This venus (4TS) external raid unit with room for 4 drives (another model has room for 5) comes with a PCI-Express raid card and seems to have mixed reviews. This product says it uses esata. Does this mean I have to be careful about what types of drives I use ?
The Infrant (Netgear) seems to have its own issues (besides) its price.
I dont know enough about how to build this stuff but can anyone recommend either external unit or NAS where I can mount multiple drives and be able to ensure (I know always back up data somewhere else) that data will most likely not be lost by using Raid 5 or Raid X. I am looking to be able to expand to between 3-5 TB of storage.
I would say my technical knowledge is on the lower side of medium.
I already have 4 1tb Fantom external firewire 800 drives which I need to make backups manually.
GREAT product. I use a lot of external drives and an always swapping them around.
If you can use Esata then the best way I have found is with the AMS DS-2340SES T4S from www.amselectronics.com. This is a 4 drive PM external enclosure. Newegg.com sells it for less than $200. The only downside is that it has ONLY an esata connection, no USB but the price of the drive includes a dual port PM SATA controller card, so you can run two of these enclosures (total of 8 drives) by connection only two cables total between comuter and drive box. I have three of these enclosures.
Great Features of this enclosure and system (not in order of importance) :
1. It has a separate Fan Switch which allows you to keep the power on but turn the fan off. The fans on these units are very quiet, but audible in a quiet room. When I am not accessing the drives, I turn the fan off. This works fine. I check the heat coming out of the back of the box or keep the front plate off the unit and feel the drives to see if they are heating. By now I know I can use this unit without the fan uscept when actually accessing the drives. If you don't mind the low fan noise, you can leave them on all the time the computer is in use. When you Sleep your computer for the night but do not want to turn off the external drives, you can leave the unit connected but turn off the fans, the drives go to sleep along with the Mac. I am grateful every day I use this unit because I hate noise around me and this allows me a decent amount of silence at my computer desk.
2. This external unit and corressonding Silicon Image chipset and Silicon Image drivers and card, support SLEEP mode on the Mac. Not all SATA cards and drives support this.
3. I use Seagate 1 TB eSATA drives which work well with the sleep mode features of the Silicon Image driver
4. The External enclsoure uses plastic frames to support the drives in the box. These frames cost about $2.50 each as opposed to $20 up to $50 for removable drive holders of other systems. I keep these frames on each external drive I have so it makes it very quick to swap them into and out of the box.
5. The drives are hot swapable, which means you can insert and remove them while the computer is on. You just have to dismoutn the drive from the desktop first (using the finder). When a new drive is inserted into the box, the system most often sees it automatically and mounts it immediately. Once in a while I have had to use Disc Utility to mount a drive I just put in. I can't say why - but only a very few times.
6. The company says the box has a 3TB limit but they say you may be able to use 4TB with Seagate drives. Presently I use one of the enclsoures to use a three 1TB drive raid set-up, effectively giving me one nearly 3TB raid drive which has been working flawlessly for nearly a year now.
7. This enclosure is a PM enclosure (Port Mulitplaction). This means that you only need one esata cable connected to the ESATA controller card in your computer. It uses a normal ESATA cable not a special one costing a fortune. The ESATA cable is the same type you would use to connect single drives on any system, but with PM enclosures you get control of 4 (or more) drives at once. With this one cable you can either use all the drives separately or you can raid them in any combination. I believe you could use two in a raid system and the other two as single drives, but I have not explored this. The PM system is one of the standards of the industry and this will do whatever the standard is. Using PM gives you the same speeds and flexibility of having 4 separate cables going to a single SATA controller card in your computer. It is so much cleaner and easier than a lot of cables and power supplies all over the place. I use one of my external boxes with two different computers (located next to each other) and all I have to do to move it from one to another is unplug one ESATA cable and plug in another.
8. A 2 port PM esata controller card is included in the price (less than $200 for all of it.) A controller card alone can cost this much.
9. The manufacturer gives good tech support by phone. (AMS) American Media Systems
10. So with the included SATA conroller card that has two ports, you can connect two of these enclosures at one time and have 8 external drives. There are other PM enclosures which have 5 drives in them. I connect this box to a PCI card (esata card) on my macbook pro and have up to 8 Esata drives connected to the Macbook pro, operating at pretty high speeds - higher than firewire 800 speed.
11. I do not know how this unit compares in SPEED to other external esata enclosures and controller cards. I am sure there are faster ones, but this has been fast enough for me and works perfectly. I capture 10 bit uncompressed SD video with the 3 raided drives and they don't even get warm. If I feel I need to cool the drives off (such as when cloning several 1 TB drives at a time overnight) I take off the front cover, to help cooling. (its a simple two thumbscrew removal.)
12. As far as I could find there is nothing else out there even close to this in convenience and functionality features, regardless of price. And its the cheapest.
(which is why I've taken all this time to try and share the good news of its existence.)
13. I have lots of other external drive enclosures, from Wiebetech (hi priced) and cheap single units and expensive Granite Digital both for ESATA and IDE drives with firewire 400, 800 usb and sata and this system has proven to be the easiest for me. One box sits on the desktop and you can put in as many drives as you need or only one. Its clean and neat.