Home NAS server RAID 5 migration

Hi all,

My partner is in the midst of setting up her home business, and has employed me as her "on the cheap" IT specialist - lol!

We've had several pc's running from home for awhile now, plus media players etc, and we've long been thinking about building a home NAS to keep a datastore for backups, media and the like.

Since her business needs are a prime driving force, I'm going to put in a RAID 5 array to help protect against data loss. Have picked up 4 2Tb Hitachi deskstar's for a darn good price, which will give us 6Tb of operation capacity after parity is excluded.

After a day or two of umming and ahhing, I'm starting to think that it will be enough for the short term, but possibly not enough for the mid term. I have a 2Tb drive here - not a Hitachi - but it runs very similar specs and speeds. I'm thinking I would like to add it to the array, to boost us up to 8Tb of workspace.

HOWEVER. It is already full of data. Only media stuff, so non-essential, and I simply don't have the coverage elsewhere to back it up. What are my chances of being able to run a RAID expansion (?), and somehow migrate that existing data onto the raid set, while still employing that drive as a part of the same RAID set? I suppose I could purchase another 2Tb drive, but then this one will simply go in the bin- and that seems like a terrible waste (might be an easier option once her business is making the big bucks! lol!!!).
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  1. Best answer
    You chances to add another drive to an existing array and run an expansion and not lose that data on the added drive are zero.

    Why not buy a new drive to add, then transfer the data, then add the "old" 2TB as a hot spare?

    What RAID controller are you using? Does it support a verify with fix operation? If so, I would run it before the expansion to decrease the chance of problems.

    And remember that RAID (especially only single parity) should not be considered totally reliable as a backup -- it is ONLY fault tolerant storage.
  2. First and foremost you said you are creating the raid5 to protect against data loss and then you say you don't have the capacity to back it up. This is extreme foolishness. raid 5 does not protect against data loss, backups do. I would strongly suggest you get a decent backup solution first and then worry about creating any raid.

    We will need more info on your system to answer the questions. Some raid controllers allow you to do expand and some don't.
  3. I should clarify. Primarily, this will simply be a home NAS/torrentbox. Something to stream movies from, and to route downloads to. We had been thinking about something along this line for some time, as we've gradually filled available storage...

    I have an old MSI Z77A-G41 mobo, a psu and case that have all been gathering dust, so decided to put them to use. Picked up a G2030, 4Gb ram kit, and a 60Gb ssd to run the OS from. Now have 5 x 2Tb drives to fill the onboard sata ports. I was intending to simply use the mobo's raid (this is just software raid I believe) but having read up I now understand the limitations of this setup will certainly not allow for the type of raid expansion I had in mind.

    Have now grabbed a fifth drive, and will simply copy the data from the used 2Tb onto the array once it is operational. Yes, I realise that this is not an effective form of "backup" persay, I'm simply covering my ass should we have a drive fail. My partner's "business" has no clients or income just yet, so we'll upgrade the setup to incorporate a more optimal backup solution when the resources become available. At this point, it will simply be a point to run a scheduled backup of our systems, and to run some basic background functionality for our home (torrents, movies, etc).
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