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my new addition to my computer: the Drobo...

praktik

TRIBE Member
Been looking at the Drobo for quite a while and now the new Firewire version came out which you can check out here.

I removed three dead hard drives that I'd just left in my case for a long time and realized that I need a data protection solution.

RAID 1 or RAID 5 (mirroring): if I set it up on my mobo and move to a new computer I'll need to rebuild the entire array. If i have hard drive failure in these situations its still a pain to rejig it for a new disk, or at least takes a little effort anyhow.

One idea I've been considering was adding a PCI-E RAID card, but then again, there's only one PCI-E x1 slot and its being used by my wireless network card... the advantage of this is that transferring the array to a new computer would be simple and easy.

What the Drobo offers: redundancy AND simplicity. Albeit at a price. A steep 500$ price w/o disks if I want the firewire version. A disk fails, just pop in a new one and you can access your data the whole time.

Sweet. Different size/manufacturers? No problem...

Firewire? Great access times for an external device and good for macs as well which will be nice because one day I think I might get a macbook pro.

Porting to the next computer? Easy as switching the cable to the new comp...

So yes - I'm going to get one. When? In the fall. Will see if my dad is willing to help fund its purchase for my b-day..:)

I feel vulnerable - and I've decided that redundant hard drives is the way to go... NO MORE BURNING BACK UP DVDs!!

w00t!
 
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oddmyth

TRIBE Member
meh.

to be honest a DAS is not the way to go, especially a product that offers the virtualization of your storage space (ie. using different sized drives in a RAID array). The reality of that situation is that you now rely on virtualization software to make sure your RAID is not susceptible to drive failure. I've played around in this space for quite some time and while its good, its still not infallible. So if you do decide on this solution, stay away from using different drive sizes.

If you are going to go this route, then go with a NAS like the Buffalo Terastation
http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage/terastation/

The pro's of this are:

1. Its cheaper since it comes with drives.
2. It does the same thing, only with proven track record and no virtualization.
3. You can use it with multiple machines simulatneously thus not utilizing resources off your own machine to share the drives with others.
4. You aren't limited by the speed of USB or Firewire. You are limited by gigabite ethernet and the speed at which the machine can fire out the packets. (Especially since the next version of firewire is now closer to completion as is USB3).
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Ya I was considering a NAS but I really like the speed and responsiveness of having my data connected physically, it'll allow me to do intensive things off of it in realtime whereas over a network I may not be able to do some intensive tasks...

Thats why the Drobo appeals to me - I can have it physically connected to my comp and then if I like - add the NAS add-on later for network access to other PCs in my apartment.

Thing is with my current lifestyle I don't have as much need for a NAS - my computer has a 24" widescreen display and my HD receiver is down there too so in essence, all my video files that I watch are already directly connected to the monitor I'm going to watch em on, all my music is directly connected to the system I hear it through...

Overall the Drobo is a pricey solution - over a grand just counting the unit and the drives - 200 more to add the NAS - but I think the simplicity and the flexibility are whats driving its appeal to me...

I have also been looking at a few dual-drive RAID enclosures but haven't been completely sold on em... still - esata is nice..;)
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
Gigabit ethernet is faster than firewire and protects your investment for the future. (ie. We are going to be using gigabit ethernet a lot longer than firewire).

Drobo isn't a simple solution. Its unecessarily complex and isn't forward thinking other than the use of different sized drives (which by all rights is not a helpful feature if you understand RAID 5 virtualization whatsoever, you lose storage space and performance to gain what you could have had if you had simply bought drives of equal size and speed).

I just checked out Drobo share .. it connects to the drobo via USB .. way to limit your NAS speed.
 

Dr. Grinch

TRIBE Member
I used a Buffalo Terrastation3 for a project (needed to move a few TB database to another location, network wasn't an option, other factors, made sense to use one, anywho), and found it pretty woefully slow performance wise. Transferring 2.3TB onto the thing via FTP took 18 hours. Read speeds weren't much better really. The Gigabit interface just isn't what it's supposed to be, and the SATA drives inside basically make the whole thing sluggish.
It probably would outperform a Drobo in most ways, yes, but I was disappointed with it overall. Oh and I managed to blow it up when I was done with it. It doesn't like disks being removed when it's powered up. Heh.
 
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oddmyth

TRIBE Member
2.3 TB in 18 hours is a pretty decent rate for FTP writing onto 4 7200rpm SATA drives. Nothing compared to writing to an FC RAID but hey for less than a grand what can you expect for an internal FTP server?

Not sure which model you used (can't find any info on the terastation3). We have a spare terastation pro 2 in the office and the drives are definitely hot-swappable.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Don't waste your time with such expensive solutions.

You might be confusing your requirements.

Do you need:

1. High availability?
2. High reliability?

RAID is a solution that caters (or that can cater) to both (1) and (2). Using a NAS might be convenient, but is designed for high availability (in terms of location, because it could be accessed anywhere on a network, theoretically).

A simpler approach is to use a good quality external drive, using it *strictly* for backup purposes (leaving it off at all other times) and using a regimen of a regular backup schedule (1/week, etc). Many external drives come with software that will do this for you.

For stuff you *REALLY* don't want to lose, back up to CD-R or DVD-R.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
~atp~ said:
Don't waste your time with such expensive solutions.

You might be confusing your requirements.

Do you need:

1. High availability?
2. High reliability?

RAID is a solution that caters (or that can cater) to both (1) and (2). Using a NAS might be convenient, but is designed for high availability (in terms of location, because it could be accessed anywhere on a network, theoretically).

A simpler approach is to use a good quality external drive, using it *strictly* for backup purposes (leaving it off at all other times) and using a regimen of a regular backup schedule (1/week, etc). Many external drives come with software that will do this for you.

For stuff you *REALLY* don't want to lose, back up to CD-R or DVD-R.

Ya thats the thing - I dont really want to ever have to burn anything again unless I'm giving it to somebody.

I want both 1 and 2 - I want to be able to do intensive things and have redundancy.

Could I technically play a game that is stored on a NAS? My gut says no...

But down the road - I'd also like to have simplicity should a drive fail (ie, no major legwork getting the array back up and running) and the ability to expand data...

I was looking at some dual-drive RAID enclosures and wondered what would happen if I needed more space....

but by all means, educate me further! The drobo is a lot of coin which is why I was gonna ask for it as a gift rather than outlay the initial purchase w/ my own money, which would be silly I grant..;)
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
I used to play WoW off a NAS.

We used to run a 20 person Unreal Tournament of a 1TB NAS. Its quite possible.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
praktik said:
I want both 1 and 2 - I want to be able to do intensive things and have redundancy.

But do you need both 1 and 2 at the same time? Can you be happy with a fast SATA drive on a tricked out PC with file-sharing over a GB LAN while using a separate external drive (also shared) for auto-scheduled backup activity?

If so, you can have a solution for about $200 ... or less, depending on what you have lying around.

As for the speed of a NAS (or more generally/usefully) the speed of GB LAN, it is comparable to SATA in terms of burst transfer rates, but what the actual IO rates yield, it's really hard to say without extensive testing (system load, NIC, bus transfers, etc, all play a role in the efficiency of a copy). Even SATA-II (claiming 3 GB/s interfaces) don't live up to their name .... ANYWAY, what this means is that you can FOR SURE play games that are loaded off a network share, BUT: the reliability and buffering mechanics of a network bus is NOT ANYTHING LIKE that of your disk and how it is accessed by your CPU/memory buses on the actual PC. The drivers and the associated software that help make game-play smoooooooth like butter are not going to always mesh up with what a network driver and its associated hardware offers.

Ha. Anyway, it's always worth a try. :)

Lack of wisdom -> Failure -> Experimentation -> Wisdom, or some shit.
 
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Jeremy Jive

TRIBE Member
At home I have an HP MediaSmart Server NAS box (running linux) connected to my workstation desktop and also connected to my laptop via a gigabit ethernet switch. Both my workstation and my laptop have nothing installed on their internal drives besides the OS, application files and a few miscellaneous files that I need temporarily before I junk them. Everything I use or is important is stored on my NAS box which is set up in a RAID 1. That way I can access them from either computer quickly via gigabit speeds. Gigabit is faster than both USB 2 and Firewire. Since the NAS is set up as a RAID 1 it is automatically backing up my files as they are being changed.

The second advantage to this is that my I use my workstation for heavy image processing, rendering and number crunching. Files are loaded to the NAS and then I use the notebook to email, ftp or access the web. That way my workstation is always offline and not filled with cookies, temp files, web browsers or programs and crap. I also don't have to worry about using processor power to have other windows like firefox or ftp programs open.

It's easily possible and amazingly stable. Each of the three parts to the network run completely different OS's and have no trouble communicating. Workstation runs XP Pro 64, laptop runs XP Pro and the NAS runs off Linux. Assigning static IPs to each makes sure that there are no potential conficts.
 
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~atp~

TRIBE Member
To simplify:

1. the advantage of NAS is pre-packaged network-shared file-serving capabilities. You can also achieve this with any computer (ie. a NAS is just a dumbed-down or purpose-specific PC).

2. the advantage of RAID 1 is that it offers reliability (full mirroring), and offers it in an automatic fashion. You can also achieve this with any second drive and auto-archiving software, freely available on the Internet.

3. the advantage of GB ethernet is, duh, faster TX/RX. But you should question how often you're streaming data so wide as to demand more than a few MB/s (ie. if you stream uncompressed DVD then yah, there is for sure a benefit :) ).
 

oh toro

TRIBE Member
oddmyth said:
Another reason to holdout on spending over $1k on a home storage solution

USB3.0 to operate at up to 5gbps

fwiw, with a raid 3 or 5 stripe you'll need upwards of 30 drives in the array to come close to saturating a 5Gbps pipe. it'll be quite a while before we'll see a consumer level/priced controller and chassis that will handle that.

nas/das devices with 4 drives don't even come close to saturating gigabit... the limiting factor is most often the throughput of the drives.
 
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oddmyth

TRIBE Member
Small raid performance increases significantly when utilizing fast SAS drives (10k or 15k). Of course the SAS bus is only capable of 3gpbs (sitting right in the middle of the more expensive fiber channel 2gbps and 4gbps solutions) so you would have to multiply them out to even reach 5gbps, however that number is future proofing USB3.0, given that small SAS RAIDs can already reach close to their theoretical maximums in testing, I think its wise to almost double that bound in USB3.0.

Even I was surprised when I first looked at the test results below as we are running 8 racks of 14 drives of FC2 (112 drives) and the max we've seen pushed off of that is just over 816MBps (6.3gbps), and that was only after we swapped out our old NIM for a dual 10G module with double the cache we had previously.

The problem isn't getting the drives to push the IO, its getting it off the host system and to the client.

Xserver RAID card performance 3 drives - SAS / SATA comparison


Tom's Hardware 4 drive RAID SAS 10k vs 15k comparison
 

oh toro

TRIBE Member
oddmyth said:
Small raid performance increases significantly when utilizing fast SAS drives (10k or 15k). Of course the SAS bus is only capable of 3gpbs (sitting right in the middle of the more expensive fiber channel 2gbps and 4gbps solutions) so you would have to multiply them out to even reach 5gbps, however that number is future proofing USB3.0, given that small SAS RAIDs can already reach close to their theoretical maximums in testing, I think its wise to almost double that bound in USB3.0.

Even I was surprised when I first looked at the test results below as we are running 8 racks of 14 drives of FC2 (112 drives) and the max we've seen pushed off of that is just over 816MBps (6.3gbps), and that was only after we swapped out our old NIM for a dual 10G module with double the cache we had previously.

The problem isn't getting the drives to push the IO, its getting it off the host system and to the client.

Xserver RAID card performance 3 drives - SAS / SATA comparison


Tom's Hardware 4 drive RAID SAS 10k vs 15k comparison

throughput means very little unless your application is video (eg. very large files). i/o per second (IOPS) is far more important for things like file serving where you'll see lots of small reads and writes (and significantly more overhead). achieving high throughput is far easier/cheaper than high IOPS.

considering that throughput and IOPS are at opposite ends of the spectrum, i would say that throughput is not even a factor for the type of product that the original poster is looking at (unless a product is sub-standard/inferior).
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
The problem isn't getting the drives to push the IO, its getting it off the host system and to the client.

This was written in regards to IOPS coupled with whatever protocol is used to push data off the NAS.

Read up on what Praktik actually uses his machine for and you will see that you are simply proving my point.
 
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oh toro

TRIBE Member
oddmyth said:
This was written in regards to IOPS coupled with whatever protocol is used to push data off the NAS.

Read up on what Praktik actually uses his machine for and you will see that you are simply proving my point.

i have read it. while he does have "video" files, they are nothing similar in size to what's used for video editing, nor require high throughput even with multiple streams.
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
HD movie files are large. Uncompressed 24/96 audio produces large files. He wants to move and use these things as fast as possible. That's what this is about. Not an email server, not a access database, not a log file server.

IOPS are still going to play an important factor, but not as important for a single user pushing around large files.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Ok - I've decided on an incremental program.

Im not gonna upgrade my mobo for at least 2 years. Maybe a bit longer.

So Im gonna grab 2 x tb sata drives, and just set up a RAID 1.

Down the road I'll get another terabyte drive and an enclosure of some sort - whether its the drobo or a NAS...

then I'll copy over to the fresh drive, destroy the array, and add the two original HDs for redundancy into the enclosure.

I guess doing it this way it'll be nice to have an enclosure that can accept different makes of HDs if the ones I get now are no longer available... but ya, thats my new plan.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Heads up! NCIX sale...

WD Caviar Black 1TB @ 179.

Was enough to make me jump on two of em... feeling so exposed with no redundancy!
 
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