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Raid, unRaid, No Raid, Storage Spaces, Drive Bender...which?

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
0
71
Hi All,

I am in process of building a HTPC/NAS Server / Steam gaming all-in-one machine. On Windows..not linux, sorry.

You can go here for the first post on this to see what I actually got.

My question is about how to store my data? On my current PC, I have multiple drives and have dedicated each one for Movies or Photos or Music and so on. I manually back this up every now and then on external drives.

The reason I had done it this was cause I didn't want to loose "capacity" by doing a RAID. I am not as knowledgeable about RAID as others but I have read that if you have two drives, it basically uses 1 as backup and only gives me access to 1 drive capacity.

While hard drives are cheap, they are not THAT cheap.

My ideal situation would be something like Storage Spaces on Windows 8; alas, I read that it has issues. 1) All my drives will be spinning when watching a movie say..thereby increasing heat and energy cost. 2) I read that if I add a drive later..it doesn't dynamically copy over data to it so that all my drives are balanced as far as storage capacity is concerned. See this arsTechnica article link

As mentioned I would love it if Storage Spaces didn't have those issues.

I have seen Drive Bender and Drive Pool...but curious to find out your guys opinion on this.

I would love to have one large storage "drive" and it is backing up without my knowledge and gives me the most capacity without eating up a drive or two. :)
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
Hi All,

I am in process of building a HTPC/NAS Server / Steam gaming all-in-one machine. On Windows..not linux, sorry.

You can go here for the first post on this to see what I actually got.

My question is about how to store my data? On my current PC, I have multiple drives and have dedicated each one for Movies or Photos or Music and so on. I manually back this up every now and then on external drives.

The reason I had done it this was cause I didn't want to loose "capacity" by doing a RAID. I am not as knowledgeable about RAID as others but I have read that if you have two drives, it basically uses 1 as backup and only gives me access to 1 drive capacity.

While hard drives are cheap, they are not THAT cheap.

My ideal situation would be something like Storage Spaces on Windows 8; alas, I read that it has issues. 1) All my drives will be spinning when watching a movie say..thereby increasing heat and energy cost. 2) I read that if I add a drive later..it doesn't dynamically copy over data to it so that all my drives are balanced as far as storage capacity is concerned. See this arsTechnica article link

As mentioned I would love it if Storage Spaces didn't have those issues.

I have seen Drive Bender and Drive Pool...but curious to find out your guys opinion on this.

I would love to have one large storage "drive" and it is backing up without my knowledge and gives me the most capacity without eating up a drive or two. :)
First of all:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

There are many different implementations of RAID and many different ways to set them up. The RAID that you seem to be familiar with is RAID 1. It uses mirroring where anything that happens on one drive is mirrored on the other. It's a low overhead way of keeping your data online. Tons of people do this under the mistaken belief that it is an easy way to backup. IT IS NOT BACKUP. RAID should be used as a way to maintain system uptime and/or for performance improvements, depending on the RAID level that's used. I am not a fan of RAID 1 since, as you mentioned, the hardware investment gives little benefit for a home user. RAID 5 and RAID 6 do the same thing but give you much better drive capacity. The one risk with RAID 5 and 6 is a 2nd or 3rd drive failure during a rebuild after a primary drive failure CAN be catastrophic, but like I said, if you are using RAID for backup, then you probably deserve what you get.

Drive Pool just spans all of the drives into one big array. So that 3x2TB would look like 1x6TB.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
For a media server I still love Unraid. It takes all my disks (that can be different sizes and makes), puts them into a single large pool (or "drive" if you will), gives me one disk parity, and spins down the disks not in use. It is so easy to upgrade (just swap out old/small disk for new one), the parity works well (I have lost one disk in both servers more than once but lost no data), and any speed disadvantages compared to say RAID 6 are worth the lack of wear and tear on the disks.

The problem with Unraid is that you aren't going to make this monster HTPC/NAS/Jack-of-all-trades box. You set up the Unraid machine as a NAS and that is what it does.

But I do believe jack-of-all-trade boxes simply suck and should only be stopgaps for if you lack resources or if you live in a studio apartment. Any situation where all your disks are in the same room (producing heat and noise) as where you are trying to enjoy the entertainment is fail. Especially if you want to game- the surefire way to kill a hard drive is make is share a small space with a gaming GPU.
 

Dirigible

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2006
5,950
7
81
For a media server I still love Unraid. It takes all my disks (that can be different sizes and makes), puts them into a single large pool (or "drive" if you will), gives me one disk parity, and spins down the disks not in use. It is so easy to upgrade (just swap out old/small disk for new one), the parity works well (I have lost one disk in both servers more than once but lost no data), and any speed disadvantages compared to say RAID 6 are worth the lack of wear and tear on the disks.

The problem with Unraid is that you aren't going to make this monster HTPC/NAS/Jack-of-all-trades box. You set up the Unraid machine as a NAS and that is what it does.

But I do believe jack-of-all-trade boxes simply suck and should only be stopgaps for if you lack resources or if you live in a studio apartment. Any situation where all your disks are in the same room (producing heat and noise) as where you are trying to enjoy the entertainment is fail. Especially if you want to game- the surefire way to kill a hard drive is make is share a small space with a gaming GPU.
I've been running unraid for something like three years now. Currently have about 16tb of usable space. For a family in a house I agree with the above.

If it were just me in an apartment I'd build a single do everything box.
 

Tegeril

Platinum Member
Apr 2, 2003
2,907
5
81
I'd been running unraid for 4 years I think and abruptly recently my motherboard in that system decided it wasn't going to power USB anymore. It was then that I realized there were a few things missing that I wanted that had been "on the roadmap" for years and years...most notably dual drive redundancy. I decided I couldn't risk so much data to a dual drive failure scenario so I picked up one of the gigabit eth 8 bay Drobos a week ago and haven't looked back.

Both are great, but the drobo is so mindlessly functional :)
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
0
71
The problem with Unraid is that you aren't going to make this monster HTPC/NAS/Jack-of-all-trades box. You set up the Unraid machine as a NAS and that is what it does.

But I do believe jack-of-all-trade boxes simply suck and should only be stopgaps for if you lack resources or if you live in a studio apartment. Any situation where all your disks are in the same room (producing heat and noise) as where you are trying to enjoy the entertainment is fail. Especially if you want to game- the surefire way to kill a hard drive is make is share a small space with a gaming GPU.
Actually I am not sure if I follow you completely. For me the jack-of-all trades computer is what is ideal. I don't want to be an IT Admin at home running multiple setups.

I have one other desktop that I use for my primary work, but this new one, I just want this new one to act as my server / htpc and occasional gaming rig. Btw, this computer would sit in a different room entirely from the TV room..so heat and noise doesn't matter as much.

Especially when one of my goals is to make it Spouse and family friendly.

So...by lack of replies to this topic means that this is not feasible? I may just have to use Win 8 Storage Spaces and deal with the issues later?
 

Tegeril

Platinum Member
Apr 2, 2003
2,907
5
81
Personally, decoupling storage from the rest of the functionality is a superior situation.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
It's completely doable with FlexRAID since it requires an OS anyway. Just install Windows to your primary drive, probably an SSD, install FlexRAID and then import all of your spinners into it. You'll have your C: drive and a 2nd Z: drive that is your array/drive pool. The Z will act just like a standalone drive. You could do the same thing by combining Stablebit DrivePool and SnapRAID, but the FlexRAID route is simpler. Unpaid boots to its own Linux based OS and is meant to run headless and your limited by just a few available plugins.

While everyone is correct, it is better to have a separate storage device, a do it all box will probably work fine for the average household. Just make sure you account for keeping the drives well ventilated if you are putting a hot running video card in there. I would probably get something larger like a FD Define XL R2 and move the drives as far away from the graphics card as possible.
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Actually I am not sure if I follow you completely. For me the jack-of-all trades computer is what is ideal. I don't want to be an IT Admin at home running multiple setups.

I have one other desktop that I use for my primary work, but this new one, I just want this new one to act as my server / htpc and occasional gaming rig. Btw, this computer would sit in a different room entirely from the TV room..so heat and noise doesn't matter as much.
Heat kills hard drives. It is never a good idea to put a "gaming" GPU in the same box as your primary household storage pool if you DON'T want to be an admin at home and you want "ease of use" (which is really uptime). Because if/when a drive dies and you have to replace it, rebuild the parity and/or dig in the case you are being a household admin.

If your case is really in another room separate from your TV area, like a closet, you CAN do it technically. Put it in a huge case with tons of airflow and high RPM fans. That will sound like a vacuum but it will work.

The best bet is to at least PLAN for a way to have a dedicated storage machine in the future, and even if you make the Jack-of-all trades today. Make it so the device you build can just be a server one day when you can buy a nettop with more gaming power and what you really want is a few more clients in your home. So if possible try to get by on a integrated GPU, or one that is low power/heat.
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
0
71
It's completely doable with FlexRAID since it requires an OS anyway. Just install Windows to your primary drive, probably an SSD, install FlexRAID and then import all of your spinners into it. You'll have your C: drive and a 2nd Z: drive that is your array/drive pool. The Z will act just like a standalone drive. You could do the same thing by combining Stablebit DrivePool and SnapRAID, but the FlexRAID route is simpler.
Thanx...I will check out FlexRaid.


poofyhairguy said:
Heat kills hard drives. It is never a good idea to put a "gaming" GPU in the same box as your primary household storage pool if you DON'T want to be an admin at home and you want "ease of use" (which is really uptime). Because if/when a drive dies and you have to replace it, rebuild the parity and/or dig in the case you are being a household admin.

If your case is really in another room separate from your TV area, like a closet, you CAN do it technically. Put it in a huge case with tons of airflow and high RPM fans. That will sound like a vacuum but it will work.
I forgot to mention...I am not a hardcore gamer. So I am not going to have a dedicated gaming GPU. I am going to use the i5 Haswell and the GPU within it only.

The case I bought has the capacity to add 12 or fans. It comes with 4 already. The case is also fully ventilated. :)

That should be good right?
 

Golgatha

Lifer
Jul 18, 2003
11,818
82
91
Personally, decoupling storage from the rest of the functionality is a superior situation.
This. Either a good NAS or a dedicated centralized server are the best ways to go as long as you can get a good network to share it all out on. Personally, I have 7.5TB of storage on my server, I sync that with my main HTPC for on-site backups as needed, and I use alternating 4TB offsite external drives for monthly backups of all data. My gaming rig, the upstairs secondary HTPC, 2 laptops, PS3, X360, and a tablet all stream from the server or main HTPC via shares or DLNA software. Personally I don't like NAS boxes as their hardware is probably hard to fix if needed and the RAID arrays (if used) are often proprietary, and thus can't be read on any other devices if they are proprietary.

The server is in the sub-basement and is definitely nothing to look at, as it's in a very old and cheap gaming PC case with the front plastic removed for extra airflow. On the inside I have the 7.5TB worth of storage, an enterprise class spinning disk for the OS (WD RE4 500GB), 24GB of ECC DDR3 RAM, and a Xeon CPU. Cost me about $600 to put together + cost of hard drives. I don't use RAID on anything (although I do have a 2nd RE4 500GB drive in storage to keep uptime maximized), but I do keep full disc images of all Windows machines. Those images are updated at least once a month, and I keep 3 copies of my data locally and 1 offsite. I also keep really important documents backed up onto Bluray RE 25GB disks in case of EMP or something equally disastrous that only effects electronics. Everything is encrypted in case of theft and I keep paper copies of the decryption codes + a CD-R of the keyfiles in my bank safety deposit box and a secondary copy in the safe with the offsite 4TB backup. I is prepared!
 
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raf051888

Member
Jan 17, 2011
167
0
76
I'm currently using StableBit DrivePool on WHS 2011. I really like it because it pools all drives and I can set duplicate per folder. It also stores the data in NTFS, so if I need to access my data I can throw the drive in practically any PC.
 

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