What NAS hard drive setup do you use?

Mike August 30, 2011
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So, I got a NAS with 5x2TB HDD lying around for over 2 months now because I still couldn’t make up my mind about the dard drive setup.

I already have a NAS running with a RAID5 and while I do know the benefits there are some drawbacks e.g. no Block-Level iSCSI targets/LUN because I do need/have/use allocated storage for multiple systems, single large storage, no flexibility.

Up till know I thought about two options:
(1) 2x RAID1 (data) + 1x single Disk (testing, flexibility)
pro: reliability on two volumes, data can easily be used outside the NAS
con: obviously the waste of drive space
(2) each disk on it’s own
pro: highest flexibility on how to use each disk, data can be used outside the NAS
con: no reliability (risky setup)

One may ask why I want to use RAID1 in the first place ~ let’s just say I do think ahead.

I was wondering what NAS setups other MakeUseOf users especially the tech geeks around here use.

  1. Jason
    September 9, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I guess it comes down to how important you consider your data.  I have 2 young children and all my video and photo's are on my NAS.  I know I can store them on websites like Flickr and youtube but I have high quality video and photo's.  Most of my photo's are a minimum 5mb and my videos are approx 5GB per hour.  To me, I could not stand to lose this data hence I have set up a RAID5.  Prior to this I used RAID0 and used sites like DropBox and Sugarsynch etc to back up the documents that I needed to keep if there was a hardware failure.

    If you say your data is not that important why would you go for a RAID1?  Why not go for speed and go for RAID0?  Based on my experience the disk will go before the hardware, and if you are going to resell, you can always transfer your data to your new NAS before you do.

    • Mike
      September 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks for your answer.

      Even at Gigabit Ethernet there is no real benefit from using RAID0 accept for the IO performance. In real world setups you don't even reach the maximum transfer speed of a single SATA drive via Gbit Ethernet unless the NAS, the switch and your computer are (capable of) using Link Aggregation. Basically you just introduce an additional point of failure duo to the nature of an striped array. 

      I can live with losing the data but I don't have to provoke it, right? 

  2. Gl2k000
    September 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I'm using RradyNAS devices and have a couple built with OpenFiler. You can also try FreeNAS.

  3. James Bruce
    September 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I use windows home server 2011 myself - it's not a NAS as such nor hardware RAID, but it does duplicate the folders I wish it to onto a backup drive and doesnt require dedicated hardware. 

    With that number of drives though, I would personally suggest a RAID5 setup, with one or two disks acting as parity drives. That way you get completely redundancy should one drive fail, as well as the performance of striping the data..

    • Mike
      September 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks for your reply... I was playing with the idea of creating a RAID5 over 4 disks and use the last one for flexible and/or changing applications like iSCSI testing and stuff.

      My primary concern with RAID levels other then RAID1 are with data recovery.
      I don't consider my private data important enough to justify the costs of backup storage or additional costs for data recovery.

      Which is were RAID1 comes in handy:
      Whatever happens ~ hardware failure, re-purposing of the NAS (e.g. selling it), deleted data ~ you can always put one of the drives into your system or an external case and do whatever needs to be done, no extra costs involved.

      With a RAID5 on the other hand you either need hardware capable of identifying and running the existing RAID or you need enough storage for full disk images which can then be combined to a Virtual RAID.

      Redundancy and speed always sounds nice but for private use I always consider it ~ not exactly risky ~ but something you should look at from all possible angles.