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NAS,DAS, or Internal? Pros-Cons

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March 17, 2011 6:46:54 PM

So, I've lost a few drives (WD) in the last couple years. More than all dead drives in the last 15 previous years, and figure with the new huge sizes they're also getting more fragile.
So, I want to implement something more secure. I'm management now, but was once a decent tech.

I'm looking at doing RAID 5 either Internal on an ICH10R controller (EVGA P55 LE board), or external with a DAS or NAS box. So far, here's my thinking:

DAS: ESATA with a port multiplier. Should be good (almost full?) speed. External, so motherboard bios updates (or replacements) shouldn't affect. No extra drain on PS (650 PC Power and Cooling). Relatively easy to setup. Though, the cheap power supplies and connections I've seen in some "HD Enclosures" makes me nervous about this, as it's basically an enclosure with a port multiplier, and none from a good name brand.

NAS: Well, kinda limited by the network and switch/hub, isn't it? Seems like it would be slow. I do have multiple systems accessing files from the RAID, but usually only one writing them (except initial setup). Still, a lot of network traffic messing with my download speeds. Has some better brand names behind them, so maybe not the same cheapness factors as the DAS boxes.

Internal: Fast. No more hardware to buy (just drives and cables). More heat in case (not sure if it's enough to worry about). Drain on PS (is that a concern?). Compatibility with existing OS install issues? That could be big. I have an 80G SSD for my OS and most of my programs installed to a small-ish (will be replaced by RAID) 250gb drive. So, I would want to keep the 80g set to ACHI (when I had it set to fat it was MUCH slower) but the raid needs to be set to "RAID". I don't know if RAID setting will allow the SSD not in the raid to function as ACHI? I really don't want to go through the OS reload AGAIN. Also, the SSD was not-worth-it-slow when it was set to IDE. It takes about a day for me to get all my programs installed and setup from scratch.

Internal software raid?: I'd consider it. How hard is it to recover from a failure? It's an i7-860 and 4g of RAM (I'd consider more ram too).

What do I use it for? Games, movies, music, work, everything.

Any advice is appreciated.

Chibbs
a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 7:48:49 PM

Do you have a budget? What OS are you running? Do you keep this system on 24/7? Is it a central storage environment for all your data?

Ok...DAS through eSATA and internal should function at nearly identical speeds, if not identical. The only thing to keep in mind is that the SATA spec only allows cables of up to 2m, I believe, so you can't go far with it.

I have a simple NAS set up and it's decent, but not speedy. It is very accessible and I don't have to keep my computer on to access it from my phone, iPod, etc - very low power as well.

I wouldn't worry too much about power and heat from adding a drive to your internal storage...I think a HDD only uses 5 - 10 watts of power and produces little heat. It should be compatible with your OS. I am confused at how your OS was slow in AHCI - can you explain "set to fat" - are you talking about FAT and not something like NTFS or EXT (linux). You should be able to configure all of your drives to be in AHCI.

I guess in the end, it's still up to you. If you need it to be fast for use for games, etc, I'd go internal or eSATA. Make sure you have it set to AHCI, or eSATA won't be hot-swappable/pluggable.

If you're looking for something more secure, make sure to back it and move it off-site. RAID will help in case of a drive failure, but you'd need at least 3 drives to take advantage of RAID 5. For my home situation, I'd rather have backups and images to restore than deal with RAID.
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a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 11:24:50 PM

Similar situation here. I really like the idea of having only the ssd with os and main programs in my computer too. The rest can be on the NAS.

imho NAS is the way to go. Both DAS and NAS will suffer from latency issues as compared to your internal setup. Arguebaly DAS could be faster sequentially but you're limited to 2m esata or ... 3m? USB3.0 (USB 3 speed could be negatively impacted with cable length) Also, through the DAS it is slightly more difficult to serve to your other computers.

Your Gigabit network should be able to handle 100MB/s allowing 25 theoretical MB/s for overhead. That's fast enough for me to get pictures and videos, etc.

Then there's the RAID 5 issues. Build a little NAS box and run ZFSguru or something safer. As you say, with 2tb drives and such there's much greater chance of bad sectors and dangerous parity concerns.
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March 18, 2011 12:26:27 AM

Thanks for the replies.
I don't have a specific budget, but don't want to go too crazy. I could see $500 including drives maybe a little more being what I was thinking? $1000 would be the waaaay upper limit.

I have Win7 64bit running. I've played around with Linux distros, and would switch but I enjoy a lot of games and wine/cedega/whatever-they-call-it-now just has too many hoops to jump through for each new game it seems.

As far as data goes, it's mostly movies and music that take up the space. With blu-ray rips at like 8gb a piece I don't have a ton, but when I grab 'em, well, it adds up fast. Plus games are 4-10gb or more lately. I was thinking 3 1TB WD Black to get 2TB usable on a raid 5. I could be convinced a 4th drive for 0+1 or 1+0 if I was going internal without an expensive controller.

Fault tolerance and speed are pretty much overriding factors. I'd say a good backup solution or NAS would do, but I know I'd just get too impatient to upload the 100GB of stuff I just downloaded and it just wouldn't happen. But, I'm damn tired of losing data.

eSATA cable length isn't really an issue for my setup. My only concern from reading tonight is: what happens if the DAS unit fails. I've got to find a compatible controller or buy an identical unit to recover my data? (same concerns for internal cards although the ICH10R on my motherboard seems pretty ubiquitous)
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a b G Storage
March 18, 2011 2:47:54 AM

Some DAS such as drobos use they're own raid which may be difficult to recover. This is true. As you say an intel matrix raid and ich7,8,9,10 are recoverable anytime, anywhere, if; a) you have not lost more drives then your fault tolerance and, b) your remaining drives do not have any bad sectors containing metadata.

That's one nice thing about building your NAS. A cheapish asus mobo which allows you to use ddr2 or ddr3 ECC ram and a cheapish 250e or something. Run zfsguru or freenas so you have a machine which can survive the failure of any one part. The zfs file system is intact after a mobo failure.
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a b G Storage
March 22, 2011 12:44:15 PM

I'd second ZFS...very cool features. I've wanted to set up something with ZFS myself...really just for fun, but haven't had the time.
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March 26, 2011 1:20:27 AM

Hi Huron,

My question is a bit more basic but I think similar. I'm managing IT for a small office. While we ran 3 PCs and laptops standalone I had no problems backing with a 600GB Maxtor just moving it from machine to machine. As we are now expanding I'm having to manage up to 10 PCs and laptops over a wifi network I need to be a bit more efficient. My requirements basically are:

1. 1TB + storage for back up
2. Storage connected to network to access all PCs via network
3. Back up software managed from a 'master' PC, scheduled daily incremental, weekly full back ups
4. Back up storage removal to take off site

From my research NAS seems to be answer.

I presume the backup is initiated from either the master PC or the NAS device, i.e. no software or initiation from the client PCs, other than they are to be left powered up.

Thanks!!
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a b G Storage
March 29, 2011 7:40:23 PM

Sounds like you have a good plan. Just make sure you've got some way to get that data off-site (or at least out of that NAS) regularly. I'd hate for you to lose the backup device and not be able to preserve any of that data.

You should be good with all clients on and some place to store the files. What are you looking at to do the backups?
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March 31, 2011 1:02:05 AM

For the time being I was just planning physically take the NAS off site. Is that recommended, or am I endangering the integrity of NAS by physically transporting it regularly (daily). Of course this also does not give me any redundancy on the back ups. I've been looking at remote back up services but not yet completely sold on them. What do you think of such services?

Thanks for your help.
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a b G Storage
April 1, 2011 6:54:30 PM

Cloud based backups certainly solve the issue with having a backup off site. I think they are certainly better than transporting it, since you still only have data in one location.

It's really ideal to have a backup solution on premise and some way to get those backups out of the building as well.

What backup services are you looking at? How much data do you need to protect?
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April 2, 2011 1:06:26 AM

No specific services in detail as yet, just researching the concept and who the players are out there. Size-wise, at current patient volumes, we've estimated 1TB max for the next few months. Likely it will drop as our clients are soon expected to require we retain no more than 3 months worth of data any one time. Unless, of course, transaction volume overall increases. Data is primarily DICOM image files from our Digital XRay facilities.

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a b G Storage
April 4, 2011 2:22:37 PM

I've not done any work with cloud vendors, but one of the products we use will co-lo the offsite portion for you - you "vault to cloud," as they put it.

I've been really happy with what we've used it for so far - very efficient, very nice appliance. We "vault" to one of our remote sites, but the co-lo would probably work just fine for you.

Couldn't tell you the cost, but the cost per appliance for us was well below a lot of the other vendors.
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June 13, 2011 1:53:09 PM

Hi Huron,

Just thanks again for your previous input.

I've since set up a Dlink DNS 323 NAS with a 1TB Hitachi HDD, with room for another HDD. Sets up very easy, and another plus was that it can double as a print server and FTP server. I've extended our network to an extension office in the same building so although not exactly the most ideal remote back up I don't have my eggs all in the same basket (room).

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a b G Storage
June 13, 2011 4:05:12 PM

My pleasure to help. I have a DNS 323 at home and like it a lot. It's quite functional and has been very reliable for years.
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a b G Storage
June 16, 2011 1:26:41 AM

chibbard said:
Thanks for the replies.
I don't have a specific budget, but don't want to go too crazy. I could see $500 including drives maybe a little more being what I was thinking? $1000 would be the waaaay upper limit ...


I would go for the DAS with PM ware with Hardware RAID, so it's independent from OS

I have very good result from SPM394 with my client custom built 40TB NAS and my DAS 5x drives base on

with 5x 3.0TB @ $119.00 at Newegg, I can get read/write at 240MB/sec.
I can move this raid to ANY windows system in my house, just plug in eSATA. That's it, thank you to driver-less raid
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