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SAS controllers and tape drives

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I post mainly in the WCG section of this forum but I have a general hardware question I'm hoping to get some help with.

I have a 40Tb RAID array connected via USB that I'd like to backup and I'm thinking about getting a SAS controller and LTO5 tape drive. The problem is that I don't have any experience using SAS and would like to know if this is realistic for someone who is somewhat technically savvy but not an expert in such things.

From what I've been able to tell, I should be about to get a SAS card with internal connections and an internal drive and set them up more or less how I would normal SCSI devices.

Is there anything I need to know about the tech and setup that could cause me problems. For example with normal SCSI I always had issues with proper termination. Is that something I need to watch out for with SAS?

What other potential pitfalls and problems am I likely to run into. For example I would probably need about 5-7 tapes to backup the amount of data currently on my RAID array but I've run into issues in the past with multitape backups where one of the tapes becomes corrupted and therefore the data couldn't be restored from the backup, at least not completely.

Any help or pointers would be greatly appreciate so TIA.
 
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I have a 40Tb RAID array connected via USB that I'd like to backup and I'm thinking about getting a SAS controller and LTO5 tape drive. The problem is that I don't have any experience using SAS and would like to know if this is realistic for someone who is somewhat technically savvy but not an expert in such things.

If you can install a video card and a hard drive, then you have the skills to install a SAS controller card and an LTO tape drive.

Is there anything I need to know about the tech and setup that could cause me problems. For example with normal SCSI I always had issues with proper termination. Is that something I need to watch out for with SAS?

SAS doesn't require termination, unlike old-school SCSI. See here for more details.

What other potential pitfalls and problems am I likely to run into. For example I would probably need about 5-7 tapes to backup the amount of data currently on my RAID array but I've run into issues in the past with multitape backups where one of the tapes becomes corrupted and therefore the data couldn't be restored from the backup, at least not completely.

Bad tapes are always a concern. If your backup software has read-after-write capability, use it. This won't protect against problems later, but at least you'll know that the data you just wrote to tape is readable. "Verify" does the same thing, but it takes longer (the backup is completed, the tapes are rewound, then the software reads the source data and backed up data and compares them).

One last thing: buy a head-cleaning tape. You'll need it from time to time.
 
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I'm running a SAS controller and an LTO4 tape in my computer (also have an old server with SCSI LTO2 drive) - and also still using a 15k RPM drive as my system drive. SAS became pretty much like SATA - you can connect SATA drives to your SAS controller with no problems (but you cannot use SAS drives on SATA controllers)
One thing to watch out is cables or should I say connectors - with SAS drives they are different from SATA since both power delivery connector and SAS connector are joined into one long connector so you cannot use your standard SATA cables.

You either need proper cables from your controller with long connectors that have the power cable or use an adapter.

Another thing to be aware of is backup software - ensure you get proper speeds and hardware compression. Also be aware of the OS you will use since not all software supports consumer Windows platform (it's just an example I don't know what you will use).

EDIT: Also make sure the drive is properly cooled - these are meant for servers where you have high airflow and if you put it in a standard PC case without proper airflow it can heat up.
 
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Thanks for the information gents.

Cooling might be an issue since I run that particular rig with the side panel off. So maybe I should look for an external drive or at least a good external case for an internal drive.
 
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If I get a used SAS controller off of ebay, will it be plug and play for Win10 or will I need to find drivers for it? Also, do used cards normally come with cables? Some show they do, some don't.
 
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Another question. I don't know if anyone can answer this. Do mini-SAS cables like SFF-8086 and 8087 provide power to the drive? As far as I can tell only the SFF-8482 cable does that and it looks like what I need for the HP 957A tape drive. Anyone have any clues for me on this?
 
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I just ran across a link to this thread and even though it's a couple months past, I figured I would wind it up. I hate when people ask for help and then never tell you how things turned out.

It turns out that the drive needed an SFF-8482 sata cable adapter. That plugged into the power supply and the SAS cable that came with the host bus adapter.

I talked to some people on the HP support form and they recommended an LSI 9217-4i4e RAID card. That's a PCIe 2 x8 card and it worked perfectly in an x16 slot.

The real issue was finding backup software that didn't require you to be a network engineer to use. I went with Backup Exec Pro. It still required a bit of a learning curve and I had to install client software on the target rig but that also worked seamlessly.
 
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I didn't see your other questions from before which I could answer and save you time with finding adapters and cables. So I'm glad you sorted that out.

I had the same problem on the software side, all I wanted was a simple program for backup which supports tape drives and is aware of things like hardware compression.
I'm using (now quite old) Yosemite Server Backup, which runs great on my main and the old server I have for backups.

Which LTO5 drive are you using?
 
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I got this HP model - https://www.amazon.com/HP-LTO-5-Ultrium-External-EH958B/dp/B009NEII4E. But I only paid about $400 and it was virtually NIB. That was a pretty good deal.

I have to do the backups over the network since I couldn't install the card in the target machine's motherboard. But both machines have dual ethernet ports so the average transfer rate is around 4-5 GB/minute. That's a little on the slow side but it's ok for my purposes.
 
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That's a very nice deal.
Have you combined the two ethernet ports so that you get 2Gb connection? LTO-5 is capable of 140MB/s uncompressed so that's around 8GB/min.
 

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I post mainly in the WCG section of this forum but I have a general hardware question I'm hoping to get some help with.

I have a 40Tb RAID array connected via USB that I'd like to backup and I'm thinking about getting a SAS controller and LTO5 tape drive. The problem is that I don't have any experience using SAS and would like to know if this is realistic for someone who is somewhat technically savvy but not an expert in such things.

From what I've been able to tell, I should be about to get a SAS card with internal connections and an internal drive and set them up more or less how I would normal SCSI devices.

Is there anything I need to know about the tech and setup that could cause me problems. For example with normal SCSI I always had issues with proper termination. Is that something I need to watch out for with SAS?

What other potential pitfalls and problems am I likely to run into. For example I would probably need about 5-7 tapes to backup the amount of data currently on my RAID array but I've run into issues in the past with multitape backups where one of the tapes becomes corrupted and therefore the data couldn't be restored from the backup, at least not completely.

Any help or pointers would be greatly appreciate so TIA.

Serially Attached-Small Channel System Interface addresses the short comings of the original SCSI, the connectors are smaller, more robust, stay in place. Pretty much advanced form of SATA ports, on top of that SAS ports are backwards compatible with SATA drives.

If they still make tape drives get a SAS tape drive from a reputable company and tapes from such too.
 
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I think I posted a link to the wrong drive. I believe mine is an EH957A - although they appearance is identical.

That's a SAS drive. It was just that the drive had the type of connectors that provided power and the card didn't so I needed to get an adapter cable.
 

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Have you had any luck with your tapes and backup? I'm in a similar situation myself :)
 
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The system worked quite well for a while and then something happened. I have no idea what and I haven't been able to correct the problem. Either Backup Exec has stopped working or there is something wrong with the hardware - either the controller or the drive. I tend to think it's not the software since I've done both a clean install of the OS and reinstall of BE and that hasn't fixed the issue. It seems to see the drive but there is some sort of communication issue.

Unfortunately I'm grossly out of my depth on this and it's not as if I can get tech support under the circumstances. Besides that I've been very preoccupied the past few weeks. BOINC is only running on 2 of my 4 machines at the moment because I haven't been able to focus on getting them running again. Not that it would be a big deal to do so, it's just . . . long story.

What I would recommend is that you go with a RAID5 setup. That will give you built-in backup and for the really important stuff you can consider either archiving to another external drive or cloud storage. I don't know what prices are currently like but if memory serves, I think you can get 1Tb for around $50/year. So whatever that works out to in pounds. If you go RAID5 though, be sure to have a spare drive handy and ready to pop into your enclosure. For the Mobius unit I have they need to clean drives which I think means either new or low level formatted.

You might get lucky but the software alone is going to cost you as much as the drive most likely and I couldn't find any good shareware solutions. They're out there but they're pretty basic. The Uranium software looks simple to use and not crazy expensive. If you're running some flavor of Linux you might have more options. You definitely want to think carefully about this before you pull the trigger.
 
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If the tape drive is HP you can download HP Library and Tape tools software which can pull all the data from the tape drive - including any errors, hours worked, temperature, firmware flashing etc.
 

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I've been very lucky with being at work and being given some of these things to play with, I'm still learning how to use them but it seems to be ok and I'm picking it up pretty ok :) I'll find out if there's any particular programs to use for the backups and with how to get the tapes to run.. The LTO5 tapes don't hold masses of storage (maximum of 3Tb a tape) but they are massively expensive to buy... Well drives more than tapes but either way, I wonder in some ways how companies manage to pay for them! We use LTO7's at work, which give a maximum of 15Tb a tape, which is a bit more decent... But the cost of a tape drive for a LTO7 or 8, is mega money.....

Pc's are never easy and simple.. That's why there's so many IT jobs out there for MS support and such :D :laugh:
 
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