Looking to RAID, Help?

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Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:55 pm

Hey guys! First, my hardware setup is as follows:

Intel Core I7 2600K
Asus Sabertooth P67
16GB Corsair DDR3 1600
Corsair Performance Pro 128GB SSD
2 x 1TB Western Digital Black
2 x 1TB Western Digital Green
1 x 500GB Western Digital Blue
Corsair HX650 PSU
Corsair Obsidian 800D

Currently I am using both of my Green drives as my Shows drive, with A-M on one and N-Z on the other. I would really like to consolidate this onto one drive as well as increase the overall amount of space. In that regard, I also find that the Corsair Obsidian 800D would be perfect for a RAID situation as I have the 4 hot swaps on the front. Basically what I am looking for is to setup a RAID (thinking RAID 5?) and I need help deciding exactly what RAID would be useful for my applications, as well as which Western Digital drives I should get for it. I am not interested in other drives, I have been burned the least by Western Digital. Will the Red drives they released recently be good enough for this? Thanks!

Edit: Lastly, would software RAID without a controller be acceptable given my hardware?
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:24 pm

The objective is just to make it look like one drive to the OS? Do you want any fault tolerance, i.e. last through a drive dying?
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:30 pm

This might be worth a shot, depending on your needs: http://www.drivebender.com/

Review with kind of a walkthrough on the capabilities. Should be better now, a year or more later:

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2011/11 ... 11-part-1/

I actually have this in anticipation of building a storage server for the home but haven't gotten around to building the rest of it yet so I haven't used it myself.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:57 pm

Scrotos wrote:The objective is just to make it look like one drive to the OS? Do you want any fault tolerance, i.e. last through a drive dying?


The idea would be to have all of my Media stored on an environment that could take a drive dying. I can sacrifice 4 drives to this en-devour, which is why I figured RAID 5.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:58 pm

Scrotos wrote:This might be worth a shot, depending on your needs: http://www.drivebender.com/

Review with kind of a walkthrough on the capabilities. Should be better now, a year or more later:

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2011/11 ... 11-part-1/

I actually have this in anticipation of building a storage server for the home but haven't gotten around to building the rest of it yet so I haven't used it myself.


This doesn't quite look like it could survive a drive dying, unless I'm missing something?
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:47 pm

Drive Bender sounds like it is just a simple way to present a number of drives as though they were one. It does provide some extra features like data deduplication but I see no mention of RAID or how it handles a crashed drive. I would be looking at something like ZFS or the new features of Windows Server instead of Drive Bender (and you still need a RAID solution that is either hardware or software based (Windows can provide this.)
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:32 pm

I wouldn't recommend RAID 5 unless you plan on throwing down for a good RAID card as well. My experience with it on consumer hardware is that it performs very poorly.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:04 pm

absurdity wrote:I wouldn't recommend RAID 5 unless you plan on throwing down for a good RAID card as well. My experience with it on consumer hardware is that it performs very poorly.


Can you elaborate on this? Additionally what is a "good RAID card" going to cost me in the consumer world?

Edit: Additionally, as long as when I'm pulling a file it can match one of my 5400RPM Green's I am happy with performance. I do not need it to have crazy performance, just reliability. I was originally only considering software RAID but may be convinced of a hardware RAID if the right reasons are given.
Last edited by StuG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:11 pm

nanoflower wrote:Drive Bender sounds like it is just a simple way to present a number of drives as though they were one. It does provide some extra features like data deduplication but I see no mention of RAID or how it handles a crashed drive. I would be looking at something like ZFS or the new features of Windows Server instead of Drive Bender (and you still need a RAID solution that is either hardware or software based (Windows can provide this.)


Sadly redundancy is the most important feature for me. I don't care too much about making them all appear as the same drive, I just want the security that my data isn't gone after a drive dies.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:07 pm

Good RAID cards will set you back a few hundred dollars (or more).

If you use an embedded chip for RAID you could be SoL if the motherboard goes (and you can't get a replacement). With a PCIe card you can move to another machine or buy another card if the card goes bad. If the controller employs caching (and the good ones do) and there is no battery backup then you could lose data with a sudden power loss.

LSI, Highpoint, and Adaptec are three of the major RAID card players (there are others). Feel free to look around for cards. You don't need anything too fancy. Keep in mind, though, that most these days are PCIe x8. You might not have a free slot that can handle that. There are some PCIe x4 ones out there (but again, you might not have a free slot that is capable).

With all that said, your motherboard supports RAID-5. I did a quick google search and no one is reporting problems, though I would check for yourself. RAID-5 will give you ~3TB of usable space and it should perform better then the single drives too.

One of the biggest problems with RAID-5 (and RAID-6) is rebuild. If you lose a drive in the array, it will still be online, but in a degraded state. Arrays in the state (and when they are rebuilding) take about a 50% performance hit.

Lastly, RAID is no substitute for backups. If the data is important to you, back it up!
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:17 pm

mattshwink wrote:Good RAID cards will set you back a few hundred dollars (or more).

If you use an embedded chip for RAID you could be SoL if the motherboard goes (and you can't get a replacement). With a PCIe card you can move to another machine or buy another card if the card goes bad. If the controller employs caching (and the good ones do) and there is no battery backup then you could lose data with a sudden power loss.

LSI, Highpoint, and Adaptec are three of the major RAID card players (there are others). Feel free to look around for cards. You don't need anything too fancy. Keep in mind, though, that most these days are PCIe x8. You might not have a free slot that can handle that. There are some PCIe x4 ones out there (but again, you might not have a free slot that is capable).

With all that said, your motherboard supports RAID-5. I did a quick google search and no one is reporting problems, though I would check for yourself. RAID-5 will give you ~3TB of usable space and it should perform better then the single drives too.

One of the biggest problems with RAID-5 (and RAID-6) is rebuild. If you lose a drive in the array, it will still be online, but in a degraded state. Arrays in the state (and when they are rebuilding) take about a 50% performance hit.

Lastly, RAID is no substitute for backups. If the data is important to you, back it up!


Thanks! I have been doing some research of my own and I've been looking at the following combination:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6816103223

With 4 of these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822236343

I think I will want to RAID 6 them. And I know that RAID is not a full replacement for actual backups, however I just don't see a more reasonable way to secure all of my Media. I keep a legitimate backup of my main drive and files, however I would like to have SOME security when it comes to my media files. Does this combo look ok? Red drives seem good for this purpose.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:30 pm

Any reason you don't want to just do a RAID 1 with two drives? The more drives you add, the higher chance you have of losing one.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:39 pm

I think Absurdity has the right idea.

Two drives in RAID-1, plus one more as a backup (internal or external is your choice).
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:48 pm

Really the reason I didn't want to go to RAID 1 was because I wanted more storage than 3.5/4GB could offer. Currently that would leave little growing room from my current media collection. I will look into the options though and price it against the RAID situation.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:49 pm

If I were you I would go with RAID10, this gives you the best of both worlds. Performance and redundancy. RAID10 is faster than RAID5 because there's no need to calculate parity.

Quick illustration here:

Code: Select all
                            RAID10
                              |
               RAID0-------------------RAID0
                 |                       |
       RAID1-----------RAID1     RAID1-----------RAID1


Meaning you have 4 drives in total. 2x RAID1 arrays and then those RAID1 arrays are in a RAID0 array.
Last edited by Jon on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:51 pm

Jon wrote:If I were you I would go with RAID10, this gives you the best of both worlds. Performance and redundancy. RAID10 is faster than RAID5 because there's no need to calculate parity.

Quick illustration here:

RAID10
|
RAID0-------------------RAID0
| |
RAID1-----------RAID1 RAID1-----------RAID1

Meaning you have 4 drives in total. 2x RAID1 arrays and then those RAID1 arrays are in a RAID0 array.


So if I have this correct, I could do it with 4 drives but I would essentially lose 2 of them? Lose = not having their storage for use.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:53 pm

That's right. Small sacrifice actually.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:55 pm

Yeah, with RAID 0+1 or 10 you still lose 50% of the space.

It does allow you to get larger total capacities than RAID-1, but comes at a greater cost (four drives instead of two).

I would note this is going to make your backup costs higher as well. More ideally you achieve fault tolerance while still having an easy backup solution.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:57 pm

It seems like RAID 10 is really focused on getting performance out of the RAID solution, correct? I am not so worried about that, and while it does seem like a small cost I'm not totally sure it would be worth it in my situation.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:00 pm

While 0+1 or 10 is great for performance, it is arguably a superior fault tolerant solution as well. RAID-1 solutions are the best fault tolerance solutions. The tradeoff for that fault tolerance is expense and loss of space.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:10 pm

To answer a couple of your earlier questions:

StuG wrote:Edit: Lastly, would software RAID without a controller be acceptable given my hardware?


Software RAID is generally okay to use. The only 2 caveats with this is that firstly I/O on the array will tax the CPU but since it's an i7 you probably won't notice a thing. Secondly, the array is bound to the operating system and to the motherboard. Don't consider upgrading beyond this if this is your choice.

absurdity wrote:I wouldn't recommend RAID 5 unless you plan on throwing down for a good RAID card as well. My experience with it on consumer hardware is that it performs very poorly.


Correct, avoid RAID5 under all circumstances.

mattshwink wrote:One of the biggest problems with RAID-5 (and RAID-6) is rebuild. If you lose a drive in the array, it will still be online, but in a degraded state. Arrays in the state (and when they are rebuilding) take about a 50% performance hit.


Exactly, to add some additional info; RAID6 arrays have to work almost twice as hard as RAID5 arrays because now parity has to be calculated over two drives instead of one. This equals massive performance loss.

StuG wrote:Thanks! I have been doing some research of my own and I've been looking at the following combination:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6816103223



This RAID controller requires that you use a SAS cable. This is okay if your HD's are plugging directly into the backplane of some kind of removable hot swappable bay. This card does not use SATA cables. Very important.

StuG wrote:With 4 of these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822236343


I stand to be corrected on this but I recently read that the Red's offer no real difference over the regular drives. Somebody care to elaborate on this?
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:15 pm

Keep in mind with RAID-6 and four drives you will lose two drives worth of space to parity. So it is the same as RAID 1+0/10 when it comes to available space in they array. If you want space and redundancy, go with RAID-5. Here is a breakdown
RAID Level Read Performance Write Performance Failure Tolerance Capacity
RAID-0 Min # drives=2, Read Performance=High, Write Performance=High, Failure Tolerance=0 drives, Capacity=#drives
RAID-1 Min # drives=2, Read Performance=High, Write Performance=Medium, Failure Tolerance=1 drive, Capacity=#drives/2
RAID-5 Min # drives=3, Read Performance=High, Write Performance=Low, Failure Tolerance=1 drive, Capacity=#drives-1drive
RAID-6 Min # drives=4, Read Performance=High, Write Performance=Low, Failure Tolerance=2 drives, Capacity=drives-2drives
RAID10 Min # drives=4, Read Performance=High, Write Performance=Medium, Failure Tolerance=1-2 drives, Capacity=#drives/2

Keep in mind the performance assessment is compared against RAID levels, any [non-degraded] RAID array is generally faster then JBOD.

I also would purchase the flash module 600 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6816103225) if you go with the Adaptec card you listed. If there is a power failure while data is still in cache you could lose data/have corruption.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:08 am

In layman's terms, if you're going to use more than RAID0/1/10, do it right, and if you're going to use RAID at all, use the same drives. The Red drives may or may not be different than other WD drives, but they aren't much more expensive and are marketed for that purpose with a warranty to match.

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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:04 am

StuG wrote:It seems like RAID 10 is really focused on getting performance out of the RAID solution, correct? I am not so worried about that, and while it does seem like a small cost I'm not totally sure it would be worth it in my situation.

Whats the PC used for mainly, so the performance is not such a concern? My "solution" is not to everyones tate but im spinning 4 mechanical disks in RAID 0 to make a 2TB array. This is incrementally backed up to a 2TB USB external drive. I have found the fast, sustained read and write speeds to be of good use in my video editing softwares - Even more so as I am shooting in HD these days (big files). Little no no impact on games IMO, but then I have also had these hard drives for a while so may not notice anymore if it's quicker than a single disk. They were in my build 2 complete systems ago - Before SSD got mainstream that I have later added to the system.

Ohhhh, it's software RAID from the 990FX Chipset. I've always been able to have the BIOS side of the bootloader for this re-build my array between motherboard upgrades every time (takes a few minutes only). This of course may be because I have always used AMD chipsets in every PC these drives were in, but im not sure (might work if I pluged them into an Intel Chipset mobo?).
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:00 pm

Using RAID 0, 1, or 5 from Windows (instead of from Chipset) or even the Windows 8 storage spaces would allow the array to be portable regardless of chipset.

RAID5 in Windows requires Server to setup, but will work under 7 or 8 if ported/carried over.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:31 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:Using RAID 0, 1, or 5 from Windows (instead of from Chipset) or even the Windows 8 storage spaces would allow the array to be portable regardless of chipset.

RAID5 in Windows requires Server to setup, but will work under 7 or 8 if ported/carried over.


How does that work exactly? If I had a software RAID5 array in Windows 7 and bought an entirely new PC and wanted that same array in the new PC, how would Windows 8 on the new PC know that those particular drives were originally in a software RAID config on another machine? Is there some way that the OS can detect the data structure of the drives and thereby allow you to retain the data on the drives?
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:41 pm

The Software RAID provided by Windows (not by your chipset or any other type of hardware adapter) uses a technology called Dynamic Disks. One of the prominent features of Dynamic Disks is that all disk related information (such as partition information and drive letter) is stored on the disk. This allows the array to be moved into another Windows machine seamlessly.

Dynamic Disks are only understood by Windows 2000 forward. As far as I know there is no Linux, Unix, or Mac support for the technology.

Basic and Dynamic Disks (Windows)

What Are Dynamic Disks and Volumes?

Move Disks to Another Computer
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:41 pm

StuG wrote:
nanoflower wrote:Drive Bender sounds like it is just a simple way to present a number of drives as though they were one. It does provide some extra features like data deduplication but I see no mention of RAID or how it handles a crashed drive. I would be looking at something like ZFS or the new features of Windows Server instead of Drive Bender (and you still need a RAID solution that is either hardware or software based (Windows can provide this.)


Sadly redundancy is the most important feature for me. I don't care too much about making them all appear as the same drive, I just want the security that my data isn't gone after a drive dies.


Drive Bender is supposed to be a replacement of the Windows Home Server "Drive Extender" feature. Again, it's been a bit of time since I looked at it, but the benefit is that you can determine what data you want protected over mulitple drives to survive a drive failure. Say, if you have important docs, you have 1 copy over all 4 drives. If you have an MP3 collection you don't care too much about, only let it sit on one drive or spread out randomly, etc.

But the drives are just NTFS drives. That means if your system dies, you can take the drives and access the data on any other machine. You don't need to match the same RAID controller. You don't have to hope the OS doesn't freak out when loaded on new hardware. It's just data. At like $20 or $30, Drive Bender was cheap enough for me to purchase to evaluate more closely when I get server hardware ready to go. If I don't like it, I can always dump $$$ into a real RAID card or try to learn some ZFS-based appliance that I have no experience with. But the barrier to entry is low and it seems to give me most of the benefit of data protection without some of the headaches of dedicated hardware.

And seriously, this is just a home thing, right? You're talking about hardware failure possibilities but do you really need all that uptime? You're serving movies to an HTPC or something, ya? As someone likes to say, RAID is not a substitute for a backup policy. Don't spend $$$ on getting a RAID setup if you're thinking that will be a backup solution. And I don't know that speed is foremost in importance if you're just streaming a movie or two to a home network?

The Drive Bender review I linked is 4 parts. It might have more useful info in it since their website kinda stinks. Also, I thought they did the opposite of data deduplication but maybe I missed something.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:48 pm

Also a benefit of Drive Bender is that you should be able to grow your drive pool easily with more drives. My understanding of hardware RAID is that you'd have to build an entirely new array and copy the data over to "grow" it. It's not like you throw an extra drive into a RAID 5 and you magically get more space. Or in a RAID 1/0, either.

I don't know what the dynamic disks do for growing like that; Ryu probably knows.
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Re: Looking to RAID, Help?

Postposted on Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:07 pm

Heh, here's a competitor to Drive Bender but their website at least has decent info: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Features

Ok, so Drive Bender is like that. Hell, maybe I'll give stablebit a try instead.
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