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Need Help in Building a Redundant Storage Device

I little help. I am about to migrate my image file storage from a combination of laptop/Retrospect/single Western Digital drive system to a dual RAID system based perhaps on two terrabyte drives, perhaps internal drives mounted in a small housing with a power supply and sockets for the connections.

As a practical matter, how do I assemble such a thing? And how do I feed it from the laptop? And are there software issues? Has someone who has done this before give a little instruction? And, of course, is this the best way to go?

by [a former member] at 2008-01-10 18:59:05 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Washington, DC , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Neal,
I’m a big fan of the Infrant NV+ system (http://www.infrant.com/products/products_details.php?name=ReadyNAS%20NVPlus). It’s easy to set up and hook into a wireless/wired network. I have mine set up with 4 1TB drives. There are a lot of ways to copy files over, I have mine running an FTP server, so I can log in and FTP the files over. You can also set it up as a network drive and just copy files over.

It does take a little tech-y experience to get everything going, but when I did my research on the various storage options out there, this seemed like the best one.

On another note, the 1TB that PhotoShelter offers is a viable option as well and allows your archive to be very searchable and sellable.

by Stephen Voss | 10 Jan 2008 19:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Editing large photos over a wireless link is a bit of a joke.

And if you are going to invest in a raid array you will want more then 2 drives, 4 is a good idea.

Just a quick look at td (a canadian site)

this one looks decent http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3486297&CatId=2671

though you can probably get better deals in the states.

sbr

edit: ps. I like the online things for real redundancy, servers are in secure temperature controlled labs and you can access them from everywhere. Having your own is nice as you can actually work off of it but there is the chance you will get mugged or break it when moving?

by sbramin | 10 Jan 2008 19:01 (ed. Jan 10 2008) | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
I considered online storage but not alone. I’m a control freak and get anxious when I am relying exclusively on storage which is thousands of miles away and managed by a company which could go bankrupt (see what is going on with DRR) or be subject to internal vandalism by a disgruntled (or mentally ill) employee.

I know the best system involves burning to disks and storing them off-site, as well as at the same time both RAID array and online storage. But since I am now just getting started can’t I risk the two-disk scenario for a few months?

by [former member] | 10 Jan 2008 20:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
There’s nothing at all wrong with 2 disks as along as one is backing up the other in a RAID configuration. The nice thing about the Infrant is that you can add disks as you go along, and it will automatically sync/set up RAID as you add more disks.

by Stephen Voss | 10 Jan 2008 21:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
It looks interesting, Steve. It looks like you can buy your own drives and slip them in. Is that what you did?

by [former member] | 10 Jan 2008 22:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
BTW, Steve, what led you to the Infrant? The Buffalo system that Sascha refers to also looks good on the surface (though it might be a little pricier than the Infrant).

by [former member] | 10 Jan 2008 22:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
the buffalo looks cheaper to me, it comes with 4 750gb drives for $1800

or the infrant for $2500 with 4 750gb drives
http://www.shop-infrant.com/readynas.htm

I know of buffalo, never heard of infrant before but I am don’t know that one is better then the other.

by sbramin | 10 Jan 2008 22:01 | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
I guess the ultimate test is what the devices cost without any drives. Then you can install your own drives (likely to be cheaper than buying it with theirs).

In any event, thanks all, as this was very helpful. It makes clear that building my own may not be the best path.

by [former member] | 10 Jan 2008 23:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
If you have a PC sitting around you could easily and cheaply build your own.

RAID controller $200 http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2967577&CatId=1454

4×500GB hard drives at 480 (120 each) http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2479473&Sku=THD-500AA16

You could use bigger drives if you like but the 500gb’s are the best value/money as the 750’s are twice the price for only a 50% increase in space.

Grand total of $680

You could use any PC, if you are not a PC person, just stick a network card in it ($20-40) and you could even get away with using simple windows shares. If you wanted to do it right you could set it up as a unix file server … but for your own personal use it wont make a huge difference.

If you don’t have a PC sitting around you could buy one that would be more then fast enough for maybe ~$100 on craigs list. Bringing the price up a bit but still not a lot.

If those little boxes sell for under $300 I wouldn’t bother though as Its a nice small package with less thinking involved.

I don’t see any point in spending the money in 1TB drives, they will cost an arm and a leg and seriously do you really need 4TB of storage right now? It will take you a little while to fill 2TB of storage and by the time you do they will probably be selling single 2 TB drives for half the cost…

by sbramin | 10 Jan 2008 23:01 (ed. Jan 10 2008) | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
on Buffalo vs. Infrant – when I was doing my research, I read lots of support horror stories about Buffalo. The one problem I had with setting up my Infrant box was solved within an hour of emailing support.

The other selling point on Infrant was the X-Raid format they use that allows for automatic expansion to new drives whenever you need to add more storage, so you can just throw in a new drive and it will be integrated into the Raid.

In the end, the Infrant is definitely more expensive, but it was money well spent.

by Stephen Voss | 11 Jan 2008 00:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Good point about the issue of whether to buy 1TB drives, Sascha, but I guess it all turns on what you project in the near term. If you shoot RAW all day most days, that’s a lot of bytes.

I found as I looked this equipment over today that there was a wide variation in prices on the Infrant equipment, and even some used ones on e-Bay (though a slightly earlier model) and on Amazon. So it looks like being a smart shopper will pay off here.

by [former member] | 11 Jan 2008 00:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Sure RAW is big but its not that big…

Say you took and saved the RAW+TIFF+jpg for each photo and its about ~10mb raw, ~60mb tiff and 3.5mb JPG, round it off to 75mb total for good measure.

You can store 26,667 images with 3 versions of each (or if you dont save tiffs then around 200,000 raw files). Sure we take thousands of digital photos but you dont keep them all and wont need to save the tiff’s for many of those that will do with just raw editing. Images done in b/w have tiffs/jpgs that are half the size.

You can spend $480 on 2TB of storage, or $960 on 3TB or $1640 on 4TB of storage.

I don’t know what kind of shooting you have in mind but I imagine it would take some good time to fill those 2tb of storage, at very least a year.

And in one year you will no doubt be able to buy that 4TB array for $500 and will end up with 6 TB of space for the cost of 3TB today.

In computers it never makes sense to buy the latest and greatest toy, unless you really really need it today. In a few short months the quality will of gone up and the price down.

- SBR

ps. I can’t believe I am throwing these tera byte numbers around. It blows my mind, my laptop which is about three years old has a 40GB drive and it was one of the biggest laptop drive available at the time. Computers are nuts. Just like the megapixel race although arguably there is more use in more storage space, if not only to save those higher resolution images.

by sbramin | 11 Jan 2008 02:01 (ed. Jan 11 2008) | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
Just found an article in the new Photo District News that talks about RAID storage issues

by [former member] | 11 Jan 2008 03:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
What you say makes sense, Sascha.

BTW, does anyone use compression systems when the store image files?

by [former member] | 11 Jan 2008 03:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Neal — it is a little pricey ($500 without the drives) but check out:
http://www.drobo.com/

It is a self-monitoring, self-healing, RAID-like HDD array .. and very easy to use. highly recommended … just do a search on the product. And you can swap out drives easily to keep building up storage.

by Tom Popyk | 11 Jan 2008 04:01 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Both RAW and JPEG are already compressed formats so don’t compress very well, TIFF’s compress a little better (about 25%) and it can be done straight in photoshop. It takes a little while on either end though, I don’t know if it is worth it.

SBR

ps. I compressed a b/w tiff with winRAR to get 25% I don’t know how colour would affect it. Probably wouldn’t compress as well.

by sbramin | 11 Jan 2008 06:01 (ed. Jan 11 2008) | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
Thanks, Tom. The Drobo does not seem to rely on the “RAID” redundancy configuration. Does it have a redundancy or is it simply a pool of storage that would still be affected by the crash of a hard disk?

by [former member] | 11 Jan 2008 12:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Just found this on the Drobo from a UK wedding shooter

by [former member] | 11 Jan 2008 12:01 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
I have a drobo up and running and all is well. Any one drive can be removed (or stop working) and no information is lost. It tells you if you’re getting close to capacity and need to add a drive or whether a drive’s going bad and you need to replace it. It uses any of the Sata drives and you can mix the size of the drives (I started with two 1TB drives and just added a 750 gig drive).

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 11 Jan 2008 16:01 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
FWIW in the January issue of PC Magazine (Vol 27, No. 1/2) I ran across an article entitled “Build a RAID Array” which installs the system in your PC (like Sascha suggests above) but with a little detail. Unfortunately the article is apparently not online yet, though I suspect that it will be eventually.

I also found 500GB SATA drives for sale several places on the Web for about $100-$110. So if one can get the surrounding hardware/software systems, the drives may be the least expensive part of the project.

by [former member] | 12 Jan 2008 23:01 (ed. Jan 13 2008) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Neal, I did a little research and ended up building myself a system.

I bought a motherboard with built in raid support and got 4×250GB drives (I am poor student and it was all I could afford at $60 each)

I really needed a new computer anyhow and got a redundant raid 5 system with ~1TB of storage in the deal.

The motherboard was an Asus one with 6 sata channels so I could put another 2 drives in it.

a 2.8ghz dual core system with 2gb of ram, raided 4×250gb drives, 512mb video card all for $750

Makes a lot more sense then spending $300-500 on a little box that just houses the drives.

by sbramin | 13 Jan 2008 23:01 (ed. Jan 14 2008) | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→
Neal -

The enclosure you buy depends on what level of RAID you want. I’d suggest RAID 1 – mirrored – as it’s a bit cheaper to implement. I’ve been thinking about RAID 5 but I can’t find a cheap enough controller. RAID 0 is striped, which stripes two drives together and gives you very fast access, but if one of the two drives goes out, you lose all your data. RAID 1 is mirrored, and your data is written to both drives. If one goes, you still have data on the other one. 1 or 0 requires two drives, and you get 50% capacity (ie two 1T drives will give you 1T of capacity). RAID 5 gives a bit of both, and requires at least three drives (ie fast and redundant).

What I did was to buy an eight-bay enclosure (http://fwdepot.com/thestore/product_info.php/products_id/560, about $180) from fwdepot.com which I populate with SATA drives (i’ve been told they’re faster, and you can use IDE if you prefer). The enclosure has its own power supply which powers the drive, but no electronics.

Fwdepot also sells bridgeboards (I don’t think they sell the one I bought) which allow you to connect the SATA drives to your computer via firewire. You can choose to set up RAID 1 or RAID 0, and I think you can control up to four drives, but maybe only if there’s no RAID. In any case, the idea is to keep filling up the enclosure with drives and bridgeboards to control them.

Sasha’s idea sounds pretty neat also.

by Jonathan Lipkin | 14 Jan 2008 05:01 (ed. Jan 14 2008) | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
I am looking at the wiebetech 2 bay RAID enclosure while using retrospect to archive and search my database. I will probably go with some western digital 500mb drives and configure it RAID 1. Also, get either a controller that has FW800 or an eSata port.

by Hollis Elijah Bennett | 14 Jan 2008 07:01 | Nashville, United States | | Report spam→
you might want to check this out. if the drobo actually does what it says on the tin with any reliability
it looks to me a better way to go than building your own raid system.

by david sutherland | 14 Jan 2008 10:01 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
The problem with drobo is that is a limited space system. Granted, you can link, or ‘daisy-chain’ more than one together but that will get expensive. The beauty of going RAID is that it is infinitely expandable and once you fill up your first pair of drives (mirrored), you just put two more SATA drives in, which you can find anywhere whereas the drobo is a specialty product.

by Hollis Elijah Bennett | 14 Jan 2008 19:01 | Nashville, United States | | Report spam→
Drobo can presently take max 4 × 1tb drives giving 2.7tb of storage.

Long before i fill all of that larger drives will be available, so the 1tb drives are gradually replaced with 1.5tb, 2tb …

Having said that, i’m waiting for the next model which should (if they’re paying attention) have firewire800 instead of usb2.

by david sutherland | 14 Jan 2008 19:01 (ed. Jan 14 2008) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
The drobo’s are cute, and they claim to be able to provide redundancy.

But I am not going to buy a product because it is advertised as helping me to avoid the complexities of RAID. I happen to enjoy complexities as they usually mean flexibility.

A tried and tested industry standard system VS. a cute little black box.

Not to mention that the 4 drives which will be housed internally and take up no additional space and are on the sata’s 3GB/s bus

Not to mention that the raid system I just built cost me $0 extra, I was buying the computer and hard drives anyway and didn’t need to spend $500 extra on a box.

Not to sound too much like a doomed consumer I except by the time that I have filled this setup that there will be far larger and cheaper solutions and I will be able to switch to them and still have spent less in the long run. I do not want to contribute to planned obsolescence but it is a reality of the computer world.

Also I ended up getting 3 new 320gb drives and used a 320gb I had in an external caddy. To get double the space for the same price.

by sbramin | 14 Jan 2008 20:01 | Vancouver, Canada | | Report spam→

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Participants

Stephen Voss, Photojournalist Stephen Voss
Photojournalist
Washington, Dc , United States
sbramin, flaneur sbramin
flaneur
London , United Kingdom ( LHR )
Tom Popyk, Journalist/Videographer Tom Popyk
Journalist/Videographer
New Delhi , India
John Robert Fulton Jr., Photographs John Robert Fulton Jr.
Photographs
Spring Lake, Michigan , United States
Jonathan Lipkin, Professor, Photographer Jonathan Lipkin
Professor, Photographer
Brooklyn , United States
Hollis Elijah Bennett, Professional Photographer Hollis Elijah Bennett
Professional Photographer
Guatemala City , Guatemala ( GUA )
david sutherland, travel photographer david sutherland
travel photographer
London , United Kingdom


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