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Author Topic: The Rule of 3 Drives: How to Build your Next PC  (Read 16814 times)
f0dder
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« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2008, 03:02:11 AM »

If I might comment on the RAID topic, be very wary of where you place your confidence.  After multiple failures on a variety of "SOHO" type RAID implementations (low/moderate cost cards, motherboard built-in offerings, etc.) I've written them off and use non-realtime disk mirroring.  As an added bonus you get some degree of versioning protection that way.

The problem with the budget RAID solutions is that they won't rebuild.  The failures I've had in RAID1 configs made the mirror drive unreadable.  Since moving to a multilayer asynchronous drive mirror solution my file servers at work have been bulletproof.  And from skimming Google's whitepaper on data protection they use a similar system.
I wouldn't use any raid level but MIRROR, for a couple of reasons:

  • RAID-5 rebuilds are expensive, and might take an additional disk out when rebuilding. You can still only lose one disk without losing all your data.
  • With non-mirror RAID levels, it can be difficult moving from one controller type to another (as in, virtually impossible).
  • With mirroring, you can keep running from a single drive, if you want/need to.

for MIRRORing, just about any solution will work (100% software done on the OS, half-assed "hardware" solutions like onboard and most cards, and "real hardware"). If you're going to buy a "hardware raid" card, either get one with cache memory and a batteri-backup unit, or don't bother at all. And since you shouldn't be running the fancier RAID modes, don't bother smiley

Now our enterprise level RAID systems recover well, especially when configured with a hotspare.  The only RAID system I'd consider at home now though is a Drobo.
What does drobo run internally? Linux w/kernel software raid?
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« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2008, 08:53:13 AM »

What does drobo run internally? Linux w/kernel software raid?

"Drobo OS", with which they've been fairly close-lipped about the details.  At least they were when I looked at the Drobo.
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johnfdeluca
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2008, 06:17:37 PM »

Now our enterprise level RAID systems recover well, especially when configured with a hotspare.  The only RAID system I'd consider at home now though is a Drobo.

If only drobo were NAS....it's only USB connected which limits it's usability imo.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2008, 06:24:45 PM »

If only drobo were NAS....it's only USB connected which limits it's usability imo.

The speed would be horrible over NAS. SMB is crud. However, you can easily attach it to an existing piece of network equipment if you want NAS. Almost any existing NAS has USB ports for external drives. And, I assume, if you need a NAS, you already have a network, stick it on a server. If you don't have any of those then grab a new ASUS or D-Link wireless appliance and start hanging stuff off of that. The latter is what I do.
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johnfdeluca
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2008, 06:31:27 PM »

grab a new ASUS or D-Link wireless appliance and start hanging stuff off of that. The latter is what I do.

I assume you've seen this post http://www.drobospace.com...Storage-Link-Router/#1352

Curisoity.....which appliance do you use?
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f0dder
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« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2008, 06:42:51 PM »

The speed would be horrible over NAS. SMB is crud. However, you can easily attach it to an existing piece of network equipment if you want NAS. Almost any existing NAS has USB ports for external drives. And, I assume, if you need a NAS, you already have a network, stick it on a server. If you don't have any of those then grab a new ASUS or D-Link wireless appliance and start hanging stuff off of that. The latter is what I do.
Yeah, SMB/CIFS is pretty horrible, I normally seem to get ~25MB/s on a gigabit LAN, sometimes if I'm lucky I can get 30-35MB/s. FTP'ing from a file that's 100% in filesystem cache with ramdisk as destination gives me ~80MB/s stable, and raw benchmarking gives me ~925mbit/s. So it's safe to say that v1 of SMB/CIFS for high-speed networks... can't wait until samba support CIFSv2 though, even if you'd have to upgrade clients to Vista SP1 to get advantage of it :/

What does drobo run internally? Linux w/kernel software raid?

"Drobo OS", with which they've been fairly close-lipped about the details.  At least they were when I looked at the Drobo.
Sounds fishy... I find it hard to believe they rolled their own, since most other vendors tend to use a linux kernel.
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« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2008, 06:58:44 PM »

Curisoity.....which appliance do you use?

I have a D-Link DSM-G600.

I bought it a couple years ago and haven't felt the need to upgrade. This also means that I am not up to date on what is out there. But I do remember thinking about getting an ASUS WL-700gE.

They have N wireless and background downloading of bittorrents, HTTP, and FTP. So you can hookup your laptop, have the appliance start downloading some large files and then disconnect your laptop and the appliance will download the files while you sleep or leave the house for work or school.
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« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2008, 08:46:38 AM »

Interesting topic. I plan to get one of those SSD drives for my operating systems. The prob is they are really expensive right now and you have to know which one to buy because there are old and new models. Makes this kinda complicated. I for one will wait until reliable benchmarks are available.
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f0dder
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« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2008, 09:25:44 AM »

Interesting topic. I plan to get one of those SSD drives for my operating systems. The prob is they are really expensive right now and you have to know which one to buy because there are old and new models. Makes this kinda complicated. I for one will wait until reliable benchmarks are available.
The benchmarks available right now are reliable, and they show... that unless you really need the "no moving parts", power consumption (or really need the random-seek performance) aspects of SSDs, they're not worth the price, yet.

But in a couple of years, prices should have dropped and technology should have improved so much that they beat regular HDDs in all ways... and I'm looking forward to that smiley
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app103
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« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2008, 07:38:40 AM »

I'd like to add this suggestion, from my recent experiences:

Make sure that you also have a plan as for what you are going to do if the pc dies and you have 3 perfectly good hard drives full of data. Be sure your backup PC can handle those drives, or your data could end up being held hostage by the hardware and/or OS limitations of your backup machine.

My old pc is no longer suitable as a backup machine. Back in the days when my main PC ran the same OS as the backup machine and all my HD's were PATA, FAT32, and 80G or less, it was fine, but not any more. None of the hard drives from my main pc can be used with it. Can't use SATA in it and can't use large HD's over 137G (OS limitations). And all those DVD's I burned are a bit useless when the optical drive in the backup machine is a CD-ROM that won't read burned CD's, nevermind DVD's of any type, burned or not. And it doesn't have (and can't have) USB, so any external drives are also useless.

So either make sure the old pc you keep as a backup machine can handle the hard drives from your main pc (and your burned disks), and buy/build yourself a low end machine that can, if it can't. This goes for the OS on the backup machine as well. Make sure it can handle what you have.

I am sure glad I used offsite storage I can access online, for some of my data that wasn't already copied to the backup PC, that doesn't rely on hardware or OS for me to retrieve it. It was the smartest backup I ever did.

Oh, and for you laptop users, if you are relying on a desktop PC as your backup machine, make sure you have a way to use that little HD from the laptop with it, and if you are relying on another laptop as a backup machine, a way to connect a 2nd little laptop HD to it.
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Fred Nerd
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« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2008, 08:15:23 AM »

Techie alert smiley
I thought I was a power user, but I only have one HD in my laptop, and my backups consist of the odd DVD of really important files, and a promise that one day I will buy myself an external drive.

I don't want to think about a disk failure, it gives me chills just imagining it.

BTW, I would love to run multiple drives etc. but our house is alternative style: the solar panels only have enough power to run a laptop. 60w as opposed to 600w.
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Curt
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« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2008, 10:25:05 AM »

This thread really is interesting - but I am not sure how much I understood...  embarassed

One thing I know I don't understand is this instantaneous backing up.
If a file corrupts my drive, won't I be doing the same to the backup drive?  tellme
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Armando
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« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2008, 11:00:39 AM »

curt : of course, and that's why it shouldn't be your only mode of backing up.
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« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2008, 09:11:00 AM »

Personally speaking, I don't see much of an advantage to putting all my programs on a drive separate from the OS. I have 2 physical drives with one of them partitioned into 2 logical drives. OS and programs on C, Data on D, and Backups on E. I also have a HP Mediavault 1TB NAS for secondary backup and music server.

The reason I like to keep my programs on the same drive as the OS is because if you need to reinstall the OS you would have to reinstall all the programs anyway, unless they were portable. I keep an image of a fresh XP install and, just because it's so easy to do, I like to start fresh every few months. If I had all my programs on the D drive then I would have to reinstall on top of the existing installs.

Why do I reapply the OS image so often? 1) I like to experiment with a lot of new software that I usually uninstall later (but they still leave remnants), 2) I'm anal retentive! Having the image of the OS, tweaked the way I like it, allows me to run without a virus scanner or software firewall. I've never been bitten but if I do I can start fresh in about 5 minutes.
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« Reply #39 on: May 13, 2008, 02:39:42 PM »

Personally speaking, I don't see much of an advantage to putting all my programs on a drive separate from the OS. I have 2 physical drives with one of them partitioned into 2 logical drives. OS and programs on C, Data on D, and Backups on E. I also have a HP Mediavault 1TB NAS for secondary backup and music server.

The reason I like to keep my programs on the same drive as the OS is because if you need to reinstall the OS you would have to reinstall all the programs anyway, unless they were portable. I keep an image of a fresh XP install and, just because it's so easy to do, I like to start fresh every few months. If I had all my programs on the D drive then I would have to reinstall on top of the existing installs.

Why do I reapply the OS image so often? 1) I like to experiment with a lot of new software that I usually uninstall later (but they still leave remnants), 2) I'm anal retentive! Having the image of the OS, tweaked the way I like it, allows me to run without a virus scanner or software firewall. I've never been bitten but if I do I can start fresh in about 5 minutes.

edpro,

I have three internal drives and I also keep the OS and program files on the C: drive.  I don't see a benefit in separating them.

Off-Topic:
BTW, how do like your HP Media Vault?  Do you stream media files from it?  Or just use it mainly for backups?

Thanks!

Jim
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edbro
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« Reply #40 on: May 13, 2008, 03:02:41 PM »

I love the MediaVault. I have the newer version, MV2120. I use it for backing up all 3 home computers as well as serving music to my Roku Soundbridge. I am very pleased with it, especially for the price.
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app103
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« Reply #41 on: May 13, 2008, 07:12:50 PM »

Not all program settings are stored in the registry, especially with older programs. Keeping your software installed on a seperate partion than your OS could mean that all you have to do is enter your license info again and not have to reinstall everything.

If you wipe the OS partition and have all software on a different one, after the reinstall of windows, chances are most of your software will work without needing to be reinstalled. And you might even have all your old settings that took so much time to configure.

I only have a few applications this doesn't work with, but after a clean install of Windows, when I run those I get an error...that alerts me to the need to reinstall THOSE applications.

I started doing something else when I got my other computer: after configuring the applications that didn't keep their settings because they were stored in the registry, I exported their registry keys and keep the .reg file in the folder with the setup file. Now I have 1 click to configure and if settings get messed up somehow, a quick way to fix it.
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Armando
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« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2008, 08:28:40 PM »

If you wipe the OS partition and have all software on a different one, after the reinstall of windows, chances are most of your software will work without needing to be reinstalled. And you might even have all your old settings that took so much time to configure.

This usually hasn't been my experience though. Subjective... anecdotal... I know.

But I found that I always got into trouble with some apps that would start behaving in weird ways (on Windows reinstallation... which doesn't happen often...)... and all these shortcuts that I have to recreate myself, etc. Not to mention that when you install stuff on another partition, you sometimes have to customize other things : some applications depend on others and you have to manually indicate where you've decided to install them... Nope, I find it's not worth the trouble.  smiley
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