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Best Hard Disk setup

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February 17, 2009 5:16:29 AM

Hi all,

I am launching into building a new i7 based desktop - main goal is video/audio processing. I pretty much have my build mapped out, but I was looking for some advice on the best Hard Disk config.

My current machine has a pair of 320G disks in Raid1, with a C: partition @40G, and the rest as a work partition. That works fine, and I like the comfort of having Raid1. I don't actually recall *why* I set it up with two partitions, I usually just set up machines with one big partition - but I actually quite like it.

However, I was thinking about performance with this setup, and it seems it would not really be optimal. It may be better to have a small boot drive (80G or so), and then a pair of Raid1 drives for my work space. That way the C partition and my work partition would be physically located on different disks, and I should get maximum throughput. I might even consider raid1 for the boot partition as well, although if there were a big performance goal, I might also consider a small raid0 array, and do regular backups.

When I look at the THG builds though, they don't seem to follow this approach - and I expect that they would if there were any performance to be gained.

Any comments on what is the best approach?

Thanks,
Chris.

More about : hard disk setup

February 17, 2009 5:27:05 AM

Usually the idea is to have your Operating System and Programs installed on a RAID 0 array with a couple of small, fast drives (VelociRaptors or SSD's if you can swing it) and your storage on either a single larger drive or a pair of them in RAID 1, I believe.
February 17, 2009 5:47:36 AM

Think of the various RAID configurations like Lego building blocks and tailor them to your specific needs. Everyone's needs are different. I would suspect that the builds on these forums are primarily constrained by budget, because RAID is expensive (especially if you add a hardware controller). You've probably noticed that we often try to shave 20 or 30 bucks here and there so we can max out the GPU. :) 

A RAID 0 array would have higher throughput than RAID 1, so you're probably right when you say that you should RAID 0 your workspace with backups to another disk.

One very nice generic configuration is 2 Velociraptors in RAID 0 for OS/Apps with data stored on two terabyte drives in RAID 1. You could also put the swap file on the non-OS drive in a separate partition for higher speed.

The possibilities are endless here. If you want to be adventurous, try RAID 0+1 or Matrix RAID...
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February 17, 2009 6:10:04 AM

Thanks for the quick replies. I am basing the build around an ASUS P6T Deluxe, so RAID is built in. I see Newegg has WD2500YD's for only $40 a piece, so a pair of those looks to be a good place to start. I should have mentioned that I am also going for a "quiet" build here - so was originally planning on a pair of WD10EADS 1TB drives in Raid1. I think I am now leaning towards adding a pair of the 250G drives as a boot partition, although I am a little worried that 4 spinning disks might start to get noisy (I will use this setup for audio recording).

Now I wonder if I will be brave enough to go with Raid0, or if I'll stick with Raid1. I do like the security of knowing one bad disk won't ruin my whole day...

Thanks,
Chris.

Thanks,
Chris.
February 17, 2009 6:21:08 AM

Just run RAID 0 on your OS / Programs only... these are the main things that would benefit from the extra speed anyway, and there's no need to back them up, they can always just be re-installed. Store your data on a serpate drive or RAID 1 array.
February 17, 2009 6:42:42 AM

EQPlayer said:
Just run RAID 0 on your OS / Programs only... these are the main things that would benefit from the extra speed anyway, and there's no need to back them up, they can always just be re-installed. Store your data on a serpate drive or RAID 1 array.


When disaster does strike though, I find reinstalling everything can take days, and there are always little programs you forget about and have to go hunting for. Although I always try to save program settings with my data, I also find that Windows does tend to put a lot of things on the C-drive (settings and so on, all that stuff under "Documents and settings") that are a pain to recover/redo.

Hmmm, still on the fence here, do I double the risk of going through all that, for the extra performance of raid0? I guess I could look into "image" backups of my boot partition, although I have never had much success in that area...

Thanks,
Chris.
February 17, 2009 6:53:10 AM

ctann said:
Hi all,

I am launching into building a new i7 based desktop - main goal is video/audio processing. I pretty much have my build mapped out, but I was looking for some advice on the best Hard Disk config.

My current machine has a pair of 320G disks in Raid1, with a C: partition @40G, and the rest as a work partition. That works fine, and I like the comfort of having Raid1. I don't actually recall *why* I set it up with two partitions, I usually just set up machines with one big partition - but I actually quite like it.

However, I was thinking about performance with this setup, and it seems it would not really be optimal. It may be better to have a small boot drive (80G or so), and then a pair of Raid1 drives for my work space. That way the C partition and my work partition would be physically located on different disks, and I should get maximum throughput. I might even consider raid1 for the boot partition as well, although if there were a big performance goal, I might also consider a small raid0 array, and do regular backups.

When I look at the THG builds though, they don't seem to follow this approach - and I expect that they would if there were any performance to be gained.

Any comments on what is the best approach?

Thanks,
Chris.


You come to a predominately gamers' forum to ask how to set up HDD's? You must be mad.

Get a reliable drive for boot, maybe a raptor even, though it is not really all that much faster than most new drives. Then get a couple of 'whatever size your projects require' type drives in raid1.

Better would be a NAS unit in raid 5 for backups, but then we're starting to talk big bucks.
February 17, 2009 10:05:51 AM

hi im new i to all this and im now even more confused. normally when i set up my pc i just have one hard drive with one partition. am i doing it wrong? i dont realy understand all the raid stuff. the pc im setting up has a 1tb drive i also have a 160gb sats and another 160gb ide what would you guys sugest for that????
February 18, 2009 1:18:06 AM

+1 to croc!

One issue to be aware of when you have so many HDDs is actually heat generation. Try to use a case with a fan in front of the HDD racks for better cooling. And don't squish your HDDs together--try to leave spaces between them when mounting in your case. Better cooling = longevity here.

When assessing the risk of using RAID 0, one drive failure wrecks the whole array. That's actually the same risk as running one hard drive the normal way, IMO, since if that one drive fails, you're dead in the water--same as in RAID 0.

For a work rig, do consider a hardware RAID controller so you can port the array to another computer, if you ever upgrade in the future. Using the mobo RAID controller means the disk arrays are bound to the mobo forever. I.e. you'll have to think of a way to move your data over to your new rig, which may or may not be easy.

Disk image is the way to go for backups of your OS/apps. Try Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost.


@the-donkey: It's good forum etiquette to start a new thread with your own enquiry, rather than latching on to another's thread. You might be better served by posting in the Storage forum instead.
February 18, 2009 1:50:44 AM

What is your objective?
The value of raid-1 for protecting data is that you can recover from a hard drive failure quickly.
It is for servers that can't afford any down time.
Recovery from a hard drive failure is just moments.
Fortunately hard drives do not fail often.
Mean time to failure is claimed to be on the order of 1,000,000 hours.(100 years)
Raid-1 does not protect you from other types of losses such as viruses,
software errors,raid controller failure, operator error, or fire...etc.
For that, you need EXTERNAL backup.
If you have external backup, and can afford some recovery time, then you don't need raid-1.


There is generally no real world(vs. synthetic transfer rate benchmarks) performance advantage to raid of any kind.
Go to www.storagereview.com at this link: http://faq.storagereview.com/tiki-index.php?page=Single...
There are some specific applications that will benefit, but
gaming is not one of them. Even if you have an application which reads one input file sequentially, and writes
it out, you will perform about as well by putting the input on one drive, and the output on the other.

If you value performance, my best suggestion is to use two 300gb velociraptors.
Because of the 2.5" form factor, they are denser, and therefore have a faster transfer rate.
Put the OS on one and don't bother with partitioning, It is not worth the hassle.

Get an external drive for backup. Use acronis true image to create a restorable image of everything, and then do incremental backups when needed, or on a regular schedule.
Try to put your source files on one drive, and the target on the other, so there is little arm movement when doing sequential processing.
February 18, 2009 2:22:14 AM

+1 Superb HDD advice from geofelt.
February 18, 2009 8:03:38 AM

i appologise for being thick m8 im new
February 18, 2009 1:51:01 PM

2 Raptors in RAID 0 for OS/Apps is probably the best way to go, imo. Then, as croc said, get a hdd size that fits your needs/budget. I just bought a WD Caviar Black 1TB and its great.

Also, go with Acronis. It's much better than Ghost. If I read right, Acronis does a bit-by-bit copy of the data, so its 100% accurate, where as Ghost just copies files as a whole.

Akebono 98 mentioned something about the swap file being on another partition. can anyone explain why? and how to optimize performance with the swap file.
February 19, 2009 1:52:19 AM

With respect to buying a HDD that fits your needs / budget, don't forget the issue of platter density, as that affects overall speed (higher density = faster). For example, on the current WD Caviar Black line, 1TB has the highest density (166GB/platter), followed by 640GB (160GB/platter), followed by 750GB (150GB/platter), followed by 500GB (125GB/platter). Conventional wisdom recommends the 640GB for all-round use, with 1TB if you can afford it and / or need the extra space. These two are the only really compelling size points, IMO, and 500 and 750 don't really make sense. However, you might go with a 320GB if you're on a really tight budget. Sometimes, you buy a HDD for the speed it offers, not just the size of your requirements.


@the-donkey: No need to apologize, we're all here to help. :) 


@djwazzup06: You put the swap file on the non-OS/apps drive because the drive arm doesn't have to move back and forth when accessing OS/apps, then swap. Similar logic to geofelt's source and target point above. You put it in its own separate partition so it doesn't fragment as much.
February 23, 2009 8:35:43 PM

croc said:
You come to a predominately gamers' forum to ask how to set up HDD's? You must be mad.


Mad? Well, I got a lot of good advice here, so it doesn't sound so mad to me! This website is mostly about squeezing out the best performance - whatever works for gamers will almost certainly work for me. Only difference is that I don't care too much about the graphics card...

So, thanks everyone for the good advice. I looked at the veloci-raptor idea, but it seems that the cost out-weighs the benefits. I also looked at putting in a relatively small boot-drive, but with Hitachi 1T (B-series) drives at NewEgg for < $90, I decided to go with a pair of those in Raid1 for now, with the idea of adding a second pair when need arises (and deciding from there whether to go with a second RAID array, or possible a RAID 10).

As far as backups - I do offsite-backup for my irreplaceable files (stored on a ReadyNas Duo with mirror drive). For my boot-drive - raid1 suits my needs. Although backing up the root partition is "safer", it is also a lot higher maintenance. Yes, it can be done relatively easily, but the number of people who have a really dedicated attention to backups is tiny - and I am pretty sure that I would fall into that category pretty quickly. Raid1 means I have the "warm-fuzzy" that my root drive will survive a disk crash, with zero effort on my part. In the event that something so serious as to take out both drives occurs - well, probably the machine will need a major overhaul in that case anyway.

Thanks again,

Chris.




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