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santacruzskim

Does This Exist? - Drobo-Like External Storage With DrivePool-Like Intelligence

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santacruzskim

thanks for the feedback guys. i'm going to address this stuff in chunks:

 

 

Have you looked into ZFS?  --

 

yes, it is awesome. hardware overhead is a little heavy and unless it was a supported file system for all or at least most OS's i come in contact with it wouldn't really fit the bill for this specific issue.  unless the future offers something better, i do see a fairly massive ZFS NAS storage array driving my entire storage needs in the future. eg when i move into a bigger place and make more money (i'd like to hope).

 

But in most cases, any sort of "embedded" NAS devices like the Drobo, LaCie's NAS boxes, or other devices.... they are all going to use RAID or some variety of it. All block based, and largely proprietary. 

 

ya, its that last part i'm bummed about, as well as the lack of flexible redundancy modes.

 

But if you want a large number of drives.... it is going to cost. Or it's going to require USB or eSATA....

Aside from that, get a 4U case like the Norco RPC 4224 and a low powered board in it. Install Windows or Linux.

 

holy smokes! one day, ...one day. still though not really appropriate for this use case

 

 

I have a question. You say you want an external box, but you don't want sneakernet, and you don't want to use a LAN. How then do you plan to get data on and off the box? If the box is portable, and you move it around from computer to computer to save and recover data, that's sneakernet: i.e. you're carrying the device around. I guess I'm confused as to what the end game is.

 

again, i would not be saving and recovering data off it like that, that's the server's job. it would be for archival- stuff that i'm effectively done with, but needs to be stored safely.  If this ideal device existed, it would live in a fireproof safe. Most of the archival data would be cueue'd up in a server folder that backs up to cloud storage and then moved onto my fantasy box say, every quarter.  I would also like to be able to plug the device directly into any device, eg a friend brings over a laptop or I go into the office and archive a project off a workstation. btw, if this thing existed, i'd have a few of them in different configurations for different tasks.

 

Are you saying you want an external HDD enclosure that runs drive pooling (e.g. DrivePool)? If so, I think you're out of luck, at least as far as getting an off-the-shelf solution is concerned. I know I've never heard of such a device. I suspect that it might be somewhat cost prohibitive to create a device that can hold 8 drives and do drive pooling. By that I mean it would be too costly to make compared to what it could be sold for.

 

yes, that is exactly what i'm saying! i had the opposite intuition regarding price, but there are quite a few assumptions pumped into that opinion that could very well we wrong. Also, 8-bays is kind of a reference point since i know i wouldn't need more than that. 5-6 would work too but i see 4 or 8 bays in the wild most often.

 

All that said, I am struck by one statement: "Buying an external box that will give me individual access to each drive and play fair with drivepool is currently my top solution." My question about this is, "Do you want it to be able to connect to many computers, or just one?"

 

If it's many computers, I'm not sure what to suggest. Drashna will have to comment on this, but I don't think you can have DrivePool (installed on multiple computers) access the same drive pool on a portable external drive enclosure. IOW, I suspect it would be problematic to share a drive pool amongst multiple computers. Maybe I'm wrong on this - I've never tried it. OTOH, it would be cool if you indeed could have DrivePool installed on, say, 5 computers and have them each be able to read and write to a drive pool on a single external USB enclosure. Drashna?

 

many computers. yes, multiple machines all running the same pooling software is something i've been thinking about, as it would be a decent compromise but my gut says that would likely cause issues. I had plans to start going down the list of pooling software to see if this has been successfully reported. Ive heard of people reinstalling an OS, for example, and once drivepool was installed, the pools were recognized and back in action...

 

If it's one computer, I may have an idea. I have 2 Lian-Li EX-503 external USB3/eSATA II enclosures. They use a JMicron chipset that can support several types of RAID, plus their definition of JBOD (which I call Spanned Disk). It also supports what JMicron calls Clear Mode (I call it true JBOD), which basically means each drive is presented to the computer individually. I use DrivePool to pool the drives in the EX-503s into a single volume. This is what I use for my data backups from my server.

 

lame how JBOD means different things to different people, manufacturers, etc. its been a pain trying to track down exactly what they're referring to while researching such enclosures.  your current system is essentailly what my backup plan is if i can't find something more 'perfect' for my needs.  do you pool all 10 drives from both enclosures together? or are you have them in rotation or something?

 

BTW, I think there are quite a few external enclosures which provide this feature - that is, presenting drives to the computer as single drives. You could probably use DrivePool on most, if not all, of them.

 

With such a setup, you could copy files to the enclosure and then store it on a shelf somewhere or even take it off site.

 

yes. what sparked this whole idea for me was my frustration in finding one that offered 5+ bays, decent reviews, and ideally reports of playing friendly with drivepool. there are many, and most are awful, according those who purchased them.  I made mention of mediasonic probox in my original post as a current contender, but it too gets slammed as running way too hot and being extremely picky with connection types, amung other issues. In my frustration, i realized what would fit my needs much, much better would be this fantasy box.

 

thanks again for all your feedback. i think the short answer is no, what i'm theorizing doesn't exist so time to move on to alternatives. And at the top of the list is inquiring about running drive-pooling software on multiple machines and having a pool (solely made of disks existing on a single external drive enclosure that provides the OS with individual access to each drive) safely jump between machines. So if anyone has experience with this and want to save me some R&D time and $$$....

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Drashna Jaelre

If it's many computers, I'm not sure what to suggest. Drashna will have to comment on this, but I don't think you can have DrivePool (installed on multiple computers) access the same drive pool on a portable external drive enclosure. IOW, I suspect it would be problematic to share a drive pool amongst multiple computers. Maybe I'm wrong on this - I've never tried it. OTOH, it would be cool if you indeed could have DrivePool installed on, say, 5 computers and have them each be able to read and write to a drive pool on a single external USB enclosure. Drashna?

 

You can absolutely add an external drive to a Pool and move that drive to another system. However, if your going to be doing this regularly.... make the disk it's own pool. Or use a multi-bay enclosure. Then you can turn the entire enclosure into it's own pool.  And StableBit DrivePool 2.1 actually has the "removable device" flag set for the Pool volume, so you'll see the pool listed under "Safely Remove Device".  So... there, you can definitely have a portable pool. 

There are a couple of caveats though:

  • First, is that you need to move the ENTIRE pool over. Not just one or two disks, but everything, or it won't properly recognize the entire pool.
  • And that you'll need licenses for each machine (each license after the first is $9.95, so only $10 each after the initial $19.95), and they'll all need to be Windows boxes.

 

But you could definitely use it in conjunction with something like that Lian Li box that ikon linked (here again for you)

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/12624/cpa-546/Lian-Li_EX-503B_Hot_Swap_USB_30_eSata_External_35_HDD_Enclosure_5_Bays_-_35_SATA_HDD.html

 

 

 

But I do agree, a custom built NAS type box would be fabulous. I think Drobo or Synology are about the closest you'll come. Aside from that, a "real" system is the best you'll be able to do. Unless you figure out a way to connect a bunch of HDDs to a RasbPi, that is.

 

 

As for the Norco.... I know what you mean. I got mine (a 4220, actually) at a really, really, really good deal. I literally couldn't pass it up. But yeah, they're not cheap, but may be worth setting aside money for. 20-24 hotswap bays is awesome. 

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ikon

Thanks Drashna. That's what I hoped could be done, but feared couldn't - great to hear it does work. This must mean the entire current state of the pool is contained within the pool itself.

 

In fact, I use my Lian-Li EX-503s exactly as you have described: each EX-503 is it's own complete pool, without any of the pool members being outside of the box.

 

So, santacruzskim, I think an EX-503 from Frozen CPU is likely your best bet. From what you've described, I think it will suit your needs very well.

 

Also, santacruzskim, no, I don't pool the 2 EX-503s together. One of them is my NearLine backup, and the other is my OffSite. I rotate 2 sets of drives through the OffSite unit. This gives me 4 copies of all of my data, and 5 copies of almost all of it.

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santacruzskim

Quick update-

 

i've been continuing to research this topic in my spare time and though its still not the magical device i have floating in my head, UnRAID appears to be the closest.  It is essentially a very light, linux-based server OS that runs off a thumb drive.  It has very modest system requirements and offers fairly robust and flexible data redundancy schemes.  It also has many WHS features, though in a little less user-friendly manner.  The big differentiator is you could design a very cost-effective box, stuff it with as many drives as you can fit, pop the USB stick in there for the OS, and you're off!

 

anyways, thought i'd share as it seems like a very versatile tool that may fit some of you data nuts out there. i'll probably be testing it, but i'm pretty swamped for the next few weeks so doubt i'll get to it any time soon.

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Drashna Jaelre

UnRAID is a nice solution. 

The thing is, I don't like linux. I avoid it whenever possible.

And the fact that my router is based on linux (Sophos UTM) should speak volumes about how much I like the product. 

 

But UnRAID is definitely a good, well developed solution. And I do hope that you enjoy it!

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