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setup of JBOD and pros/cons vs. RAID/Storage Spaces?


dandys
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Hi everyone

 

I am currently working on a server with a total of currently 5 x 4TB drives but room for expansion in the future. I currently use Storage Spaces in mirror mode, and have the entire ~9TB volume as one drive letter that on it has folders like you would expect "Videos" "Music" "Recorded TV" etc. Those folders are then designated as separate network shares to show up as //SERVER/Videos or whatever.

 

I always want to keep a cold copy of the data as a backup on external drives. I update this maybe every few weeks or so, and as needed. Unlike most I don't do client computer backups, only files themselves, which don't change too often so I don't really need to update the backup too frequently.

 

The thing about me and RAID is that unlike most enterprise users, I don't really have a problem with the "drive goes down and server is inaccessible" scenario. If a drive breaks, I don't mind spending the time restoring the backup before I can access the data again. While I appreciate the extra safety net that the mirror gives me (in case cold backup is corrupted or something), I keep thinking that I am sort of wasting potential room by having this mirror setup in addition to the offline backup, and I should just have the offline one, so I am trying to consider other options.

 

1. JBOD is appealing because if a disk breaks, I don't lose all the data, just what was on that disk. I know it has different uses but here by JBOD I mean physically connecting the drives with no abstraction as D, E, F... or NTFS folders. I also appreciate the simplicity of having no abstraction of the drives. One concern though is setting up the network share. This isn't the case currently, but say one of my collections goes over 4TB, like "Videos" or something, and I needed to split it up among multiple disks. Would I have to then mount those drives as NTFS folders within some "Videos" folder on the C: drive, and split up the collection in some way like "Videos/Home Videos" points to one drive and "Videos/TV Shows" points to the other? What if one of these gets too large and I would have to merge the folders; would I be able to store half of "Videos/TV Shows" on one drive and half on the other, or would I have to do something like "Videos/TV Shows A-L" and "Videos/TV Shows M-Z" on the other to keep the folders isolated? If anyone has knowledge on how that would work that would be great.

 

2. Other ways to decrease my waste I guess would be moving to a less redundant setup such as a RAID-0 or RAID-5 (simple or parity storage spaces, I know most of you hate it but for me I would probably use it anyway). I am concerned though with the "all for one" nature of the RAID-0 and would be relatively less at ease than with a simple JBOD. With the parity, I have heard it doesn't have great performance (again in particular SS) and might not be good for a lot of data either. Are any of these worth seriously considering?

 

So anyway I guess what I am asking is whether there is a strong reason to consider taking apart my "mirror" setup and going for something less protective such as JBOD. I am attracted by the apparent simplicity of JBOD, but I am also put off by the apparent difficulty of then setting up network shares for large collections with JBOD: are there any pros/cons I am not seeing, especially in terms of the network sharing folder thing?

 

Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post

Edited by dandys
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Have you checked out StableBit DrivePool or Drive Bender? It sounds like it may be something that would actually fit what you want a lot better.

 

Both have a fully featured trial period, so you can see if you like them. And both store the files on NTFS volumes. So if somethign happens, or you decide you don't like it, that it's easy to switch to something else.

 

And both support duplication (file based mirroring). which can be changed at any time.

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^^ What he said; one of the 'drive pooling' programs sounds like exactly what you need.

 

Now, on another note, do you really feel that a single off line backup is adequate? It is your data, and only you can decide how important it is to you, but I would like to suggest you need more: at least 2 copies on site and another one off site (not off line, but physically in a different building than the server). Try searching Bing or google for "3-2-1 backup site=homeservershoaw.com".

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I'll third the DrivePool suggestion. Not only is it considerably faster than Storage Spaces, it also has shown to be at least as (and per users on this site, me included more) stable. No pun intended.

 

However, if you do want to really maximize your speed and only have minimal loss in storage space without using external applications/software, then you could use the built into Windows RAID 5 that has been around for ages. Not via Storage Spaces, just convert the drives to dynamic disks and combine them all into RAID 5 (software.) 

 

P.S. I'm still trying to wrap my head on how you get 9TB of space out of 5 x 4 TB drives in RAID 1/mirror.  One mirror is 2 x 4TB = 4TB usable (plus) second mirror of 2 x 4TB = 8 TB total. Then you have a fifth drive which you either use singly in addition to the two mirrors giving you 12TB (8 TB of mirrored and 4 TB of single) or add as a third drive in three drive mirror (rare, but used sometimes) leaving you with 8TB usable.

 

P.P.S. I didn't see if you mentioned which OS. If you are using Win 8 then you can't use a software RAID 5. The suggestion is if you are using a server OS.

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