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setup a few terabytes or so

I’m getting to the point with my little media library where I’m running out of space, and I need to find a way to expand my diskspace a bit.  I’d like to find a next-generation solution, one that I can use as I expand from 1.5 terabytes to (eventually) 12 or so.  That’s what I project the final size I’ll need is.  Right now, I only need about 4.

There are a couple of ways to do this, obviously, but I’m not sure what the best way to approach it is, or the one that is the least cost-prohibitive.  Generally speaking, all I need is some *way* that I can access multiple harddrives (of various sizes, since I have old ones I can use) through one mountpoint, either using LVM or RAID (I’m not that picky).

Now I could spend lots of $$$ on a Drobos or something similar, where I just cram them into one box and let it fly, but I don’t need that level of sophistication.  The idea I’m currently toying with, is just getting a bunch of eSATA HDD enclosures, and hooking those up to my fileserver.  My server currently has six internal SATA ports on it, along with one eSATA port on the back, giving me seven drives I could plug in (either internally or externally).  So that’s not a problem.  I’m curious, though, how realistic getting a bunch of external enclosures is gonna be.  Typically, the drives I use (Western Digital) don’t run that hot, so cooling doesn’t seem like a big problem.  I already have one external SATA drive that I’m using, and it silently runs and sits on my desk without a problem.

That’s not my only option though.  I’m thinking of switching out the server completely for something less beefy and much more quiet.  In fact, that’s my biggest annoyance right now, is that it’s loud.  I’m not sure what it is, and I really should pinpoint the source before I rip everything out and buy lots of hardware.  I’m fairly certain though, that it’s just the CPU fan first and the power supply second.

If I did replace the server’s hardware, then I have a few options there — I could go with a Mini ITX motherboard that doesn’t need a PSU with a fan (just get a Morex power connector that uses 120W max or something).  Since I’d be hooking up everything externally anyway, they wouldn’t draw on the PSU for power, so the chipset could be really low wattage.  I’m not sure if I want to spend money on that, though.

Ideally, I’d have a place in my apartment where I could stick a server that can be as loud and as noisy as it wants, and I wouldn’t have to hear it.  Sadly, that’s not the case, and I doubt I’ll be moving anytime soon.  So, noise pollution is a factor in this as well.

Anyway, I’m still trying to think of what the best way to go is.  There’s a few directions this could take.


  1. Trent Trent July 31, 2009

    Check out freenas … runs of a fairly minimal set of hardware … lots of options.

  2. robbat2 robbat2 July 31, 2009

    If you’ve got SATA300 eSATA interfaces with port multiplier support, I suggest things like this:

    Just don’t go with RAID5, the bus isn’t fast enough to run 5 drives @ RAID5. I can get about 80MB/sec from each drive. I use mine as large scratch disk most of the time however, reconfiguring as needed. Having 3.5TiB of fast scratch disk is nice sometimes.

    • robbat2 robbat2 July 31, 2009

      Oh, also, re the bus issue. The 80MB/sec is for a single drive, straight line. Random is much lower, and that’s why I have the RAID0.

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