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Internal RAID-1 for Workstation Backup

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February 28, 2012 2:16:25 AM

Hello,

I just built my first computer, a workstation for my research. It's:
-Intel i7-3930k (Intel, NewEgg),
-ASUS P9X79 Deluxe (NewEgg),
-Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1866 (x2, for 32GB total) (NewEgg),
-SeaSonic Platinum-1000 (NewEgg),
-Radeon HD 6970 (NewEgg),
-Crucial m4 256gb (NewEgg),
-ASUS VH242H screen (x3) (NewEgg),
-Corsair H100 water cooler (NewEgg),
-Cooler Master HAF X RC-942 case (NewEgg),
along BluRay burners, internal USB hubs for dongles, etc.

I'd like to add some bulk storage inside the case.
Needs:
-recoverable incase of hardware or software failure;
-at least 1 TB of storage;
-security (it’s going to hold industrial data – not exactly nuclear secrets, but still needs to be protected).

Wants:
-internal to the workstation’s case;
-relatively cheap;
-quiet.

Willing to compromise on:
-speed.

The motherboard, a P9X79 Deluxe, has two built-in RAID options: the Intel Rapid Storage Technology bit and the Marvell RAID utility. I’m assuming that the first is common, and the second provides a hardware (“fake” hardware?”) RAID 0 or 1 for two disks.

I also have Windows 7 Enterprise x64, so Windows’ mirrored volumes are an option. Actually leaning this way at the moment.

Then I could also buy a RAID controller, though since speed isn’t really a factor for me here I’m concerned that I’d be paying for an extra potential point of failure.

From my research I like Win7’s mirrored volumes. It’ll require only the new disks and the disks can be recovered very easily even if the motherboard breaks by just plugging them into a new computer. Plus, if I get say two 2TB drives, I could partition each into two 1TB partitions, mirror two of those partitions on separate drives for redundancy, and then pocket the additional two 1TB partitions as non-redundant storage space.

Is this a good idea? And if so (or even if not), what about hard drive selection? I keep looking at WD’s Caviar Black’s and Green’s, trying to figure out if I should get a Black since they sound like they’re higher quality, or a Green since they sound like they’re built for what I want them for.

Can anyone provide some tips on these issues?

Thank you!
a c 377 G Storage
February 28, 2012 10:58:15 AM

A hardware raid card works well too as it's easily transportable between machines as long as drivers have been written for the OS. Win 7 enterprise includes bitlocker to encrypyt drives for security.

I could partition each into two 1TB partitions, mirror two of those partitions on separate drives for redundancy, and then pocket the additional two 1TB partitions as non-redundant storage space

I don't think intel supports matrix raid anymore I don't know if it will let you use just part of a drive for raid and be able use the rest of the drive.

Intel Matrix Storage Technology can be found on select platforms based on the Intel® 4 Series chipsets, Intel® 3 Series chipsets, 965, 975X, 955X, 945G ,945P, 945PM and 945GM Express chipsets.

http://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/matrixstorage_sb.h...

Also, remember RAID is NOT a backup. It's for redundancy so that if a drive dies the array can still function. It will not help with viruses/malware or accidental file deletetion. A good backup routine is necessary.

You can find drive charts here.
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/hard-drives-and-ssds...
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February 28, 2012 6:00:10 PM

Also remember than even in a mirrored RAID setup, because your computer treats both drives a single volume, albeit with "mirrored" data, if one drive becomes corrupted/fails/SMART etc., and you have to destroy the volume you'll end up needing data recovery software to get to the spare data anyway.

Also, for RAID-1 setups it's been my experience that since performance isn't a factor here (it's not really, because it's being used as a backup drive where you drop 8 gigs here, 1 gig there, etc.) don't try to bother with pricey RAID Cards or your "fakeRAID" mobo onboard; just go software RAID via Windows Disk Management.

You also needn't concern yourself over resource usage via software RAID. It used to be an issue in the past, but now with 8-16-24Gb RAM setups ultra-fast NB/SBs, and 4-6-8 Core processors it's just not relevant anymore for most people (enthusiasts or consumer-level operators).

You may actually want to consider just using a plain-jane fast 1 or 2TB drive like a 7200 Seagate Barracuda (ST32000DM001) or whatever your preferred manufacturer's equivalent, in a simple volume setup, non-raided.

I can get 170Mb/s sustained from my 2TB Barracuda to my RAID0 setup, which means I've been able to get my single-drive barracuda to transfer at it's actual bench-marked rate (via HDTune Pro). You could certainly get two of these drives, put them on separate ATA channels, and I would bet money you could get their max-rate sustained speed or very close to it.

Meaning if you're still concerned over transfer rates, you shouldn't be. If your concern is redundancy AND reliability, NEVER look at a RAID setup for this. Just get a good HDD monitoring program and watch for slow signs of failures, and then get your data off ASAP when it does happen.

Also, as a side note, I have a brand new (bare drive) 7200 Seagate Constellation ES 1TB I'm never going to need and would like to sell. With a rating of 1.2Million MTBF, you can rest fairly assured that it's gonna protect your data in a RAID1, if that's what you choose to do.

Let me know.

T.
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