I am searching for an accurate way to start using storage tape drives for backing up my data. The only people I know of using tape drives on Macs are Mac Pro users. I'm an iMac user (2011, 27") and the choices of cables are very limited.

Some of the tape drives use SCSI (many different kinds) and some use SAS. Any ideas on how to connect something like that to the iMac?

I know of drives that have Thunderbolt capabilities, but they're pretty expensive. I'd love to start with something affordable, if possible.


  • Tape??? If you have to use Thunderbolt, go with something like the WD Thunderbolt Duo or a NAS like Synology. SAS is for enterprise server and you won't get the benefit for the price. It's better to double up on SATA drives. I'm using WD's right now and have had zero issues over the last 4 years. And if I do, their fault tolerant so I don't lose data or suffer down time in the event of a failure.
    – Allan
    Feb 19, 2018 at 0:09

3 Answers 3


And this is the answer, after careful research:

There is NO possible way to do this. SAS cannot be installed on an iMac. Apple likes to surprise its users by making an aluminum shell that cannot be altered. There are SCSI to USB converters, all discontinued, expensive and unreliable. There is the ATTO ThunderLink, which uses the Thunderbolt port, but this costs over a thousand. Likewise, SCSI cannot be installed on an iMac.

The simple solution is that serious computer users who like to perform surgery should purchase a Mac Pro, which can accept SCSI/SAS installations. These computers will work with storage tape. As for iMac, external hard drives (though I would prefer something that won't crash on me after a year of operation) are the only method of huge data storage. $60-$100 will get you a few TB.

Any suggestions on a reliable brand?


Your average drive is only warrantied for three years and then you are gambling with it as soon as you use it. Likewise, after several days of research, the conclusion was that the Hitachi Ultrastar drives are the best. Specifically the 3TB drives as they were the least likely to fail by a significant margin. These drives come with a five year warranty as well. The data was compiled from large data warehouses.

But still they are susceptible to failure and ones best option is to use a NAS/RAID with a two drive redundancy for extra safety. Something like the Drobo 5N. Also, it takes SAS drives as well, see link below.

As far as SATA to SAS drives go, a SAS connection will apparently take a SATA drive but not the other way around. Unfortunately, the Macs have a SATA connection. However, it might be possible to by an adaptor but it just gets messy from here.


  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different! I've edited your answer to remove the signature as all posts made on the site are already 'signed' with your user card.
    – grg
    Feb 15, 2015 at 17:04

There is no inexpensive solution to this problem.

The only way to put a SAS interface on a modern Mac (none of which have expansion slots) is via Thunderbolt.

One solution (and probably the most viable) is to get a Thunderbolt-attached SAS interfaces. Expect to pay $700-1000 for such an interface.

Alternatively, you might be able to roll your own with a Thunderbolt-attached expansion chassis that includes a PCIe slot. Then install a SAS interface in that slot. But this configuration may have little support from the manufacturers and could cost as much as a dedicated Thunderbolt-SAS interface.

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