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Thinking about Raid5 but still have Q's

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February 14, 2006 2:38:00 AM

Im looking into running a Raid 5 setup, and i've tried to do a little digging up on information, but having really found anything that i've found makes things click in my mind or hasnt answered all my questions.

My understanding is Raid 5 offers the best of both worlds, peice of mind for all your data, and some sort of read/write improvements?
I figured if i purchased 3x 200-300gb HDs then at least by losing one of the 3 i still have a heck of a lot of space on there and i still have that peice of mind that everything is safe while at least 2 of the drives are in working order.

I've looked at raid controllers, i've seen some at £20/$30 type prices, and then theres the £200/$300 priced ones, and im getting the impression theres a significant reason for that price gap (esp when theres some double that price too!)
Money IS an issue, i can reason with spending £220 on 3 HDs and only getting the file space of 2 of them, because of the benefits of doing this, however spending £400 to do it properly certainly isnt going to be happening!
(nor can i justify raptor prices, as nice as they are, not a hope in hell!)
Are these cheap cards software raid, compared to the higher priced being hardware raid, and what sort of difference am i likely to see between the 2?

Im sick and tired of HDs dying on me, I seem to go through one every 9 months on average (usually running 2 at a time) and at this moment in time my primary drive appears to be hanging on for dear life, its terribly slow taking 4-6 times longer to move a file from C: to D:, than D: to E: when its never really been a problem. XP takes about 8min to load up!!
I cant afford to lose certain files on my HD and while it could probably all fit onto a CDR theres just plenty more which while it wouldnt be the end of the world, i'd be mighty p***ed off!

i've read a couple of reviews, briefly if im honest, the epic on GamePC was so long winded i found myself clicking to bits that i thought might be of some help, but seemed to skirt around giving advising information more helping you make a decision and left me more confused than anything!

Could someone please fill in some of the blanks i have, i basically need to have something which keeps my files secure, doesnt eat away at my processing power too much, is priced sensibly for what im getting for my money. Im not a big fan of 'backing up' because im hopeless and i'll easily forget and it'll not get done for weeks, having something there working 24/7 would be ideal. The machine is for gaming and working, so needs to be a little lightweight, and frankly any improved speed isnt such an issue, i'll cover that with other improvement i just want to get this one aspect solved properly, and just basically need some pointers as to how to go about doing it all.

I know thats quite a lot, but im a rather confused chap, so be gentle!! ;) 

Thx in adv,
PaulC2K

More about : thinking raid5

February 14, 2006 5:55:14 AM

Thanks for the reply.

So im correct in thinking that these budget controllers are basically upgrades to what the motherboard offers, allowing the extra types of raid to be performed?

If the one i bought had 4 SATA ports/sockets or whatever they're called, do i need to plug mobo SATA cables to the controller, and then into the HD, or does this act as additional points to connect into?

I suppose increased read, decreased write isnt too bad, im guessing theres significantly more data activity through reading than writing.
Raid1 would be slower on both aspects then im guessing? both under identical situations.

Thanks for the info, i guess i'll go down the cheaper route, maybe later on a proper controlled card could become an option (if bought from overseas i guess!), but for now £20/$30 will get me started and i can try it all out and it wont cost much to make sure this is whats best for my situ.

PaulC2K
February 14, 2006 9:36:44 AM

Yeah, thats the same reason im not too keen on Raid1, but i was just thinking that 3 HDs but only 2 'visable' compared to 2 HDs and having just 1 'visable', one is losing 33%, the other 50% of the drive space compared to running them as normal drives, however Raid5 is 50% more expensive, as you've gotta buy another drive (ignoring controller cards) but of course theres multiple benefits to Raid5 compared to just the 1 with Raid1.

As i mentioned in the first post, i seem to lose drives quite frequently, and strangly it doesnt bother me too much having to buy new ones, as usually i can get twice the size for a reasonable price, the thing that really bugs me is losing any data, messing with operating systems, and spending the next 6 months installing stuff you used to have and come to use only to realise you dont have it anymore etc!

Hopefully Raid5 will be the answer, slower write times wont matter too much i dont think, wont effect gaming and saving work wont make much difference i wouldnt have thought, unpacking 2-4gb downloads might take 30sec longer or something i guess, but i can live with that! Faster read times would be nice, but as long as things stay safe, i'll be happy!

Thanks for the help Wusy :) 
Related resources
February 14, 2006 1:40:20 PM

I hope you don't mind me jumping in here with more questions.

I'm also looking at setting up a raid 5. I have an ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard that has two RAID controllers. At first I was under the impression that the secondary controller, the Silcon Image 3114, was a hardware driven RAID controller. After further research I'm no longer 100% sure of that. Does anyone know if this chip is hardware RAID?

Also looking at a couple performance comparisons Performance Test, this one in particular, it looks like RAID 5 performs very poorly. I'd made somewhat of a conclusion that this is partially due to the fact that these test are done on a chipset dependant RAID 5 and the results are partially skewed by some of the "sythetic tests" as the real world tests are much closer. Here I'm wondering if anyone knows of an actual "real world" tests of hardware driven RAID 5 with various number of disks vs other levels of RAID, particularly RAID 1, Raid 0 + 1 and Raid 10. RAID 0 is not really an option for me due to data security.

~Matt
February 14, 2006 2:57:36 PM

Motherboard = Software RAID

Which utilizes the CPU and system memory to operate.

For a true hardware RAID 5 card you would expect to find a card sporting at least 128 MB of ram, and as wusy pointed out a processor requiring a heatsink.
February 14, 2006 10:15:15 PM

Its been pretty poor for the most part, im stuck with a dell case at the moment, and im currently upgrading bit by bit, starting with the important stuff like PSU, Case, Cooling, and then the toys to go into it, better than buying the toys first and buying the stuff that keeps it all working safely months later!

At the moment, there are 3 HDs standing upright, like 3 slices of bread basically, very little room between them. I had been getting 50'c on the middle one and once i realised this about a week ago i rummaged round for a 80mm fan just to stick right next to them (side on) and that cooled them down instantly, im amazed at how much of an effect its had tbh. The side panel has been off for 99% of the 18 months ive had the machine, but while ive since heard 50'c isnt too dangerous, im happier now its lower (currently 41'c 32'c 24'c, gfx card at 36'c, cpu prolly low-40s, no sensor on it just going by touch, room temp is 26'c).

I've just been paid for a couple of sites i knocked up for someone, so im just considering my options at the moment, I definately need something atm just so i can pull out this primary drive, its killing me!


MJuric:
Dive straight in, any information given will help me out anyway :) 
I was looking at the SI 3114 raid cards the other day, they were the £20/$30 cards i'd mentioned, another Raid5 thread mentioned a review and they were suprised how well it'd done, but the link wasnt working for me at the time. Its probably what i'd go with, given the price and the fact that the software controllers probably wont be any different, whoever make it.
From what i can tell, any hardware controller is going to be hitting well into 3 figures, £200-500 it seems ($300-800usd).
February 14, 2006 10:36:23 PM

I cant help but wonder if your $$ would be better spent on fixing the solution as to why your drives are dying all the time.

in 12 years of running, abusing and building PCs ive had exactly 1 drive die on me, and that was due to it getting too hot for too long.

consider taking your hard earned $$ and investing in a case that will cool things properly -- as you did mention your drives run hot.
February 14, 2006 11:11:41 PM

Case is the next thing on the list, but when ive got a drive that takes about 8 minutes to load into XP, takes a good 6x longer than any other drive to unpack a compressed file, and is causing my computer to occasionally freeze up, im tempted to just stuff buying a case for a month and just fix the existing issue before it fixes me!

The case im planning to get is the Thermaltake Armor which has good circulation, and a 120mm fan infront of the HD bay, and as i mentioned in the last post, my temps have come down now just by sticking a 80mm fan next to them, the hottest being 12'c warmer than room temp.

Im trying to go down the sensible route rather than the 'giddy kiddy' buying POWAAAH before being able to utilise it properly, but right now a HD is a priority. I'll probably buy all 3 and a SI 3114 card now, and just use one drive until i come to build everything.

The only item i have atm which im not using is an Enermax Noisetaker 600w which while its much better than my budget 550wt PSU im holding onto it at least till ive got the case. GFX cooling has been bought, though that card will be going when i upgrade the goodies, an X-Fi Fatality card and creative t6060 speakers, cos i can get some pleasure from them now.
But as i said, cooling is something im making sure isnt an issue on the new build, with a solid case and Akasa Amber fans which are quiet and very good airflow will be replacing the case fans however good they are, but while the job im currently working on is still in-progress, i need a working computer otherwise i cant afford the upgrade!
No website, no toys :( 

Incidently, that SI 3114 review:
http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=r52005&p...
(as provided by Codesmith in another thread)
Quote:
The Silicon Image 3114 RAID-5 controller tested surprisingly well. Despite being a “software” solution, the 3114 provided the best overall RAID-5 disk read speed, likely due to the pure simplicity of the architecture. On the other hand, RAID-5 disk write speeds were quite terrible, and we don’t much care for (or trust) Silicon Image’s java based tool set. While this chip will allow people to dip their toes into the RAID-5 waters, it still can’t truly compete with the hardware RAID-5 solutions. Considering it’s.. well.. free on many new motherboards, we can’t complain too much here.

It may have had its ass handed to it on the write tests, but then on all the other tests it was top, or 2nd, none exactly miles infront, but it showed that its just the writing aspect that it cant handle in comparison.
February 15, 2006 5:13:02 AM

Sounds like your going down the right road then.

Ive heard good things about that Thermaltake Armor case, should work pretty good.
February 15, 2006 6:50:48 AM

I've just found out the Black version is steel! not impressed in the slightest, but i guess i'll still get it as the Silver/Aluminium is quite a chunk more. I had wondered how on earth they could justify the extra cost for silver, but as it didnt concern me, i wasnt bothered, but just read it on a review site about 1hr ago :( 

Ordered a 200gb WD Sata drive, im pretty sure i'll grab another 2 later down the line, but im going to hang onto a bit of money for 2 weeks and grab the case and possibly a TFT while im at it.

Wouldnt mind but 6hrs ago i was messing with the machine and disrupted the sata drive causing all the problems (im 99% sure its all because these damn sata cables dont seem to fix in like IDE cables!) so i decided to just install the Enermax PSU i'd got sitting waiting for the new case.
Pulled the old one out, rewired everything got to the main mobo power plugs, the long one was fine, and the 4 pin lego block one asside from being too far across the board to fit without stretching the heatshrink, only to find out the damn pins arent the same!!
It states on the box Intel P4 Prescott, and its a prescott 478 cpu.
The square pins and the slightly rounded ones were there wrong way around

xo
ox
instead of:
ox
xo

so not particularly impressed with wasting just over an hour only to put everything back in and mess about putting the comp back as it was!

I've also just wasted an hour's work by overwriting a file and stupidly uploading it before it actually displayed the f**k up in dreamweaver, so not a good nights work really!
!