Long term raid advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TK2K, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. TK2K macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    so my mac pro is getting CRU'd and it's lead me to have to address my RAID issue a long time before I would have liked to. Currently, I have a pro with a 4 drive Caldigit raid 5 (yes, i know, caldigit controllers aren't fantastic, but it was $300 at the time, and has lasted me very well)

    So here's the pickle I'm in, I really don't like the idea of running a bunch of backwards drives with free-floating cables inside them, but on the other hand going exernal or to any other solution is expensive.

    I know the apple raid card isn't a fantastic performer, but honestly i'm more interested in data redundancy and efficiency than raw MBPS rates, and it seems nice to not have to have everything hanging outside the computer or inside, seeing as i'll be moving it back and forth between college and home, and carrying one around is a lot better than two, seeing as most external solutions are about the size of my mac pro!

    So, here's what it comes down to, spending $1k to get a mac pro raid card (apple) and new drives (i have nowhere near enough space to transfer all 3TB off onto other drives for the transition) and gaining nothing, or really hunkering down and looking a quality raid system so i'm not just spending money to maintain my status quo. I'm looking for price conscious solutions, but also solutions that allow me the ability to grow. noise is an issue since this will be a dorm unit...

    Any help would be appreciated, and thank you nanofrog for help previously.
  2. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sounds to me like you're options are both limited and obvious. At least to my way of thinking. Get a mini-tower case (used or new) and a cheap-o PSU (new or used) and then basically follow this:

    • Hook up the power to all the drives in the old case.
    • Make sure the fans work and the PSU is adequate.
    • Install the RAID or SATA card in your Mac.
    • Buy and connect an Internal To External Port Bridge
      Here's one:
    • Maybe double up on this and put one in the old PC too
      to keep the cables and connections neat and tidy.
    • Then just run the data cables and turn on the power. :)
    Velcro tape the cords together for neatness and put a $10 fan replacement in the mini-tower, that has a speed control knob. Then it's all up to you what RAID card you choose. You can also make a cardboard baffle that will channel the airflow more directly over the drives - thereby reducing the required fan-speed.
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Tesselator's idea for an external enclosure is the least expensive, and simplest way to do it. :D Even those you buy ready made are usually the same thing, unless it has additional monitoring circuits. Nice, but not absolutely necessary. DIY one and save the cash. :D

    As for the card, I'd need some details.
    1. How many ports do you need?
    2. Capacity; now, and in the near future for expansion.
    3. What is the OS environment needed? Does it have to boot OS X? Multiple OS's? (MAJOR influence on cost. Cards that can operate in multiple environments, particularly booting in multiple OS's, is expensive, but not impossible).

    At this point, I'm leaning towards an 8 port card. You can use the HDD bays in the Mac Pro for a backup system.

    But the requested details can help to dial you in to the right gear.

    And sell the CalDigit on eBay or something to help increase the budget a bit. ;)
  4. TK2K thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    So here's my issue, I've gotta move this about a lot, twice a year back and forth so I'm really lookin in favor of a single cable or two cable solution (even a really fat cable) because undoubtably there will be some uncontrollable such as room mate and cat that could get behind there and muck things up.

    I'm gonna sell the Caldigit, but because of the storage issue I need to hang on to it until i've got the new array set up.

    As far as capacity goes, i'm thinking 8 drives is a min, and 16 is a max. It's really too bad the xserve raids are only IDE, they're a good price on ebay unstocked but ofcouse IDE only
  5. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The good news:
    What you want to do is possible, as there's other cabling and adapters. :)
    1. You can use these (SFF-8088 to internal 7pin SAS/SATA x4) for the enclosures (one of these handles 4 drives). So you'd need 4 for 16 drives.

    2. This cable (SFF-8087 to SFF-8088) allows you to go from an internal port on a card to the SFF-8088 port on the above adapter. Also uses one cable per 4 drives, so 4 of these would be needed.

    The bad news:
    These already add $360 to the cost of the system needed. You can find enclosures that would allow you to squeeze in 8 HDD's per, if you look carefully, and if you're creative in mounting. You may end up having to look at hot swap backplane drive bays. These are typically either 4 or 5 bay 3.5" units that fit into 3*5.25" bays in a case. So as the cases get larger, so does the cost. Building for 4 drives is cheaper. Then you've got to get decent PSU's.

    It's adding up quickly, and you haven't even gotten into a card or drives yet. :eek: This is why external is the most expensive way to go. And for a 16 port card, that's not cheap either.

    One that comes to mind, but won't boot OS X (it will boot Windows or Linux), is the ARC-1261ML (Areca SATA model). Another they produce that would boot OS X, (and others), is the ARC-1680ix16 (SAS card, but will run SATA, if careful with drive selection). Neither is cheap. Figure ~$886USD alone, as I'm actually finding a better price on the ARC-1680ix16.

    You've way exceeded budget at this point. The needs you've listed out this time are realistic I think, and what I was trying to get you to understand the first time around. :eek: The intitial RAID setup isn't exactly cheap when you go with hardware. Worse when it's external.

    To to for 8 drives, a 16 port card, and build the enclosures for 8 (build the second enclosure and fill it with drives later when more funds/need permit/force). This will cost ~$2400 or so, which is more than 2x the budget you planned. Keep in mind, I used $150 per HDD (1TB WD RE3), as the card won't work properly with consumer drives, and this model will work with it.

    There are a few possiblities for changes/adjustments, but it's not going to be super easy, as everything is a compromise. ;)

    Can you make any adjustments?
    Say reduce the drive quantity, and go for building 4 bay enclosures?

    Dont' panic, it will take a little time, but I think there's a solution. Doing it peice meal is more expensive in the long run, but it can get you up and running. Effectively expanding as you go, but needing everything, not just drives. :)

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