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Old 23-01-12, 23:38   #1
xcaliberx24
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Default Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Hello i am very new to NAS and i need some help picking out something that works similar to what i have now. Before i begin let me explain my set up. I have a 7 year old computer running windows 7 ultimate 32bit and connected to it i have 9 external usb2.0 hard drives accumulating 13TB worth of data. Now my PC only has 4 usb ports so i was forced to buy a pci express 5 port usb 2.0 card. Now i have run out of space again and cannot get any more hard drives due to lack of usb ports and power outlets. By the way i had to buy 2 6 way power splitters to connect to my wall because i didn't have any more outlets and now i have so many cables all over the place I'm afraid its a fire hazard. But back on topic i have 9 hard drives for storage not backups which means i use them everyday by going to windows explore and clicking on the file i want. That is a function i don't want to lose. So i looked for an alternative solution to so many damn external hard drives and the word server came up. Like i said I'm new to all of this so i did some googling and i even asked in you tube and people told me to get a nas and i asked for a suggestion and they told me drobo. Now i looked at that and it seems that if i wanted say 12tb of data it would only give me 6tb for storage and 6 for backup and that's not what I'm looking for. I want something where i can get all 12 tb for storage i don't care if i lose a hard drive ill just send it in for recovery at one of those data recovery centers. Also i was told that to access a NAS i have to use Firefox or internet explorer and it would feel like I'm downloading my own files off an ftp server in order to access them. That's another feature i don't want. I want to be able to look at my files through windows explorer and click at will to open any file like the external hard drives i have now. So basically i want a NAS where my computer would read it as a hard drive in windows explorer and it would let me use all available space for storage. Any suggestions?
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Old 24-01-12, 09:54   #2
yannis
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Originally Posted by xcaliberx24 View Post
Hello i am very new to NAS and i need some help picking out something that works similar to what i have now. Before i begin let me explain my set up. I have a 7 year old computer running windows 7 ultimate 32bit and connected to it i have 9 external usb2.0 hard drives accumulating 13TB worth of data. Now my PC only has 4 usb ports so i was forced to buy a pci express 5 port usb 2.0 card. Now i have run out of space again and cannot get any more hard drives due to lack of usb ports and power outlets. By the way i had to buy 2 6 way power splitters to connect to my wall because i didn't have any more outlets and now i have so many cables all over the place I'm afraid its a fire hazard. But back on topic i have 9 hard drives for storage not backups which means i use them everyday by going to windows explore and clicking on the file i want. That is a function i don't want to lose. So i looked for an alternative solution to so many damn external hard drives and the word server came up. Like i said I'm new to all of this so i did some googling and i even asked in you tube and people told me to get a nas and i asked for a suggestion and they told me drobo. Now i looked at that and it seems that if i wanted say 12tb of data it would only give me 6tb for storage and 6 for backup and that's not what I'm looking for. I want something where i can get all 12 tb for storage i don't care if i lose a hard drive ill just send it in for recovery at one of those data recovery centers. Also i was told that to access a NAS i have to use Firefox or internet explorer and it would feel like I'm downloading my own files off an ftp server in order to access them. That's another feature i don't want. I want to be able to look at my files through windows explorer and click at will to open any file like the external hard drives i have now. So basically i want a NAS where my computer would read it as a hard drive in windows explorer and it would let me use all available space for storage. Any suggestions?
Well that's esay enough to undertsand. It seems you have been given some duff information though.

First off "NAS" stands for "Network Attached Storage". Therefore, to access it, you need to do it via a network. In simple terms, they are computers with a bunch of hard discs inside but without a monitor, keyboard, mouse, sound card etc. They do of course have a network adaptor.

The hard discs or "User Shares" can be mapped so that you can access them in windows explorer just like you do now. However, to initialy set up and configure the NAS, you will need to "logon" to it using Internet Explorer, Firefox or some such. That's because, as stated earlier, the NAS has no monitor, keyboard or mouse.

In terms of storage vs back up, it all depends on how the discs inside are configured. Most use some sort of "RAID" (look it up on Google) array. However, one type of "RAID" configuration is called JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Discs). If the NAS is configured that way, then all discs can be used as data.

Note that RAID is not backup. It just offers some protection against a single hard disc failure. In such a case, the offending disc can usualy be swapped with no loss of data. However, if the data is "striped" accross discs as is usualy the case with RAID, then if 2 discs fail you would lose all the data on the entire array (and it could not easily be recovered because only part of the data is written to any one disc).

A solution that I use and am a huge fan of, is UnRaid from Lime Technology (again, "Google it" and read the Wiki). However, this may not suit you unless you feel confident about building your own server.

It would be particularly suited to you needs because it only needs one parity disc for "security" and you can have up to 21 discs for data. If a single disc fails, it can be replaced with no loss of data. If 2 or more discs fail at the same time, then you would only lose the data on those discs and it could possibly be recovered. Unlike "conventional RAID" arrays, data is not striped across multiple discs.

I think your next move should be to read up some more on the various types of RAID, variuos NAS storage units and if they can be configured as JBOD, and take a look at the UnRaid Wiki.
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Old 24-01-12, 11:51   #3
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Lightbulb Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Yo,

To add some comment:

3 options
  1. Buy a NAS, but don't go cheap as this will effect writing-read speeds
  2. Unraid : http://lime-technology.com/forum/
  3. Freenas : http://www.freenas.org/
  4. ZFS : http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1573272
Also read this thread (it's not complete yet and has to be rewritten)
http://www.mpcclub.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27599
It wil give you an idea of what's out there in the selfbuild world!

Feel free to ask questions!
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Old 24-01-12, 12:27   #4
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Also power your NAS through a UPS - a battery that will allow the NAS time to power down in the event of a power outage. It will also smooth the power going to the NAS which will help protect it and the Hard Drives.
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Old 24-01-12, 18:48   #5
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Looks like ill look into unraid and build my own server. I have build computers from scratch before i hope its as easy as this.
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Old 24-01-12, 21:21   #6
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Originally Posted by xcaliberx24 View Post
Thank you all for your suggestions. Looks like ill look into unraid and build my own server. I have build computers from scratch before i hope its as easy as this.
Yes it is that easy (I'm a 58 year old carpenter and I managed it). Just make sure the components you choose are on the compatibility list. Start with the Wiki but you'll get all the help you need here http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php

You'll find that write speeds are not quite as fast as other systems using RAID 5 or similar and which stripe data across mulitiple discs, but as you are coming from using external usb drives, you'll find it plenty fast enough.

One of the main advantages is that you can expand easiliy just by adding more hard drives and you can mix and match sizes (something you can't do with conventional RAID). The only thing to watch is that no data drive can be larger than the parity drive so fit the biggest parity drive ypu can to start with.

I started with an old "donor" PC and 3 discs. When it came time to expand, I changed the case, motherboard, network adaptor and processor. Swapped the discs accross, then added a few more. I don't know of any commercial systems that would alow you to do that.

UnRaid is ideally suited as a media server though. What I find particularly useful is the ability to have "User Shares" which span mulitple discs. You can set up a User Share called something like "Movies". Then as far as windows explorer is concerned, it'll look like a single folder, even though it may physically span all the hard discs in the server. Another useful feature is that you can set it to spin down any discs which haven't been accessed for a period of time. So, when it's not in use, the only thing powered up is the processor (which is just ticking over). With some sort of inteligent fan controller which measures temperature, the case fans will then shut down too, making a really low powered server which can be left on 24/7 without consuming more than a few watts.

A UPS is a useful addition, just as it is for any computrer, but it's not essential if you need to save afew bob.

Best of luck.
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Old 25-01-12, 04:28   #7
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Yannis thank you very much for such detailed comments. Wish you were my teacher. As Ive been reading a lot of forums and articles Ive kind of gotten discouraged in creating my own server so I'm thinking of just buying a premade one and i think this looks good MD-1510/LI Media Storage Server from Lime Tech. What do you think? I'm thinking of starting out with this and maybe 6 2tb hard drives to transfer all my individual external hard drive files to the server for the time being until I learn more and know exactly what I'm doing then ill fill the rest of the empty slots with more hard drives. Right now this will be temporary i just want to get rid of all these damn external hard drives.
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Old 25-01-12, 08:30   #8
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Or you just deassembly your extended USB2.0 hardisks and put it in your new Storage server to start with, save you some money in the beginning and just see if you can make it all work together.
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Old 25-01-12, 19:24   #9
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Thank you bluray2 i will definitely do that. That's 9 less hard drives i will have to buy.
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Old 25-01-12, 19:32   #10
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Default Re: Looking for Alternate storage solution.

Originally Posted by xcaliberx24 View Post
Yannis thank you very much for such detailed comments. Wish you were my teacher. As Ive been reading a lot of forums and articles Ive kind of gotten discouraged in creating my own server so I'm thinking of just buying a premade one and i think this looks good MD-1510/LI Media Storage Server from Lime Tech. What do you think? I'm thinking of starting out with this and maybe 6 2tb hard drives to transfer all my individual external hard drive files to the server for the time being until I learn more and know exactly what I'm doing then ill fill the rest of the empty slots with more hard drives. Right now this will be temporary i just want to get rid of all these damn external hard drives.
By all means get a pre made system. I'm not sure what what's happening with Lime Tech at the moment. I know there are some big changes happening. Take a look here http://lime-technology.com/forum/ind...?topic=17705.0. Basically they are changing to a C-Corp, moving to San Diego and working with another company to bring out a new range of servers.

I guess you are in the USA (the word "gotten" gives it away). So it might be worth visiting the Lime Tech forums and making an enquiry, as there are a number of other people who will build you a server.
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