Any alternatives to ZFS? Want to combine multiple external HDs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by c-Row, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. c-Row macrumors 65816

    c-Row

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    While ZFS seems to be around the corner, I wanted to ask if there is another option to combine several external HDs to one logical drive.

    I want to hook up two or more external drives to my (yet to be bought) Mac Mini, providing an extensive library of photos, videos and music. What I want to do is using a Mac Mini as media center, but with an iTunes library that doesn't fit on one single drive (600+ GB lossless files), sharing this over two or more drives would require restarting iTunes every time I want to access the other drive. I know there are workarounds with aliases and such, but it's just that - a workaround.

    Is there an elegant way to do this, or should I just wait for Leopard and the new filesystem?


    (using an AppleTV would require at least one more Mac/PC to be running, which I want to avoid - a Mini alone would be silent enough not to distract from listening; not to mention it wouldn't solve the initial problem)
     
  2. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #2
    Would a RAID 0 setup be a useful option here? Mac OS X can do this out of the box.

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106594

    You could take two 500GB drives (for example) and join them in a RAID 0 set to create a single 1TB RAID 0 volume. Of course you double your risk of data loss by drive failure, as a single drive failure will bring down the whole array.

    Maybe not an optimal solution, but one which you can do with the built-in OS X utilities.
     
  3. c-Row thread starter macrumors 65816

    c-Row

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
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    #3
    That would be an idea, yes. Data loss wouldn't be that much of a risk since I got all source material on original CDs and DVDs anyway (except for the time it would require to rebuild the library of course).

    Would the same risk apply to an array of ZFS-formatted drives, e.g. one failed drive will make the data on the other drives useless?
     
  4. pengu macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    #4
    ok, a few things.

    you dont have the drives yet i assume? personally i'm going to get a hardware RAID box with 5 drives, and use RAID5. (RAID3 might be a better option for continuous, long reads or writes)

    if you really want to use a software solution, u have 2 options as i see it. RAID0 (one drive fails, u lose everything) or Concatenated Disk Set (same risk as RAID0, less speed, but you can make use of all available space on mixed disk sizes)

    personally, i think the hardware RAID is a better option, because it doesn't rely on the host machine at all (ie, a buggy OSX update is less likely to hose the array, and you can plug it into another machine if you need/want to.) generally you have two options - direct attached devices (usb2, firewire, etc) or network attached devices - NAS


    oh and regarding ZFS and risk of failure. RAID-Z works like RAID0 with 2 disks, and simmilar to RAID-5 with 3 or more disks. so with 2 disks, ZFS wouldn't be any benefit.
     
  5. c-Row thread starter macrumors 65816

    c-Row

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
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    Germany
    #5
    So far I got one 400 GB drive only , but I can already see that it won't be enough for the music alone, not even thinking about videos and stuff.

    Looks like RAID0 has more benefit due to the independence from the host machine you mention. Is USB2 fast enough for this (using a USB hub), or should I get myself a Firewire case and put the already existing HD into the new case? I guess the HD itself doesn't care what controller it's connected to.
     
  6. pengu macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    #6
    um. sorry, i dont think i explaind that clearly. an external RAID Array (im planning to get this one: SR6600) gives independance from the host. software RAID0 still relies on the host machine.

    if you're happy with RAID0 (it's a lot cheaper/easier to setup if you don't need the redundancy of RAID5) then you can just use a couple of external drives. Firewire 400 will probably give you better performance if you're doing long reads/writes, USB2 CAN be faster for burst speeds. because the RAID is controlled by the host OS, im not aware of any reason you couldn't create an array from one of each. but each read/write operation will take as long as the slowest disk/interface.
     
  7. c-Row thread starter macrumors 65816

    c-Row

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Germany
    #7
    USB speeds seem to be alright, judging from my experience with the already present external HD.

    Thanks for your input. Mac Mini Media Center, here I come. :cool:
     

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