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71 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 88765 23-Aug-2011 14:01
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I'm thinking about getting a second hand card like a Dell Perc 6i off trademe/ebay and putting it into my home server. I was wondering if anyone had any experiences with second hand raid cards, or setting up RAID on their home server.

Specs:

  • AMD Phenom II x4 - 840
  • Asus 880G motherboard
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5 Hard drives (2x2TB, 1x1TB, 1x640GB, 1x500GB - will replace with all 2TB drives soon)
  • Windows Server 2008 (from MSDNA)
  • Case: Fractal Design R3 (Supports up to 9 drives, or 11 with 5.25" to 3.5" converter)

I previously used windows home server version 1, but I found throughput to be really slow on occasion (sometimes dropping to 50kB/s) so I installed Server 2008 from MSDNA which has been much faster (getting writes of 70+ MB/s).

I want to set up RAID for a few reasons:
  • One drive letter.
  • High availability/fault tolerance.
I picked RAID 5 because it's the most economical on disk space. Presently all home pcs back up to the server, and those back up files + documents + pictures are backed up to a 2TB drive off site. I would like to back up my video library as well, but it's simply too large. RAID 5 will at least protect my video files against a drive failure (while the parity data won't consume too much space.)


Cheers for any help/advice.  

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  Reply # 510628 23-Aug-2011 14:12
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mastapenguin: I'm thinking about getting a second hand card like a Dell Perc 6i off trademe/ebay and putting it into my home server. I was wondering if anyone had any experiences with second hand raid cards, or setting up RAID on their home server.

Specs:

  • AMD Phenom II x4 - 840
  • Asus 880G motherboard
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5 Hard drives (2x2TB, 1x1TB, 1x640GB, 1x500GB - will replace with all 2TB drives soon)
  • Windows Server 2008 (from MSDNA)
  • Case: Fractal Design R3 (Supports up to 9 drives, or 11 with 5.25" to 3.5" converter)

I previously used windows home server version 1, but I found throughput to be really slow on occasion (sometimes dropping to 50kB/s) so I installed Server 2008 from MSDNA which has been much faster (getting writes of 70+ MB/s).

I want to set up RAID for a few reasons:
  • One drive letter.
  • High availability/fault tolerance.
I picked RAID 5 because it's the most economical on disk space. Presently all home pcs back up to the server, and those back up files + documents + pictures are backed up to a 2TB drive off site. I would like to back up my video library as well, but it's simply too large. RAID 5 will at least protect my video files against a drive failure (while the parity data won't consume too much space.)


Cheers for any help/advice.  


From someone that's been builing RAID systems since doing it for universities, govt departments and the GCSB since the mid 90's, there's nearly no point in doing good RAID5 at home anymore.

Yes it's more efficient on disk space.. It's also more expensive and in the event of a controller failure, a hell of a lot harder to recover from. Just use a bunch of large drives in hardware mirrors. It takes almost no computing power and onboard controllers normally do a great job of RAID1 - plus if anything dies, either one of the drives could be mounted on another machine and easily read.

I have over 1.2TB of photos backed up here on a RAID (actually is a RAID5 but I know it's not the best choice) as well as to a cloud service (Backblaze) in the US. If I had to do it all again I'd use external towers, 2 or 3TB disks, SATA port multipliers and the cheapest PCIe RAID1 cards I could find.

Cheers - N


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  Reply # 510631 23-Aug-2011 14:15
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TBH I wouldn't go RAID5 these days. I use RAID6 on big arrays (ie 8 drives plus) and RAID1 on anything smaller. Only RAID5 I have is a DB server with 4x SSDs. Also make sure you have a BBWC on your RAID card otherwise your writes are going to suck if you want to maintain consistency by disabling write back.







71 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 510641 23-Aug-2011 14:35
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Thanks for the replies Talkiet and Zeon.

@ Talkiet:

1. Thanks for your input. I hadn't considered controller failure, is it a regular occurrence?
2. I tried to avoid RAID 1 since I'd need a lot more drives to get the same space, but am now reconsidering it.
3. What PCIE raid cards/port multipliers would you recommend? Can you set up RAID 1 across more than one controller? I.e. a mix of motherboard sata ports + pcie sata ports.
4. How long did it take to back up that much data to backblaze? Is it really unlimited for $4.95?

@Zeon:

1. Thanks for your reply. I considered RAID 6 but from my research it looks like most cards would be a lot slower with the double parity calculation. Also 6 ports seems to be the most economical (used controller for $120 US on ebay).


I'd also like to just add another comment. I don't need more than about 5TB of space at the moment, but as my media collection keeps expanding I could see myself using 6 or 8 TB in the future. I just thought RAID 5 would be cheap (in terms of disk space) insurance for my media collection since all my important data is backed up off-site. At the moment the media collection isn't backed up at all.


Once again, thanks for the replies. It sounds like the hassles of RAID5 outweigh the benefits.

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  Reply # 510655 23-Aug-2011 14:46
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mastapenguin: Thanks for the replies Talkiet and Zeon.

@ Talkiet:

1. Thanks for your input. I hadn't considered controller failure, is it a regular occurrence?
2. I tried to avoid RAID 1 since I'd need a lot more drives to get the same space, but am now reconsidering it.
3. What PCIE raid cards/port multipliers would you recommend? Can you set up RAID 1 across more than one controller? I.e. a mix of motherboard sata ports + pcie sata ports.
4. How long did it take to back up that much data to backblaze? Is it really unlimited for $4.95?
[snip]


Controller failure isn't terribly common, but it does happen. It's one of those things that's rare but incredibly bad when it does happen (unless you have a spare of exactly the same type and there's no critical config stored in the card).

Although their website is _tragic_, these people ( http://www.pcssl.co.nz/ ) know their stuff and if you were to ask for a port multiplier and compatible PCIe controller card, they'd know exactly what you meant. I got an Addonics card. I'm not sure if any/meny motherboard SATA ports support Port Multiplier tech.

It took several months (5-6 I guess) to upload all my stuff to Backblaze... I was flat out 24*7 on BigTime... now that's finished it's just new files that need to be uploaded which is sustainable just. ANd yes, their service really is $5/month with no hidden catches. Been reliable too so far.

Cheers - N




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  Reply # 510704 23-Aug-2011 15:20
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Talkiet:
Controller failure isn't terribly common, but it does happen. It's one of those things that's rare but incredibly bad when it does happen (unless you have a spare of exactly the same type and there's no critical config stored in the card).

Although their website is _tragic_, these people ( http://www.pcssl.co.nz/ ) know their stuff and if you were to ask for a port multiplier and compatible PCIe controller card, they'd know exactly what you meant. I got an Addonics card. I'm not sure if any/meny motherboard SATA ports support Port Multiplier tech.

It took several months (5-6 I guess) to upload all my stuff to Backblaze... I was flat out 24*7 on BigTime... now that's finished it's just new files that need to be uploaded which is sustainable just. ANd yes, their service really is $5/month with no hidden catches. Been reliable too so far.

Cheers - N


I have to say, if you get a good quality RAID controller card then you would be very unlucky to have a failure of that card.

I have been working with LSI branded RAID cards and haven't had one fail on me yet.  The only one that "failed" was due to it having old firmware out of the box, and needed to be upgraded in order for me to create my RAID set.

The question needs to be asked, are you implementing RAID for performance or storage or both?

As always, NEVER rely on only RAID for your backups of your data.  You should always have a backup of your data to another device/location.

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  Reply # 510706 23-Aug-2011 15:24
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Just remember that RAID isn't a backup! Make sure you have a second copy of all your important stuff on a seperate array/disk/storage.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 510752 23-Aug-2011 16:10
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@Talkiet:

1. Backblaze sounds great, but it would take me forever to upload my important data; and my connection is capped at 50GB.

2. What about using Windows dynamic disks for raid 5? Then there's no risk of controller failure. How much slower would writes be?

3. I guess I am after the cheapest solution to give me some security for my video files. Backups, documents and pictures will always be backed up offsite. 

@jaymz, kywanah2

1. Have you used any other brands? To keep this project within budget I will need to get a used card, and the dell Perc 6i ones seem to be the cheapest. I'm not sure how reliable they are though.

2. As I mentioned, all documents, pictures, and pc backups are backed up offsite. I'm just looking at raid to save me the hassle of ripping all my dvds again. 

Just priced up some options:
Raid 1 - 4 x 2TB drives
  • 2 x Samsung F4 2TB Drives ($125 ea - already have 2) = $250
= Usable space of 4TB in Raid 1

Raid 1 - 6 x 2TB drives
  • 4 x Samsung F4 2TB Drives = $500
= Usable space of 6TB in Raid 1

Raid 5:
  • Controller card $250
  • 2 x Samsung F4 2TB = $250
  • = $500
= Usable space of 6TB

Raid 5: with 6 drives = $750 for  10TB of usable space

 In the short term 6TB would be okay, but I'd probably be bumping up against that in 6 months to a year. I'm after the most economical way to store media without hurting read/write performance.

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