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RAID - Need advice understanding what would be best for me.

Discussion in 'Storage' started by tingies, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. tingies New Member

    Apr 3, 2010
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    Long time lurker here, finally got around registering! :)

    Roughly two months ago I built a new computer with three 1.5TB drives and installed Windows Home Server to use it as a media server. I was very happy with how things were going until two weeks ago I discovered that one of the data drives had a lot of bad sectors. I managed to salvage most of the media off of it before I RMA’d it but I lost a good chunk. The other data drive was full so when I transferred all the salvaged data it was written on the system drive.

    Yesterday I started transferring 250GB worth of mp3 files from my main computer to the server and left to attend to something else. 20 minutes after I started transferring I went to watch something on my HTPC in the living room which pulls media from the server but there was no media to be found. I went and reset the server without bothering much about it and went back to the living room and waited for it to boot with no avail. I went back and turned the screen on to see that one of the drives was having problems in BIOS. I managed to boot it up eventually and ran chkdsk with bad sector detection on. It took several hours to finish and I wasn’t there to see the result. When I logged on the WHS console I saw that the system drive had 392GB worth of system data. I don’t know what that data is supposed to be but it shouldn’t be there. I started transferring files and the transfer rate was in the Kb/s for several minutes. I would stop and start again to see if something would change. Still nothing, transfer rate was very slow. So I just left it there for a while to see what would happen. After several minutes it reverted back to normal transfer rates (more than 20Mb/s). I know there’s something wrong with the drive but since I have all the data backed up somewhere I left it there for now and started thinking that this might not be a good solution for me.

    I’ve started reading about RAID and all of its different configurations. I’ve never had any experience with RAID so my knowledge is very very limited but from what I’ve read I think that building a RAID array with redundancy would be the best solution for me since I value my media. I don’t care one bit about performance; all I care about is the safety of my media. I see 3 possible solutions, RAID 5, 6 or maybe even 1+0, please correct me if I’m wrong (I’ve excluded 0 because although I think it’s the safest it also eats up too much space for my liking). I can’t decide which would be better suited for my needs. Is it harder to build one array compared to a different one? Is it more difficult to build an array with more hard drives? Does hard drive space matter? Can I add drives as a I go or do I need to decide how much space I will need and have all the drives ready? That’s one of the features I absolutely love about WHS, adding drives as I go. Will RAID work in WHS? Would I be better off with a different OS? How much space will be used for redundancy? What about hardware? What kind of hardware will I need depending on what I choose?
    I know I have a lot of questions. This is probably a long term project and I need to be sure I do it right. Once I set it up I don’t want to bother with it much like I’m doing now with my current setup. Most importantly I want my data to be as safe as possible without sacrificing too much space.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. kenkickr


    Dec 5, 2007
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    If redundancy is your #1 priority I'd go with RAID 1(mirror) but you can look into RAID 5(parity, minimum 3 drives) or any of the other RAID 6 on up(parity). RAID 1 is very nice for redundancy because whatever is on the main drive is "mirrored" to the 2nd drive within a RAID 1 setup. The only bad thing is if a virus or whatever gets on the main drive and has it's day then the 2nd drive has that mirrored onto it as well.

    RAID 5 is a different kind of data security. Say with 3 500GB drives setup in RAID 5 your only going to see 1TB of available storage. What the 3rd 500GB drive will do is if something goes wrong with one of the 2 drives making the 1TB of avail storage it just pops in and takes over the place of the bad drive so you can replace the defective drive and return to sweet bless.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  3. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

    Nov 22, 2005
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    Indiana, USA
    Simple explanation:

    RAID 0 - No data redundancy, but fast. You don't want this.
    RAID 1 - Mirrored data redundancy. Available storage space is Number of Drives / 2. Really only good if you have two drives.
    RAID 5 - Parity data redundancy. Available storage space is Number of Drives - 1. This is probably the ideal solution if you have more than 2 drives, it give the best storage space ratio with redundancy. You can have one drive fail and still access and use the array.
    RAID 6 - Parity data redundancy. Available storage space is Number of Drives - 2. You can have two drives fail and still access and use the array.

    Personally, RAID 5 is probably the best option if you are using multiple large drive and need a lot of storage space. You can have a drive fail, and still have access to all your data, and have time to replace the bad drive.
    10 Year Member at TPU Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  4. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 6, 2007
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    Cheeseland (Wisconsin, USA)
    Welcome to TPU tingies. :toast:
    Add you system specs using the UserCP, it will help everyone assist you in the event you have a system specific problem.

    Data redundancy is always a good thing. RAID is great, but make sure you do backups also.

    The level of RAID that you choose should be based on the level or redundancy you think you need and how much you are willing to spend to get that redundancy.

    For me, RAID1 is sufficient, but it looks like you are planning on near future growth of both the system and the arrays. You may want to look at putting RAID'd NAS devices on your network for your storage. Many of them offer a ton of functionality and you will not be limited to what will fit in your case. Expanding NAS is quite easy, and as with most electronics, has become more affordable.
    10 Year Member at TPU

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