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peterm1 08-28-2008 09:42 AM

Question about changing drive configuration - RAID and SD!
I keep going back and forth about how to configure my system so any advice is appreciated. I have a MacPro and 4 internal drives - two 640GB drives and two 500GB drives. I have my main HD on a 640GB drive and back up to the second 640GB drive using SD, which works great. I have my photos (about 400GB worth) stored on the two 500GB drives in a RAID 1 array. It is this photo storage that I have a question about.

I am looking for a solution to: 1) increase my photo storage capability to 1TB, and 2) back it up to a second drive using SD. Keeping it in a RAID 1 array is not critical to me since I will be doing daily backups to the second drive, and I am not a pro who shoots for a living who needs ultimate minute-to-minute file duplication.

Here is what I am thinking: change the RAID 1 array to a RAID 0 array, thereby achieving my goal of 1TB of storage with my current configuration (and possibly getting better performance). Then buy an external 1TB drive and backup to that drive using SD daily. To me this seems to be the simplest solution. I realize that if one of the RAID 0 drives fails, then both drives fail, but I will always have a pretty much up-to-date backup (if I take a ton of photos one day or take some very important photos I would back them up right away to the external drive rather than waiting for my scheduled daily SD backup).

Any thoughts? I would like to keep things fairly simple, fast and cost-efficient.



dnanian 08-28-2008 11:04 AM

Wouldn't it be better to buy two 1TB drives (~130/ea these days), mirror them and have the backup? A good RAID driver (e.g. SoftRAID) will give you better read performance on a mirrored set by interleaving reads, and it's a lot safer than RAID 0.

peterm1 08-28-2008 11:19 AM

I was thinking about that too, but it complicates things a bit, since I will have to: 1) replace both internal 500GB drives with 2 1TB drives (I was looking at the Western Digital Black Caviar drives with 32mb cache); and 2) buy an external 1TB drive as a backup.

I would then also have the two 500GB drives that I removed to make way for the 1TB drives and won't really be able to put them to good use.



dnanian 08-28-2008 01:06 PM

Well -- I'd actually suggest purchasing a Drobo as your external drive. You could then put the two 500GB drives in it, plus additional drives, and make a multi-drive RAID set that's secure.

peterm1 08-28-2008 01:23 PM

I thought about the Drobo as well, although I have read some mixed reviews about the performance (even with the new FW Drobos). Also it's quite expensive - $500 with no drives.

I would like to use my internal drives for the fastest performance and use external storage (like the Drobo) for backup. So I could do two 1TB internal drives in a RAID 1 configuration, and then backup to the Drobo using SD so I have extra protection. Since I will have four extra drives totalling 1.8TB of storage once I install the 1TB drives in my MacPro, it may make sense to get the Drobo and do it this way.

Of course, I also want to get yet another external 1TB drive to store my photos off-site somewhere in case I have a fire or burglary or something!


dnanian 08-28-2008 01:25 PM

The Drobo isn't built for speed (although it's not that slow), it's built for protection and flexibility. It isn't cheap (although a Daring Fireball coupon will get you $25 off), but it works very well.

And that's exactly what I'm suggesting: use the Drobo for backup (and extra security, since it'll be redundant, too) and RAID mirroring internally for safety and speed.

peterm1 08-28-2008 03:28 PM

Thanks for all your help. Due to the cost of the Drobo, in the end I decided to do the following:

1) I just ordered two 1TB WD black caviar 7200 32mb cache internal HDs. They will form a RAID 1 system to replace the RAID 1 system I have now.

2) I bought a LaCie 1TB Firewire 800 external HD, and I will use SD to make a daily backup to this drive. This cost me $270, instead of spending $500 on the Drobo.

I may also buy a second LaCie 1TB drive to make an additional copy of my drive and store it offsite in case of fire, etc.

I will now have 3 extra 500GB drives and 1 extra 250GB drive. Eventually maybe I will get a Drobo if they come down in price. I may also get an external enclosure for one of the 500GB drives and use it with Time Machine to back up my main HD, although I have never accidentally deleted a file I needed (but an external enclosure is pretty cheap, so why not?).

Thanks again for helping me think this through!


dnanian 08-28-2008 03:40 PM

Sounds like a plan, Peter! :)

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