[kwlug-disc] (Home) External Storage?

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Thu Jul 30 21:28:28 EDT 2009


I must confess, I've never been a big fan of RAID at home.
- herein I'm calling 'RAID' RAID 5, not striping or mirroring. i.e. 3+
drives, preferably with an extra for hot spare. Yes, there are lots of
other RAID levels out there.

'Superficially', RAID is for redundancy, uptime, and speed. I say
superficially as the other and more immediately thought of benefits I
expect to be self-evident.

Redundancy seems a pretty expensive thing for home, especially, say, 3
x 250 GB drives in one box, or 2 250GB drives in two different
computers, sync'ing every night.

Redundancy / uptime is certainly more important in the corporate
environment, where all your users aren't away for long periods of the
day - be it for sleep or work. Less so, and expensive, at home.

Speed, well, how fast is fast enough, at home - and at what cost?
Personally, single drives, or volume sets, have been fast enough.

I'm still Windows XP at home. Still haven't done more than play or
dabble with Linux, including vm's. Have used EXT3 under it,
http://www.fs-driver.org/. I was attracted by the Linux compatibility
(pop a drawer mounted drive in any system and get on with your day),
and larger partition, file, and filename sizes than FAT. (Ultimately,
though, I had to give up on it - I believe, when hammered for long
periods of time, the driver bugs out, causing corruption, and recovery 
process irritation results.)

To date, I've been keeping one or more large hard drives in two
computers. Every computer in the place sync's its self-backup and all
non-OS partitions to the master repository (=drive/partition), and the
slave repository syncs from the master, every night. Sufficient
redundancy and speed for me, so who needs RAID, or the expense?
Currently, the drives are 1.5 TB, and I use robocopy. The drives are
pretty full. Again. Oh, and by having 2 copies, I hope to recover at 
least one, should a fire or theft occur.

I'm tired of XP's write cache failures (read ntfs corruption). It's
time to find something else. [Yes, I've currently considered (a) a
Linux box, (b) OpenWRT with net. storage, or something, (c) a
'mediasomething' {MythTV or trixbox) extension. All of those will take
time to fully exploit, and sync's get upset with frequent resets or
long downtimes due to the stupid operator.]

What's a body to do?

I'm considering a multi-bay external GB net (+ eSATA) connected
storage device. Unfortunately, a quick look at tigerdirect.ca
indicates a $300+-$750+ box, without drives even. Here, multi- = 3+.
Seems silly expensive to me. Worth it / robust / reliable? [Yes, worth
it comes down to answering "How much is your data worth to you?"]

- if it's not ntfs, and I presume it's not, compatibility issues?
- it's never big enough forever, and making a bigger RAID = 3 x 
expensive as one or two single large drives. And the data has to go 
somewhere while you migrate! Once done ... what to do with the old 
- it would seem to be nifty if it ended up also being the media
storage for something like MythTV or a Popcorn Hour box,

(Yes John, I'm beginning to agree with you, after the Nth MythTV box,
one has to wonder what their time is worth. A 'black box' starts to
look like an attractive idea. N could = 1.)

So, multi-bay external net connected storage. Ideas? Suggestions? 



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