SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

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SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 7:35 am

Hello!

It has been years since I have posted here, and hopefully you all will be able to guide me in my search.

I'm currently running a computer for my photography business and I've run out of space in my main drive, which has prompted me to re-think my setup.

CURRENT SETUP:

Windows 7 64 bit
Intel Core i5 quad core
Biostar T Series TP67B+ Motherboard
16GB of memory
ATI graphics
2 x 2 TB hard drives (1 main OS, 1 main backup)
1 x 3 TB hard drive (future back up)

When I purchased the 3 TB drive I had no idea of the limitation of not being able to use all 3 TB's natively with Windows 64 (right?) so it is currently only formatted for 2 TB's.

MY GOALS:

What I'm looking to accomplish is to "retire" my 2 x 2TB drives and run a setup that includes an SSD main OS drive (around 240-256 GB) and then 2 x 3 TB (purchasing a duplicate of my current 3 TB drive) in a RAID array that allows for automatic backing up. Because I'm a complete NOOB when it comes to RAID, I want to approach this in the right way and hopefully it is not too difficult for me to set up. Here are my questions:

Which RAID setup will be most appropriate for automatic backing up of the 3 TB drive?
Will I need a RAID controller? If so, which would you recommend?
Will the RAID controller allow for all 3 TB's to be utilized?
Which SSD in the 240-256 GB range would you recommend for a photography setup (mostly Lightroom 4 with a bit of Photoshop)?


Thanks in advance!
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 7:55 am

To answer your questions:
1. RAID is not a backup solution. But we'll get to that in a minute. The best option for you is RAID-1 (mirrored disks) for performance and fault tolerance.

2. You do not need a RAID controller. Your board natively supports RAID-1 (as well as 0 and 5).

3. The 2TB limit is because the partition type is MBR instead of GPT. Creating the disks as GPT partitions will allow you to create volumes greater then 2TB. Windows 7 natively supports GPT and your MB should support booting from it as well (although this is a moot point since your OS is moving to a ~256GB SSD).

4. Honestly you will notice a difference with any SSD. I recently purchased an Intel 335 240GB SSD (~$180 from Newegg). Good reviews and performance at a good price.

Now, back to the backup question. RAID is never a substitute for a backup. It only provides the ability to run with a failed drive, but it is possible to have an event that affects the entire array (power surge, virus, etc.) There is no substitute for a backup. Especially for a business!

I would recommend using the 2x2TB drives as part of your backup system. If you don't have room in your case for the SSD, 2x3TB and 2x2TB you could purchase an external enclosure and use that. Either way, you need to backup. The Windows 7 native backup utility works well, but for more advanced features a lot of folks on here like Marcium Reflect. I would recommend on top of that you use a cloud service to keep some data offsite. A lot of options there, too.
Last edited by mattshwink on Wed May 22, 2013 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 8:00 am

You should be able to use the full 3TB right now, you just might not be able to boot from it on your motherboard (if it's old). You just need to change the partitioning to gpt (sounds like it's currently mbr). Of course this does involve reformatting so you'd have to be able to move everything that's currently on the drive somewhere else while you do this.

As to RAID... RAID1 is almost certainly what you want however I must not repeat the mantra that RAID is NOT a backup! I'd consider getting some kind of NAS so you can run real backups that don't live on the same machine as the working copy.

If you still want RAID then I doubt you actually need a RAID card as 1 can either be done in software by windows or you could use the "fake raid" that has shipped on almost all motherboards for the past few years. ("fake raid" because it's really software raid with some hooks in your bios for setting it up, most cheap standalone raid cards also work like this)
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 8:03 am

jobodaho wrote:When I purchased the 3 TB drive I had no idea of the limitation of not being able to use all 3 TB's natively with Windows 64 (right?) so it is currently only formatted for 2 TB's.

you just need to convert the drive to GPT disk.
there are other issues with 3TB that are more backup imaging software but the 3TBs are fine.

edit: the issue with backup imaging software is that most software has a 2TB limit built in still and having a NAS doing the backup does not alleviate that.
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 8:36 am

jobodaho wrote:Which RAID setup will be most appropriate for automatic backing up of the 3 TB drive?

To repeat others.. RAID is not backup. if your motherboard or power supply goes they can take out a RAID array on their death. Backup should be removed from the system (at minimum an external drive, ideally another machine such as a NAS). RAID is only to protect you when a drive dies (though it is the most likely component to die)

jobodaho wrote:Which SSD in the 240-256 GB range would you recommend for a photography setup (mostly Lightroom 4 with a bit of Photoshop)?

Most SSDs you would see a huge improvement. but for performance overall I think a recent Intel or the Samsung 840 Pro are the current favourites out there.
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 9:41 am

Backup: I would suggest CrashPlan or BackBlaze. These are cloud backup solutions that cost ~$5/month for unlimited storage. This is a far more reliable way of doing back up than anything you can ever have within your own home.
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 1:36 pm

In terms of which SSD, there are very few "bad" SSDs out there these days. The Crucual V4 is about the only one I can think of at the moment

However, for heavy, multi-layer Photoshop work, having high sequential write speeds is definitely a bonus.

Have a look for offers on any of the following drives -they all write sequentially at over 400MB/s in their 256GB flavours. (This is usually the optimum size - larger models are no faster, but smaller models have slower sequential performance)

  • Samsung 840 Pro
  • Corsair Neutron GTX
  • OCZ Vector
  • Plextor M5 Pro
  • Crucial M500
Aditionally, there is a huge list of drives using the SandForce SF-2281 controller and this is amazing (550MB/s) with compressible data like RAW, TIFF, BMP and still reasonable (200+MB/s) with incompressible data like PNG and JPG. If you work mainly with uncompressed images, then one of these will likely give you even better performance, and you might find one cheaper than the models above. They also have very good IOPS so useful if you dabble with VM's

  • Intel SSD 525, 520 or 335
  • Corsair Force GT or GS
  • Kingston HyperX
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 3:59 pm

I would recommend the Samsung 840 Pro for the SSD. For the data drives you can decide if you want to run RAID1 for uptime benefit (if one of the two fails, you can continue working without even needing to touch ah backup solution and can replace when possible) or not. If this is a business machine, I would say the $150 or whatever your drive cost is is much less than a morning of lost work trying to recover from a drive failure restoring backups, etc. You could even consider running your SSD in RAID1 if it's worth it to you, but restoring a 256GB SSD from backup is much less time consuming than 3TB of data.

For backup, I would recommend doing some kind of image backup of your SSD to a local drive (sounds like another 3TB possibly). Windows 7 Pro has a decent solution built in, or you could try something like Acronis - Western Digital has a free version you can use if you have their drives.

For data backup I use Crashplan. The nice thing about that is not only unlimited cloud storage for a fair price, but also the ability to backup to a local drive as well as another computer your or a friend/family own as well. If you do pay for the cloud storage you also get the ability to have different backup sets that you can prioritize and set a schedule for so maybe you have something you need backed up every hour or 15 minutes or 1 minute and some things you need backed up once a day, week, etc.

Another thing you could possibly consider is putting together a Windows Home server system with some spare parts (like your 2TB drives) that you could use for both image backup and a central storage hub. The OS may be a dead end, but it's still got a lot of functionality for the cost.
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 7:59 pm

Thank you for all of the replies!!!

OK, to simplify my life a bit, for now I will avoid setting up a RAID array and just focus on the SSD + 3TB + Backup routine. For backing up, I will give Crashplan a shot, for $5 a month it seems like the right approach.

As for converting my current 3TB drive, assuming all current data is removed, what is the best process of converting it to be a GPT partition? Can this be handled within Windows? Will it automatically create a volume with all 3 TB's or will I have to specify?

I'm sorry for all of the questions, and thanks again!
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Re: SSD + Raid Setup Recommondations

Postposted on Wed May 22, 2013 9:48 pm

The Disk must be empty (no partitions/volumes). In Disk Management right-click the disk then click Convert to GPT Disk (see instructions here). It can also be done via command line (that link includes instructions for both methods, I recommend the first because it is easier :)

You will then have to recreate your partition/volume.

There are also instructions for converting without deleting partitions and data, but I've never tried those and they aren't officially supported. Google at your leisure if you are interested in trying them.
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