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Discussion Starter #1
Preparing to migrate from WHS V1 to WHS 2011.
Right now I have mirroed 320GB internal drives for the OS/Boot drive and the anchor for the D Data partition.
The drive pool consists of 4x WD20EARS 7-8 jumpered in a Sans Digital TR4M esata port multiplier enclosure drivin with a SiL3132 card.
We recently added a spare Seagate 1.5 TB internally as the pool was 98% full.

Currently storage is 8+TB and expected to continue to grow.
For backup, we use SecondCopy to 6x Seagate 1.5 TB drives. Each pair is in a USB/eSate Vantec Nexstar MX 2 bay enclosure.
1 pair is raid 0 and runs GPT. So the non pool drive are 4x 1.5TB and 1x 3TB.

We have 1 extra unused Seagte 1.5 TB.

An annoying problem I've been having is the 4x WD20EARS drop offline and a reboot resolves it.
We have swapped the cable, controller, PCIe Slot and enclosure to no avail along with new BIOS and drivers on the Sil3132

We don't know if the 'missing drives' is because of the 7-8 jumper, the 5400 RPM or the 4K Advanced Format.

We plan to move to WHS 2011 shortly, so 4k AF will be natively supported.
But, do I take a chance on keep them in the 4 bay tower?
Since we have 2x 4 bay towers, and 8 Seagate 7200 1.5TB, we considered placing them all in there.
Can/Should I run all 8 strips in a raid 0 stripe for maximum capacity?
Then backup to the slower 2 TB drives in pairs enclosures.
Since we have 3x 2bay units, it's low cost to add another pair of WD20EARS.

At the end, we would have 12TB (8x1.5) Raid 0 Stripe across 2x 4 bay towers and backed up to 12TB (6x2) across 3x 2bay enclosures.

We have a 4 port eSata PCI card arriving shortly to improve the Vantec 2bay units to eSata from USB for better performance.

From a controller perspective. I have 4 internal Sata ports on the MB that can use NVIDA H/W raid.
2 SiL3132 esata port multiplier RAID carrds that can be poped in the PCIx X1 and X16 slots.
The 4 port eSata Multipler PCI card with all external connectors as well.

Given the inventory of drives and enclosures, I'd be interested to hear of some other options that would achieve similar storage capacities and backup/redundancy.

From a controller perspective. I have 4 internal Sata ports on the MB that can use NVIDA H/W raid.
2 SiL3132 esata port multiplier RAID cards that can be poped in the PCIx X1 and X16 slots.
The 4 port eSata Multipler PCI card with all external connectors as well.
I'll use 2 MB sata ports for the small mirrored OS drives most likely.

Is the preference to use H/W raid from the cards/MB versus the windows server 2008 S/W raid?

I've used both in the past.
 

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Can/Should I run all 8 strips in a raid 0 stripe for maximum capacity?
Having that many drives in RAID0 is a recipe for disaster. Don't know if WHS 2011 support RAID5 but that would be a better configuration. RAID6 might be better but it's still experimental even on platforms that support it. Barring that, RAID10 will offer better reliability but drastically reduce capacity. If WHS 2011 does not support RAID5, I would look for something better. There are other free or inexpensive options available. Most are Linux based but not all of them require Linux knowledge.

I highly recommend moving the drives into server cases for increased reliability. There are some very good cases now available that support 6 to 12 drives internally with easy drive management. External cases for RAID0 arrays are a serious liability. If it must be done, configure each case as RAID0 and the cases themselves as JBODs. Port multipliers are a speed bottleneck so it's probably best to avoid them for frequently accessed disks.

I would move the 4x WD20EARS drives into a single case and add 2 more identical drives (one for added capacity and one for a RAID stripe.) I would then configure it as RAID5. I would also dump the SIL card and use a motherboard that supports the drives directly on the motherboard controller. That means the motherboard needs 7 SATA ports or an alternative connection is required for the system drive. (Some NAS server OS platforms support booting from flash drives.) For real reliability, a true hardware RAID controller is even better but they cost big bucks. I would also remove the drive alignment jumper. There are better ways to manage drive alignment through partitioning or direct OS support.

I would then do the same thing with the 8 Seagate 7200 1.5TB drives, using another case and motherboard. For that you likely will need to use a PCIe SATA card or two. It would be best to use two identical 4 port cards for the 8 drives.
 

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To raid or not to raid is a question for any OS ... not just WHS2011.

I would based my decision of the type of data that is being saved. Is the data easily to recreate? Is it personal photo's or home videos that must be saved and backup? etc.

In my case, I have a 24TB WHS2011 server. The breakdown is as follows for must keep data
80gb .... music
80GB .... photos
100GB ... downloaded
20GB ... personal data

Rest is for DVD and BluRay rip. As you can see, I have 300GB of must keep data. The rest can be recreated by re-ripping any lost movies.

Therefore, my boot drive(C:) is a 2TB with 60gb OS and rest (D:) for must keep data. I have another 2TB drive is an USB enclosure that I back up my C: and D: drives twice a day. If I transfer a large amount of must-keep data, then I do a manual backup immediately.

As for the rest, I configured JBOD. If I lose a drive, just that drive's data is lost. I just re-rip those blurays for that drive. If I configured a raid-5 or raid 0, I would always stand a chance of losing the entire array. Since all the data (blurays) are already compressed data, I would need to double my drive space for backups. IMHO, backing up rips of owned movies is just not worth the cost.

As for linix, I tried the unbuntu 10.10 64bit server. Had lots of problems transfering 50gb files of my rips to the server. Network connect would simply hang. Durng my research of the problem, it seemed that this is a problem with the base linux build as it is present is all linux distro's I was concidering.

Again, depends on what you are doing with the server should determine what cnfiguration and OS you should use
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If only we had 4TB drives for <$100 this week, eh?
Photos are additionally backed up to SkyDrive as they are clearly not replaceable.

Other data, while not the end of the world, is not re-obtainable as the effort for the music, and video collection was very time consuming. Several years. And many are unique.

It may be possible to forecast an upper limit on the core storage requirements and achieve some RAID 5 for that and the backup utilizing the existing inventory of drives, controllers and enclosures. As time progresses, some data can be deprecated to other storage as they are consumed. (Videos)

Is there any consensus yet on the choice DE replacement for WHS 2011?

I know there appear to be a few choices, but like VHS and Beta, is there a clear winner yet?
 

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My experience with RAID 5 has not been so positive.

- When a drive fails and the RAID set is running in a "degraded" mode of operation (i.e. using parity), the performance is so poor the server/service may as well be completely unavailable.

- RAID 5 controllers seem to be much less reliable than RAID controllers running RAID 1, or 10. I've seen a number of cases where the raid controller itself was the source of problems.

This is of course ignoring the issues that RAID always has around upgrading to larger disk capacities, areas that WHS v1 DE is exceptionally strong.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do in my case. I was originally planning to buy a new (vendor supplied) WHS 2011 box to replace the original HP Mediasmart box that I purchased years ago, but now I'm hesitant given that WHS doesn't add much over a standard Windows Server 2008 R2 box. The only interesting thing from my point of view is the backup/restore features. Currently, I think I'll stick with WHS v1 for a year and see how the 3rd party drive extenders pan out. I'm pleased to see that there are at least two companies that are actively working on a product to fill this need. That said, I'm not going to use a product that has no track record.

I loved the Mediasmart form factor. If anything, i'd like a device with more than 4 drive bays, but aside from that it was perfect.
 
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