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Raid 5

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by sapper, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. sapper

    sapper
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    Okay first of al thanks to those who helped me on my other two threads... :thumbsup:

    AM now contemplating a raid 5 set up!

    Now just been snooping about for a raid 5 controller. the only one i found so far is an adaptec which is £250 squids...

    does any one know of a cheaper card and source?

    Yours hopfully

    adrian
     
  2. loonatic

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  3. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Hi Sapper,

    Just built myself a 750GB media server using a redundant old PC and 4 250GB maxtors. The card I went for in the end was a highpoint rocket RAID 1640 (the SATA one mentioned above). This card seems to have the largest fluctuations in price between different websites I've seen for a while - after lots of searching I found it cheapest at http://komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?sku=120097&cks=SER where they do it for £66 including VAT :) :)

    It works a dream, easy to install the drivers after a clean install of XP, then a quick power down, plug in the drives and away to go. It took several hours to zero the RAID 5 array (left it running over night) but now its great, just partition it however you want with partition magic or similar and it just works.

    One word of caution would be to make sure you've got adequate cooling for the drives - they get pretty hot while setting up the array (several hours of continuous writes to all 4 drives). I ended up getting a new case and putting some fans in to keep them nice and cool.

    HTH, any questions just ask,

    Owain
     
  4. JohnS

    JohnS
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    I've got 2 of the 4 port pata highpoint controllers in my file server with 2 loads of 4*300gb drives attached.

    They do what they are supposed to and are fine at streaming off of them, but do realise that the reason that these cards are cheap is that the raid calculations are done by your processor, and not by an "on card" one. This makes writes slow and even trying to stream an mp3 while the writing to the card is basically impossible. Even saving a small word doc interrupts the flow of an mp3 and thats with a 2.8 prescott and a gb of ram. That all said, for storing write once items like ripped cd's and dvd's they serve their purpose.

    If you need to use the machine for other tasks at the time or for write intensive purposes you need to spend much more money on a card with am onboard raid processor.
     
  5. sneaky

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    Hi,

    Sorry to but in - but just wondering why you would want to use Raid for a media server.


    And if you do use Raid 5 make sure you have a backup of your stuff - the parity and rendundant disks dont always work.
     
  6. JohnS

    JohnS
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    Hours and hours of converting for just the price of a card and an extra disk, my time is worth far more.....

    I know its still not a fool proof solution but it sure helps.
     
  7. owain_thomas

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    What John says is right - the XOR porcessing is done by the CPU rather than the card, hence the cheapness. I've not found the performance that bad on mine though, for instance it wasn't until I tried streaming an uncompressed DVD whilst copying a large ISO file to the drive that it stuttered. I was fine when streaming a DVD and using the server to decompress .ape files and write them back as .wavs. I've not had any issues with streaming music stuttering yet.

    My server is only running an athlon 1600 with 384MB or RAM so YMMV.

    Owain
     
  8. sapper

    sapper
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    Exactly. If I have spent ages ripping Cd's, making paly lists etc, I do not want to have to repeat the whole process agin should a drive fail even if they are relatively reliable these days, in all of my days working with Pc's (since April 89) I have only had one hard draive fail, that was in a compaq!

    I am still in two minds though, even if I have pre-ordered one of these cards. I might set up a mirror raid innitially, but perhasp then extend it later to a raid5 system.

    Or even buy another PC box with power supply and set up a RAID 5 in the second box.

    Probably over kill, but it could be fun.

    However my proiroty at the momnent is to change OS and set up the basic home network. It is currently being a Pain in XP-HE as I seem to have to use one PC as the 'server' or what ever term MS use. This means purcahasing a nother network point for the main PC.

    Need to reread the literature and confirm ...

    Adrian
     
  9. JohnS

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    I dont think its the old drives you have to worry about so much, its the stuff mamufactured in the last couple of years where price/performance (as in all consumer products, just look at video recorders now compared to those of 10 years ago) have been a more noticable issue. Maxtor for instance reduced their warranty period to 1 year. Seagate on the otherhand have just extended theirs but they dont do the size of drives and certainly are more expensive per gb.

    I had a new 300gb maxtor keep getting lost by the array, it would then take a day to rebuild and then a couple of days later it would get lost again, RMA'd it and now its fine. If it had not been part of the raid 5 array I'd have lost my 700 ape files. I also had a 40gb barracuda that had a complete mechanical failure after a day of building a new htpc. That one meant a complete rebuild with a new drive.

    Better to be safe than sorry....
     
  10. halephil

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    As has been said before you get what you pay for with Raid 5 and if disk redundancy is important then it's a false economy to skimp on the card or just as important, how you enclose the hard disks as heat is their biggest killer.

    As well as the Adaptec card I can recommend those from 3ware. The 3ware 8506-8 with 8 Maxtor 7Y250M0 (250GB SATA) drives will give you about 1630GB of protected usable disk space (after overheads). Performance is excellent and it takes about 90 minutes for the array to rebuild itself if a disk fails. One obvious tip is to try and source the drives at different times or from different vendors to minimise the chance of suffering multiple failures due to a dodgy batch.

    Cheers, Phil
     
  11. JohnS

    JohnS
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    Good point Phil, my server case has a 120mm intake fan in front of each array of 4 drives which keeps them cool to touch, not quiet but in the rack in the garage it makes no odds.

    The 3ware cards are widly recognised as the best option if you have in the region of £350 for the card, this of course means that the card can take 8 drives, the only slight downside is the requirement to put all the drives in the machine at the point of initialising the array as it cannot be live expanded at a later date, quite costly as opposed to buildingf a 4 drive array now and another one a little down the line.

    Plenty of options depending on your budget.
     

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