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Storage solution for an ever-expanding media collection?

Last response: in Storage
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June 3, 2011 6:25:27 AM

So for the past few years, like many other people, I have been slowly building my collection of music, movies, and games. It used to all fit on a 500GB external Western Digital My Book (probably about 2.5 years ago). Now, most of my data is spread across multiple internal drives in external enclosures, with the sum total of about 3.2TB. With my computer aging by the hour, the idea of investing in a new system is becoming more and more wanted and needed. However, this brings with it a dilemma of what should I do to solve my storage problem?

At the current rate at which my data is increasing, I figure that 6-8TB should be sufficient for the next 1-3 years and 8-10 for 2-4. My main problem is how can I setup this type of storage? I would prefer to stay away from small external drives and NAS devices as well. What I was initially planning was to do a 10TB RAID-5 array of 6x2TB HDDs in a new desktop computer, however I discovered many criticisms with that type of RAID of the number of drives in relation to the possible failure rate.

So what do you guys (and girls) think I should do? Make a separate file storage server with some sort of RAID array that will allow redundancy and data protection? Should I stick with just the one, main PC idea and put lots of storage in it? Below I'll list some major points I would prefer to have with the end result of my build:

- One or two large volumes/partitions
- Data security in case a HDD or multiple HDDs fail
- Something that is possibly scalable in the future, in case my figures are wrong and my data starts to increase exponentially

Thanks for everyone's suggestions.
-Dave

Best solution

a b G Storage
June 3, 2011 6:14:51 PM

You did not list a budget, so I hope yours is flexible. Doing this properly may become expensive.
To minimize the number of volumes, you're going to need to use RAID, most likely RAID-5. To do this right, you'll need drives that are designed for a RAID environment, which mostly concerns the time it takes for them to report failures. Too long, and the drive will get dropped from the RAID. These enterprise-class drives tend to be twice as expensive as non-RAID drives (e.g. this WD RE-4 is $200: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ).
RAID-5 offers decent data security, however it sounds like you can rather easily maintain backups of your data on optical media, since individual files won't be changing once you add them to your collection; also burn new files to DVD, and there's your backup.
Scalability will be tougher. You may need to get a RAID card rather than relying on the limited number of SATA ports on a typical mobo. These cards can be a few hundred dollars, and you'll want an extra one in case of failure.
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June 4, 2011 4:52:17 AM

My budget is going to be somewhat flexible because I do want to do this correctly. The drive in your link seems like a solid contender, although there seems like it had more negative reviews than positive in terms in failure rate. What is your opinion of this drive below:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I've had good luck with Hitachi's for the past few years in my external enclosures, both running cooler and having less reallocated bad sectors than the Seagate's and WD's I've used. I know that for RAID arrays it's best to stay away from Green/ECO drives and sub-7200RPM drives, as the elongated spin-up times could mistakenly be reported as a bad drive.
As far as the type of RAID setup to use, you mention RAID-5 as a good option for the amount of drives/storage and for future scalability. Are there any specific RAID card controllers that you can recommend? Also, what should I do in terms of formatting (will NTFS suffice and will it be recognizable in Windows 7 64-bit)? And what should I use to manage the RAID setup (are there any applications built into Windows or software that comes with the RAID controller card)? I've seen many people suggest a Linux environment to easily create and manage high-capacity RAID volumes, to which I don't completely object to; just being a Windows man myself, it comes easier to me.
Thank you for all your advice
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a b G Storage
June 4, 2011 4:35:28 PM

For a non-RAID specific drive, it does look like that drive will work well in a RAID, particularly one that isn't too demanding (e.g. not a business). This article, from a LIMITED dataset, suggests that Hitachi drives are the most reliable: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hdd-reliability-sto... but it is obvious from the article that this may not be representative and does not account for all possible environments in which drives might be used.
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June 17, 2011 3:58:29 AM

Best answer selected by layer8.
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a b G Storage
June 17, 2011 9:48:50 AM

Thanks. What did you decide?
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June 18, 2011 4:14:42 AM

Onus said:
Thanks. What did you decide?

I'm still playing around with all my options and saving up money for the build. I know that if I want it done right, I have to put up some good money for it. When it is all complete, you'll be the first to see the end results on here. Thanks again for your help.
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