HDD: Enterprise/Server Grade or Standard Desktop?

jbsmithmac

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Sep 11, 2011
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I'm building a file server out of my old G4...I'm not going all out, but am probably going with 2 - 3 sata's (not sure if I am going to go 1TB or 2TB each - depends on pricing I find).

That said, this server will be on from 8am to 11pm daily...what drive's do you recommend? I've been told anywhere from top of the line enterprise grade drives to the cheapest drive I could find.

Just looking for thoughts. The machine will be running 10.4.11.
 

adcx64

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Nov 17, 2008
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You should be fine with standard grade drives, they don't cost as much as server grade drives. Opt for the Western Digital Caviar Black as they are the fastest mechanical drives on the market now.
 

zen.state

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Mar 13, 2005
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Enterprise drives are built for professional level serving. It would be an absolute overkill and waste of money in your situation. It would be like using a $100 bill as a drink coaster.
 

zen.state

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Mar 13, 2005
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Yeah, server grade drives are made for 24/7 uptime. Like I said, you will be fine with a few WD Blacks.
Standard drives like Caviar Black can handle 24/7 operation no problem. My towers are never off. The server/enterprise drives are more robust and capable for things like being accessed by 100+ people at once.
 

jbsmithmac

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Sep 11, 2011
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so then could I even get away with dropping it down from the WD Black to the Blue or Green to save $$??

Another question Zen - you say your's are on 24/7...are your disks spinning that time as well? Also would it be better for me to leave mine on 24/7 instead of the off on cycle (is the cycling harder on the machine/disks)?
 

monkeybagel

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Jul 24, 2011
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The near-line drives supposedly have a higher MTBF and can absorb more vibration than the desktop drives. With that said, the standard drives I think would work fine and the performance difference would not be that great. As long as you have them in some type of RAID configuration, I think the standard desktop drives would be fine.
 

zen.state

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Mar 13, 2005
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so then could I even get away with dropping it down from the WD Black to the Blue or Green to save $$??

Another question Zen - you say your's are on 24/7...are your disks spinning that time as well? Also would it be better for me to leave mine on 24/7 instead of the off on cycle (is the cycling harder on the machine/disks)?
I have 5 TB total on my main Sawtooth. This consists of a 1TB WD Black a 2TB WD Green and 2x 1TB Hitachi 7k1000. The 1TB Black is my boot drive and because of some of the apps I run it does access the drive at least 70% of the time.

If I were you I would not turn the system off at night. Desktops in my experience respond better all round when always on. Just turn drive sleep on and after 10 min of inactivity it will sleep the drives. It only takes about 3-5 sec. for a drive to wake up.
 

adcx64

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Nov 17, 2008
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The near-line drives supposedly have a higher MTBF and can absorb more vibration than the desktop drives. With that said, the standard drives I think would work fine and the performance difference would not be that great. As long as you have them in some type of RAID configuration, I think the standard desktop drives would be fine.
That raises a question. Do the Firmtek controllers support RAID?
 

zen.state

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Mar 13, 2005
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The near-line drives supposedly have a higher MTBF and can absorb more vibration than the desktop drives. With that said, the standard drives I think would work fine and the performance difference would not be that great. As long as you have them in some type of RAID configuration, I think the standard desktop drives would be fine.
RAID is total overkill for what he needs. You're really just complicating things for a person that just wanted some simple advice.
 

jbsmithmac

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Original poster
Sep 11, 2011
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Well I was thinking of doing a raid because a lot of my work for clients would be stored here.
 

zen.state

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Mar 13, 2005
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Well I was thinking of doing a raid because a lot of my work for clients would be stored here.
RAID can be hard to manage and more often than not is far more trouble than it's worth.

The point you and monkeybagel are missing it that this is a file server system so regardless of how fast the drive is your bottleneck is the ethernet speed. Any standard consumer HD without RAID can easily saturate gigabit ethernet or b/g/n wifi.

Unless you're running a web server then anything that speeds drive performance is going to be far more beneficial on your main system that you use directly rather than a server.
 
Last edited:

monkeybagel

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Jul 24, 2011
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RAID can be hard to manage and more often than not is far more trouble than it's worth.

The point you and monkeybagel are missing it that this is a file server system so regardless of how fast the drive is your bottleneck is the ethernet speed. Any standard consumer HD without RAID can easily saturate gigabit ethernet or b/g/n wifi.
Right - I primarily deal with ESX servers, which is something different entirely, but they are drastically affected by drive speed and RAID controller cache. You are right - GbE will be the first to saturate even with the slowest HDD.

I assume any RAID on a PowerMac G4 would be software-based, and I have no experience with RAID in OS X. I know typically software-based RAID performs worse than hardware RAID, but what makes the OS X RAID hard to manage? I will have to take a look at some of the OS X RAID options because I am now curious as to how it works...
 

jbsmithmac

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Sep 11, 2011
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I know the Ethernet will be the bottleneck. I was going to raid for redundancy sake...if a drive failed I want the reassurance that my whole portfolio has a chance of surviving.

I thought that a NAS with a few hd's would be the best, but again I am not an enterprise so a prosumer NAS isn't that much different (from a reliability standpoint) than what I'm building...at least not based on what I have read on the NAS's out there.
 

monkeybagel

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Jul 24, 2011
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RAID is total overkill for what he needs. You're really just complicating things for a person that just wanted some simple advice.
I personally don't put anything valuable on any volume that is not RAID based, be it RAID 1 or RAID 5, or at least have it replicated to another server. As long as there is a very regular backup in place I am sure one could get by without it if one chose to. I just feel more comfortable with mirroring or RAID 5 in my servers.

----------

I know the Ethernet will be the bottleneck. I was going to raid for redundancy sake...if a drive failed I want the reassurance that my whole portfolio has a chance of surviving.

I thought that a NAS with a few hd's would be the best, but again I am not an enterprise so a prosumer NAS isn't that much different (from a reliability standpoint) than what I'm building...at least not based on what I have read on the NAS's out there.
I own one of these devices with two Hitachi SATA 2TB 7200RPM drives in it in RAID 1 and it works well, but I have it running iSCSI instead of file sharing. I am very happy with the performance of it for testing and lab use.

I have no experience at all with RAID on OS X or any Apple products though, so I am sure zen.state would have better advice on this than I would.

Here is the NAS I have:

http://www.qnap.com/USEng/pro_detail_feature.asp?p_id=178
 
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