D-Link DNS 320 - RAID?

littlesheepy

Distinguished Member
I've just purchased a D-Link DNS320 NAS off these very forums and it's my first and cheap foray into networking/NAS. I currently have a portable external hard drive that has all my music/videos et.c saved on and plugged into my Mac Mini which i access via Plex.
I'm now hoping to buy a 1TB hard drive for the NAS and transfer my files across so I can access the files easier, from more devices and eventually torrent straight to it.
My main question is, if I buy 1 drive now and start using it, can I install another drive later as a RAID drive, which I believe will mirror the existing one as a backup. Or would I have to install both drives at the same time to get a RAID setup?
Also, I'm looking for a drive as cheap as possible (might have to wait a month or two to get the drive) , any suggestions where and what to buy/avoid? Or what drives will/won't work?
This is all new to me, so any help would be most appreciated, thanks :)
 

littlesheepy

Distinguished Member
Actually - I've just been reading the very helpful sticky guide. Would I possibly be better (as I've read 1 disk drives don't seem to perform well) in buying say 2x 500gb drives, using both of those as storage for different things (so if one drives fails, I'd not lose everything) and using my existing portable HDD which is 1TB as the backup? Or is that not possible?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
There are a few variations of RAID, it would be worth acquainting yourself with what they are and the pro's and cons of each. Which version to use (or JBOD) is a value judgement you have to make for yourself having assessed the risks and consequences.

By way of example, the reason we use RAID configs in corporate IT is to mitigate the risk of having no access to data for a day or two in case of a disk failure (which would have a serious business impact/cost.) Redundant RAID variants (1, 5, 6,) mitigate this risk and allow work to continue when a disc dies but accept that the storage capacity is reduced and performance impacted. Though often performance actually isn't as we spend the sort of money one would on a PC to buy RAID controllers and storage arrays with good performance. And we don't use "consumer" type desktop HDD's either.

Conversely, in my home media tank, I might be more concerned with maximizing storage capacity over resilience, safe in the knowledge that when a disc dies A) it isn't the end of the world that I can't watch Trumpton for a few week and B) I've got copies of the original media on shiny silver discs that I can copy back to the tank when I've replaced the failed disc (painful as that is.)

Whether you can add one disc to your NAS now and another in a RAID 1 (mirrored) array later is down to the controller and software in your NAS. In some RAID controllers/variants you can only "create" the config at the time you build it and it will often destroy any data. However, more sophisticated controllers exist that allow you to do more things "dynamically" without destroying the data therein. Even so, I'd want to have a backup just in case. It's read the manuals time I'm afraid (unless there's someone reading that knows your particular box.)
 

littlesheepy

Distinguished Member
Thanks very much for that, some great points, particularly "A) it isn't the end of the world that I can't watch Trumpton for a few week and B) I've got copies of the original media on shiny silver discs that I can copy back to the tank when I've replaced the failed disc (painful as that is.)"
As I do have the discs I can always copy again plus I'll still keep my portable hard drive as it is a backup AND I've got my music on CDs and at least one flash drive. If the lot goes in one go, it'll mean something catastrophic has happened like a house fire and if I'm there to see the other side of it, there's more to life :)
I probably won't be adding all the much anyway as I watch the same TV series on repeat anyway!

In that case, if I just go for more storage than RAID, is it ok to have 1 disc and add an additional disc for storage later or again does it come down the the NAS?
Would I be OK using 1 drive in the NAS as after a quick look it seems a 500gb and a 2TB and available for about the same cost :-s I thought the smaller drives would be much cheaper and I can't afford to outlay for 2 in one go. PLus if I'm just as well getting a 2TB for the price of a 500gb and I believe you need matching drives, 4TB's would be a bit of an overkill for me at the moment....
Thanks :)
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
In that case, if I just go for more storage than RAID, is it ok to have 1 disc and add an additional disc for storage later or again does it come down the the NAS?
Yes, it's up to the NAS, but I'd be very surprised if you cannot add discs one at a time if you're not using RAID. Where it will get more interesting is how the shares are organized (a "share" is the name you set up to advertise an area of storage out onto the network.) You might have to have shares pointing to a particular disc, say "movies" on disc one, "photos," "music" and "data" on disc 2 (I've made up the names.) Again much depends on the NAS's capabilities. Some better system might let you mount one disc "inside" the directory structure of the other. (Lot's of NAS's seem to be running a version of Linux under the covers, and Linux has been able to do this kind of thing forever.) Again, have a read of the manuals or wait for someone who knows your NAS to comment.

Would I be OK using 1 drive in the NAS as after a quick look it seems a 500gb and a 2TB and available for about the same cost :-s I thought the smaller drives would be much cheaper and I can't afford to outlay for 2 in one go. PLus if I'm just as well getting a 2TB for the price of a 500gb and I believe you need matching drives, 4TB's would be a bit of an overkill for me at the moment....
Thanks :)
I'd be really surprised if you cannot use a single drive. You only need the multiples if you want RAID. For example, you can't set up a RAID1 (mirrored) configuration unless you have two drives. Similarly, you need matching or similar disc sizes for RAID configurations (since you're not using RAID, for brevity I'll not get into why.) If you are using "independent" non RAIDed discs (often called JBOD - Just a Bunch Of Discs) then the relative sizes don't matter. Though do check out what the maximum size your NAS can handle. No point buying a 4TB drive if the biggest size you NAS can handle is 1TB (for example.)

Disc capacity isn't sold by the Gigabyte. It's not like going down the market where a kilo of peas cost GBP 0.60 and 2 kilos cost GBP 1.20. It's more like a tin of beans where a small tin costs GBP 0.65 and a large tin (literally twice the size) costs GBP 0.85. Much of the cost is in the mechanicals, electronics, packaging, shipping, brand, etc. etc. And of course, you can also get some better deals on older kit which people are trying to clear off their inventory, so "last years" disc capacity can sometimes be cheap as chips. Sometimes, you just simply find a bargain. (I bought a pretty good new router last year for the give-away price of GBP 23, barely more than the cost of shipping!)
 

littlesheepy

Distinguished Member
Ahh, cool :) if read something to do with single drives suffering from bad performance or something along those lines. I'll have a sit down and a good read through the manual now I've located online and see if it makes any sense :)
Going to look out for a bargain drive too hopefully :D
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
HDD's are mechanical devices and by definition are achingly slow compared to solid state electronics. With a single disc, it can only be reading/writing from one place at a time (though modern ones employ some tricks to mitigate the effects somewhat.) With multiple discs, you can be writing and (especially) reading multiple areas (one on each) concurrently. Some of the RAID variants that offer no redundancy, by using multiple discs with data distributed across them to take advantage of this, (RAID 0 for example.)

However, in a small SOHO network with only a few client devices, I doubt you're going to encounter any difficulties. The worst use case would be trying to stream multiple HD movies concurrently (HD movies being a use case that has high throughput and time critical requirements.) If you watch your movies one at a time, don't have many clients and aren't interested in getting into a nerdy "number game," I wouldn't worry about it.

It's only when you start getting into larger networks with dozens/hundreds/thousands of users, large data volumes, constant access requests, seriously time critical stuff, yada, yada, it becomes more of a concern.

For a SOHO LAN, I'd just try it, if it becomes a problem, then I'd fix it.
 
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littlesheepy

Distinguished Member
Thanks very much. I think the single drive for now will be plenty adequate for me. Just need to try and get the right kind of drive now!
 

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