Question Nifty Gadgets For People Fumbling With External 3.5" USB Or SATA Backup Drives

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,312
1,187
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Maybe everybody knows about these items by now, but I'm getting tired of having the shelf-space of my Home-Theater setup filled with aluminum USB and eSATA external backup boxes.

First, SK Hynix is producing some very good NVME "SSD" M.2 drives. For instance, look at the price of the 1TB model:

SK Hynix Gold P31 1TB NVME

I just remember that the first NVME 1TB drive I purchased (2017) cost me about $600.

Second, there are more and more of these USB 3.2 devices available for at most $40:

Ineo M.2 NVME USB 3.2 Enclosure

Maybe I'm like Rip Van Winkle, fallen asleep and not "keeping up". But I think this is just great.

I assume, of course, that you'd be wise to plug these things into the USB port every so many months and refresh them. Or is it true that data starts to fade from SSD devices?

What's the skinny about that? Of course, if your devices are subject to EMP as with a nuclear explosion, it wouldn't matter if your data is on a 3.5" spinner or one of these NVME external USB configurations -- would it?
 

Tech Junky

Senior member
Jan 27, 2022
840
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Until prices come down under $100/TB I don't think you have much to worry about.

Getting a sleek HDD setup though might be worthwhile if you want to consolidate / clean things up a bit.

Largest drives right now seem to be 18TB ~$300

Get a decent 5-8 bay system to throw them into and it's a done deal.

By comparison for the convenience / size of an 8TB NVME you're looking at $1200/ea.

Potentially going 8TB SSD/2.5" for ~$600/ea -- half the price / 3x the physical size

Data doesn't fade on chips. If the controller is storing data though that could be an issue as you might see in a Raid setup that has caching enabled and loses power w/o a battery to temp store the data until power is restored.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,312
1,187
126
Until prices come down under $100/TB I don't think you have much to worry about.

Getting a sleek HDD setup though might be worthwhile if you want to consolidate / clean things up a bit.

Largest drives right now seem to be 18TB ~$300

Get a decent 5-8 bay system to throw them into and it's a done deal.

By comparison for the convenience / size of an 8TB NVME you're looking at $1200/ea.

Potentially going 8TB SSD/2.5" for ~$600/ea -- half the price / 3x the physical size

Data doesn't fade on chips. If the controller is storing data though that could be an issue as you might see in a Raid setup that has caching enabled and loses power w/o a battery to temp store the data until power is restored.
Thanks for the comparison of $/TB. That is indeed an important consideration.

Here, though, I'm looking at size, weight, capacity to some degree, and mobile usefulness.

I gave my Nevada brother an Acer Nitro 5 laptop with 16GB RAM and an extra 500GB NVME on top of the 250GB that it came with. He may be pleased with the idea that he could use one of these little combinations when he goes on fishing trips, assuming he needs to access up to an extra TB of storage .. . . Well -- gee -- they take lots of pictures. From the morning phone-call, I heard that somebody caught a huge trout . . .

In my particular case, I have a Win 2012 server box upstairs with 12TB in a drive pool of 3.5" units. Heavy sucker! I have another 3.5" spinner I need to install as a backup disk using the built-in backup of the server OS. I'm thinking that until I get around to doing that little piece of work, I could just march up the stairs with one of these little devices and back up my important files. My particular User account folder has maybe 400GB of data in it, and there are other folders which could double that volume. But I could put all of it on the portable NVME on a semi-monthly basis until I get around to pulling the server case apart and adding the additional drive.

I may have several TB-worth of movies and recordings. Those items aren't even duplicated in the Stablebit pool. Since much of it will only play on a single PC downstairs, I could sustain the loss without too much bereavement.

The server -- those essential files such as I mentioned already -- is indeed having three shared folders backed up to a 2TB 2.5" spinner in a hot-swap bay, done with a piece of software called SyncBack SE. While the files are not encrypted and can be copied off the disk as-is, the software creates directories for newly-added files daily, creating the folders for them with a date naming convention. In one respect, it inspires some confidence; in another respect, it doesn't.

I haven't sustained much in the way of data-loss over the last 20 years, but there have been "close calls", and I go ape-shit with multiple or redundant backup strategies.

Here's an important point, however, about the NVME "external gadget". All my external USB/eSATA boxes require power -- particular a little brick that plugs into either a wall-socket or my UPS. The NVMEs in the INeo boxes just get power through the USB port. So I can imagine Bro in a fishing boat, plugging one into his laptop.

If course, maybe there are 1TB flash drives now. I'm not keeping up well with the latest and greatest.
 

Tech Junky

Senior member
Jan 27, 2022
840
271
96
For portability / external I use a Plugable enclosure for NVME's based on the RTL9210 chipset as I tested several different options / chipsets and it came out on top for speed / reliability. Having a good cable makes a difference too and I use Nekteck cables now for a couple of years in house / in car and they're sturdy.

Currently you can do 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 TB options on the M2 drives but, bulk hoarder srorage means going spinner / 3.5" if you want to keep costs down.

I run a Raid 10 on Linux using MDADM and put 5 drives in rotation so, if one fails it automatically resyncs to the 5th w/o me needing to do anything.

1652588571633.png

Code:
 sudo mdadm --detail /dev/md0
 
/dev/md0:
           Version : 1.2
     Creation Time : Mon Jul 16 14:29:09 2018
        Raid Level : raid10
        Array Size : 19534735360 (18.19 TiB 20.00 TB)
     Used Dev Size : 7813894144 (7.28 TiB 8.00 TB)
      Raid Devices : 5
     Total Devices : 5
       Persistence : Superblock is persistent

     Intent Bitmap : Internal

       Update Time : Sat May 14 23:23:52 2022
             State : clean
    Active Devices : 5
   Working Devices : 5
    Failed Devices : 0
     Spare Devices : 0

            Layout : near=2
        Chunk Size : 512K

Consistency Policy : bitmap

              Name : server:0  (local to host server)
              UUID : 4f1abb31:e8466aa3:4b7bea78:28ce6c14
            Events : 224000

    Number   Major   Minor   RaidDevice State
       4       8        1        0      active sync   /dev/sda1
       6       8       33        1      active sync   /dev/sdc1
       2       8       17        2      active sync   /dev/sdb1
       3       8       49        3      active sync   /dev/sdd1
       5       8       65        4      active sync   /dev/sde1
So, with this setup I can hit 400MB/s+ off the raid which puts it close to SATA 3 speeds and works well when needing to bulk move data w/ 5GE Ethernet.

If I want more speed I can add 1 more drive and hit over 600MB/s since each pair multiplies the controller speed for transfers. Keeping it with an odd number through means that odd disk gets used as a hot spare.

As for external 3.5" options I picked up a Startech USB-C cable that has a power adapter for 3.5" drives and it comes in handy for both 3.5 and 2.5 drives when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to crack a case to play with a different drive.

Since it's a periodic attachment there's no real need for an enclosure IMO. Attach as needed and put it back in a drawer when not in use. Otherwise maybe a DAS would be pleasing to put on the shelf next to it. DAS is a NAS w/o networking or a more powerful version of an enclosure as some come with Raid and others don't.


Storage is funny in how you can do things for different results. Performance vs redundancy vs capacity tend to be the main objectives. Raid doesn't mean you need a specific controller card that tends to be over priced for what it does when you can do it from the OS w/o special HW needed. You could even do it from a VM if you wanted to I suppose. Not being locked into a HW solution also means you can recover your data even from a LiveUSB session by executing a couple of commands from a terminal window.
 

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