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Large external storage array? How to build?


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#1 etc6849

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 04:31 PM

I'm looking to put all of my media (blurays, dvds, music) on to a large array (probably 15TB) and access the media from Windows Media Center. However, I'm having a hard time deciding on how interface these drives with the small mini-itx computer I use for Media Center.

The motherboard I'll be using is Intel's DH61AG http://www.intel.com...AG-overview.htm

I have no room to add a raid card or anything to the small PC. The motherboard has two output ports I could use: usb 3.0 or external SATA (eSATA, 3.0 Gb/s). Which one is best?

What's a reasonably priced rack mounted enclosure that could hold 10 drives? Can most enclosures make all ten drives appear as one to the PC (with some combination of hardware raid and a port mulitplier)? Do these types of enclosures work around the 2TB limit that I thought windows had? Would there be a large reduction in read/write speed?

Anyone using this port mulitplier: http://www.addonics....r/AD5HPMREU.asp

Since all of the port mulipliers/raid combos I've seen are limited to 5 sata ports, I'm guessing most everyone runs two USB 3.0 cables (giving your 2x5 drives)? If I use 3TB drives, this type of setup would give me 30TB of storage.

Edited by etc6849, 04 October 2011 - 05:36 PM.


#2 standon

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 05:48 PM

I used a tower and put 9 (didn't want to spend the extra money for a 10 drive tower) with an Addonics AD5SARPM-E port multiplier and a PSU. I went ahead about bought these from Monoprice for a clean look. I plugged this into my WHS and added each drive to my server.

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#3 etc6849

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 06:11 PM

Looks nice! This is exactly what I'm thinking about doing. Is there a way to make the drives show up as one big drive (using the raid option on the port multiplier)? How is the speed?

I was thinking about using RAID 5 (so if one drive goes bad, everything can be restored), but I'm worried about write speed when recording 1080i content.

PS: the case looks nice with the monoprice HD racks. Which one is it? I'm assuming any cheap case with 3.5" bays will work?

Edited by etc6849, 04 October 2011 - 06:17 PM.


#4 etc6849

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 06:30 PM

I thought of another question: does the software that comes with the Addonics port multiplier have an option to restore the raid array? If not how would I restore the Raid 5 array if one of the drives went bad?

#5 wuench

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 07:14 PM

I thought of another question: does the software that comes with the Addonics port multiplier have an option to restore the raid array? If not how would I restore the Raid 5 array if one of the drives went bad?


My experience with consumer level raid has been hit or miss. It seems like you never know a rebuild is going to work for sure until you do it and a lot of times the raid info is somehow tied to the card, and it is still a single point of failure. I have had a lot of disappointments upon disk failure. That is why I went with a ReadyNAS, since you can add space as needed (bought used off Ebay). I also liked what I read about UnRAID but I didn't like the idea of having to boot off a USB key.

BTW I can rip and stream 1080P bluray most of the time, no problem to from my NAS. I run a Boxee on one TV and XBMC/TMT5 on my HTPC. AnyDVDHD to rip. I think it typically pushes 80Mbps so a gig network is not required but not a bad idea. I also run a cacti server and managed switches to monitor performance, because issues can occur. Most of mine have been due to windows/software updates or poorly designed unmanaged gigabit consumer switches that just didn't have enough buffer to stream video at those speeds. Not all blurays always rip/play perfectly, but it works good enough maybe about 90% of the time.

Edited by wuench, 04 October 2011 - 07:16 PM.


#6 gregoryx

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 11:34 PM

Perhaps consider an Unraid system. If you'll go to a 9-bay tower or rack mount enclosure with 5x3 bays, you're good to go with 15 drives pretty affordably. Great performance, reliable, super-flexible.

#7 mdesmarais

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 07:27 AM

2nd unraid. I'm just running a small system right now, but very cool.

#8 drozwood90

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 09:23 AM

I used a tower and put 9 (didn't want to spend the extra money for a 10 drive tower) with an Addonics AD5SARPM-E port multiplier and a PSU. I went ahead about bought these from Monoprice for a clean look. I plugged this into my WHS and added each drive to my server.

Posted Image


What case did you buy?

#9 pete_c

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:17 AM

I utilize both Raid 5 and Raid 1 on a FreeNas setup. I've never had to rebuild a new drive the Raid 5 on the FreeNas; but have on one of the generic Linux embedded NAS drives; worked fine; took a day or so. I have had no issues with a Raid 1 setup.

BTW found a "few" "Old" stock 3Ware SATA cages on Ebay. These are hot swap 4 drive cages which fit in a 3 drive slot. Kind of big but work well. Think I got them for around $40 or so each.

I've also switched to utilizing the short/angled on one end with a metal clip SATA cable.

#10 standon

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:56 AM

I can't comment on the whole raid thing, since I use Windows Home Server (it basically does software raid). *knock on wood* I haven't had any drives fail in the past 2 years of running this system (1 year of the pictured drive tower) yet *knock on wood again just to be sure*. I have a little over 17TB (remember it's not raid, so that's the pure amount of storage I have outside of the server drives). I don't run many tests, but I can stream 1080p movies to the farthest end of the house via the builder run cat5e. The advantage of the software raid is that not all my hard drives match, I buy whatever is cheapest at the time.

This is the case I used. I think there is a re-branded version of the case, but I forget who the maker is. Here's one like it: but I've never heard of AZZA. Here are some with 10 external bays and 12 external bays. Not sure if all of these would fit in a rack though. In addition you'd need a small power supply with enough sata connectors (but the Monoprice drive bays come with molex to sata power if you need them) and to jump two of the atx wires so it will always be on. I threw a fan or two inside the case as well.

#11 drozwood90

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 11:43 AM

I utilize both Raid 5 and Raid 1 on a FreeNas setup. I've never had to rebuild a new drive the Raid 5 on the FreeNas; but have on one of the generic Linux embedded NAS drives; worked fine; took a day or so. I have had no issues with a Raid 1 setup.

BTW found a "few" "Old" stock 3Ware SATA cages on Ebay. These are hot swap 3 drive cages which fit in a two drive slot. Kind of big but work well. Think I got them for around $40 or so each.

I've also switched to utilizing the short/angled on one end with a metal clip SATA cable.


I had a bad experience with that type of cage before. they didn't provide enough cooling...roasted my drives. eeek.

#12 pete_c

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:22 PM

When I first built my freenas box; I threw everything I had sitting around along with the cage - its a 4 drive cage that fits in a 3 drive slot. (3Ware) It does have fans on the back of it; but that's what kind of makes it big. So initially tested freeware with 4 1Tb drives in two Raid1 arrays and all the spare IDE drives I had around. Old pentium D (very hot) CPU. I had to take the side cover off and put a fan on the case; as it got pretty warm. Since then I've gone to "green" drives, updated the CPU to a core duo and its running much cooler now; I put the cover back on the case.

I do also have an W2003 Embedded NAS with hardware Raid5. I don't notice it and the W2003 embedded performance is good.

I've had to rebuid the Raid1 arrays on the FreeNAS box once. Very plug n play. I've not had to do anything to the W2003 box; but I don't really see much; or look at the status much. With FreeNas the status in kind of in your face if you do the default build.

#13 potts.mike

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 03:26 PM

Happy unraid user here. I have had a 12 tb array up for over a year without issue.

#14 etc6849

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 08:56 PM

Thanks guys! It is clear that unraid or a similar software solution is the way to go as it doesn't stripe data accross drives so it appears you could remove a particular drive from an array and have all of the data on that drive intact? I also like the idea of being able to expand the array at any time without having to backup my data first etc...

Is there a similar flexible raid solution (like unraid) to look at that runs under Windows 7? I know very little about linux. This looks like it may be an option: http://wiki.flexraid.com/

My idea so far is to use MyMovies in Windows Media Center to gather metadata for iso's of my dvd, bluray and hd dvd collection. I'd rip these iso's directly to a NAS unRaid setup (using anydvd hd). Then I would install a native media center bluray player. From reading online, it appears mymovies will automatically mount the iso image (using daemon tools lite or slysofts cloneDVD). If anyone's using unraid with a mymovies set up to play bluray iso's please chime in...

Edited by etc6849, 05 October 2011 - 09:34 PM.


#15 potts.mike

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:21 PM

Thanks guys! It is clear that unraid or a similar software solution is the way to go as it doesn't stripe data accross drives so it appears you could remove a particular drive from an array and have all of the data on that drive intact?


This is true with unraid

My idea so far is to use MyMovies in Windows Media Center to gather metadata for iso's of my dvd, bluray and hd dvd collection. I'd rip these iso's directly to a NAS unRaid setup (using anydvd hd). Then I would install a native media center bluray player. From reading online, it appears mymovies will automatically mount the iso image (using daemon tools lite or slysofts cloneDVD). If anyone's using unraid with a mymovies set up to play bluray iso's please chime in...


I am storing bluray rips in folder structure and using my movies as the frontend. Mymovies launches the rip in tmt3 no problem

I wouldn't worry to much about unraid being linux. You use windows to set up your thumb drive. you just need to select the unraid machine to boot from usb and your up and running. If your set on a windows machine then there are a couple drive pooling solutions out there.




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