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Confused about raid

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
To start, this is for a media server, movies, tv shows, music and pictures.
Athlon II x2 cpu and 2x2gb ram.
I currently use windows 7 and all of my discs are JBOD, and as I get larger I am get more worried . Right now I am around 7tb of storage, 2x2tb, 2x1.5tb and a 500gb (plus os dirve). I have seen all of this stuff about raid5, raid10, flex raid and mdadm.
I don't really understand how it works with a "parity drive". Lets say I have 4x1tb storage in raid5. My 3rd drive fails and I lose not a single file?
I am really interested in FlexRaid b/c it looks like I can mismatch my drives and just pop more in as I go but do not see how I wouldn't loose data.
Does any software raid solution seem right for me?

Edit Or should I just use WHS v2 (when released) although I really do not want to do 1-1 backup as that just drives up costs.
Edited by hick - 3/13/11 at 10:09am
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post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hick View Post
I currently use windows 7 and all of my discs are JBOD, and as I get larger I am get more worried . Right now I am around 7tb of storage, 2x2tb, 2x1.5tb and a 500gb (plus os dirve). I have seen all of this stuff about raid5, raid10, flex raid and mdadm.
I don't really understand how it works with a "parity drive". Lets say I have 4x1tb storage in raid5. My 3rd drive fails and I lose not a single file?
I am really interested in FlexRaid b/c it looks like I can mismatch my drives and just pop more in as I go but do not see how I wouldn't loose data.
Does any software raid solution seem right for me?

Edit Or should I just use WHS v2 (when released) although I really do not want to do 1-1 backup as that just drives up costs.
If you've got a spare 2TB drive, you could even set-up FlexRAID now. RAID-5 doesn't really have a parity drive as parity information is spread across all the drives in the array. If you've ever downloaded from Usenet and encountered .par files, that's very similar to what FlexRAID does.
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was going to order a 2tb drive friday since 1 of my 1.5 is full. Maybe I will grab 2 so i have a parity...hopefully the old lady can go a few days without movies/tv :x
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post #4 of 14
Raid 5 has distributed parity, meaning out of X drives, if one fails you will not see data loss but a small performance decrease until you rebuild that drive, if another drive fails after the first then you will see data loss, I hope that clears it up for you.

On software raid, in my experience(in datacenters) it has been less reliable(can't cite a specific example, but the rebuilding/maintenance just overall is not up to par with hardware raid), I would just get a cheap raid card and do a hardware raid.
    
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post #5 of 14
The big advantage of hardware raid is that it just starts rebuilding as soon as you swap the drive. No need to enter any commands. The performance should also be better with the large cache a RAID card offers.
    
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post #6 of 14
@OP

If you want to do simple storage pooling with duplication, then either Windows Home Server 1.x with Drive Extender, Windows Home Server 2.x with a Drive Extender clone, or Amahi Home Server (which incorporates Greyhole) will serve your needs.

If you want to maximise your usable storage capacity, then some kind of parity-based redundancy mechanism is the way to go.

a) FlexRAID. This available for Windows and Linux.

b) Linux software RAID (md RAID). This is a software RAID and is obviously native to Linux. It performs very well, is very robust and reliable, and in the several years I've been using it to manage around 5TB of data, it's never let me down.

md RAID is available for virtually every Linux distribution, including Amahi Home Server (which is based on Fedora), and supports parity RAID levels 4, 5, and 6. It's also available for more storage-focused Linux distributions such as Openfiler and QuantaStor.

c) NexentaStor. This is an OpenSolaris-based OS, focused on being a storage target. It's primary filesystem is ZFS, which is a filesystem, volume manager and RAID engine in one. It's incredibly robust, and can self-heal corrupted data. Right now ZFS is the most sophisticated and robust data storage mechanism available. NexentaStor also supports NFS and CIFS, so you can share a ZFS volume out to Windows clients.

Lastly, NexentaStor Community Edition supports up to 18TB. After that, you have to start paying for it.

d) RAID card The benefits of this choice are CPU-offloading (for true hardware RAID), lower latency (for true hardware RAID) and easier management. I'd stay away from fakeRAID cards, since they can prove to be unstable in RAID 5, and have poor performance. However, hardware RAID cards can prove to be expensive - unless you pick up a bargain Dell PERC 5/i or PERC 6/i on eBay.
Edited by parityboy - 3/13/11 at 1:52pm
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post #7 of 14
In the little time I have been reading the board I have never once seen anyone mention what I thought to be the main disadvantage of hardware-based RAID: if the RAID card dies you can just hook up the array to a regular sata port or to a different RAID card and get it back. It has to be that exact same RAID card brand/model/some times firmware.

Maybe this is different with the latest generation consumer-level RAID controllers but I thought this was the case and at least int he case of the really really expensive threeware cards we use at my work it is the case. Perhaps I just need to pose this question in a separate thread or perhaps "parityboy" or another member will inform me.
 
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post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by subassy View Post
In the little time I have been reading the board I have never once seen anyone mention what I thought to be the main disadvantage of hardware-based RAID: if the RAID card dies you can just hook up the array to a regular sata port or to a different RAID card and get it back. It has to be that exact same RAID card brand/model/some times firmware.

Maybe this is different with the latest generation consumer-level RAID controllers but I thought this was the case and at least int he case of the really really expensive threeware cards we use at my work it is the case. Perhaps I just need to pose this question in a separate thread or perhaps "parityboy" or another member will inform me.
When's the last time you ran into / killed a hardware RAID card...?

Besides which, everybody seems to forget that RAID is not a substitute for proper backups. Even with RAID, you should have a proper backup methodology in place, so that if you do run into such a situation where your RAID card fails, you're not so screwed that you can't restore your data.
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post #9 of 14
So if I have this straight I should create a hardware-based RAID array of multiple terabytes with an external, redundant back up so that when my RAID controller fails I can format all the drives and copy all the data over (by hand or auto-magic).

For some reason having all my data perfectly intact and perfectly functioning hard drives and yet not being able to access said data just doesn't sound appealing to me. Even if I do have backups. Okay maybe I'm just weird but I'm sticking to OS/software-based RAIDs.
 
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post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by subassy View Post
In the little time I have been reading the board I have never once seen anyone mention what I thought to be the main disadvantage of hardware-based RAID: if the RAID card dies you can just hook up the array to a regular sata port or to a different RAID card and get it back. It has to be that exact same RAID card brand/model/some times firmware.

Maybe this is different with the latest generation consumer-level RAID controllers but I thought this was the case and at least int he case of the really really expensive threeware cards we use at my work it is the case. Perhaps I just need to pose this question in a separate thread or perhaps "parityboy" or another member will inform me.
Not true.

You generally just need a newer card from the same manufacturer (although in certain cases you might not be able to use the very latest cards with a very old array for example). Same firmware is rarely required - I only know of 1 situation where 3Ware changed sufficient details about their RAID arrays in a firmware update that meant arrays were not transportable. And you could just flash your newer card to the older firmware to get things working again anyway (and this was ~8 years ago, and doesn't affect their current cards which are all backwards compatible). I've not seen this from any other manufacturer that I can recall.

I'm also with ComGuards on the reliability issue - of the (literally) thousands of servers I see on a daily basis, RAID cards are the least likely to fail component in the box. NICs, RAM and PSUs are somewhat consumeable (although having good power & environmental controls helps a LOT to preserve them - in my 'good' DCs we rarely see any hardware fails), but RAID cards just keep on going.
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