: Storage solution w/backup (RAID, NAS, fileserver)

May 9th, 2008, 07:34 AM
I have some ideas, wanted to share them with ppl and see what they think. Here goes:

I have been doing a lot of reading, since I was considering adding an NAS solution for my home network. My data consists mainly of videos (TVs and movies) and pictures (many many years worth).

Anyways, out of the box solutions seemed a bit too pricy and the RAID not that spectacular unless you're willing to spend, so I began looking at building my own fileserver, with a hardware/software RAID solution. That was a bit better bang for the buck, but I still had one nagging concern.

I've played around with RAID before, and I realized that with mirroring (the only RAID option I was really considering), was that it relied on the RAID controller. I couldn't just take a hard drive, remove it physically from the array, and have my information accessible when plugging it into another computer. What happens in a few years if your RAID controller dies and you can't find the exact same one? Your array will always be dependent on that controller and I really don't like that feeling. I'd rather have the option of taking a drive, plugging it in another computer, rather than needing to move the whole array (RAID, NAS, DIY file server) around. That means quicker access to my information or the ability to take it with me anywhere I go, on a moment's notice.

The least costly solution I have come up with, for data that doesn't change all that much, is to have two huge drives (1 TB) on a computer, either one or both connected via eSATA. Just remember to ghost/copy the main drive once in a while, and keep the 'backup' drive detached (preferably located in a fire-proof safe) and back it up once in a while, on a regular basis).

I don't know where I can post my thoughts, and your site seems to be quite a recent post concerning backing up, NAS and RAID, so I thought I'd share my thoughts here and get some feedback at the same time.



May 9th, 2008, 03:27 PM
I'm not really sure where you get your information, but RAID is a standard technology not tied to any particular controller - if you use RAID1, RAID5 or RAID6, any RAID controller that supports the configuration can be used for your particular disk technology (IDE, SATA, SAS, SCSI).

If you don't know what you're doing, don't roll your own.

May 9th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Your solution makes some sense. Does ALL the videos have to be online all the time? If not have you considered a jukebox of DVDs?

A RAID 1 (mirrored) is not all that secure in my mind. If you plan to physically remove it to transport it you are violating you original desire - protect the data. Perhaps back up a little an consider a RAID 5 Storage system - very secure and keep it protected with a battery backup and power conditioner. Transfer the desired media via Firewire to the 1TB external and you are good to go. Backing up the RAID 5 can be done via Firewire 1TB drives and they should be off site.

May 9th, 2008, 04:11 PM
Unless you are doing things that are "mission critical", RAID may be quite a bit of overkill, as well as a dedicated server system. Of course, these are very good options if business depends on the data; but if you are just storing movies for viewing purposes, perhaps not worth while.

I think that something like Time Machine (if you are running Leopard) would entirely be adequate for regular uses. Or even just a regular backup regime with SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner. You could opt for a standard external drive solution (like the Seagate FreeAgent Pro or equivalent), or go a bit fancier with the Time Capsule. DVD's are not expensive, so data can be backed up to DVD and catalogued. If you need even larger capacities, one could resort to Blu-Ray DVD, but at more cost.

You could easily make a central server using an older computer, even a G3 or G4 PowerMac would be adequate. You could stuff a number of drives into one, and make them accessible over a network, either wired or wireless. A server does not need to have much raw power, Ethernet is only so fast and you are not using it to render the video. My friend has done this using some surplus Macs. He has an old Bondi Blue iMac for a terminal / mail server / torrent client; connected to an old B&W G3 with a number of drives in it for storage. Perhaps not the snazziest system, but one cobbled together for perhaps $50 plus time in setting up.

But if you do have mission critical applications, then RAID is certainly a viable alternative. NAS can be expensive, but entirely worth it if the application demands it. But I wouldn't bother with these options if you are just using the system to watch movies or something, just too much money in comparison to a spindle of DVD's...