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Drive Space Dilemma


OSNN Addict
I know this gets talked about quite a bit on the forum, but I couldn't find anything directly related to my questions.

A little bit of background, I have a system running as a ftp server. Right now it has 4 drives -- All are PATA, 2 300GB Data Drives in USB Enclosures, 1 400GB IDE Backup drive, 1 160GB Main Drive (OS Drive). I'm looking at a way to increase space while keeping things my data relativly safe, but also I want to keep things realitivley neat and simple. I don't want to just keep adding drives, and i don't want to be making backups to mulitples drives etc. I want something that in a year I can expand if needed, if I can clean up some of these external drives then all the better. I am a little tight in the budget area but am willing to put the extra work in now if it means smooth sailing 6 months down the road.

Here are a few options that I have looked at.

A NAS system, probably an Infrant ReadyNAS 600 in RAID 5. My problem with these is that they are expensive, close to $1500 Canadian for 1TB after all is said and done, plus I can't find anywhere locally that sells them (Or any other major NAS Product) which is a big deal for me.

Buy a Raid ATA Controller and setup a RAID 5 on 4 300GB IDE Drives. I am leaning towards this as I can take my 2 current 300GB Ide Drives, combine them with 2 more 300GB IDE Drives and I should come out with around 750GB+ after taking away the space required for RAID 5's overhead, which also means that I won't have to worry about a backup since the raid 5 should protect me if a drive fails, right??
Problem with this is that the only card I can pickup is a 6 channel raid 5 controller card, I don't mind this as it will give me room to expand but can I use a 6 channel card with only 4 drives (I image that I could but i don't know for sure). This option would probably run me about $900

My other option is to just build a new system with onboard raid/sata and i grab 2 500GB Sata Drives and mirror them, or just have one as a backup, like i do now, using syncback to copy files every night, and then boot up off of an ide drive. This would probably run me closer to $1500-$2000 depending.

So anybody have any comment or suggestions. I definatly do not need to use raid is someone has some other suggestion, it just seems to be the best tool for the job in this case. Drive access speed is not a huge factor data recovery, if a drive should die, is Number 1, it doesn't need to be an instant recovery, just so long as I can recover it period.

SATA RAID on 500GB disks would seem to be the best bet :)

3Ware controllers seem to be the best alongside adaptec. Here at coreix we have a 16 port controller looking after 16 300GB disks for providing backup space to clients.


Political User
I am personally a big fan of the NAS. If I had the money i'd be getting one just as a backup solution.

But I would go with what LordOfLA said for this task, however using a RAID card is also an option.
A RAID 0+1 setup has a disadvantage. The backup is continuous which means if a virus gets in the system the mirror is infected also. The data is all stored at one location which means, fire, theft, lightning (spilled orange juice) puts your primary and backup at risk of simultaneous loss.

If you are serious about avoiding data loss use a tape system and store weekly backup copy off site, or even in a hermetic box in the tool shed. Run the tape every night for daily backups after a virus scan.

Once data is on tape you can rearrange drives any way you want with ease and no fear of data loss. This will also double your available HD storage for dollar spent over a RAID mirror.


OSNN Addict
Yeah I'm going to have to think about this one, ideally I would love to get a tape drive that handles 500GB or even 1.2TB tapes, that way I can backup on one tape rather then having it span, but considering those drives are between $5000-$10000 it's probably a little bit out of the budget range.

The only issue I have with raiding 2 500GB sata drives is expansion, i would have to buy a new motherboard for the system and right now the system uses a Geforce FX5200 (good enough for what this system does), unfortunatly onboard video is not an option on the system, it needs more then onboard can provided and the 5200 is the perfect balance between price and speed. Unfortunatly there seem to be very few boards that support 4 sata channels and have agp, and i don't want to buy a new vid card for this computer. It seems though that most boards with agp only support 2 sata channels, so if I buy 500GB drives now then in 6 months time I will need 2 600GB etc etc. If I can find a board with 4 sata channels then I can just pop 2 more drives in and have a seperate raid 1 setup for those drives, then i can upgrade drives as needed.

Then of course there is the NAS, it seems like a good thing, they are expandable, from what i gather on infrant's site some of their system can be expanded with any drives laying around, they don't have to be the same size etc, and the NAS system will automatically adapt it's RAID backup to compensate. I've never used one though and while the reviews on them seem to say that it will do everything i need to do I am always hesitant to buy something that expensive that i have never used, something that I am not 100% positive will do the job that I need done, over the net, because if it dopesn't do what i need well enough then I have to go through the hassle of shipping it back etc.

Oh well, have to wait and see for now i think. my current backup scheme will last me probably to the end of the year, but i don't want to upgrade this scheme and then have to re-do the entire thing again with a new plan, would rather just start fresh with the new plan beginning next year.

Thanks for the replys


Political User
After re-reading your initial post, I think what I wrote beow does not really appy, but since I already typed it all out:

Here Goes:
I would think about the speed of the drives as well as the overall capacity. Toms Hardware has a great article that just came out going over just that, hard drives and their capacities vs the actual speed/usefulness...

LINK Also, just so you know the server is down right now... :(
Last edited:


There is no answer!
Political User
NAs is the way you need to go, most larger companies use them not only are the reletively cheap, but also very expandable, they can also be used for more than just backups as welly you can run your ftp site from them.

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