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OWC SoftRAID 8: Professional RAID Software Moves to Subscription-based Pricing, Now with a Free Option

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Today, Other World Computing (OWC) announced the availability of SoftRAID 8, a release deemed the “largest update in 15 years” of its advanced RAID software.

The new version is slated to improve efficiency and performance. However, most significantly, the software is now available with a free tier in addition to a new subscription-based pricing model.

SoftRAID 8 User Interface
The user interface of SoftRAID 8 remains essentially the same as the previous version.

What is OWC SoftRAID?

If you have never heard of OWC SoftRAID before, you’re not alone, and if you think it means “software RAID,” you’re not wrong, either. But there’s more to SoftRAID than the name.

RAID, or redundant array of independent disks, is generally the first thing to consider when it comes to securing data via redundancy and getting performance beyond the speed of a single drive.

Data redundancy explained: What RAID is and its levels

RAID allows users to combine multiple drives—hard drives or SSDs, preferably of the same capacity—into a single storage entity, often known as a storage pool or volume, to improve input-output performance and safeguard data against the case one of them fails.

Generally, there are two ways to have a RAID solution: you get a RAID enclosure with built-in firmware-based hardware RAID, like the WD My Book Duo, or you use multiple disks, such as a RAID box in JBOD mode, and use a RAID software application to handle them. OWC’s SoftRAID belongs to the latter.

Software RAID is ubiquitous. Both Windows and macOS have built-in free RAID options within their storage management apps—Disk Management and Disk Utilities, respectively. But they are relatively rudimentary—there’s not much you can do with them.

This is where OWC SoftRAID comes into play.

How SoftRAID differs

Right off the bat, SoftRAID supports five RAID levels: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 4, RAID 5, and RAID 10—each with lots of flexibility—making it clearly superior to any OS’s built-in alternative.

Per OWC, SoftRAID also offers an easy setup and advanced disk health monitoring with failure prediction. It works cross-platform via the included OWC MacDrive technology, allowing users to move the RAID volumes seamlessly between Macs and Windows computers.

Finally, SoftRAID is efficient and performs well. Its RAID volume is fast enough for even the most demanding tasks while remaining relatively light on resources.

Generally, SoftRAID is bundled with OWC’s direct-attach storage (DAS) or PCIe disk enclosures. Alternatively, you can buy the software and use it with your own enclosure or multiple drives, internal or external.

You can even get two portable SSDs of the same capacity or a third-party generic JBOD enclosure and use SoftRAID to combine the disks into a single volume—such as RAID 1 for redundancy or RAID 0 for high performance. Note, though, that OWC only guarantees SoftRAID’s performance when used with its hardware.

And the pricing is where SoftRAID 8 makes the most significant change.

What’s new in SoftRAID 8

Originally, with version 7.6 and earlier, the RAID software’s pricing was complicated. However, in summary, it came in three tiers: Lite (RAID 0 and 1 only), Pro (for all hardware), and XT (for OWC hardware only), which cost $50, $250, and $120, respectively.

Each tier includes one year of support and updates and is available with a 14-day trial. When the license runs out, the software still functions fully, but it cannot be updated, and support is not provided until the license is renewed at different cost levels.

SoftRAID 8 simplifies the software’s availability by offering only two tiers: Standard and Premium. The Standard version is free, and the Premium subscription costs $150 for the first year and $80 for each subsequent year.

The Premium version can be purchased separately or is included with any newly purchased OWC enclosure for 3 years. When the subscription runs out and is not renewed, it automatically becomes the Standard version, which has limited functionality.

The table below shows the difference between these two tiers.

SoftRAID StandardSoftRAID Premium
Part NumberOWCSFR8OWCSFR8P
CostFree$149.99 first year+$79.99/year subsequently,
$39.99/year per additional seat (OWCSFR8PAS)
NoteSoftRAID Premium automatically becomes SoftRAID Standard when the subscription runs out and is not renewed.
Platform Support
(Interchangeable)
Windows 10 and later,
macOS 10.14 and later,
Windows Server 2019 and later
Data Access
(Read/Write your SoftRAID volumes at full speed)
Yes
Data Integrity
(Rebuild and swap drives in your SoftRAID volumes in case of array failure)
Yes
OS Updates
(Get the latest version of SoftRAID)
Yes
Create Volumes
(Create new RAID volumes)
NoYes
SoftRAID Monitor
(Predictive drive and volume status notifications)
NoYes
OWC Support
(Access to OWC’s personalized support)
NoYes
OWC SoftRAID 8’s tiers: Premium vs. Standard

As shown in the table, the Standard (free) version of SoftRAID allows for the essential parts of the RAID volume, including data access and RAID rebuilding.

While it doesn’t allow users to create new RAID volumes or change the RAID setup, such as from RAID 5 to RAID 10, in most cases, once you’ve built a RAID, all you need to do is maintain it—you hardly ever need to change the RAID levels.

So, with SoftRAID 8, you can opt for the Premium—by purchasing it separately or getting it bundled as part of an OWC enclosure, such as Accelsior 4M2—set up your RAID to your liking and keep using the volume when the initial subscription runs out via the Standard version.

Tip: If you download the trial version of SoftRAID 7.6 Pro, still available here, set up the volume, and then upgrade to SoftRAID 8 Standard when the trial runs out, you can enjoy the advanced solution completely free of charge.

Other than the pricing, according to OWC, SoftRAID 8 also includes a host of improvements, including:

  • Performance: Up to 26000 MB/s with 4X the efficiency on macOS, up to 50% faster PCIe RAID 4, 5 write speed on Apple silicon machines, and up to 175% faster RAID 5 speeds on Windows.
  • Predict Failure to Prevent Failure: Enhanced health checks on flash arrays with expanded NVMe SMART monitoring within SoftRAID Monitor in addition to HDD/SDD monitoring.
  • Windows Enhancements: Windows adds support for RAID 4, APFS volumes, and SMART monitoring over USB.
  • Email Notifications: Receive rich email notifications with health reports and direct escalation to OWC support.
  • Future-Ready: SoftRAID now supports USB4 on both macOS and Windows, ensuring your RAID management is prepared for the next-generation USB arrays.

In short, when used with all of its features, SoftRAID 8 has everything to be one of the most robust RAID software on the market.

Availability and upgrade paths

OWC says SoftRAID 8 is available today.

According to the company, existing customers using an older version with a license eligible for updates will receive a free upgrade to SoftRAID 8 Premium for the remainder of the active period. These include:

  • Licenses purchased with enclosures that are within their 1-3 year active cycle.
  • SoftRAID Lite, XT, and Pro customers with an active license.

Those with an expired license can upgrade to SoftRAID 8 Standard for free or pay for Premium.

Overall, SoftRAID 8’s renewal cost is lower for existing Pro users, higher for Lite users (though they are grandfathered in with the same renewal cost until March 2025), and the same for XT users.

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2 thoughts on “OWC SoftRAID 8: Professional RAID Software Moves to Subscription-based Pricing, Now with a Free Option”

  1. Great article, together with the Accelsior cards very interesting products. Didn’t know them.

    Windows supports also RAID5 out of the box – with 3 or more drives, of course. But, yes, it is a rudimentary solution.

    Reply

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