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Building a Backup Storage System


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#1 pcman312

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:32 PM

I am looking to replace my rather clumsy JBOD setup in my desktop (5 drives of various sizes, all of which are 5+ years old) with something that has more space, easier to manage, and is more resistant to failure. I've been thinking about this for a while now and figured I would get 4 new hard drives and set them up in a RAID 0+1/1+0, however after doing some research and brainstorming with some friends I decided to look for alternative solutions. I'm not discounting the RAID 01/10 solution, I just want to know what other options there are out there. I will not have my main drive be on the RAID (or alternative solution) as I have an SSD I plan on using for that, so all of this is for data storage.

 

My primary requirements:

  1. Desktop will be running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
  2. Desktop must see only two logical drives within Windows Explorer, the main drive where Windows, programs, games, etc. will live, and the "data" drive.
  3. Data drive must have a minimum of two drives and be able to expand if needed.
  4. Data drive must have some form of data redundancy. This can be accomplished with RAID 1, scheduled backups to a separate NAS, or any other means.
  5. No "cloud" storage solution. I want control over where my data lives and how it's managed.

A RAID 0 would solve #2, but I don't like that idea because if one drive fails, the entire system could lose all of the data (backups would solve that problem but it's a painful solution)

 

Regarding #4, I like the idea of an external (and possibly off-site) NAS storage for backups, so the data drive in the Desktop does not have to have redundancy itself, though it is desirable.

 

Thanks in advance for your ideas!



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#2 hamluis

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:42 PM

For storage...my thinking is the more the risk is spread, the better off I am.  I employ multiple hard drives and do not employ RAID (I see no point in writing same data twice or more).  Those who employ one large hard drive...are asking for trouble :).

 

I store various items on Drive1, other items on Drive2, other items on Drive 3.  I don't favor external drives, preferring internal drives connecting directly to motherboard.  External drives introduce additional points of potential failure (USB connector, case, overheating from enclosure, etc.), which is not the goal.  I'm still somewhat amazed that users continue to be surprised when they fail or have problems :).

 

If a drive fails or whatever...I only want to be concerned with a limited amount/type of data to attempt to reclaim.

 

If I were running a RAID...I'd make sure that I have some utility installed that continuously monitors the SMART data or does so on demand.  SMART isn't perfect but it's not intended to be such...it's meant to be "early warning" for a responsive, respondible user.

 

Bottom line:  Just do whatever gives you a given comfort level and be ready for the day when that fails and you have to attempt data-recovery.

 

Louis



#3 zingo156

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 04:43 PM

I agree with hamluis, I do employ raid on my video rendering machine as a start for backup/redundancy. It is just a mirrored raid, this way if one drive fails generally I can get the data I need before replacing and rebuilding the raid. That being said, I too feel it is best to use multiple drives that are cycled for weekly backups (or however frequently you feel is needed) or you can use cloud backup. I keep at least one hard drive in the bank with important information I can not lose, this data is also stored on my raid and spare backup (4 drives in total) and a 16gb + 8gb flash drive that stays with me where I go.

 

Redundancy is great but I have a good example of how it can go wrong: airplanes are all about redundancy, most have 2 motors, if one fails you can still fly, however if the airplane starts on fire uncontrollably it is likely going down unable to recover.

 

I have seen the unluckiest of unluckiest: a person employed multiple backups, a raid and 2 spare externals, they stored all drives in the same house, house burned down, all data was lost.

 

With backup: more is better and some data is priceless so invest in multiple storage options.


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#4 pcman312

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 04:51 PM

I'm not thinking of this particular setup as a true backup strategy, but just having some level of redundancy within my desktop. I plan on building out a system to do true backups to as well. I focused my requirements for the desktop down to being able to use multiple physical drives as one virtual drive, but I don't think that's practical. I think what I'm going to do is have multiple drives in the desktop (manually managing what files go where, and probably have some files duplicated between them), then have a separate backup system that runs nightly/weekly/whatever backups. I'm fully aware of the co-location problem, and am looking into my options for having the backups stored off-site. I know of some people who store a series of external hard drives in a safety deposit box as their method of storing really important documents/photos/etc. off-site. That's one of the options I'm considering, but that particular approach has the problem of not being able to update it frequently without a huge overhead over time. One idea I've had is to have a backup system running at a friend's place (he's also an engineer, so he can manage the system), and if he wants it, I can run a similar system for him. That way we would both have a separate backup stored in a physically separate location. We haven't figured out any details yet as I want to finalize the plan (and the finances) before committing to anything.



#5 hamluis

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 12:31 PM

<<I'm not thinking of this particular setup as a true backup strategy,..>>

 

Excuse my ignorance...but what is the point of redundancy in a system...if not to deal with the types of failures that occur and are dealt with (by the knowledgeable) via backups?

 

I can't seem to find your train of thought, which is not unusual for me :).

 

Louis



#6 Kilroy

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:29 PM

RAID is to protect against hardware failure, it is not in any way, shape, or form a back up.  I was going to do RAID5 when I built my last machine, after it dumped 4TB of data I decided I'd rather take my chances with a hard drive failure.  Having dealt with RAID on a professional level I can tell you it really isn't worth the time and cost on a personal level.  Take a look at the posting for people who have had a drive die in their RAID and can't get it back up and running.

 

You might consider something like Mediasonic HF2-SU3S2 ProBox 4 Bay Hard Drive Enclosure.  They also make a RAID version, but this one was a breeze to use.  I just plugged in my old drives and it was like a USB to 4 SATA drive adapter.  The drives came up just like they were when I pulled them from my system.



#7 pcman312

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:31 PM

 

<<I'm not thinking of this particular setup as a true backup strategy,..>>

 

Excuse my ignorance...but what is the point of redundancy in a system...if not to deal with the types of failures that occur and are dealt with (by the knowledgeable) via backups?

 

I can't seem to find your train of thought, which is not unusual for me :).

 

Louis

 

 

This would be a hardware redundancy solution, not a backup solution. I'm thinking of having a separate physical system that handles backups, which includes snapshots over time, so it's not just a copy of what's currently on the desktop, but also a history of it. That being said, I've decided that I'll just go with the JBOD approach in the desktop, have a file copy utility in place to copy certain really important folders between the 2 (or more) drives, and on top of that, have a separate backup system that's probably going to be running ZFS on some Linux distro (preferably living off-site to help prevent total data loss due to something like a fire). I know it seems like overkill to some, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.






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