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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:49 am 
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To kick this forum off, I thought it would be interesting to see how many people are using (or thinking about using) RAID for data protection at home? Some people love it, others think it's overkill.

If your photo collection only gets updated when you return from a trip away, I'd personally say RAID's overkill and you'd be better off just connecting a seperate hard disk and backing-up as and when required.

But if you either take lots of photos every day or are regularly editing files, then RAID can be a fantastic way of comstantly protecting your data against disk failure right up to the moment it all goes wrong and beyond.

Here's a couple of existing Cameralabs articles about backup:

http://www.cameralabs.com/features/backup_part1/

And here...

http://www.cameralabs.com/features/backup_part2/

The most important thing to remember though is RAID won't protect your photos from fire, flood or a thief who nabs your entire PC, so always make sure you have a duplicate set in a different physical location! This is where the seperate hard disk comes into its own...

Gordon


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:25 pm 
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Just my twopence:
1. I would not dare to raid (on) the system-disc. Stumbled across some entries in computer forums that suggest, you might be in trouble when things go wrong. So play it safe and raid your data disk (typical D:)
2. Another option is to clone your data (or system) disk with software regularly (at least one a month) and take the backup disk off the system, or even out of the case. The benefits: The backup disk runs less hours and lives longer plus you can put it in a safe place (or another computer system :shock: ) plus it's a 2 Minute job two swap the defect disk against the backup and your up and running!

The time lag between updates with solution (2) may pose some risk. What I do: I erase my pics from the SD-card only when I made the backup. Things go wrong, I always have one copy of the latest pics :idea:
The costs for cloning 500 Gig: 100EUR for the harddisk, 40EUR for the SW (I recommend Acronis TrueImage). So it's 40EUR more than in the case of raiding, but with some added benefits.

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 Post subject: RAID 5
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:23 pm 
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I use 4 disks configured as a RAID 5 array giving a single "C:\" drive on my workstation which means a disk can fail without loss of data. Data is read off the array almost as fast as from a single disk but there is a slight performance hit when writing data. My array is controlled by an Adaptec 2820SA card.

RAID 5 is no substitute for a proper backup strategy (I use network attached storage for primary backups and a USB hard drive which lives in a fire safe for more occasional backups) but it can rebuild the array if a single disk fails as I proved a couple of months ago.

If you are considering RAID then a number of motherboards come with their own controllers these days which can save money, albeit with a possibly reduced performance. The Adaptec website has a good primer on RAID levels which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ypmgtf.

Bob.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:35 pm 
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Hi Bob,

if you use 4x400Gig for 300EUR in Raid 5, how much storage capacity do you have?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:36 pm 
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With four disks in RAID 5 you effectively lose the capacity of one of them so that would leave 1.2TB unformatted.

Bob.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 9:31 pm 
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But with 4 disks running all the time the probability for one disk crashing is approx. four times higher than with my solution and still two times higher than with RAID 1, isn't it?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 9:51 pm 
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Hi guys, yep, that's the rub with RAID. You increase your protection against disk failure, but with all your disks running all the time, actually increase the chances of things going wrong! (plus you have to handle the heat, noise and power consumption too)

But, I still remain a big fan of RAID, especially RAID 5 which is what I use for my data - although I do have a seperate disk for my boot 'C' drive.

After using software based RAID 5 controllers for some time, I got hold of a Promise SuperTrak EX8350 EX for my Hands On column in PCW magazine UK. This is a hardware based RAID 5 controller which requires a PCI Express slot. It's not cheap, but crikey, the difference in performance was huge. The revelation in particular was write speed, which was always awul with software based RAID 5. With this new card it was as quick as striped RAID 0.

So if you like the sound of RAID 5 but demand the best performance, I can recommend going for a decent hardware-based controller.

As Bob says, I really like the fact your data is constantly protected up to the point and beyond a disk failure.

But as Thomas points out in another thread here, make sure you've got plenty of ventilation!

Gordon


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 Post subject: RAID 5 and failure rates
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:00 am 
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In a previous life I used to fly four engined aircraft for a living. The chances of an engine failure were at least twice that of a twin but the consequences were far less severe as engine failure on a twin is a mandatory "land at nearest suitable airport". Years ago I had to shut down an engine on a 747 just after top of climb out of Nairobi but we still made London with all the required safety margins.

Hence my penchant for the fault tolerance of RAID 5. In fact, with hard disk capacity so high if I was buying new drives I would seriously consider RAID 6 which can tolerate a double drive failure.

The reason I chose to implement a single logical "C:\" drive is that I have found Windows and its applications to be spectacularly bad at separating user and application data from the OS. Try as I might, on a previous machine even though I dragged the various "Documents and Settings" folders to a "D:\" drive some stuff still appeared in duplicate folders on the "C:\" drive. Maybe Vista is better but somehow I doubt it.

As Gordon points out, with RAID arrays there is a bit of an issue with increased noise. The aviation simile could be extended further...

Bob.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:23 am 
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"Promise SuperTrak EX8350 EX ", "Boeing 747", "Adaptec 2820SA", "NAS", oh boy!
I feel like I hit a computer website specialized for admins of big data-centers :?
When you talk about hardware based RAID 5 (Promise SuperTrak EX8350 EX, Adaptec 2820SA) you are talking about an additional invest of 350-400EUR! Plus the 4 HDs, let's assume 4 cheap 160GB drives at a total of 200 EUR. So you're investing 550EUR and get near 500GB space with RAID 5 safety.

Isn't the solution with 2x500GB plus backup-SW at 220EUR a viable alternative for private use?: Less cost, less noise, less heat, fits into smaller cabinets (I have built 5 computers now, but non could carry 5 HDs), you can do backups each day in the background...

Tell you what: I'd rather invest my money into building a second computer (for the kids/wife) with identical mainboard, a graphics card from the same manufacturer (for driver compatibility) and put the 500GB-clone into that cabinet. Because then I even have a working computer when some other component (like the mainboard) fails. In the last four years I had more defect mainboards than defect drives :evil:

And that was when I found out, that even a backup of your system-disk does not really help you, when you don't get an exact mainboard-replacement for your burnt-out one :shock:
With all the incompatibility issues today you either send your MB to repair and wait 4 weeks. Because if you buy another mainbooard you end up in the worst case needing new RAM, a new CPU, new power supply, new graphics card or in the best case at least have to reinstall the system SW from scratch :cry:

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 Post subject: Big data-centers
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:25 am 
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Hi Tom,

You are absolutely right - as long as you have data backed up on a device which isn't physically part of your computer then RAID X and/or NAS isn't necessary. The sort of kit we have been talking about is overkill for most users. It's a bit like specifying Canon "L" glass when a standard lens will do. But hey, it's fun!

Bob.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 3:04 pm 
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I would say if you invest in a RAID controller then go for one that supports RAID 1+0 or 10 (or similar which is the RAID most enterprises use), which is stripping + mirroring that gives you both speed and reliability so you can use it as system disk as well. And if you want even a more stable environment go for enterprise hard disk which according to Google survey is even more stable. Another interesting thing is that there is no correlation in high utilization and higher failure rates and the failure rates over a year is about 3%.

So I personally use gmail, hotmail and web hotels to save the pictures/data that I really don’t want to lose. This gives me about 4GB that is really safe stored with RAIDs and frequent backups. The rest is kept on a normal external hard disk. A kind of discount enterprise backup :)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:31 pm 
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The best raid in my opinion is Raid 5 (or is it 10... not sure)

Drive 1 = 250GB
Drive 2 = 250GB
Drive 3 = 250GB
Drive 4 = 250GB

Drive 1 and Drive 2 in Raid 0 (stripe) - Made into 1 500Gb Drive - Called Drive A

Drive 3 and Drive 4 in Raid 0 (stripe) - Made into 1 500Gb Drive - Called Drive B

Drive A and Drive B in Raid 1 (mirror) - Performance and Peace of mind!

Obviously this can be done with 4 80Gb drives, but it presents the best way without taking out a loan to have the performance of striped drives and the safety of mirrored.

Although, we had a HP G4 Rack Server in the shop for over a month, to play with :D - It had 6 SCSI Drives @ 15000rpm! (crazyyyy!) and you could take out like 5 drives and it would still run lol, and as soon as you plug them back in, it would re-configure C:\ I think the point is each drive has a copy of C:\ so as long as 1 drive is still in, it will function as normal. Not sure what the raid number is lol, but it was cool (plus the 8 x 40mm fans running louder than my hoover kept it coo lol)

I personally use a 80Gb Removable drive for backup, since if the PC gets fried some how, the drive is still safe!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:28 pm 
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we have about 10 raids for our mac quad powermacpc pro, and 2 fireproof/waterproof 250 gig drives along with a bunch of other drives

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:23 pm 
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Since Im doing computer forensics at university I have studied Hard disk configurations.

raid 0 = data is split between multiple drives and so gives increased speed and better throughput.

raid 1 = writes data to one of the disks and this data is then duplicated on the others (need same size drives)

raid 5 = Most modern, all the disks get written to but the last one uses a thing called paraty bits which is a way for hard drives to check and restore lost data. this allows more storage, less duplication and has redundancy built in and so provides a possibility of some data recovery.

I personaly dont use raid as i have no need to at home. I just copy all my data I want to back up on to a USB hard drive. If I was going to it would be raid 2 just because everything would be backed up and there would be no chance of data loss is one of the hdd's broke.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:01 pm 
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Hi Toby, there's extra info on the RAID flavours and how they work in practice in my article here:

http://www.cameralabs.com/features/back ... age2.shtml


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