RAID tower enclosures/controllers

HI all,

I have a file server built up right now using Win 7 64-bit - Asus M4A88T-M/USB3, 4 Gig RAM, a 320Gb system drive on IDE and four 2TB drives on SATA ports, all configured to be seen as one volume (inside Windows - not using the board's RAID controller).

I want to build myself a backup RAID tower. I was thinking of using Sans Digital's towers (8-bay, in RAID 5), but they don't seem to be very well reviewed. Also, I could look at Norco's enclosures, but I'd have to get a separate controller and eSATA PCI-e expansion card, probably. My questions :

1. Any other enclosures to recommend?
2. All of my PCI-e slots (including the graphics card one) are going to be used up - all that's left is the standard PCI slot. Any way I can use that, or use something else altogether? I can always get rid of one of the PCI-e cards if it comes to that;
3. IF I used the NORCO enclosures - how would I connect that to my PC? Could I use one of my mobo's SATA slots?

Another option, I suppose, would be to max out my drives in my file server right now (I have room for one more on my mobo), and somehow configure that in RAID5. I could do that (would save some bucks), but :

4. How do I get the 4 TB or so of data already on my disks, to the new RAID array? I'd have to format everything in order to put it in RAID, right?
5. A RAID controller has to be in a PCI-e slot, correct?

Whew! Lots of questions, I know - looking forward to your replies!
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More about raid tower enclosures controllers
  1. IMHO, backup storage should not live in the same box as the live storage. Connect to your backup over a network or, if you need better performance, with an external enclosure connected by eSATA.

    3. RAID enclosures run from a low-end that requires the RAID controller to be in your PC to a high-end that does RAID in the box and connects to your network, or to your PC via SCSI cables, eSATA, fible, Infiniband, or whatever you want to pay for. The NORCO boxes seem to require that the RAID be done on your PC.

    5. There are older PCI RAID controllers, but they will have lower transfer rates.

    Finally, if you have money to burn, see this recent article:,12852.html

    My personal solution is a hard case with ten bare drives, and two bays that accept bare drives. For me, there is something reassuring about having my backup storage offline so that it can't be damaged by malware or power spikes. If I were a little more careful, I'd keep them at a friend's house, too.
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