  3. The OWC ThunderBlade is configured as a SoftRAID XT RAID. Downloading and installing the latest version of SoftRAID XT is recommended to experience the best performance.
    NOTE: OWC ThunderBlade devices purchased with pre-installed drives come bundled with a "3-Year SoftRAID XT Upgrade and Support Plan". More information pertaining to the bundled SoftRAID XT Upgrade and Support Plan can be viewed by visiting: go.owc.com/softraid.

Mac SoftRAID XT Setup

PC SoftRAID XT Setup

  • If you are using the OWC ThunderBlade with a Windows PC, the pre-installed drives need to be reconfigured before they can be used. Please consult the "Mac to Windows – SoftRAID XT Volume Conversation" guide by visiting go.owc.com/softraid/convert-ntfs.

Device Management

3.1 OWC Disk Performance

As of Windows 10 v. 1809 the default Disk Removal Policy is ‘Quick removal’ instead of ‘Better performance’.

NOTE: OWC storage solutions that are experiencing slow read/write speeds should consider checking and changing the Windows disk removal policy. Changing from "Quick removal" to "Better performance" can increase disk performance. OWC offers the application OWC Disk Performance to help change the Disk Removal Policy. Changing from "Quick removal" to "Better performance" can also be changed manually.

Please review the support article Storage Solutions: OWC Disk Performance for more detail.

3.2 Unmounting Options

To ensure no data is lost during normal use, always eject or unmount the OWC ThunderBlade from your operating system before disconnecting the device. Unmounting options are provided below.

Manually Unmounting Drives

macOS

  1. Drag the icon for the disk you wish to unmount to the trash can; OR
  2. Right-click the disk icon on the desktop, then click “Eject”; OR
  3. Highlight the disk on your Desktop and press Command-E.

Windows

  1. Go to the System Tray (located in the lower right corner of your screen). Click on the “Eject” icon (a small green arrow over a hardware image).
  2. A message will appear, detailing the devices that the “Eject” icon controls, i.e., “Safely remove...” Click on this prompt.
  3. You will then see a message that says, “Safe to Remove Hardware.” It is now safe to disconnect the Mercury Elite Pro Dock from the computer.
    • The steps above are applicable to Windows 10 build 1803 and earlier. If you are using Windows 10 build 1809 (October 2018) or later, you can eject the drive by clicking the ‘Show hidden items’ menu in the Taskbar, then clicking ‘Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media’, and last select the ‘Eject’ option for this volume.

    3.3 Using Multiple ThunderBlades

    • SoftRAID Pro is needed to RAID multiple ThunderBlades together.
    • If you need to stack two or more ThunderBlades, please use one or more ThunderBlade X Spacers to avoid exceeding the thermal limits of each device
    • Mac computers with Thunderbolt ports provide them in pairs; each pair shares a single data bus. Example: many MacBook Pros have 4 Thunderbolt ports, two on each side. This configuration has a total of two Thunderbolt buses. For optimal performance, please connect only one ThunderBlade or one RAIDed ThunderBlade group to each bus.

    3.4 Usage Notes

    • The LED has four segments, one for each M.2 SSD. When one or more of the SSDs are accessed for read/write operations, the corresponding segments will blink blue.
    • While it is possible to connect a DisplayPort 1.2 display to the spare Thunderbolt 3 port by using the appropriate cable or adapter, HDMI and other types of displays require an active display adapter with a USB-C connector.
    • Software RAID volumes cannot be used as boot drives in macOS 10.13 and later. In order to boot to this device, do the following: break down the RAID, format one of the drives as an independent volume, then install macOS on that drive. The remaining drives can be reconfigured as a RAID 0 volume if necessary. For more details, please see: www.owcdigital.com/thunderblade-boot

    Support Resources

    4.1 Troubleshooting

    • If your computer does not recognize the drive when it is connected, make sure the cable is attached securely. You can also try plugging the cable into a different Thunderbolt 3 port on your computer and/or trying a different Thunderbolt 3 cable.

    4.2 Online Resources

    4.3 About Data Backup

    To ensure your files are protected and to prevent data loss, we strongly suggest that you keep two copies of your data: one copy on your OWC ThunderBlade and a second copy on either your internal drive or another storage medium, such as an optical backup, or on another external storage unit. Any data loss or corruption while using the ThunderBlade (including with SoftRAID) is the sole responsibility of the user, and under no circumstances may OWC, its parent, partners, affiliates, officers, employees, or agents be held liable for loss of the use of data including compensation of any kind or recovery of the data.

    4.4 Contacting Support

    Terms & Conditions of Sale

    Warranty

    The ThunderBlade has a 3 Year OWC Limited Warranty. For up-to-date product and warranty information, please visit the product web page.

    Changes

    The material in this document is for information purposes only and subject to change without notice. While reasonable efforts have been made in the preparation of this document to assure its accuracy, OWC, its parent, partners, affiliates, officers, employees, and agents assume no liability resulting from errors or omissions in this document, or from the use of the information contained herein. OWC reserves the right to make changes or revisions in the product design or the product manual without reservation and without obligation to notify any person of such revisions and changes.

    FCC Statement

    Warning! Modifications not authorized by the manufacturer may void the user’s authority to operate this device.

    NOTE: This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a Class B digital device, pursuant to Part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits are designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful interference in a residential installation. This equipment generates, uses and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful interference to radio communications. However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in a particular installation. If this equipment does cause harmful interference with radio or television reception, which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on, the user is encouraged to try to correct the interference by one or more of the following measures:

    • Reorient or relocate the receiving antenna.
    • Increase the separation between the equipment and receiver.
    • Connect the equipment to an outlet on a circuit different from that to which the receiver is connected.

    Copyrights And Trademarks

    No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of OWC.

    © 2021 Other World Computing, Inc. All rights reserved. OWC, the OWC logo, SoftRAID, and the SoftRAID logo are trademarks of New Concepts Development Corporation, registered in the U.S. and/or other countries. ThunderBlade is a trademark of Other World Computing, Inc. Mac and macOS are trademarks of Apple Inc. registered in the U.S. and in other countries. Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other marks may be the trademark or registered trademark property of their owners.

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