Cheap HDD stack solution

I have an HP xw6000 workstation where I'm currently at the limit of HDD capacity.

I put in an PCI SATA card, took out the floppy drive and have managed to get 3 SATA HDDs permanently inside, and fit a hotswap HDD tray onto one of the 5.25 bays for remaining HDDs I tend to access. I've got a couple of external ICY Boxes I connect using external SATA and the remaining HDDs are hotswapped.

I've read about RAIDs and NAS units....but was wondering what would be the cheapest option for me to somehow get a stack of my terabyte SATA HDDs and access quickly from my xw6000. Buying another CPU unit to act as a network server seems a bit over-the-top for my needs....since I don't really have a network at home. It's just through the wireless ASDL router. RAID seems a bit too complicated for my simple mind :$

Are there any other cheap techie options I have? Maybe some sort of mini-tower type external HDD enclosure that connects via external SATA? Would rather buy bits off ebay and build it myself to save costs.....
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  1. What do you consider to be cheap? There's always something like this, with no RAID but a port multiplier. NOTE that you need an SATA controller that supports port multipliers, or it won't work.

    http://www.addonics.com/products/mst.php
  2. Something under £100?

    Apart from a port multiplier supported PCI SATA card...anything else needed to make that work?
  3. Nope. This is the best solution that I can think of, other than a homemade one I will mention in a minute. The SATA protocol supports port fan-out up to five drives from a single SATA channel. Of course, the aggregate throughput of the drives is limited to the speed of the single channel. A hardware port multiplier is required to fan out the one connection to five. Most basic SATA controllers do not support port multipliers, so if attached to such a device they will not see the drives, or see only one.

    You could, in theory, take an empty case with a power supply, install drives, and put it REALLY CLOSE to your computer and run the SATA cables from the controller in your machine to the drives. Not something that I would want to depend on.

    You could go a lot more expensive and increase your bandwidth with an Infiniband link between your base machine and the storage stack, but that's clearly not your priority.
  4. It's going to cost. Here's the cheapest port-multiplier controller I found, with no guarantee from me as to it's quality: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815104008 . That's 45 US dollars, plus an empty four-bay unit for, say, $120.

    I would probably buy a package of five-bay unit plus controller. Here is an example for US $170, almost in your price range: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111166 .

    A thought: Can you replace the drives in your machine with much larger drives, increasing capacity that way instead?
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