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Hard-Disk Decisions 2009 - Featuring Western Digital

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  • Hard Drives
  • Western Digital
  • Caviar
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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March 27, 2009 12:22:49 AM

What's up? I am looking for a bit of insight...let me break it down.

System: XP/32 Gaming/Entertainment beast

Drives: 2x74 GB Raptors in Raid 0 (OS Partition, Storage/Game Partition)

and a Western Digital Black Caviar 1 TB drive.


I have really liked my raptors and this newer WDBC1TB. I recommend them both definitely.

I was thinking about selling my two raptors and buying two more 1TB black caviars.

This way, I could do raid-0 for a 2 TB logical black caviar drive....and have another black caviar for an entire 1 TB of backup.


That's my best guess.

Any advice regarding product choice, price, internal vs external, etc.....

Thanks!


More about : hard disk decisions 2009 featuring western digital

March 27, 2009 12:47:57 AM

Your raptors are good at IOps, 7200rpm disks aren't going to compete with that. RAID0 can improve IOps but Windows systems are crippled when using RAID since Windows will leave you with a 'stripe misalignement' problem that affects performance.

If you want performance, go buy a SSD or more and put those in RAID0. If you want storage space, you might be better of with a large 5400rpm disk like the WD Green WD10EADS 1TB drive, which consume only half the power of regular 7200rpm disks. Your existing drive can be configured to synchronise (backup) every night and stay in spinned-down/standby/power-saving mode so it consumes only 0.5W.

So basically, you need to prioritize between performance, storage space, reliability and cost. You can make combinations of these but you can't have them all. :) 
March 27, 2009 3:12:57 PM

I appreciate your suggestions.... I'm not really sure what you mean by "Windows systems are crippled when using RAID...." I use Raid-0 now with my raptors and it's absolutely rockin. My friend uses raid-0 with 2 500g Hitachi drives and likes it.

HD Tune rates my Raid-0 Raptor as 130 MB/s
rates my single WD 1tb drive as 100-110 MB/s

Was thinking RAID-0 WDBC1TB would probably match it or even surpass it. Except for access times. I try to follow the SSD but I really need something that is just as easy as plugging in a traditional hard disk. I am still leaning towards getting 2 more w.d. black cav. 1tb's.....or maybe considering external for backup. (My backup would be more of a once-in-awhile type thing....not a daily backup. But that would be nice, actually....;)
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March 27, 2009 8:11:49 PM

First a little note: you really should use ATTO to test the throughput on RAID-volumes, not HDTune which only uses a queue depth of 1 to access the RAID: that means both disks in the RAID are not used at 'full throttle'. ATTO on the other hand, will test on the filesystem. So all optimizations the filesystem has (write buffering and read-ahead) will get used.

HDTune on RAID-arrays can provide wrong (lower) results.

But more important than the maximum MB/s you can get, the throughput, there is also the IOps performance of your array. Those cannot be tested easily though some proprietary tests (PCmark/Vantage/iPeak) exist that try to mimic real applications such as Firefox or Microsoft Office to see how well the storage device performs when simulating the I/O behavior of these applications.

RAID0 in theory could improve both IOps and throughput in the same degree: they double with each increase in disk count: 2 disks in RAID0 can provide up to 200% increase in IOps and throughput. But this is theory, in reality - especially on Windows - many performance barriers exist that get the most out of your RAID-array. One important one that limits IOps performance is called a 'stripe misalignment'. This is because Windows partitions in a way that causes one 'filesystem block' to encompass two or more stripe blocks. In simpler terms, the filesystem and RAID-system are not properly 'aligned'. This in turn, causes one I/O operation to be handled by two or more disks in your RAID0 array. Whereas it would be better if each disk in the array can process its own I/O operation. In this case, your RAID-array can process 4 I/O's simultaneously instead of one at a time, which is very much faster indeed.

So that's what i meant with Windows systems being 'crippled' when using striping RAID storage. This does not affect RAID-1 (mirrors) or JBOD arrays though.

As for your raptors: while they aren't faster with throughput (MB/s) they are faster with IOps. And when you launch applications or games, or other realistic non-sequential I/O, the throughput really is not that important. What people call access times is only part of the equation; what actually counts is howmuch I/O operations per second (IOps) these disks or arrays can process. SSDs are masters here, thats why they boot so fast and open applications so fast; their random read IOps can be about 30.000 I/O's while a fast HDD can perform only 100-200 per second.

In other words, while your raptors will be slower in throughput, they are better suited as your system disk than ordinary 7200rpm disks. You should keep the raptors, maybe repartition with some help of google by correcting the stripe misalignment, and use your big drives as 'data drives'. Not to install applications on, but to store large files and downloaded data, plus backups etc.

Getting a second 1TB drive (i recommend WD Green 1TB WD10EADS) allows you to fully backup all important data you have on your other 1TB drive and also parts of your system drive (the two raptors).

You can download ATTO here:
http://rapidshare.com/files/214298798/ATTO-256.exe.html
(this is the newer '256MB' version; the original only goes up to 32MB)
March 28, 2009 12:28:05 AM

Translucency: Thank you for your well-written advice.

I am still considering my options.... May I note that I use a program called Fraps which creates massive .AVI files from games. Now here is an application that should really see some significant results considering throughput is the limiter. If i could achieve greater than 130 MB/s with dual WD blacks it definitely would be nice.

So, about SSD's, is there a plug-in-play one for a good size for cheap? It needs to be just as easy as a sata drive to install and needs at least 36-64 GB
March 28, 2009 12:28:29 AM

thx for the ATTO program
March 28, 2009 4:30:00 AM

just ordered 2 more Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB internal Hard Disks from newegg.com for $110 each with free shipping. 3-28-2009
March 28, 2009 5:11:55 PM

Dear god stay away from western digital ive had more wd drives fail across the years along with everyone else ive known whos had horror stories not to mention other techs with their own. Maxtor, hitachi, and seagate are the top lines. I hug my maxtor before i go to sleep every night.
March 28, 2009 5:14:43 PM

Actually...I've been reading the exact opposite: that WD drives seem to be the most reliable. especially their high-end ones. The RE3 sounded even better, but it was a decent amount more. I have never had troubles with WD drives. 5 Year warranty is nice. 500 newegg ratings, average 5 stars. Seems way more reliable than most of the other drives newegg sells. (reading user reviews)



My raptors have been good to me. I might sell them soon. I love this new 1tb black...it's the best hard-disk i've used. this upgrade will be interesting.
March 28, 2009 8:26:27 PM

People complaining about harddrive reliability make their judgements on a handful of samples. If you were to analyse chance of failure you'd need at least thousands and over a period of time, with all relevant models. Only Google did some research in this but most parts are non-public and also non-relevant since Google houses its drives in a laboratory-like environment where temperatures and vibrations do not vary as much as in home systems.

Harddrives fail, its just a matter of when. So if X has 2% chance and Y has 1% chance, does not make a difference? I'd argue not, since you need to make preparations in the case of a failure anyway. Even that 1% is too high a risk to loose all your personal photo's and documents etc; things you'd like to keep no matter what. Thankfully, for most persons this valuable data is not very large in size, so can be easily backupped in various ways.

For those 'powerusers' which have a lot of data and want solid protection, you need to look at both raid and a good backup/synchronization system. But even if the difference between harddrive failure rate would be as large as 1%, i doubt it makes any impact on the steps you must take to protect your data. It doesn't matter.

And if we were debating which drive is the most reliable, i'd argue the WD Green stands a good chance; not because WD is better, but because its one of the few 'modern' 3.5" drives (okay samsung makes them too) that run on 5400rpm instead of 7200rpm, which means less friction, less heat, less wear, less temperature variation, less power consumption, and thus - at least in theory - a higher reliability and longer lifespan.
March 28, 2009 11:39:04 PM

Translucency said:
People complaining about harddrive reliability make their judgements on a handful of samples. If you were to analyse chance of failure you'd need at least thousands and over a period of time, with all relevant models. Only Google did some research in this but most parts are non-public and also non-relevant since Google houses its drives in a laboratory-like environment where temperatures and vibrations do not vary as much as in home systems.

Harddrives fail, its just a matter of when. So if X has 2% chance and Y has 1% chance, does not make a difference? I'd argue not, since you need to make preparations in the case of a failure anyway. Even that 1% is too high a risk to loose all your personal photo's and documents etc; things you'd like to keep no matter what. Thankfully, for most persons this valuable data is not very large in size, so can be easily backupped in various ways.

For those 'powerusers' which have a lot of data and want solid protection, you need to look at both raid and a good backup/synchronization system. But even if the difference between harddrive failure rate would be as large as 1%, i doubt it makes any impact on the steps you must take to protect your data. It doesn't matter.

And if we were debating which drive is the most reliable, i'd argue the WD Green stands a good chance; not because WD is better, but because its one of the few 'modern' 3.5" drives (okay samsung makes them too) that run on 5400rpm instead of 7200rpm, which means less friction, less heat, less wear, less temperature variation, less power consumption, and thus - at least in theory - a higher reliability and longer lifespan.

March 29, 2009 5:18:32 AM

who makes the best (reliability vs cost) external unit of 1 TB-2 TB? 1TB would be fine.

I have this Seagate Freeagent 250 GB w/ 5 year warranty. I love it. The new ones I am skeptical of. That is bad news. I want to design their 1 TB+ unit ftw.
a b G Storage
March 29, 2009 3:16:37 PM

I upgraded the drives in my gaming and media machine. I put a pair of WD 1 TB EADS drives in for bulk storage. Only had them for about three months, but they are quiet.
May 7, 2009 3:21:33 PM

Quote:
HD Tune rates my Raid-0 Raptor as 130 MB/s
rates my single WD 1tb drive as 100-110 MB/s


I am surprised noone has pointed this out. If your raid array uses the PCI bus it will be capped at 133 MB/sec less overhead. Any add in PCI raid card will be thus capped. You can stick 100 WD drives on that bus and still no more than 133MB/S less overhead. So this is a big disadvantage of PCI add in RAID cards. To get around this problem use either a PCI-X card which has a larger bus (please be aware that a 4X PCI-X card might not have sufficient capacity for your needs), OR use a built in chipset raid controller, such as one from nVidia or a similar competitors offering. The raid controllers built in to the chipset (at least on nVidia offerings) have TWO PCI buses and therefore double the bandwidth. This will boost your raid speed potential to 266MB/S less overhead. You may still find this a bottleneck, but your speed will be double. If you have a 4 drive stripe array, which you would need to keep a good backup of your essential data with, this will provide you with a very powerful disk interface for very little money, especially considering that hard disk price scales closely with the capacity. For more information on this, you can see the Cambridge Computer Support website.
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