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PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:48 pm 
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Hello Gordon,
I read your two part article on the topic with interest (b.t.w. where is that third part that you promised?)
I was thinking quite some time about using RAID as part of my newly built computer. But then I came up with a different solution. Let me explain...
After two hard disks died on me in the past years and all with the system on them, so it was not only the loss of data but also the incredible agony of reinstalling your computer and bringing it up to the same config as before, I started thinking of using Raid inside my box. With the prices falling to 500GB for 130 Euro and the modern Intel "southbridge" bringing RAID for free it was almost a no-brainer.

BUT: Reading a lot of reviews and forums I found it quite irritating what additional problems occurred with having or (re)installing a raid system. And there are even some probs that only occurred when one of those drives fails. Thinking of a situation where RAID should help you with your data and system and then being let down or having trouble was not something that I wanted to face.
So I opted for a classical backup solution with a cloning software (I use Acronis TrueImage for around 40 EUR). What I did was the following: I had a 200GB system-drive and a 300GB data-drive. I bought a 500GB backup-harddisk, plugged it into the system, cloned the system-drive first, than made a complete backup of the data-drive. This takes about 1.5h including verification and you can even work at your computer while the data-backup is made.
The benefit: If the system-drive dies on you, just swap it for your backup, set your boot drive and you're up and running in 1 minute :shock: :D :idea: (tried this several times to be sure it works).
In my configuration I have the backup-drive on external SATA and plug it off after the backup to store it somewhere else. I do this regularly once a month for the system. If you prefer you can leave the backup-drive always on and let TrueImage do automated backups of your data. I personally love to take the drive away and thus extend its useful life...

So I totally agree with you: It's too darn cheap to buy 500GB drives today to take this as an excuse for missing protection of your valuable pics, other data and your computer system!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:07 am 
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Hi Thomas, cloning a complete system is a great idea, and I especially like the idea of connecting the replacement disk and being ready to go straightaway.

The advantage of RAID 1 and 5 though is of course that the system still operates even if a disk fails, so is invaluable for mission critical applications. And you're protected right up to the point of failure and beyond, whereas with your clone system, you're only protected up to the last point you backed up, which from your description could be as long as a month.

But then you have to invest in a RAID controller, accept some storage redundancy, and of course have all the drives spinning and consuming power and wearing out simultaneously. Pros and cons, but the important thing is to think about the issue of backup and ensure some kind of protection is in place!

And Part 3 of the feature is coming soon!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:13 pm 
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In theory the Raid system is sooo good. BUT unfortunately I heard from a lot of people that they have encountered trouble either when having to reinstall the system (which is something of a necessity if you like your system fast and clean) or when exchanging a dead drive.
Did you test swapping a drive at random from your Raid system and let the thing rebuild itself? Are there any readers out there who have personal experience with RAID 1 or 5?
My experience with cloning is: Works every time and costs only so much!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 2:12 am 
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Hi Thomas, I find that RAID can be very tricky if you're also using it as your main 'boot' / C drive with the operating system loaded on it. I find it much easier to transfer to a new system or cope with OS reinstalls if you keep the OS on a seperate disk and use the RAID array just for data.

As for emergency recovery, yes, I've simulated disk failures and rebuilds by physically removing one disk, then replacing it with another.

The rebuild times can take a while (as in several hours if there's lots of data), especially with RAID 5, but the array is still aceessible during this time, and it's not a process you have to watch over.

As I said earlier, if you can stand to potentially lose everything since your last backup, then your cloning solution is ideal. BUT if you can't bear to lose even a single second's worth of data, and need to continue accessing your data even after a disk failure, then you can't beat RAID. And RAID 5 using a hardware accelerated card is the Rolls Royce of data integrity!

Gordon


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