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Home Network Data Storage Device 649

It happened again- a machine on my home network died. Taking with it tons of data. It's mostly backed up. No huge loss. But I finally think it's time to get some sort of network raid disk. A unified place to safely store data accessible to the numerous machines on my home lan. So now I pose to Slashdot readers- what are your recommendations? I'm looking for something with RAID and SMB sharing. At least a quarter TB, probably a half, but with some room to grow. What have you used? What works? What fails?
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Home Network Data Storage Device

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:15PM (#14485243) Journal
    As CmdrTaco, I'm sure you have money coming out of your ears that you've harvested from the pseudo-religion that is Slashdot.

    But for those of you with fewer fiscal resources, I will tell you the stories of my friend and me, a.k.a. The Master Rebaters.

    My story is a simple one. I love music. I have over 1,000 CDs and have spent a lot of time meticulously ripping them with my friend CDex []. So, I have some 350-400GB of data that I would like to archive. There are a multitude of possibilities but, since I'm short on cash, I opted for a simple $13 RAID 1 controller [] ... I know, I know, I'm going to catch hell for using such a crappy generic product. And I know many people who will tell you that VIA is crap when it comes to RAID controllers. Maybe you're one of them. If you are, I hear that the brand Promise provides excellent RAID controllers, you'll just pay a whole lot more for them. A couple of these babies [] in RAID 1 [] and you're set.

    My friend, however, opted for a huge and expensive RAID 6 array controller made by Promise. Then he waited and waited until there was a 250 GB Maxtor rebate at CompUSA [] or Outpost [] and went in and bought five with cash. Then he filled out the rebates for relatives and played the waiting game. Huge initial investment but he received a lot of money back slowly. Result, a 1.1 ~ 1.2 TB RAID array. He got a lot more storage and more efficient use of the disks since a RAID 6 with striping allows for drives to be rebuilt in the array.

    What he wasn't planning on was the logistics of what he would have to do to his Antec case as a result of all these drives. Fans. Airflow. Heat. These all became huge issues for him--especially in the summer. I'm not sure what your situation is with a case but I made no alterations to my case.

    Now, there's a lot of things I skipped over that you can take into consideration, like SATA or ATA? 7,200 RPM or 10,000 RPM? 8MB or 16MB buffer? Striping size? etc. Honestly, those issues aren't worth my time to mess with. Sure sure, I'm losing precious ms seek/read time on my disks but I'm not that motivated.

    In the end, if you're only looking for half a TB, do what I did. Those 500 GB drives will only get cheaper and if one blows, just pop another in. And if you really need that room to grow, grab the nice RAID controller that supports RAID 0-6 and just use two 500GBs leaving the other three slots open for the future when you might buy them and RAID 6 it.

    What fails? The old IBM Deathstars. Beware!
  • by ResQuad ( 243184 ) * <slashdot&konsoletek,com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:16PM (#14485246) Homepage
    First I'd recomend using a size formating in your question that better fits your situation like "At least 250GB, probably 500GB, but with some room to grow".

    On to solutions. Buy yourself a big case (you can do rackmount or regular "large" ATX cases) and stick a decent computer in there. Add Gigabit NIC. Add an 8 port 3ware SATA Raid controller (configured to RAID5). Add 4 120GB 7200RPM SATA Drives (or what ever you can find cheap, even 200GB drives are relativly cheap these days). Install Linux, share your harddrive using Samba. Done.

    You have 4 extra ports to expand your RAID if you need too, or you could get bigger harddrives. I think 3Ware cards can support up to 2TB of HD space - so that gives you some expandability. Plus you have a RAID5 which has fault tollerence built in.
  • Simple answer. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:16PM (#14485253) Homepage Journal
    Tera Station []

    Everything you need probably. I saw a 1TB version for $700 at Fry's the other day.
  • It's Time my Son (Score:5, Informative)

    by william_w_bush ( 817571 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:23PM (#14485339)
    My condolences on your recent loss.

    Couple questions:

    1. SMB only? NFS is faster and plain better, but only for mac/linux.
    2. Noise/size/power constraints.
    3. Price.

    SMB only, moderately cheap, quiet and small, go for a teraserver from buffalo networks. Easy to setup, runs decently, 4x250 drives that can be raid-5'd into a 750 array. Costs about $800.

    A good midlevel solution is an nforce4 motherboard, with 4 250 sata drives, total cost around $600 w/ cpu mem, etc. You need a decent case though, and it will be noisier and louder. Plus side is better performance, full customization, and ability to use it as a router or such. You will have to configure it yourself, and likely throw windows on it because the nforce raid support is tricky on linux for a novice.

    I use a heavier 2tb solution myself with a HW raid card, but for most purposes a sw raid is better, and the performance difference is almost never noticable. Personally I recommend the buffalo if you don't need nfs, just for the size, quietness, and convenience.
  • by freelunch ( 258011 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:23PM (#14485344)
    I record a lot of concerts at 24/96 and also have a large collection of music in FLAC format. Current archive is 3.5TB and rapidly growing. It mostly consists of 320 and 250GB S/ATA WD drives.

    I have good enclosures and run all my drives cool, 25-29C. Two 120mm case fans, one front, one rear.

    I am guessing there isn't anything that can compete with the price-performance of just building another Linux box with 7 or so drives. Is there?
  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by alanw ( 1822 ) * <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:24PM (#14485351) Homepage
    As seen on Saturday over on RootPrompt [], Inventgeek [] is running an article The Poor Man's RAID array [], written by Jared Bouck. It's built out of SCSI drives and a RAID controller card. The appliances that the company I work for ships use dual SATA drives, the Linux MD driver and LVM2 though. I still haven't worked out whether that rumours that SCSI drivers are better built and have a greater MTBF are true - they certainly cost a lot more for smaller capacities.
    What self-respecting geek doesn't get the warm fuzzies at the mere mention of the RAID. With the rising GB to Dollar ratio, we felt it was a good time to feature a project that takes Pure Geekieness(TM) and mixes in a good helping of do it your self. Where else are you going to store all those MP3s (legally obtained, of course)? On a single 200 GB Drive? Or a RAID 5 Array? Take you pick, I know where I will be storing mine.
  • A very basic rule (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkwhite ( 139802 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:25PM (#14485362)
    Never trust your data to any one box.

    As for the solution, the cheap and easy option nowadays is to simply use stock motherboards - most will accomodate 4 SATA drives and up to 4 PATA drives with no extra work - and run Linux with software RAID on them. It's still a problem to boot from a RAID disk, so one can be set aside for that purpose. Motherboards have GigE nowadays, so speed is not limited by the network link. 300 GB drives are cheap, making a 1.5 TB server affordable if you acquire it piecewise over the course of a year or two.

    Now duplicate this setup into 2 boxes and you're good to go.
  • Re:RAID (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Qube ( 749 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:25PM (#14485366)
    Maybe these are too big for your needs, but EcoByte [] makes very nice black-box storage boxes based around Linux and 3ware controllers. They offer excellent performance, SMB etc file sharing, web configuration etc etc. We use them at work and they are great. I guess initially you could just buy an empty box and populate it with the hard drives you need and then expand it further as you need more storage space.
  • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:30PM (#14485405)

    Recently I was also shopping around for a storage solution. At the store, I saw a promising looking device called the Netgear SC101. You pop any two IDE drives into it, plug an Ethernet and power cable in the back, and you have yourself a NAS. Because you can pick out your own drives, you can even do a terabyte in a cheaper and much smaller unit than 4 x 250 GB units like the Buffalo Terastation.

    Unfortunately, where this device failed for me was that it doesn't just share the stuff as a SMB share like a real NAS box does. It uses some weird proprietary protocol, and only machines with the right drivers installed can talk to it at all. Such drivers aren't available for Linux, or Mac, or BSD... even versions of Windows that are old (98, ME, etc.) or 64-bit won't work. It has to be a 32 bit version of Win 2k3, XP, or 2k with the right service pack level for the drivers or no data for you.

    No self-respecting geek would want a device with such limited compatibility. If a piece of network equipment only lists Windows in its compatibility, that normally means the manufacturer only officially supports Windows, or maybe you need Windows to set up and administer the thing. When even many versions of Windows can't access the device, it's a junker. I took it back the next day, and will start researching hardware purchases more carefully in the future.

    In short, Netgear's short-sighted decision to use some strange proprietary protocol instead of SMB turns this unit from something I would have strongly recommended into that gets a definite thumbs down.

  • Re:It's Time my Son (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#14485411)
    NFS is faster and plain better, but only for mac/linux.
    Faster? Yes. Better? Yes. Only for Mac/Linux? NO []!!
  • Infrant ReadyNAS (Score:4, Informative)

    by MisterFig ( 29842 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#14485413)
    Infrant Technologies [] has two great products, the ReadyNAS 600, and the ReadyNAS X6. The difference is that the X6 does all of the configuration for you and the 600 is more user controlled.

    I own the X6 and love it.

    - It's GBE is very fast.
    - It supports raid-5 with up to 4 drives. (mirroring on 2 drives)
    - You can just keep adding bigger drives. so it'll be highly expandable down the road.
    - Supports SMB, NFS, FTP, etc.

    It's $600 for the unit with no drives.

    Check out the toms networking review, it's linked from Infrants site.

  • by mlg9000 ( 515199 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:34PM (#14485448)
    First of all... almost nobody sells RAID 6 devices. I'm aware of only one company that does and it's not Promise. It's an odd ball configuration and I can't see where it would be all that useful. The common RAID configurations are 0, 1, 5, 0+1, 10, and 50.

    Second Promise can never be considered a "nice" controller. It works, it's fairly cheap, but it's consumer grade stuff.

    I wouldn't bother with a cheap RAID controller. Go with md raid in Linux. It's free, you never have to worry about finding the same controller again if the one you have dies, performance is decent (almost always better then cheap RAID cards), and it works really well all around. You might need a PATA or SATA controller to add more drives but those are cheap. High end stuff where performance is critical you get a high end RAID card.
  • Re:Simple answer. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:43PM (#14485523) Homepage
    ReadyNAS [] is reported to be a better choice than Buffalo. There is a Tom's Networking review on ReadyNAS 600 [] that compares the two fairly well. It costs a bit more (~1100) for the same amount of storage, but it's worth it if the quality is that much better. Also, I've been told you can have two of them where one remotely backs-up the other . . . which allows for disaster recovery where the physical location of the original is destroyed.
  • Buffalo and Infrant (Score:3, Informative)

    by Belisarivs ( 526071 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:45PM (#14485548)

    We just got a couple Buffalo TeraStation [] units at work. The software that comes on the CD is a peice of junk, but the unit itself seems good. The major drawback I've heard about it is that it's really slow in RAID5 mode. Not too big a deal for us, as it's a cache sitting in front of tape, so it's still a faster backup medium. It's obviously running Samba in the background, but it doesn't support NFS mounts. I don't know if that's a big deal for you or not.

    The other company I've heard about is Infrant []. Similar setup to Buffalo, only instead of being mistaken for a Bose subwoofer, it looks like a small radio circa 1920. It claims an impressive set of awards, but I don't know if it's any faster in the RAID5 department than Buffalo.

    But, for home backups that are occurring overnight, and if you're not pushing 100+GB at a time, you're probably good with either. They're both, depending on capacity, between $800-$1,500.

  • by schnablebg ( 678930 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:50PM (#14485587)
    Not RAID, but on my network I have a Linkys NSLU2 [] with two identical external USB harddrives. It has built in SMB support and can be configured to do a full drive backup daily. Its not the most scalable solution but it is low cost and easy to maintain.
    The NSLU2 runs Linux and can be hacked so that you can setup more complex cron jobs to do your backups, if desired.
  • Re:RAID != backup (Score:5, Informative)

    by undeadly ( 941339 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:54PM (#14485631)
    Your assumptions are too narrow. Again, RAID is not backup. What do you do if the RAID controller card goes bad? Or a defect PSU toasts the hardisks? Or you delete the wrong file (RAID won't help you here...)

    Most home users are better served with having an extra harddisk that they backup to (may recover accidentally deleted files) than RAID. There are many programs to do that automatically. Of course, burn (high quality) DVDs regularly of the most important data.

  • My recommendation (Score:3, Informative)

    by slobber ( 685169 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:59PM (#14485681)
    I spent quite a while trying to find a perfect RAID NAS device for home use. Everything I came across was either ridiculously overpriced or grossly underpowered.

    My basic requirements are:
        RAID 5 support
        Extensive HTTP based admininstration
        Samba, NFS, rsync share support (browsing files over HTTP - a plus)
        Gigabit Eithernet Interface
        20MB+ Read/write speed
        Support from 1 to at least 4 SATA disks
        Disks should be easily swappable

    A few month ago I finally came across Infrant's ReadyNAS X6 box. Specs read like just what doctor ordered - everything I wanted seemed to be there. I got it and after 3 months of use I am not disappointed. I purchased 4 300GB Maxtor MaxLine drives and got about 850GB of NAS disk space. I use it as a primary storage for MythTV, backing up two laptops [rsync], and (obviously) the rest of my data which is now much safer on RAID. The box runs Infrant's custom Linux distro and (I think) Motorolla 350Mhz CPU. It has a dedicated XOR chip. Array upgrades are seamless - you can start with just a single disk, then to RAID 1 (add another disk), then RAID 5 (3 and 4 disks).

    The only thing that I was hoping would be better was write speed - I get about 15MB sequential write and 25MB seq. read speed. After some digging, I get a feeling this is actually a problem with network card not being able to keep up with packets. If that's the case, I might be able to pop another network card in one avaliable PCI slot.

    As far as price goes, Infrant's box and 4 300GB drives cost me under $1K USD which seems quite reasonable. I highly recommend taking a look at this unit if you are considering purchasing NAS.

    BTW, I am in no way affiliated with Infrant, just a satisfied customer :)

  • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:04PM (#14485725)
    LinkSys NSLU2 []. Plugs into your home network. (10/100) Then you get yourself 2 IDE drives and 2 USB 2.0 enclosures then plug them in. Then you can set it to periodically back-up one drive to the other. Sure, it's not as bullet-proof as RAID5. But it's dead simple, cheap, and it just works. Failure recovery is dead simple. Also, the system is has some of the same flexibility as the Buffalo Teraserver. (Plug in your friend's USB 2.0 drive when he comes over.)

    Also, with this scheme, you can delete a file and change your mind. (Recover from the back-up before the weekly copy job.)

    And, if this is too simple for your geek quotient, it's Linux-based [] and hackable []!
  • by canofbutter ( 843238 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:12PM (#14485807)
    RAID6 [] is not at all an odd combination. It uses a 2D parity scheme to ensure that there is no data loss in the array if there are any 2 drive failures simultaneously. Although I agree that I've never seen RAID6 controllers from promise, Newegg has some [] from Areca; though you'll pay quite a bit for them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:13PM (#14485817)
    I built two arrays: a .5TB array with (4) 200GB WD drives (the prototype), and a 1.5 TB array with (7) 300GB Maxtor drives. Having previously experimented with trying to build a .3TB array, I knew that having the correct case (10 5.25" bays, with plenty of room for cables, removable drive bays, etc.) was critical. The "full" size server ATX cases they they sell on the open market are crap - they all have one critical design flaw. Unlike true full-size server ATX cases, they all have the PSU as the highest point in the case. True full-size ATX cases have an additional fan just above the PSU, so that the heat that moves to the top of the case is exhaused by the extra fan, not the PSU.

    So, now having gotten the case (with 12v large diameter fans) the 600 watt PSU, the removable drive bays, and the multiply tested drives (I'll get into that more in a bit), the problem becomes the RAID interface cards.
    I went with software RAID on linux, and having learned from a previous drive failure why it was important to keep drives on separate channels (do NOT put drive on master/slave - an ide failure on one just might take out the other, and simultaneous failures do bad things to RAID5 arrays), put in (3) Maxtor ATA/133 cards.
    Bad mojo happened, and as it turns out, having more than (2) of those cards in the 500MHZ dual processor celeron system I was using causes some sort of instability. I eventually subbed in a ATA/133 card from another vendor for the 3rd card, and used an ATA/66 interface from the motherboard for the 7th drive.
    Everything's good right? Well, no. After setting up the array, formatting it, and rsyncing the contents of the .5TB raid as a test, I found major filesystem problems. Several fsck -VCcc s later (-cc tells fsck to use a read/write version of badblocks to scan the drive before fscking it), I managed to fail one drive (which was pulled), and monitoring with smartctl revealed two more drives that looked like good candidates to pull. This despite having exhaustively tested and reformatted the drives using the Maxtor Powermax utility prior to installing the drives (although I have to allow the possibility that the drives may have been damaged after installation by the Maxtor PCI card weirdness).
    Of course, during this entire ordeal, I had a UPS hooked up to the server to ensure that it did not suffer any damage from blackouts/brownouts.
    Total time to set the RAID up? Several months. Total time to test and copy data? Three weeks, and counting.
    Obviously, now, if I was setting up a RAID for work, I'd buy one off the shelf with on-site service guarantee (this RAID was for home)...
  • by Nik13 ( 837926 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:14PM (#14485833) Homepage
    Promise DOES sell at least one RAID 6 card: the Promise SuperTrak EX8350.

    And if someone is looking for some RAID card reviews... Here's a couple links: r_raid_controllers/ [] s_trouble_for_scsi_raid/ []
    (Yeah Yeah, THG... Still a good roundup and worth the read if you're looking for a card - jump to the feature table on the last page if you don't want to read the whole thing)

    Lots of people seem to mention the 3ware cards, but at that price I'd rather get the nice Areca ARC1220 instead (which is also PCIe - no PCI-X req'd)

    I'm looking for a similar solution, but even though these cards look very nice, I'll definitely go with software RAID5 too, those controllers are too expensive... I'd rather spend the extra money these controllers cost on more storage (that 500$ will buy around 1TB).
  • Re:It's Time my Son (Score:3, Informative)

    by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:16PM (#14485844) Homepage Journal
    I went the NForce route myself, and figured I would add a few comments.
    • Some mainboards have 8 SATA ports, 2 IDE ports - One of the reasons I went with the DFI SLI-DR board for that reason.
    • Get a solid power supply... you will need it.
    • Put all those drives in the same chassis, pay attention to airflow. Heat is the drive killer. SATA cables were long enough I moved the drives to a separate chassis.
    • If this is a file server, you won't burn any mips to speak of. Get the cheaper CPU.

    Just picked up a Linksys NSLU2UK nas, which works like a charm as well for 'near-line' storage. A bit slower, but takes 2 USB drives. I'm thinking she will do more, but have not cracked the case and pulled out the soldering iron yet. (grin)
  • Re:Linksys NSLU2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by wiresquire ( 457486 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:19PM (#14485889) Journal
    Mod parent up.

    I can't believe anyone would recommend anything else for a geek besides the NSLU2!!

    It runs based on Linux, so you can replace the firmware []
    Not only do you have a NAS device, which you can mirror disks on, but then you can basically add on whatever you want, eg Firewall, web/mail/file server, music center, VOIP PBX, use NFS as well as Samba etc.

    Tom's Networking has a little howto [] on this.

    And if you're interested in more information, CmdrTaco I've found this other site [] where you can often find some good information from users about techy related stuff that matters.
  • by fbrchnl2112 ( 946378 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:20PM (#14485900)
    As aesthetically pleasing as these LaCie Big Disk enclosures are, I've had serious reliability problems with the two Big Disks I've owned, and can't recommend them. I'm generally a fan of LaCie's other single-drive enclosures. If you do take the plunge, keep in mind that the Big Disks are essentially concatenated within the enclosure to present 2 or 4 disks as a single logical device. There is no RAID protection within the device if one of the disks within the enclosure eats is.
  • Avoid the NSLU2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:21PM (#14485911)
    So I have an NSLU2 at home. Had it for about a year. The length of time the thing has been actually useful is maybe two days. Let me give you the counterpoint...

    - Silent operation, no fans in the nslu2 and you can get fanless enclosures for the HDs

    Make sure it's an aluminum case at least. And be prepared to try several different ones until you find one that works well.

    - Takes very little space away from your home office

    No, other than the six thousand cords you've got hanging off the back of it to plug in these external drives.

    Oh, and don't accidentally disconnect a cord. The NSLU2 doesn't support anything approaching to Plug and Play. You'll likely damage data on the drive, but the most annoying thing is you gotta shutdown and restart the whole thing.

    - Very small power draw


    - Easy to add/remove drives without any reboots

    Not in my experience.

    - Can power off drives that aren't used frequently, then turn them on when needed

    Again, not in my experience. This is most likely going to lock up the whole thing so it stops responding.

    The other problems with the NSLU2 besides the speed(might as well hook it up to a 10baseT hub, cause it can't fully utilize 100baseT), is that if you do try to transfer a large amount of data(say 15 gigs of MP3s) more likely than not the whole thing will lock up on you.

    In short... The NSLU2 is unreliable, for a variety of reasons mostly having to do with software, but also having to do with the external drives and the lack of support for hot plugging USB devices. The NSLU2 is slow. The NSLU2 is a pain to manage on the table because of all the cords hanging out of the thing. The NSLU2 is not well supported by Linksys, they periodically release firmware updates but 9 times out of 10 they don't help. The NSLU2 is particular about what type of USB enclosure you use, as well as even what drive, so it's hit or miss whether it will work.

    To be fair, I did look at buying a Netgear SC101, and everything I have read indicates that it's even worse.

    I ended up just taking my drives and sticking them on my computer and leaving them there. I thought it would have been nice to have this running all by it's lonesome in another room with some batch scripts periodically replicating data over to it. But it's simply not reliable enough.

    I've been meaning to try to sell my NSLU2 on ebay. Maybe someone who wants to install their own copy of the nslu2 Linux on it can have some fun. But it's not a good device for a SOHO server, that's for certain.
  • Re:Simple answer. (Score:4, Informative)

    by plalonde2 ( 527372 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:31PM (#14486007)
    I have the ReadyNAS x6 [], and I love it to pieces. It just sits there and serves my media (runs SlimServer out to my Squeezebox, no more PC involved). It's been up a couple of months with no problems at all, although I'm starting to fill up.

    For backups I run some nice Plan 9 [] magic - the Venti [] archiving file server. No-hastle incremental backups, snapshots of previous days, identical-block compression, and so on. It's been ported to Unix (and so runs on my Mac), and provides more peace of mind (coupled with the raid) about my data than I thought possible.

  • Matched drives give you better performance but they are not technicaly required. Some raid cards might have checked for this but none that I have worked with. 3ware specificaly does not use a chunk of a drive so that different drive sized can be accomodated I have a 4 drive 2 maxtor 2 WD raid 5 on a 3ware 95xx and it works fine. Cheep windows mirror and stripe software "raid" controlers probably have this issue but it should work fine putting a larger drive in to replace the failling unit, as there logic is a simple write every block twice and say your as big as the first drive or write ever other block to each drive and say yours 2x as big. If your using a "raid" card that cheap you might as well use software raid and get a better feature set (expansion, raid level migration, raid 5 support and sub drive arrays for starters)
  • Re:Infrant ReadyNAS (Score:2, Informative)

    by kozchris1 ( 946384 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:39PM (#14486092)
    I have the X6 also. Love it. Fast and quiet. Infrant has excellent support also. True hardware raid unlike the Buffalo terastation IIRC.
  • Simple solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:40PM (#14486101)
    Just do what I did: buy a used server. I got a used Compaq Proliant with RAID 5+x, with room for a total of 12 drives. It was $450. Easy, cheap, and it works. No dicking around with software and shit necessary (unless, of course, your idea of a good way to spend a weekend is configuring software). And of course, the hardware is designed to work perfectly. I've got one in my business, and one at home.
  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:41PM (#14486111)
    The ratings and reviews on their homepage [] say it all. This thing blows a Terastation away in terms of ease of use, supported protocols, and goodies. Buy an empty ReadyNAS X6 from [] for $579 (no tax, free shipping). Fill it with two of whatever drive is dirt cheap this week (cough-newegg-cough). Here's the kicker...ReadyNAS will expand the drive array automatically each time you add a drive. So buy a couple 300GB's for $100 each and you'll have 300GB of mirrored storage. A few months from now, you run out of room, you just drop in another 300GB drive and now you've got 600GB of redundant storage. Add another drive and you'll have 900GB with redundancy. Still need more room? Replace those 300GB drives one at a time with higher capacity drives and watch it automatically resize the set to use the extra space. Without ever having to rebuld the array! Trying to backup a TB of data so you can move your NAS from 300GB drives to something higher really sucks the big one.

    Of course it does CIFS(SMB). But it is one of the only NAS products to support Apple File Protocol, which is a must for networks with Mac/OS X users that insist on using filenames with colons, slashes and question marks and other things that make CIFS/SMB explode. It also supports NFS and rsync for the UNIX/Linux crowd and both FTP and HTTP for the web browser crowd (hi, grandma). It also streams in both flavors of home media server protocols (UPnP and the HMS) so you can buy a $100 Linksys media extender and watch anything you have stored on your RAID. It also has a SlimServer plugin for streaming music to those SlimServer devices that you can hook up to your stereo or a cheap pair of speakers.

    It's also supports Gigabit with Jumbo Packets (write only currently) so you can copy 200GB of HD camera footage to the NAS in a couple hours instead of a couple days. The RevB case is cable-less with just thumbscrews between you and swapping a drive. It also holds the drives vertically because who is the idiot who thinks stacking heat factories horizontally on top of each other is a good idea. Also, I can't tell you how many RAID products only lets you specify an alert SMTP server name but no authentication information, which means e-mail alerts don't get delivered (boo Promise, boo 3Ware). ReadyNAS has its own MTA so the mail gets through without a problem, and it can also let you set login/password to authenticate to your ISP's SMTP server. It looks nice, clean, and it certainly not the noisiest thing I've had in my room, although I will be happy when future firmware lets you put the drives to sleep so the case fan can be completely turned off when you aren't using it.

    I spend three weeks shopping for a NAS for my network, and I'm glad I looked past everyone telling me Terastation. I've had this ReadyNAS X6 for a few weeks now and I love it. I'm already shopping for a second so I can recycle the old drives from all my other rag-tag household systems into one nice neat package.

  • Re:Avoid the NSLU2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by nick this ( 22998 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:46PM (#14486161) Journal
    The difference between what you experience and what the parent poster experienced is the fact that you were running stock firmware, and the parent poster was running unslung or debonaras, or any one of the other replacement firmwares for the slug.

    The linksys firmware might suck, I don't know, having scraped off the linksys dreck immediately upon plugging the device in.

    You might just give unslung a shot. It's easy, and fixes most (all?) the complaints you've mentioned.

  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:48PM (#14486179)
    Oh, I alsost forgot...just about the coolest feature is that the thing has a PCI slot and two USB ports. This means that you can add a wireless card or a firewire card if you want to use firewire storage devices or a wireless USB adapater or even USB storage devices and printers!

    For USB printer connected to the back, the ReadyNAS works as a print server. If you add USB storage (almost everyone already has a USB drive kicking around somewhere) then that storage is available as a volume on the ReadyNAS. You obviously can't use it for part of the RAID but it is fantastic for loading up a drive of movies to take over to someone's house or bringing data from other homes/offices to backup on the RAID.

    The ReadyNAS can also be configured to automatically copy data from any flash storage to a specified directory. So you have a camera with a CF or SD card, right? Get a USB card reader, and every time you plug your camera's flash card into it, it will copy the pictures over to your /Pictures volume so you can pull them up on your Media Center in the living room.

    Since the underpinnings are all Linux, it's a sure bet that the PCI and USB ports will provide all sorts of cool amazing things as time progresses. I fully expect that you'll someday be able to add a second NIC and have the ReadyNAS function as a firewire...sorta like that big ugly yellow banana slug NAS that was reviewed on here a few months ago.

  • Snap Server (Score:2, Informative)

    by ckhorne ( 940312 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:55PM (#14486250)
    Check out Adaptec's Snap Servers. They used to be made by Quantum until Adaptec took them over. I have an older one I got off of ebay, added 4x 120Gb in a RAID5, and can get to the same shares via SMB, NFS, and allows from a host of other protocols. User-friendly, plug and play, and fast.
  • Don't these raid controllers want the drives to be the exact same model?

    My 3ware couldn't care about model. It's the *size* that matters. The replacement drive has to be >= the size of the drive it's replacing.
  • by capsteve ( 4595 ) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @07:19PM (#14486454) Homepage Journal
    get a 1 or 2 u rack mount case, a couple samsung 250gb drives, mini-itx mobo, openBSD, and roll your own. i started out in '98 using linux for my personal home server(redhat>suse>debian>redhat>fedora>openbsd), and without a doubt openbsd has been the most stable and the least problematic... i've been using it for the last 18 months, and the only reason for rebooting was when i experienced an extended power outage, when i moved, and when i added a new hard drive (because of a noisy case fan). hp?story=20051212224355152 []

    BIG TIP!!! get a frackin' UPS! i'm currently using an ancient APC smart 2200, but i've had fewer flakey problemsthe last three years i've been running with a UPS, and i think alot of it is just having clean power... of course my sysadmin chops might have gotten better as well, but i'm pretty sure clean power goes a loooonnnng way.

    finally, as far as file sharing is concerned, i prefer netatalk cause i'm a long time mac user(as is my wife) and i've been a sysadmin in the graphic arts for a long time. netatal 2.0.x works very nicely on openbsd. but you should run whatever file sharing (netatalk, smb, nfs) is most conducive to your client OS.

    i can't tell you which backup/archive is gonna be the best for you... if i could run legato networker on bsd cheaply, i would. i'm leaning towards bru for the time being, but i'd like to explore amanda some more.

    good luck.
  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @07:22PM (#14486475) Homepage
    So I know what 0, 1, 5, and 0+1 are, but not 6, 10 and 50. Care to enlighten those of us who are too lazy to Google?

    I don't know RAID 6 and 50 well enough to explain them, so the link will do the job. While I'm at it, they can do 10 (compare it to 0+1 to understand better)

    RAID 6 []
    RAID 10 []
    RAID 50 []

  • Re:Avoid the NSLU2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @07:32PM (#14486557) Homepage
    > Make sure it's an aluminum case at least. And be prepared to try several different ones until you find one that works well.

    I have 4, two are adaptec and 2 are two different compusa house brand cheapo things. Never had any problem, didn't know that it mattered or I might have skipped the cheap ones.

    > No, other than the six thousand cords you've got hanging off the back of it to plug in these external drives.

    Well.. its not 6,000... but it does take enough to be a little bit of a hassle. I have 4 hds connected, so of course there are 5 usb cables (one per HD and one from slug to hub). And then you have power cords for the slug, hub, and HDs.. thats 6 all together. 11 cords, and then you have the ethernet out fron the slug for 12 total I think. 6000>12, but still I guess if you dont like cords, 12 could really freak you out.

    > Oh, and don't accidentally disconnect a cord. The NSLU2 doesn't support anything approaching to Plug and Play. You'll likely damage data on the drive, but the most annoying thing is you gotta shutdown and restart the whole thing.

    Not on my slug. ReiserFS avoids any nasty problems with damaging data, and I have only restarted my slug once (new kernel) since I installed Debian over 6 months ago. Of course I haven't tried disconnecting the root drive, that would probably not work out well. But all the other drives are regularly turned off or disconnected. no problems at all. You need to use disk labels since the device numbers can move around a bit, otherwise its been perfect.

    > The other problems with the NSLU2 besides the speed(might as well hook it up to a 10baseT hub, cause it can't fully utilize 100baseT), is that if you do try to transfer a large amount of data(say 15 gigs of MP3s) more likely than not the whole thing will lock up on you.

    Man you must have gotten the crapmaster slug from hell. I literally filled the first 300GB drive I connected in a single ftp session, not one error or problem. I regularly dump large amounts of data to/from the device and never have seen any problems. Sure, its not exactly fast, but plenty fast for 2 users to watch divx off of at the same time. The only time I saw a performance problem was when I tried to do a native compile of a new kernel on the box itself.. took several hours due to excessive swapping and during this time video was choppy every once in a while. Still better than I thought it would be.

    > it's not a good device for a SOHO server, that's for certain.

    All I can say is "sorry about your luck". This thing rocks as a SOHO server!!

  • He already has that (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeff Molby ( 906283 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @07:59PM (#14486755)
    I have mod points, but I feel it's more important to just correct you. He already has everything backed up and the LVM idea doesn't do anything to help his situation.

    He does care about downtime. Downtime = time spent restoring. With a RAID level > 0, all he has to do is replace a drive and tell the raid to rebuild. He's done in 5 minutes. It would take that long just to queue up a restore job for the tape.
  • by krunk4ever ( 856261 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @08:04PM (#14486794) Homepage
    Hardware VS Software Raid

    The $13 card you purchased is software Raid. Promise cards are mostly hardware RAID. I recently purchased a Promise FastTrack S150 SX4-M for less than $100 hardware RAID5 card compared to the $30-50 software RAID5 cards. I'm pretty satisified with the purchase but unfortunately there isn't room for much upgrade. I currently have 4x160GB in a RAID5 configuration giving me 480GB of space and 1 disc of redundnacy.

    Some useful links to tell you the difference between software raid and hardware raid are: Hardware-c.html [] ual/custom-guide/s1-raid-approaches.html [] html [] 349/2/ []
  • by dwights ( 109013 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @08:14PM (#14486867) Homepage
    I would assume most of the users on here are quite linux savy (if not, ask a friend, they may be able to help, but prepared to supply beer and pizza).

    Rather than a dedicated cheap nas device, i decided to go with a DIY linux software raid array. The current linux software raid is pretty reliable. if your doing mission critical data, i recommend hardware raid instead however. To estimate this, try to attempt to guage the cost associated with re-gathering all your data, and spend at least 1/4 that much for your storage.

    My solution was 4 200gb ata seagate baracuda drives in sw raid 5. the cost was about:
    - 4 drives @ $125 cdn
    - case & powersupply @ $100 cdn
    - board, cpu, 512mb ram @ $200 cdn
    total cost - 900$ cdn

    i used the onboard ide controller for a 80gb os disk, and a separate 2channel pci ide controller for the 4 disks, in raid 5, giving about .6tb of storage:
    achilles:/storage 559G 474G 86G 85% /storage

    i've been using this volume for about 1.5 years now with no problems *knock wood*. I've also rebuilt a sw raid 5 array at work, so i know that part of it works (for the most part).

    A few benefits i find using linux rather than a hardware device:
    - i can ssh/winscp in and get any of my files, anytime, from anywhere
    - i can run apache, mounting my /store/picturelibrary/ directory, and share my pictures with family
    - nfs or smb mount the volumes to any other linux/windows machines
    - the geek satisfaction of having my own .6tb volume.

    my next step from this is to purchase 4-8 SATA drives, a 8channel sata controller, and go with that. One thing to consider, is the location of your system. With this many drives, it can generate substantial heat (and noise), so you probably dont' want it sitting in a warm location in your home, where you have to listen to it droning away (4 cudas make some noise :) ). Mine is in my basement, also has a cdrw on it (for quick doc backups), a 2gb orb drive (for quicker backups) and a shared printer.

    hope this helps! a good linux sw raid howto is at: []

    One other thing. you can also use the mdadm tools to monitor the volume for any issues, and if/when they arrise, you can have it email you a message. This way you can pick up a spare 200gb drive on your way home from work to replace the failed one :). The linux md device also supports a hot spare, which i recommend you consider if the data is important enough to you.

    dwight s.
  • RAID 6 (Score:3, Informative)

    by cheezemonkhai ( 638797 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @08:25PM (#14486939) Homepage
    RAID 6 is pretty much the same as RAID 5, except that the parity is stored on two disks not just one. This is so that the array can cope with the failure of more than one disk.

    This executive summary was bought to you by cheese :)
  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @08:55PM (#14487113) Journal
    By the time your $3000 tape drive "pays off in the long run", I'll be buying 5TB disks for $150.

    Redundancy and mirroring is the way to go these days. It doesn't much matter if your drive fails if it's just one drive in a RAID that is mirrored in other places on other completely independant RAIDs. In any case, ATA/SATA drives don't fail all that much more than SCSI, at least in the first 3 years*.

    Even at work where we store multiple terabytes of business critical data, we use SATA. We just keep 3 independant copies of the data, one offsite. We use incremental rsync snapshots for incremental functionality.

    *The great part is that there's no huge investment. If hard disk technology jumps next year, we can upgrade with no guilt, since we didn't sink a ton of money into it in the first place. Previously we'd milk our SCSI RAIDs and tape drives/robots until they were ridiculously obselete and undersized because the cost was so high to upgrade them. It's no big deal to completely replace every drive every 3 years. The upshot is you generally replace all your disks with half as many disks 3 years later, since sizes have doubled, and the cost is about constant. Your RAIDs slowly get more reliable as the number of drives drops every cycle.

    You can brag about your baker's dozen of 36 GB 6 year old SCSI drives never failing, but I'll have a few 300 GB drives and have spent less money in absolute terms, and far less money once you count the time value of sunk costs into the equation.
  • by Jeff Molby ( 906283 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:49PM (#14487662)
    The problem with RAID, is your drives need to be of the same size Not true. Most, if not all, controllers can handle multiple drive sizes; they just go with the lowest common denominator. Sure, it's inefficient, but it actually offers something of an upgrade path. I have a 4 drive RAID with 3 different drive sizes. It originally had 4 80GB drives, but I replaced two failed drives with whatever was most affordable at the time. When the last of the 80GB drives fails, I'll rebuild the array to the new lowest denominator.
  • by maswan ( 106561 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:58PM (#14487703) Homepage
    > Where do I get a 250-300 watt powersupply with 12 SATA power connectors?

    You don't need to. All the current drives have molex power connectors too, right? If you are unsure, check the specs. Hitatchi's OEM data sheets are great in that regard, since they tell you everything.

    Then get a bunch of molex Y-adaptors, they're really cheap. I haven't seen SATA power Ys yet, but hopefully that's just a matter of time.

    Take a good look at the current requirements for the drives though. At 12 drives you're heading into the region where most PSUs won't supply enough current. The startup current for 12 current hitachi sata drives is 1.8*12=21.6A at 12V, and most PSUs are only rated at 12-18A.

    Also, watch 5V too, the current draw at "max r/w"-load is 1.3A on both 5V and 12V (on those hitachi drives). Even beefy PSUs in the 600+W range most of the time only have 20-30A at 5V, even when they have 3x18A 12V. That's probably enough for 12 drives, but if you want to scale it up you can run into stability problems.

    I know this, since I just put together a machine with 18 drives in it, and had lots of power trouble at first.
  • by frosgate ( 609341 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:44PM (#14487908)
    It's sort of ironic, I'm actually in the process of doing just this, but for work. The data is not mission critical data, but it's important enough that we need some redundancy.

    Here's the basic solution:
    1. Slackware linux
    2. Multiple pairs of harddrives set as mirrors (raid1)
    3. Combine these mirrors into a single volume with lvm
    4. Share the volume using samba &
    5. For easy managment, use webmin

    I'm using standard IDE drives because their cheap, and we've got a half dozen laying about. One nice thing about raid1 on linux is that you do NOT need the two harddrives to match in size. The size of the mirror will be the size of the smaller of the two drives. LVM allows me to take a lot of the smallish mirrors (60gb-160gb) and combine them into one large volume (total is 580gb). Because of the mirror'ing, there isn't much concern about a single dead drive taking out LVM.

    I'm running this setup with a Pentium III-733mhz w/128mb memory, and have found the only bottle neck to be the speed of the drives themselves. A suggestion about that: Make sure that the two drives of each mirror reside on different ide channels; this improves things noticeably.

    nathan o'brien
  • by cagle_.25 ( 715952 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:49AM (#14488178) Journal
    Whatever you do, you MUST be protected from accidental deletion and corruption. That means you need a backup, which RAID is not.

    Hear, hear! I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

    RAID is not backup!

    If you consider all of the possible things that can make your data suffer, in order of likelihood:

    1. User failure (file deletion, etc.)
    2. Program bugs (got a lot of those with one particular app at work)
    3. OS crash
    4. HDD failure
    5. pwnage

    you can see that RAID will only help with item #4. Anyone with any data more important than ripped CDs needs actual hard backup: tapes, DVDs, offsite, whatever.
  • by affliction ( 242524 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:31AM (#14488335) Homepage
    Where do I get a 250-300 watt powersupply with 12 SATA power connectors?

    Oh, I think you're gonna need a lot more than 300 watts. Double that at least.

    I just built a system with 8 400GB drives and a Pentium 3. Started with a 400 watt supply and it wouldn't even turn on. Went an bought an Antec 550 and it turns on just fine, but acts a little flaky now and again. I definately need something in the 600-700 category.

    There was a project I saw on the Internet just a bit ago, unforunately I can't remember where, but he had 12 SATA drives and ended up having to buy a 1KW supply. He had a 650 but it wouldn't even turn on. Although, if I remember right he was running dual Xeons, so that could skew the results a bit...

    Regardless, you need something much bigger. You could get an additional supply just to power drives. Basically you just need to ground the green wire on an ATX supply to get it to turn on with a connection to a motherboard. [] This site will show you how.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison