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145 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 113707 25-Jan-2013 11:59 Send private message

Sorry - the title is a bit misleading. I don't really want to construct anything as grandiose as a true 'server farm' - all I want to do is explore the possibility of grouping four SATA drives (250g to 500g) together in an old computer tower case, then feed the output somehow into a nearby Win7 computer, which ultimately connects to my home LAN.

I'm an IT guy and build PCs. My reasons for doing this are:
a) The four drives could have their own power supply and not add extra stress to the Win7 machine.
b) They won't add any heat to the nearby Win7 computer, which already has a CPU running at about 40C.
c) Ideally, I could just turn on the box they're in when I want to access their contents.

Please note I'm not saying this is possible - I'm just asking the question to see if anyone has done a similar exercise.

Personally, I don't see how I could collect and channel the outputs from four drives in a box, unless they had their own operating system (together with motherboard, cpu, ram etc etc) to translate their outputs, in which case I might as well put them in the Win7 tower.

Come to think of it, a modification of that arrangement could be possible, like placing the four drives in another case hard alongside the Win7 machine, powering them with that case's power supply, but taking their data cables through into the Win7 case and onto the motherboard, which has four spare SATA ports.

I know it's a bit of a geeky exercise, but that's why I posted here in Geekzone, the home of no.8 wire fixups :-)

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293 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 750647 25-Jan-2013 12:05 Send private message

The easiest way would be through USB or e-sata, slightly harder would be a NAS system.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 750666 25-Jan-2013 12:58 Send private message

I think you would need a sata controller to tie them together and that requires an OS to control it.
I would say just get a cheap mobo, ram and cpu combo and then use freenas to provide all the OS config stuff.
That way it all ties together into a storage pool with redundant disks or a stripe combining all of the disks depending on how you set it up. You then have the option of presenting it to the network as a share or even better setting freenas into iscsi mode and using the iscsi initiator built into win7 to present it to the win 7 box as a local hard disk=fast block level transfers=cool. Gigabit network is recommended for this!

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 750671 25-Jan-2013 13:04 Send private message

create a Storage Space using Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 and share that out across your LAN using SMB

Hawkes Bay
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  Reply # 750676 25-Jan-2013 13:11 Send private message

Either codge it together with your SATA data cables running to the other box, and a seperate PSU (highly odd thing to do by the way).

or

Deploy a NAS.

or

Deploy a storage server (Windows, Linux, FreeNAS, whatever).

or

Install the drives in the existing box. Why 4 250GB drives? Why not 1 x 1TB or 1 x2TB (cheaper than 4 x 250GB). Power usage is minimal.

All of these options are not a server farm. All of these options are not providing redundancy unless you configure RAID and/or backups.




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984 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 750683 25-Jan-2013 13:18 Send private message

sorry I couldnt resist. But once you have configured what you want... you might wanna go get some of those expensive miniture farm animal figureens too OR simply name your drives Daisy (cow), Larry (lamb), Porky (pig) and HippyChic (freerange chook).

;-)

43 posts

Geek
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  Reply # 750688 25-Jan-2013 13:25 Send private message

If you build PC's you're bound to have plenty of parts lying around.

Just build yourself a freenas server. http://www.freenas.org/



145 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 750931 25-Jan-2013 20:01 Send private message

Thanks for your comments, guys.

I should have said first that I didn't want to spend anything on this rig - I was just trying to do it with parts on hand.

I hadn't heard of FreeNAS but I don't see the point of using it, as it needs an OS to host it. If I was to go down that track I might as well mount the four drives in the Win7 tower. Otherwise, I'd need another mobo, cpu and ram.

Why four 250g drives? I didn't say that there were. There's a 750, two 500s and a 250. I've had these for several years and they all contain archived files. They were all fitted with cradle brackets, so they could be slid in and out of several different computers as I needed to access their contents, but the hardware of those systems didn't properly support AHCI, so to swap drives I had to power-down each system. Messy.

Someone mentioned that powering four drives with their own PSU would be 'odd'. I don't see what's strange about it - I've often patched in a spare PSU to a system to provide more juice when the installed GFX card was a bit hungry. Works perfectly well and saves shelling out for a ginormous power supply on top of the substantial amount you had to cough for the overpriced video card.

No, I think I'll stick with my own idea about the side-by-side cases. My only concern with the arrangement is whether or not Win7 will see the four drives when I switch their case on, and, similarly, not get grizzly when I turn them off again. I mean, while I might leave Win7 running all day (or all night as well), I'd rather turn the 4-drive case on and off as demand dictates. In other words, Win7 is going to have to be comfortable with 'hot swapping', which should come down to the AHCI setting of the new Asrock motherboard.

Thanks again for reading :-)   



145 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 751498 27-Jan-2013 14:49 Send private message

Here's a heads-up on the project; it's finished and it works fine.

In the end I didn't bother with AHCI BIOS settings or hot-swap arrangements and mounted the four SATA archive drives directly into the main case, instead of in an ancillary tower.

To minimize the power demands on the case's modest 400w PSU, I connected the four SATA drives to an old Compaq 120w power supply, mounted on top of the main tower. It's totally silent and easily copes with the four drives, which I estimate as requiring about 10w each.

So, I can boot up the Win7 'server' in two ways:
a) Compaq PSU OFF: Win7 runs with Windows C drive and optical drive only.
b) Compaq PSU ON: Win7 runs with all five hard drives visible and accessible from the LAN. (I'm running Homegroups on all machines)

This works pretty well, because I don't need to access the archives 24\7 or even 12\7.
Thanks again to all who provided helpful input

148 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 751735 28-Jan-2013 08:21 Send private message

Hope you've got backups :-)

I think that "old" power supply's days are numbered running outside of the case, being switched on and off to save 40W of power.

Just get a single 2 TB drive (~$150) and migrate everything to it. Then you'll be able to seal your case too.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 751775 28-Jan-2013 09:55 Send private message

mthand: Hope you've got backups :-)



I think that "old" power supply's days are numbered running outside of the case, being switched on and off to save 40W of power.



Just get a single 2 TB drive (~$150) and migrate everything to it. Then you'll be able to seal your case too.


Yeah that would be the better way to do it... but I think the OP didn't want to spend money on new parts; he wanted to reuse what he had lying around..




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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 751793 28-Jan-2013 10:08 Send private message

Personally I'd still spend the $49.99 for a windows 8 license, so I could use Storage Spaces feature

Group all of those disks into a storage pool, with redundancy if you want, flexibility to grow in the future

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx

95 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 758734 9-Feb-2013 17:33 Send private message

Your CPU is running at 40C???? Call the fire brigade, quick!   :P

923 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 758842 10-Feb-2013 00:17 Send private message

geekIT: 

I hadn't heard of FreeNAS but I don't see the point of using it, as it needs an OS to host it. If I was to go down that track I might as well mount the four drives in the Win7 tower. Otherwise, I'd need another mobo, cpu and ram.



Glad you found a solution that worked for you, but just wanted to clear this up anyway. Freenas is an OS, it does not require a host OS to run on. It is just an OS with one purpose and that is to present disks to a network. It also has a convenient web based config for setup. It can be run off a usb flash drive or installed to a Hard drive. 

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