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Author Topic: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)  (Read 3878 times)

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kskreider

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I have never had a hard drive die on me.  Ever.  With that said, I have also never lost any data.  I am a freak about backing up my stuff.

Now, two dead SATA hard drives in two different machines in a 10 day period.  The first, a Hitachi 400GB Spinpoint T, was brand new out of the box and only had an OS on it when it died. 

The second, a 2.5 year old 200GB Samsung (really a rebadged Seagate ST3200822AS), had just been reformatted a few days ago.  Luckily when I did that I had FTP'd all of the critical files into cyberspace. 

I RMA'd the Hitachi as soon as it started clicking.  I am running Seatools on the 200GB and it is undergoing a long test that is 5% done with 76 errors already...

Back your shit up.

« Last Edit: December 08, 2008, 09:04:48 PM by DarkStarJedi »

Offline sygdwm

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2007, 11:21:50 PM »
t for your troubles. i know i am going to lose 100's of GB one day cause i cant back them up as fast as fill up all my hd's. its all wsp and charles fox's fault.
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Offline JWard

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2007, 01:32:08 AM »
hard disk crashes suck.  the benefit of a RAID array is knowing that everything is redundant.  i don't run a RAID array, but am thinking about it.  currently i put everything on optical and on single hard disks.  Even the nicer disks (16 MB cache, 7200 RPM) are relatively cheap these days (watch for rebates), so i just keeping buying them as needed with an empty external case.  since hard drives are mechanical, everything goes onto an optical disc that is then verified.  that's the rate limiting step.  at least with a RAID it would automatically be redundant before i get it to optical back-up.



edited for clarity.  RAID is not necessarily 'back-up,' as back-up would imply different media or differnt physical locations and power supplies.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 01:46:10 AM by JWard »
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Offline JWard

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2007, 01:45:08 AM »
i just built a new computer, and i plan to use the extra 4 internal SATA connectors to make a RAID array.  just a matter of waiting.  even then i'm going to want an automated back it up to optical disc robot.  where do we get one of those?

as for external connectionss, get something with eSATA.  hands down.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 01:47:03 AM by JWard »
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2007, 10:59:28 AM »
I would prefer to have a RAID set up but just never get all my shillings in a row to buy two identical drives at once.

FWIW, you don't need identical drives, though drives of similar size prevent HDD space waste.

Unless you need up-to-the-minute redundancy, it may be safer / more reliable / easier to employ reasonable redundancy without RAID.  (I know you've seen this thread, DSJ, just want to point it out to others reading the thread.)  IME, cheap RAID controllers are not as reliable as higher end RAID controllers (no surprise there).  In simple terms, some RAID implementations are better than others at managing failure, re-building the array, not hosing the drives if the card itself fails, etc. Personally, since I don't need up-to-the-minute redundancy, I'd rather not take my chances with a cheap RAID controller.  $0.02
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2007, 02:01:06 AM »
i lost a fair amount of data due to a few hard drive crashes in 2001-2003, and have been using RAID since. I highly recommend the Highpoint RocketRaid cards with OCM (online capacity migration) for a few reasons:

array can grow to be infinite in capacity by adding drives to empty channels (and can even span two or more cards)
you can add drives and migrate the array to take up the extra space.

my current storage server started with 4 400GB drives in a 1.2TB array.

I added two 500 gb drives, 400 GB from each drive was added to the RAID 5 to take it to 2TB, and the extra two 100GB chunks were made into a 100GB RAID0  partition. so no wasted space (beyond raid0 losing a little space compared to raid5). i could have easily as set that up as a raid1 for a fast partition
RAID0 is a very easy and simple back up solution, it doesnt use space as efficiently as a RAID5, but can actually be cheaper for small arrays (500GB from 2 x 500GB drives), as the controllers are either onboard or $30 or less for PCI

note: if using PCI, make sure its a PCIexpress or PCI-E slot, which are a lot faster than the older 32-bit PCI bus.

link to rocketraid cards:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Description=rocketraid&x=0&y=0

I have a 8-channel card, but there are a lot of options from $60 and up (the 4-channel raid5 cards for under $100 are a steal)

I would prefer to have a RAID set up but just never get all my shillings in a row to buy two identical drives at once.

FWIW, you don't need identical drives, though drives of similar size prevent HDD space waste.

Unless you need up-to-the-minute redundancy, it may be safer / more reliable / easier to employ reasonable redundancy without RAID.  (I know you've seen this thread, DSJ, just want to point it out to others reading the thread.)  IME, cheap RAID controllers are not as reliable as higher end RAID controllers (no surprise there).  In simple terms, some RAID implementations are better than others at managing failure, re-building the array, not hosing the drives if the card itself fails, etc. Personally, since I don't need up-to-the-minute redundancy, I'd rather not take my chances with a cheap RAID controller.  $0.02
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2007, 02:12:10 AM »
FYI, i dug up an old post from another board that i made when i built this server. Its a bit dated, esp the cost aspect


------------------------------
the best backup is bittorrent, having 100's of people who can zip it to you overnight.

For a personal collection, the following things need to be kept in mind:

-redundance is required in all cases
-any media will potentially fail

so for true backup, you have the following options:

1. DVD x 2.
cost per GB: 7-8 cents. (Good TY 30 cent bulk media from supermediastore or meritline)

advantages: cheap
disadvantages: very time-intensive, collection gets 'fragmented very quickly'. most people are too lazy to order the good discs online, and buy the crap in the store, 95% of which is less reliable and costs twice as much, at best buy, and they end up using cheap disks, compromising their data


2.Hard Drive x 2.
cost per GB: $1.00 external, 70-80 cents internal)

advantages: quick access, easy to organize collections. best for medium collections (500 GB - 2 TB)

disadvantage: requires manual action to backup, easy to get confused when synching or backing up. Externals are slightly more prone to data loss due to corruption of file tables by USB/firewire connectivity issues.


3. RAID(0) in your PC
cost/gb: 75 cents (2-4 drives+$25 raid card if not onboard

advantages: cheap and easy. best solution for collections under 2 TB. limited to 4 drives, so you dont require dedicated pc or power supply. set up once and forget about it.

disadvantages: little bit of tech required. doesnt use drive space as efficiently as raid 5. limited to 4 drives generally

More on RAID 0

RAID 0 simply simultaneously writes the same data to two different drives, but they are kept in synch in real time, and the user sees only one fileset. so using  500 gb drives:
2 drives : 500 GB of capacity
4 drives: 1000 GB of capacity


4. Serial-ata RAID5 array in a dedicated machine:
cost per gb: 55-85 cents

advantages: can scale arrays from 1-4 TB, and add capacity as needed. parity makes the use of drives very efficient.
best cost/gb over 2TB. set up once and forget about it.

disadvantages: high initial cost. best used with dedicated PC. requires some skills with computers to assemble one

More on RAID arrays:

A RAID5 array uses multiple drives and looks at it as one large drive, so to the user it really is one large drive, which makes managing large collections (over a TB) easier.

The array backs up data redundantly in real-time, thus there is only one fileset to manage, which eliminates a lot of work.

The RAID array uses parity (a different discussion) to back up all data redundantly while using less than twice the space

Array capacity is the number of hard drives minus one * drive size, so for 500 gb drives:

# of drives / capacity

2 / 500 GB
3 / 1000         
4 / 1500
5 / 2000
6 / 2500
7 / 3000
8 / 3500

so you use 7/8's of your total drive capacity when its maxed out at 8 drives, or 3/4 of the drive capacity at 4 drives (67 cents/GB The card is $200. If youre going to put 8 drives in a computer, you really need to start with new power supply and good cooling.

I put one together recently, from scratch as a dedicated torrent machine

case $100
mobo + processor $150
good power supply $100
2 x512 MB memory $100
250 GB system/active torrent drive $80
4 x 400 WD RAID-duty drives, $180 each
4 x nice oem (liteon/nec/benq) dvdr's $35 each

I built mine on a 400 gb platform, the 500's are the same price now. Always go with the second best drive size, it generally gives you the best price/performance/expandability, so today, on a 500 gb platform, you would have the following capacities:

$1300 / 1.5 TB (87 cents/GB)
$1480 / 2.0 TB (74 cents/GB)
$1660 / 2.5 TB (66 cents/GB)
$1840 / 3.0 TB (61 cents/GB)
$2020 / 3.5 TB (58 cents/GB)

keep in mind thats a dedicated bulletproof pc with the ability to scale a 4-drive array up to 8 drives as drive price falls. the machine can also burn and verify 4 dvds at a time in under 10 minutes, while torrenting and not missing a beat. you can skimp and go with 2 drives, I very rarely burn more than 2 at a time even tho I have 4 drives.

the serial ata drives are pretty fast, the raid function doesnt really slow em down. I'm kind of worrying about fragmentation, as I'm using about 95% of my 1.2TB array.

I want to expand soon. i wish more people had large systems like this and we could synch 3.5 TB at a time, over LAN. the better sata cards have online capacity expansion so the array is expandable without rebuilding the volume (i.e you dont have to reformat). thats the one to get. highpoint rocketraids are pretty good, but there s a lot of models. there are two new types of incompatible hi-speed pci slots, so you have to make sure you get the right card for your mobo.

This system doesnt even require a fast computer, just fast drives. I have a lowly athlon 2000 ish mhz processor on a two-year old pci mobo, both from ebay. you dont really need much speed for a dedicated bt and media burning center.
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Offline Nicola Fankhauser

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2007, 05:13:52 AM »
hi

I put together a 2TB RAID5 with 8 x 300GB about three years ago. see http://variant.ch/phpwiki/WikiBlog/2005-02-27 for more details.

important additions I'd like to make compared to the last post:
1. very important: buy one extra drive (cold/hot spare), so you can replace a failing drive at once. drives tend to fail together, since a rebuild is needed when you replace a drive, which in turn puts stress on all remaing drives, raising the chance of just another failure.
2. you still need to backup your data! make a choice what is really important to you, then mirror it to an external drive.
3. stay away from non-enterprise-grade hardware RAID apater. chances are that your 100-bucks-adapter (or even worse: on-board RAID) will fail 3 years later and you won't get access to your data anymore, because you don't find a replacement adapter that has _exactly_ the same specs (firmware revisions must be absolutely identical e.g.). better choice is to stick with software RAID. I use it on Linux and recently re-installed the whole system (new kernel etc.) in less than one hour - the RAID array was detected automatically and everything just _worked_. I could have done the same with attaching the drives of the array to a complete different motherboard, which you simply cannot when using hardware RAID.
4. keep in mind that the more drives you need in parallel, the higher the chances that the array will fail as a whole, because one of the drives fails.
5. power usage, noise and heat: I needed a PSU with 560W to even start the system with 9 drives. heat is an issue therefore as well, which leads us to noisy fans, to battle the heat.
6. monitor your rig! use SMART to regularly check the health status of your drives, checking the temperature is a good idea as well.

you can contact me via PM if you need more information.

regards
nicola

Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2007, 01:32:59 PM »
RAID0 is a very easy and simple back up solution

Two things:  RAID isn't about backup, it's about redundancy - it's an important distinction.  And as in another thread, I assume you mean RAID1 - RAID0 doesn't provide redundancy.  Just don't want RAID-newbs to set up RAID0 and then be SOL when the array bombs!

3. stay away from non-enterprise-grade hardware RAID apater. chances are that your 100-bucks-adapter (or even worse: on-board RAID) will fail 3 years later and you won't get access to your data anymore, because you don't find a replacement adapter that has _exactly_ the same specs (firmware revisions must be absolutely identical e.g.).

Ditto this, and it's an incredibly important point.  I've had two cheapo / consumer-grade RAID controllers fail on me and in both instances my data was unrecoverable for one reason or another.  I do not consider cheapo / consumer-grade RAID a reliable redundancy solution, and think it provides a false sense of security.  I, for one, am not going back to cheapo RAID, since reasonable redundancy withour RAID satisfies my requirements these days.

Edit to add:  For those going the cheapo RAID route, check to make sure your HDDs are compatible - not all inexpensive consumer-grade HDDs will work with all RAID controllers.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2007, 01:49:46 PM by Brian Skalinder »
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Offline Nicola Fankhauser

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2007, 02:25:00 PM »
hi

I just wanted to stress that software RAID is what one should use when money is an issue. I don't know how fool proof software RAID on windows is (it seems it is in fact quite fool proof: http://www.tomshardware.com/2004/11/19/using_windowsxp_to_make_raid_5_happen/page5.html ), but under linux you can attach your drives _any_ way you need them: be it directly to SATA ports, or via external enclosures, even as drive-images (in the case of a disaster recovery). also, compared to hardware solutions, your admin-tools are standardized, OS-based and not tied to specific hardware, which means you'll have better support (compared to some cheap taiwanese barely working disaster they call "hardware RAID"), better stability and better upgrade paths.

regards
nicola

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Why not to use Hard Drives not in RAID (or other backup configuration)
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2007, 03:09:05 PM »
i tend to agree with the points above.

linux software raid is a great option if you have a linux box

yes you need a bomber power supply.  i tore thru a 550w in a year and repalced it with a 700w (8 hds and 4 dvdrs in my tower

i do consider the upper-end highpoint controllers to be enterprise grade, although they dont cost as much as their competitors. lots of info/reviews/shootouts on tom's hardware

i agree drives do fail at once, i almost lost 1.8tb around christmas, but fortunately recovered. power supply issues, etc can also cause multiple drive failures. highpoint makes a raid6 card, that offers double parity, two drives can go down and maintain parity

and yes, you should back up important stuff.

I use my raid array for stuff that would be 'inconveinient' to lose, like things i could re-download.

if its anything ireplaceable i burn it to two  TY DVD's and stick it in my relatively climate-controlled dark closet.
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