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Questions about NAS or an External Enclosure for 3 TB Hitachi Drives?

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June 27, 2011 5:41:42 PM

Hi, I have a couple of questions before I make my purchase:

I have four Hitachi Deskstar 3TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives. 2 of them have data on them which I would like to keep.

I want to take the drives out of my PC and make them into external drives which I would like to access from all my computers, I read that most enclosures don't support 3 TB Drives. Would the ICY DOCK 4 bay enclosure work or should I buy a drobo FS NAS?

What's the difference between an enclosure and a NAS? Say I insert the 4 drives into the Icy Dock 4 bay enclosure would I be able to access my drives from all my computers the same way I would do a NAS or is a NAS better?

The Drobo FS hooks up to an ethernet port of my router while the Icy Dock hooks up to my computer using either USB or ESATA.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
a c 104 G Storage
June 27, 2011 6:33:22 PM

Hi there, & Welcome to Tom's Hardware!

An external (removable) drive or drive bay connects by USB or eSata or Firewire to your computer, like the IcyDock4. Most external enclosures will say how large a drive they will support - didn't say in the advertising or manual, so can't answer that part with any certainty. This unit would be available to your computer and any account signed on to your computer, but not other computers on your LAN.

A NAS (network attached storage) unit connects to your router by ethernet cabling or wireless connection, on a network (network attached). It has a built in file server, and will be assigned an IP address just like any other network device. That way anyone on the network can have access to the storage area for backups or additional storage.

And to confuse the whole picture even more, there is an SAN (storage area network) which can be thought of as a large bank of file servers usually offsite for big time enterprise storage and safety needs.

What you are looking for is a NAS unit.
You always have to check to see the largest drive the NAS units will accomodate. The most recent D-Link NAS unit for exampole will support up to 1 TB drives.
The Drobo FS (15TB Bundle with 5 x 3TB Hitachi Hard Drives) says it will handle 3 TB drives, and a couple models will support 1 TB or 2 TB drives.
the 3 TB one is quite pricy at $2300 (includes drives)!
June 27, 2011 6:45:31 PM

Thanks for the help! What would be the best way to get the data off the two 3 TB Drives so that I could insert them into a NAS? the Drobo FS formats the drives once they're inserted which is why I want to copy the data off of it before hand. Thanks
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a c 104 G Storage
June 27, 2011 7:09:08 PM

SLR2009 said:
Thanks for the help! What would be the best way to get the data off the two 3 TB Drives so that I could insert them into a NAS? the Drobo FS formats the drives once they're inserted which is why I want to copy the data off of it before hand. Thanks


Is your computer set up with the new UEFI BIOS that will handle 3 TB drives natively?

If you are going to connect them in a RAID-0 or RAID-5 configuration, it's a different story.

But if you were going to install the drives separately with separate drive letters, the easiest way would be to connect one of the empty Hitashi's to the NAS, then copy over the data from a partially used one. When the data's copied over safely, then delete the data on the Hitashi with the desktop connection.

With most NAS multi-drive units, you can configure them in several different ways, from separate drives with different drive letters, to dynamic spanned drives, to RAID-0, RAID-1 or when large enough RAID-5. All depends on your needs and need for speed or redundancy
June 27, 2011 8:17:03 PM

I appreciate your help. My pc is 3 years old. Could I insert the drives into an external enclosure and copy the data to an external drive connected to the pc?

The drobo fs can hold 15 tb of storage? Can I insert five 3 tb drives into the drobo fs?
a c 104 G Storage
June 27, 2011 9:06:11 PM

SLR2009 said:
I appreciate your help. My pc is 3 years old. Could I insert the drives into an external enclosure and copy the data to an external drive connected to the pc?

The drobo fs can hold 15 tb of storage? Can I insert five 3 tb drives into the drobo fs?


An important point to consider is how the data was written to a 3 TB hard drive initially. Until the newer MB's with UEFI BIOS's became recently available, volumes were limited to 2.2 TB of space. That is a Basic drive MBR partition limit. Possibly the computer was recognizing only 2 TB of space or they were partitioned into 2 separate partitions with separate drive letters.

The Drobo FS says it will handle 5 3TB HDDs (sounds like that's how it is offereed). I'm not sure how you could manage or use that amount of disk space unless it is set up in a RAID-0 of RAID-5 conifuration.
June 27, 2011 11:10:19 PM

I'm confused, are there any external hard drive enclosures that support 3 TB drives?
a c 104 G Storage
June 28, 2011 12:33:57 AM

SLR2009 said:
I'm confused, are there any external hard drive enclosures that support 3 TB drives?


The Drobo fs removable drive enclosure will support 5 of the 3 TB HDDs as listed in the specs.

It's not the external setup, it's how the disks are configured and how the volumes are initially setup so the OS can address all that data space. Up until very recently, a Basic drive was configured with 4 partitions and could only address 2.2 TB each. That was a limitation of the 32 bit OS, not the enclosure. If these drives were set up individually, one completely separate from another, then you should be able to connect one to your computer and see the data. That's the important determination to make. If you can read the data on a drive or the two drives, then you can copy it to a separate drive for temporary storage. With the data backed up, then you can determine what to do with 4 3 TB drives, and what storage configurations options are available with the removable drive enclosure.
June 28, 2011 1:10:28 AM

Well I went to Microcenter and I bought a Jaws external hard drive enclosure which is supposed to support 3 tb drives (listed on box). I put the a 3 tb internal drive into the enclosure, plugged it into my PC (Running Windows 7 64bit) the drivers installed but no drives are showing up in "My Computer" Please help.
a c 104 G Storage
June 28, 2011 2:14:02 AM

SLR2009 said:
Well I went to Microcenter and I bought a Jaws external hard drive enclosure which is supposed to support 3 tb drives (listed on box). I put the a 3 tb internal drive into the enclosure, plugged it into my PC (Running Windows 7 64bit) the drivers installed but no drives are showing up in "My Computer" Please help.


Before we go on, what is the model # of your Jaws enclosure. I found one at MicroCenter Model# HT-323U3, which is a SATA III to USB 3.0 enclosure, which holds 1 3 TB drive, not 5. Is that the one you purchased?

Next thing to do is go to Disk Management, and in the graphical area down below there will be listings of the attached Drives Windows recognizes.
Please report what you find in the Disk Status column, and the Volume Status column

The first row Disk Status should be similar to: Disk 0, Basic, size, Online,. The Volume Status should be below a dark blue band and should be similar to: VolumeName, DriveLetter, size, NTFS, Healthy(Primary etc.)

The next row, or row related to this new Hitashi 3TB drive should be similar to the above.
Please report what you find in the new Hitashi row. Pay attention to the band color above the Volume Status, whether there is a DriveLetter or not, what it lists the size, and if it says unallocated.

That way we can get it set up properly.
June 28, 2011 2:44:36 AM

I appreciate your help

Correct. The enclosure only holds one 3 TB Drive. I opened Disk Management and a popup appeared saying "You must initialize a disk before Logical Disk Manager can access it. It says "Use the following Partition style for the selected disks": MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table). Should I click "GPT GUID Partition Table"? Will clicking that format my drive?
June 28, 2011 3:34:31 AM

Should I purchase and try a different enclosure such as one of Icy Docks single bay enclosures? Do I need to do something with the jumper cables on the drive? Am I basically out of luck in accessing and copying the data off of my 3 TB Drives? In disk management the drive is listed as "unallocated"
a b G Storage
June 28, 2011 3:46:11 AM

Just partition it into two 1.5 tb slices and you shouldn't have problems or a 2TB and a 1TB partition. That should pretty much solve your problems with older systems.
June 28, 2011 3:49:52 AM

But wouldn't partitioning the drive erase my data?

I don't know which 3 TB drives have data on them which is why I need to try one drive and then another.
a b G Storage
June 28, 2011 3:51:28 AM

So wait, I might be a bit confused right now...do you have already data on the drives that you can't access anymore because of the external enclosures? I would keep the two that have data inside the system that is running right now, and partition the two empty ones accordingly. A quick partion/format will do it, no need to waste an entire night on it to do a thorough format to test if this will solve your issues.
a b G Storage
June 28, 2011 3:52:55 AM

Sorry there is a bit of lag between the responses. I would just try one drive after the other in the system that worked to see which drives have the data on them. What I do is mark the drives that I have lying around with a unique ID and name the drives when formatting accordingly. This way I always know which drive has what files.
June 28, 2011 3:59:31 AM

The system that the 3 TB drives are inside won't power on and it's too expensive for me to get the computer fixed. The drives are in perfect condition. My other PC runs fine though. I want to connect my 3 TB drives(from the PC that doesn't work anymore) in an enclosure and copy the data to my working PC or external drive hooked up to it
a b G Storage
June 28, 2011 4:14:20 AM

Ah, well western digital coupled with their 3tb green drives with a highpoint rocketraid 620 raid card. This way it would work on older machines. That would probably be the easiest and cheapest way to get the data of the drives. But I shall return tomorrow with more advice. I might come up with another cheap solution to the problem. By that time hopefully john_vanKirk will also have returned ;) 
a c 104 G Storage
June 28, 2011 3:42:55 PM

Hi again,

You have the older BIOS on your MB, and I don't think you want to get into Dynamic Disks at this time, so here's what to do with the new Hitashi drive you have in the enclosure.

In Disk Management, choose Basic Drive, and MBR partition type.

Below the black band where it says Unallocated, right click and choose 'New Simple Volume', and choose to make 2 partitions, each 1.5 TB in size. It will place a partition in the middle of the data space.
In the first section, click format with NTFS, which will take a while, then assign it a Drive Letter. It may ask you for a VolumeName, which you can choose now, or later by right clicking on properties.

The DriveLetter is how the OS recognizes this 'volume' and the Volume Name is how Windows Explorer identifies the volume. Since you are going to do the same to the 2nd partition when done, you need to decide on a Lettering scheme, so the OS can clearly ID which partition you want.

So, how about K, L, M, N, O, P which will cover all 3 of your 3 TB disks. Also each should have a different 'Name' so Windows sees them differently. If you don't assign a 'Name' to the volume, it's called 'New Volume" and you could have 6 'New Volumes'. Windows won't know which one to choose!

With these large drives, for simplicity, you can make up to 4 partitions on each drive if you want, but don't get carried away. Keep it simple.

When done with the first HDD, it could be attached internally to your computer and it will work.

You can do the same with your other New empty HDD, or save it for later.

You have 2 drives with data on them. Connect 1 in the Jaws enclosure, and see if Windows is able to read the data. If not, report back and we will troubleshoot those. Don't partition or format them as you will lose the data.
!