A RAIDPac is the small enclosure that channels power, cooling, and I/O to three encapsulated SATA drives. Each RAIDPac can be configured for either RAID 0 or RAID 5. For the demo, we were sent six 1.5TB and nine 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 disk drives.
The arrangement of the RAIDPacs sent by the vendor were:
- RAIDPac 1: 3 x 1.5TB (RAID 0)
- RAIDPac 2: 3 x 1TB (RAID 5)
- RAIDPac 3: 3 x 1.5TB (RAID 5)
- RAIDPac 4: 3 x 1TB (RAID 0)
- RAIDPac 5: 3 x 1TB (RAID 5)
Each RAIDPac comes with its own set of status lights and a piezo siren. At startup, the lights on each RAIDPac will flash blue for a moment and then go green if everything is alright. If there is a problem, then you’ll either get a red status or no light at all. The RAIDPacs’ piezos will also give a few short quick beeps whenever you start up the RAIDFrame or insert a RAIDPac into one of the five slots.
Status lights on each RAIDPac help indicate drive startup, activity, and failure.
In order to physically access the drives in the RAIDPac, you need to unscrew twelve machine screws to remove the external plate. With the plate off, a needle shaped “key” is inserted into a slot on the faceplate in order to release the individual drive’s spring loaded locking arm. Once disengaged, the drive can then be removed from the drive bay.
If you’re the type of person that likes to take stuff apart, the RAIDPac’s construction may be up your alley. Just be ready to remove the twelve screws holding the enclosure together. This extra work is minimal, but it does make me wonder if a tool-less architecture could be added to future generations of the product. Still, twelve tiny screws should not be a deal breaker if you’re considering the RAIDFrame, especially with the great quality in construction and sturdiness that Highly Reliable designed into its product.
A disassembled RAIDPac. Even though you have twelve screws to remove, the overall design of the RAIDPac seems to be very sturdy.
Feature wise, the first of two stand-outs is the DIP switch-based RAID operation. On the back of each RAIDPac, you have two small dip switches that, depending on how you position them, will configure the drives in either RAID0 or RAID5. Once configured, the RAID volume can be initialized by inserting the RAIDPac back into the chassis. Once inserted, you’ll see the LED light flickering until the process is done. It’s pretty easy, but remember that you are working with a large volume which can take several hours to finish prepping.
Access port on the back of the RAIDPac. From left to right: eSATA port, switch for RAID settings and maintenance pins (for re-initializing and drive setup).
The second likeable feature about the RAIDPacs is called Field Service Access. The disks inside the RAIDPac are accessible by removing the plate on the back of the RAIDPac and then plugging in a SATA data connection and Molex power connector from a working computer. Once powered on, the drives spin up and the RAID volume is accessible. This is especially handy if you have a problem with your RAIDFrame or need to work on a project outside of the chassis. Also, for those who use off-site disaster recovery services, you would be able to retrieve your data from an exported RAIDPac and recover in the scenario where the RAIDFrame unit has been damaged by a disaster.