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Reliability and performance for the best price; Small RAID setup

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  • Performance
  • NAS / RAID
  • Storage
  • Product
Last response: in Storage
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May 31, 2011 5:30:13 PM

Please give your opinion about the reliability and performance value of current hard drives.
1) Usage: A RAID-5 (4-8 drive array) used for media storage/ file back-up on a HTPC or gaming PC.
2) Budget: A major concern for creating the initial array, but drive size is not a major factor since there is room to grow.
3) Cache size:What size will provide the best balance of performance and value: 16/32/64 MB?

Thank you for your assistance.

===== Edit June 01, 2011 =====
I received some messages advising me to use a RAID1+0 array instead of a RAID5 array, namely quoting Art S. Kagel. Please add your opinions.
Thank you.

More about : reliability performance price small raid setup

a c 132 G Storage
June 1, 2011 11:04:12 AM

ChromeTusk said:
Thank you for the advice. Since I plan to buy 3-4 of these to create the array, what do you think of the smaller versions such as the WD Caviar Black 640 GB for $60.99 USD?
How do these compare with Samsung drives (recommended from other threads)?

If you are looking at 640 GB drives, consider the one with 64 MB Cache: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

However, price and performance-wise, the 1 TB drives I listed earlier are your best value. Very reliable too. I have both WD as well as Seagate 1 TB HDDs running daily for over 1 1/2 years. I prefer WD and Seagate over other brands.
June 1, 2011 4:56:03 PM

Ubrales said:
If you are looking at 640 GB drives, consider the one with 64 MB Cache: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

However, price and performance-wise, the 1 TB drives I listed earlier are your best value. Very reliable too. I have both WD as well as Seagate 1 TB HDDs running daily for over 1 1/2 years. I prefer WD and Seagate over other brands.

Thank you again. It looks like Newegg deactivated the 640GB SATA3 version you linked :(  and the user reviews did not look so good. I guess I need to increase my budget :fou:  and wait longer before creating the array.
In the past, I have only bought WD or Seagate for my personal buillds. I asked about Samsung because other people recommended them.
a c 132 G Storage
June 1, 2011 7:15:24 PM

ChromeTusk said:
Thank you again. It looks like Newegg deactivated the 640GB SATA3 version you linked :(  and the user reviews did not look so good. I guess I need to increase my budget :fou:  and wait longer before creating the array.
In the past, I have only bought WD or Seagate for my personal buillds. I asked about Samsung because other people recommended them.

Try this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a c 324 G Storage
June 1, 2011 7:29:06 PM

Are you going to implement RAID in the chipset, in the OS, or buy a Raid controller? One of our members (Firewire2) swears by these, which are (relatively) cheap and perform well: http://www.datoptic.com/esata-hardware-raid-controller....

Not expandable; limited to five. It attaches to a single SATA II port.

------------------

Obligatory warning: RAID 1 or 5 or whatever is not backup; it's a reliability solution to survive the failure of a single spindle. Do sufficient backups so that, if your RAID data were to become unrecoverable, you could still access all of the data that is important to you.
a c 132 G Storage
June 1, 2011 7:45:00 PM

My RAID 1 is based on my motherboard. Working fine for me over 18 months.

And yes, definitely perform frequent backups. RAID is not a substitute for backup.
June 1, 2011 10:52:39 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Are you going to implement RAID in the chipset, in the OS, or buy a Raid controller? ...
------------------

Obligatory warning: RAID 1 or 5 or whatever is not backup; it's a reliability solution to survive the failure of a single spindle. Do sufficient backups so that, if your RAID data were to become unrecoverable, you could still access all of the data that is important to you.

I have an Asus M4A89GTDPro/USB3 motherboard. The AMD 890XG/SB850 chipset supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 1+0. The board also has 6 internal SATA3 (6.0Gb/s) ports and 1 eSATA on the rear panel. I will likely use a 4-drive array with 1-2 optical drives.
Regarding backups, I do not do them often enough so the RAID is an added layer for reliability in-between the backups. My wife lost a lot of work on one of her laptops so I ask her to back up the files onto my PC.
a c 324 G Storage
June 2, 2011 1:23:21 PM

ChromeTusk said:
I have an Asus M4A89GTDPro/USB3 motherboard. The AMD 890XG/SB850 chipset supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 1+0. The board also has 6 internal SATA3 (6.0Gb/s) ports and 1 eSATA on the rear panel. I will likely use a 4-drive array with 1-2 optical drives.
Regarding backups, I do not do them often enough so the RAID is an added layer for reliability in-between the backups. My wife lost a lot of work on one of her laptops so I ask her to back up the files onto my PC.

About backups, this RAID is a legitimate backup for your wife's files since it's a copy that is not on her primary storage.

The motherboard will give you good enough RAID performance unless you want to do high-throughput stuff like video editing, which seems not to be the case. RAID in the BIOS, not in the OS. OS RAID works, but is slower and eats resources.

If your SATA ports are currently set to IDE mode, you will have to prep the OS and change the mode to RAID. Depending on the OS, changing from AHCI to RAID may be a non-issue. How to do this change depends on your OS; it is easier for Win7. Did you mention your OS? I don't recall seeing it.

Another obligatory (?) warning: If the controller fails, you will likely need a compatible / identical controller (same mobo if you do it in BIOS) to recover. RAID formats are not sufficiently standardized (?) that you can take a RAID0 off one controller and run it on another. A member wrote a guide that may help with doing this (should it prove necessary) : http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/196922-32-switching-s... .

Having a RAID with redundancy (0+1, 5, 6) will indeed reduce your chance of loss of data due to spindle failure, but it will increase your risk of data loss due to other factors. A failed controller, for example. Data recovery from a failed RAID array is much harder than from a single drive.

==============================

Personal style note: I am paranoid about doing backups, but still do not do them often enough to meet my own standards. I compensate for this by mirroring key directories, in which I would not like to lose even a day's activity, to a partition on a second drive using Mirror Folder. Addressing reliability (uptime) and data protection (backup) are intertwined but distinct issues. For example, my "online backups" are vulnerable to a power surge or to malware. You need to set your priorities and accept the remaining risks.
June 2, 2011 5:58:24 PM

WyomingKnott said:
... The motherboard will give you good enough RAID performance unless you want to do high-throughput stuff like video editing, which seems not to be the case. RAID in the BIOS, not in the OS.
... If your SATA ports are currently set to IDE mode, you will have to prep the OS and change the mode to RAID. Depending on the OS, changing from AHCI to RAID may be a non-issue. ... Did you mention your OS? I don't recall seeing it.

Another obligatory (?) warning: If the controller fails, you will likely need a compatible / identical controller (same mobo if you do it in BIOS) to recover. ...

Having a RAID with redundancy (0+1, 5, 6) will indeed reduce your chance of loss of data due to spindle failure, but it will increase your risk of data loss due to other factors. A failed controller, for example. Data recovery from a failed RAID array is much harder than from a single drive.

==============================

Personal style note: I am paranoid about doing backups, but still do not do them often enough to meet my own standards. I compensate for this by mirroring key directories, in which I would not like to lose even a day's activity, to a partition on a second drive using Mirror Folder. Addressing reliability (uptime) and data protection (backup) are intertwined but distinct issues. For example, my "online backups" are vulnerable to a power surge or to malware. You need to set your priorities and accept the remaining risks.

SATA ports 1-4 are set to AHCI, but only 1 is currently used on a HDD. A Blu-ray drive is connected to SATA ports 5, so ports 5-6 are set to IDE.
Running Win7 Pro 64-bit. Also thanks for the warnings. What is your opinion on RAID5 vs RAID1+0 (mirrored then striped)?

I may scratch my current plans and start a different build designed for data protection and network storage. Creating a SAN on my current network is on the list, but I have not invested enough time to developing it.
a c 324 G Storage
June 2, 2011 6:55:00 PM

Save yourself some time and effort and just buy one of these: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Synology-NAS-100tb-sto... ;) 
On a more serious note, you want to choose RAID config with help from someone who has more experience than I do. On either this thread or another recent one, someone was warning about the number of days it can take to recover a large RAID5 array that has been degraded. Check out Sminlal's post in http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...
June 3, 2011 3:57:56 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Save yourself some time and effort and just buy one of these: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Synology-NAS-100tb-sto... ;) 
On a more serious note, you want to choose RAID config with help from someone who has more experience than I do. On either this thread or another recent one, someone was warning about the number of days it can take to recover a large RAID5 array that has been degraded. Check out Sminlal's post in http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

That NAS sounds really nice :wahoo:  , but it might be overkill for me right now (and even over budget). The RAID and SAN setups are also hands on practice for me since I am studying network administration/management. Practice makes progress :) 
a c 324 G Storage
June 3, 2011 4:00:45 PM

That NAS suggestion wasn't serious; note the wink. Hands-on is a great way to learn, especially if you have a few failures along the way.
!