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More toys are in the mail!

Micah

Active Member
I finally received my tax return and thought I'd do a little shopping.

Unfortunately I made a mistake in my order but it shouldn't be too big of a deal getting it fixed.

My current setup is a Dell 600SC with 5 120G hard drives running software RAID 5. This thing is slow. So very, very slow. On top of that, because I did it on the cheap I'm stuck with the capacity I have which, of course, is not nearly enough.

So after planning and waffling I finally bit the bullet and ordered some new hardware.

I ordered a CODEGEN CAT-9011-C10, a 4 Bay Hot-Swapable SATA HDD Enclosure, various cables and connectors, and where I made my mistake, a HighPoint RocketRAID 1820A.

What's wrong with the RAID card you might ask? The 1820A doesn't support OCE. The 2220 does. I looked right at it and proceeded to order the wrong one. Talk about a "durr" moment.

At any rate, my plan (at least before buying a non-OCE supporting card) was to copy the 30 or so gigs of data I don't have backups for (not movies, just misc. stuff) onto another drive and kill the software RAID. Move everything over to the new case, and recreate the array using the RocketRaid card with the old 120G drives. Buy 3 400G drives as my wallet allowed, create a new array with those, copy everything over from the old 120 array and then expand the new array as needed.

I think you can see the flaw in my plan. No OCE = No new array.

Oh well, I may end up paying a "stupid" tax for not paying attention to what I bought but NewEgg has always treated me well in the past and it'd serve me right.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Micah, how did this work out for you?

Now that my setup is up and running, I can see I will soon be in storage hell (as in lack of it).

I was originally wondering if lower cost sata raid cards could be used (there are a bunch of 4 drive cards in the $50 range), but then noticed that none of them support raid 5. (the cards you mentioned were roughly 5 times that price).

Given that I don't see any other backup system coming close without excessive price (or overhead, as you could use DVD's to back up media upon arrival assuming that is all you are trying to backup, but that is flawed as well, even tape drives become awkward when you start getting up into terabytes).

I also wondered if using a newer motherboard (building a new storage server pc using the latest boards) would be worth it, but that only gets you one enclosure without then going to these cards again. I very much understand the multi-terrabyte problem now...

That being said, any recommendations you would make to this approach having used it?
 

Micah

Active Member
Well I ended up not quite doing it the way I had first thought.

I went ahead and bought everything except the SATA drives, like I said, but instead of trying to use the IDE drives on the SATA card I simply marked where they were on which IDE channel and used the same software array that I had in the old case.

I just recently bought 3 300gig SATA drives to replace the 5 120gig IDE drives.

Let's just say there is a world of difference with the hardware vs. software RAID setups.

If I knew then what I know now (how many times have we all said this?) I never would have used software RAID.

My recommendation if you want a server but need to spread the cash out over time is to first purchase a prebuilt server with PCI-X slots. I originally purchased a Dell 6100SC for, if I remember correctly, ~$600. You want at least 1 PCI-X slot because it is a 64-bit slot vs. the 32-bit that regular PCI uses. I'm not sure if you can build a server class computer for less. I remember pricing things out and a motherboard with PCI-X slots was over $200 by itself. Never mind the CPU, RAM, Video Card, hard drives, and so on.

Once you have the server I'd look at getting the RAID card. Now that I've had a chance to use the 2220 I have no complaints. The software was simple to use and getting the RAID array setup and initializing was a snap. It was the cheapest of the SATA RAID cards that supported OCE but it works just fine from what I'm seeing and haven't had any buyer's regret so far.

Once you have the server and your card then I'd start buying drives. The reason I think this is the best way is because of all the parts used in a media server the drive prices and sizes change the most. Sure new servers will come out and the one you bought will be out dated but if all you're using it for is for storage, no matter what you get will be overkill. The same goes for the RAID card. As long as you make sure the one you purchase has all the features you need, it'll do the job for you. If you wait to buy the drives last you can get bigger drives that you can use right away instead of getting smaller drives that you have to sit on while you acquire the rest of your parts.

I'd spend the time between buying the server and buying your RAID card figuring out what you really need the server to do. If you could see yourself setting up multiple terribyte arrays then you'd need to make sure you can have multiple cards in one box (for example, the 2220 has 8 ports but another 2220 can be linked to it in another slot allowing for a total of 16 drives). If you're only going to be using it to store a few movies and some music a 4 port card may be just the ticket.

Ultimately, and I think this goes with just about everything we talk about here, you should know what you need before you start purchasing and you should have a plan so that you don't make the same mistake I did and toss 100's if not 1000's of dollars down the tube because you tried to cut corners.

Whew, I just wrote a book and I'm not even sure I answered your questions. Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate or if there's anything else you're not sure about.
 

Mike

Senior Member
That was perfect, and exactly where I was headed. I hadn't thought about the PCI-X part as I was wondering how to work this into my existing PC, but allow it to scale over time with increased storage. I'll have about 800GB of storage in the machine, but its not setup properly (2 IDE's for 300GB or so, and 2 SATA in Raid 0 for another 500GB) for the long term.

The only thing I'll probably want to look at further is whether or not I can take the hit and just expand the server I have (which is the media center PC) with PCI based cards (plus I can always add a new machine later as well). After all since most of it is for movies/etc, and the current machine isnt bad, will it require that additional server? I'm also trying to not have a full data center running (I already have one server, one media center and was considering a home seer or other automation machine as well).

Great info, thanks for the feedback.
 
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