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Network Storage Solution ; Help Please

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May 1, 2014 3:45:34 AM

Guys, we are a group of three doctors from INDIA who are currently using three computers over a small network. We have lot of pictures, videos and case files which are shared in three systems hard drive. Those data on our system is a must have and we dont want to lose them, we also want to have a central storage from where we all three doctors can access everything. We need about 1TB data capacity to be added every year, so we need to scale up our capacity every three or four years. We feel our current system is outdated and want to have a more effecient and safe system. We plan to have our own NAS.
We thought of having a custom made NAS rather than something like Synology since they seem costly and does not provide capacity additions. We also want to have a backup of all the data so that we dont need to have a backup somewhere else. My question is -
1. Can we get a Cabinet which supports multiple hard drives ( for example 6), put in a dual core processor and free NAS. Put 3 x 3 TB drives for now and later add more when necessary. Will this serve our purpose.
2. What RAID configuration is required to have a backup of the data with not too much redundancy of the disk space.
3. For our work and requirement, which is advantageous - the existing server type or NAS.

Kindly give your suggestions. Sorry for the silly question. Kindly suggest some configuration for our purpose. I will be very grateful for your replies /solutions to our problem.

Since i am a non techie, kindly be as simple and non technical in your replies.

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May 1, 2014 5:48:22 AM

Just buy a cheap mid ATX case with 6 internal 3.5" bays. Then get a low TDP intel i3 OR AMD equivalent. 2-4Gb RAM

RAID is not a backup. RAID can protect against a drive failure, but that is not the only way you can loose your data. If you value your pictures, documents etc. you need to protect them from other risks such as viruses, data corruption (as a result of memory errors or power failure, for example), theft of your system, accidental deletion, disaster (such as a fire) etc. etc. RAID does nothing to protect against these possibilities.

A sound backup strategy requires you to make two copies of your data which are offline, at least one of which is stored offsite. If you are going to purchase extra disks for purposes of backup, buy external drives and use backup software, do not set them up as RAID. Alot of people use Blu-Ray RW disks and mirror updates every day to the disk. However due to your content external HDD seem a better option for you on an overnight backup.

NAS sounds like the best idea for you. Just make sure your network is secure. If its possible use only Wired connectivity and disable wireless.

Hope this helps.

In addition go for 5400rpm HDD rather than 7200rpm drives.
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a c 304 G Storage
May 1, 2014 5:51:19 AM

I second Dark antz1 - Raid is not a backup. You still need to do external backups.
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May 1, 2014 8:51:54 AM

Thanks Dark antz for your reply and suggestion. But the external backup disk are mostly 3 or 2 GB. So does this mean that we will also have a lot of External HDD getting piled up in years. Most HD videos cannot be compressed either. Is there any other solution other than cloud. Cloud seems costly for us.

We are novice. Will freeNAS suit us ? Though we have basic knowledge in computers.
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a c 829 G Storage
May 1, 2014 11:47:03 AM

What you're asking is a bit more than "freeNAS or not freeNAS".

Requirements definition comes long before an OS is decided upon.

So, you have multiple workstations that need to access a common set of files. pics, vids, case files. That is your working copy.
Next to that, you need an actual backup.
Next to that, you really also need an offsite backup, just in case.

On to further considerations:
Is there a common database that all need to access? Patient appointments, maybe? What platform does it run on? Windows, Linux, other?
How's the physical network? Routers, switches, etc.
Does this need outside access? Does parts of it need to be walled off from the the internet?
And many, many more questions....

NOTE: I'm not looking for actual answers to those questions...just as some things for you to think about as this gets designed.

That's potentially a lot of moving parts. Get it wrong, and you could spend WAY too much, or lose everything.

I strongly urge you to contact a trusted, local IT guy. I've seen multiple versions of this scenario, where the businessman (or doctor) buys the system twice. Once when they try to wing it, and 6 months later when they have to hire an actual IT guy to start over and make it work.

You're a doctor. Go do that. Let a competent IT guy build your infrastructure.
In the other direction, I wouldn't ask you how I can diagnose a friends abdominal issue. Is it appendicitis, or a bad gall bladder? You would say, and rightly so, "Get thee to a doctor!"
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May 1, 2014 12:10:33 PM

Thanks USAret for your reply. I am not gonna build a NAS myself, I just want ideas for me so as to approach the local guy to set me a system as per my specifications.

Ya we need a back up, either as RAID like or Offsite, if that's what is ideal.
We run on Windows. We don't have common database like appointments. We only need access to common files. Like u correctly said- pics, videos and case files. We are now connected now with Router. We use teamviewer in case we need access to our computer from our home. Otherwise we don't need outside access. Walling off from internet is not needed.
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a c 829 G Storage
May 1, 2014 12:15:36 PM

OK, cool.

Don't try to spec out too much beforehand. Lay out what you need it to 'do', and let the IT guy figure out the 'how', and 'with what', and 'at this price'.
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a c 829 G Storage
May 1, 2014 12:18:03 PM

And as said above, RAID only really helps in the case of an actual drive failure. Accidental deletions, corruption, virus, etc, etc...that just happens on two drives instead of one.
If you incorporate a RAID option, it would be but one small part of the whole system.
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May 2, 2014 1:41:00 AM

Its gets expensive when you are dealing with large amounts of important data unfortunately.
FreeNAS is a very good solution for a small network like yours. It will fulfill its purpose. Cloud storage is good but if the internet infrastructure where you are is heavily congested you will find accessing data to be slow and tedious. On the other hand you can rest assured your data wont be lost due to the implementations by the cloud storage company who have the capital.
HD videos can be compressed. You could look into Quicktime. in the settings you want to lower the frame rate to 24fps choose a good compression such as h264 or h265 if available and use a double pass method. This will hopefully reduce some of your data usage and retain quality. The only problem with this is its time consuming and could end up being a job in itself depending on your content and quantities.

Lucky for you Hard disk space is really cheap currently it just that you need so much. What I would recommend as recent research suggests a jump in HDD technology is buy what you needs for a year or two and then increase later on as HDD space will most likely become even cheaper :) 
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May 2, 2014 2:36:08 AM

Thanks guys for all your response. I would go with a custom built freeNAS and use #3TB drive initially and expand as the capacity depletes.
I have planned for this configuration. Kindly give your suggestions. Do i need to add anything else.. ?

Intel i3 3220 - Processor
Intel DH87MC 4th Generation Motherboard
Transcend DDR3-1333 DDR3 4 GB PC RAM (JM1333KLN-4G)
WD Caviar Green (WD30EZRX) Internal Hard Drive (3TB)
HP DVD1260i-UH06C DVD Burner Internal Optical Drive
Corsair Carbide 500R CPU Cabinet
Corsair VS650 650 Watt PSU

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May 2, 2014 2:58:36 AM

I3 3220 is an 1155 chipset whereas that motherboard is 1150 chipset. They are not compatible. Also that case is too expensive for a NAS build.
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May 2, 2014 10:44:32 AM

Opps. can u suggest a good motherboard with six sata port support. I chose the cabinet since it can accomodate six hard drives bays. I thought that was the pre-requiste. Can you suggest a good mobo for me and a cheaper cabinet.

You are welcome to suggest a configuration. Would be much helpful. I hope whatever you suggest is available in India.
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May 2, 2014 10:51:09 PM

drsvijay said:
Opps. can u suggest a good motherboard with six sata port support. I chose the cabinet since it can accomodate six hard drives bays. I thought that was the pre-requiste. Can you suggest a good mobo for me and a cheaper cabinet.

You are welcome to suggest a configuration. Would be much helpful. I hope whatever you suggest is available in India.


Its hard to say because im in the UK and your in India so i dont know what components are available to you. You will need to shop around at computer stores and such. In the UK I would look at;
MSI H87-G41PCMATE Motherboard £61 ~ 6200 INR
Cooler Master CM Force 500 Black Mid Tower (with 7 3.5" bays) £33 ~ 3350 INR
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