InternalHDD VS ExternalHDD VS External RAID NAS for movies

I like watching movies and download stuff with BitComet regularly. I just about a 320 GB Seagate 2 months ago and it is already full. :? I need to either compress my video files AND/OR add more hard disk drives.

Please help!

1. If I compress my files, how much can I compress without losing quality?

2. Any lossless compresssion programs or formats that you would suggest?

3. If I add HDDs, which would you suggest? (I intend to continue adding until I reach Terabyes) Should I add more internal HDDs? or should I buy an external HDD such as a WD mybook, or should I just get a RAID NAS?

4. I don't know much about this so I'm just going to ask this. Can I use different drives in a RAID NAS? or do I have to make sure they are the same brand/model?

Suggestions with explanation why would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. If you're just using the drives for storage, not sure why you'd want RAID. I'd just buy the biggest hdd I could afford. I'd suggest you start burning some of the DVDs you have, regardless of how much hard drive you have, you'll run out of storage sooner or later.
  2. Wouldn't RAID increase the transfer speeds? i might need to transfer data later in the future to a larger drive.

    and are there any extra costs or effort needed if I go for RAID?
  3. I've never used RAID but from what I understand one type let's you make a copy on a 2nd hard drive of anything you do but if you're storing videos, you will need a couple of enormous drives for this and it really doesn't speed things up. I believe the RAID used to speed up the machine is primarily for gaming and possibly rendering videos and not sure there would be much benifit if you are just copying video files. I capture video from a camcorder, do some light editing, and burn them. Capturing and rendering/burning takes a lot of time regardless and I usually render/burn over night. When necessary I just copy/paste video files, which takes a while given their size but not sure RAID would make much difference. Again, others might be able to give you more complete info. You also asked if compressing causes a loss of quality. The answer is yes but it depends on the compression, i.e., the less compression, the less quality is loss. Generally I don't store video files I burn them to a DVD so I dont compress them. An example of compression would be compressing audio files. .wav audio files are uncompressed and mp3 are compressed files. The highest quality mp3 compression is 320 and most people compress at 128. I compress to 320 for the highest quality but still much smaller than .wav, I have over 5000 songs stored on my computer, pretty much my entire CD collection, so space is a consideration. is a very good site/forum for video stuff and would suggest you take a look at it. Are you just downlaoding and storing videos or are you capturing them from a camcorder? Do you do any editing or burning? A couple of things I've learned about video files is that regardless of the format, they are big and require a lot of storage. Because of their size and complexity, e.g., you're usually dealilng with both video and audio, anything you do other than watch them takes a great deal of time. Finally, editing and burning take a lot of computer resources. There is a section on this Forum for RAID quesitons and you may want to do a separate thread with your RAID questions but be clear you're interests are video not gaming. Keep in mind what might speed up one task will not necessarily speed up another. This why the first question anyone will ask you if you're specing a computer is, what will you use it for?
  4. Thanks for the reply! :D I play games as well as watch a lot of movies that I download using BitComet. I like to watch scifi movies eg. stargate atlantis, battlestar galactica, etc. I was planning to get a small, fast drive for my OS and then get larger but not expensive drives for storing my movies. The 500GB models in Thailand are still quite expensive and only the 320GB Seagate model really fits the "price range" I have. Was just wondering if using internal RAID or arranging an external RAID NAS would be better? I intend to keep adding more drives later as prices go down. Maybe next year, the 750 GB might be at the price range of the 500GB. etc.
  5. If you are going to add multiple storage drives and can afford it, I'd get a WD Raptor. If the Raptor is too expensive, and they are expensive, I would get a good 80GB for the OS and Programs, I prefer Seagate, and check out this chart.

    As I said before, I really don't know much about RAID but I would think there is a limitation on the number of drives you can RAID. While your hard drive will have some impact on speed, your RAM and CPU will have much more affect. If you system can handle 2GB of RAM and you can afford it, that would be my first upgrade. If you're running less than 1GB of RAM, I'd defintely increase to at least 1GB. If your mobo can handle it and you're not running dual core, I'd get a dual core after the memory. What are your system specs? Also, for gaming your video card is very important. Personally, I'd put the speed of the hard drive after the RAM, CPU, and video card.
  6. If I get a fast drive for my OS, a WD raptor would do well? According to the lastest article on THG, they say that the smaller drive 74 GB is faster than the 150GB because the former has 2 platters while the latter has 4.

    Does upgrading my RAM really make windows startup faster than upgrading my harddrive to a raptor? I plan to try Vista as my OS.

    I'm attaching my specs as my sig.
  7. Once nice thing about setting up a RAID would be that you can have all those drives appear as a single one in your OS, so you wouldn't have to worry about which drive to go into to find what movie. However, the downside, which has dissuaded me from using a RAID for what you're doing, is that as far as I understand, once you've set up RAID on a certain number of disks, you can't arbitrarily add more HDD's to the array and have your capacity increase.

    That said, there are file formats that give some RAID-like features, such as the ability to add and remove HDD's from a storage volume. I don't know what file system these are, but certainly it's not NTFS, FAT32, or ext3. These are the only ones with which I have any experience. It's something to look into if you're interested, but I can't guarantee the file system that would do this would work with Windows. Microsoft doesn't play well with friends.
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