Setting up my first server with Mac Pro, contemplating RAID... some questions!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Obioban, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Obioban, Oct 19, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011

    Obioban macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    Okay, so the server is currently set up in the following way, using disk utility software RAID when RAID is mentioned.

    The computer has 5 hard drives installed (using one of the optical drive bays for a HD)

    Drive 1 and Drive 2 are RAIDed together in type 1, and are the system/server disk.

    Drive 5 is a media server disk (movies, TV shows, music)

    Drive 3 and Drive 4 are RAIDed together in type 0, and are a Time Machine backup disk for both of the above.

    It's critically important that the system/server portion never goes down. It's being used for web serving, email serving, calendar serving, etc. I've heard that Apple's software RAID isn't the most reliable thing out there, so I'm considering adding a PCI express hardware RAID card. I believe I'd only need it to be 2 channel to handle the two drives, but if it's only minimally expensive to go to 4 channel and would allow me to do Drives 3/4 in type 0 via hardware, so much the better.

    So, my questions are:

    1) Is Apple's software raid actually reliable? If so, when a Drive 1/2 fails, would popping in a new one automatically restore it to type 1 redundancy?

    2) What are the best CHEAP Mac compatible PCI express RAID cards? I really don't need high performance (speed) at all. 2 channel is all I need, but if 4 is only a little more I'd go with it (assuming a 4 channel lets you have 2 different raid configs)

    3) How do you actually set up the RAID in the Mac OS? Disk Utility still?

    4) In the Time Capsule, Apple claims to use "Server grade hard drives for extreme long life". Where does one buy these hard drives? Again, I have no real speed needs for Drive 1 and 2, so I'd pick up two of those if I could find them.

    5) Also considering a SAS card, if there's anything remotely price reasonable out there. Seems like that may be necessary to get a drive designed for reliability. Are there any reasonably priced SAS cards out there?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2010
    4. Apple uses regular WD Green HDDs. They are regular consumer drives.
  3. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    That's what they use in the time capsule specifically?

  4. Obioban, Oct 19, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011

    Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Given the critical nature you describe, you need a proper hardware RAID card. Software RAIDs can have "hiccups" that cost you your data in events you wouldn't expect.

    Please understand, that a card of this type is not a simple SATA or SAS controller (cheap card that advertises 0/1/10/5 operation). The smallest is 4 ports, and they tend to start at ~$300USD, and go from there (can exceed $1200). You also must use enterprise grade HDD's for stability reasons, such as WD RAID Edition series for SATA disks (had the best luck with WD since 2008).

    I'm not sure what you need yet for certain (would need further information), but it sounds like you don't need much (4 port, 3.0Gb/s model would work, or whatever proper card that can be found inexpensively).

    Perhaps the ARC-1212 would do (4 port, SAS or SATA disks).

    Yes, it's still done via Disk Utility.

    Please note however, that Lion and RAID don't play well together ATM (includes 10.7.2 it seems). Best to stick with 10.6.7 right now.

    See above. ;)
  6. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    Excellent info, thank you!

    What's the problem with Lion and RAID? Everything is set up and running in Lion (specifically using the Lion Server app-- $50 (and paid for) vs $500 for Snow Leopard server)... so I'd really much rather stick to Lion if at all possible.

    Edit: Looking around the internet, it seems like the only Lion RAID issue is that you can't have the separate recovery partition. I'm fine with that if it's the only issue, I can always burn a boot DVD if needed. Is there a larger issue than that, or is that it?


    Also, stupidly basic question, but this is my first time with this:
    When you install a RAID card, do you have to run data cabling from the HDs to the card or does it repurpose the existing cabling that Apple installs in the tower?
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    :cool: NP. :)

    There have been reports of varied issues, but one is that the set appears as individual disks, and another is that all partitions are lost. Sometimes it brings up a repair option, but if clicked, will wipe out the data.

    Should be enough to give you an idea... ;) :p

    Depends on the MP model.

    For example, the 2006 - 08 systems use a physical cable that could be removed from the logic board, then connected directly to a RAID card (SFF-8087 port). In 2009 and later however, they began using PCB traces on the logic board.

    So in the 2009+ models, it means a kit is needed to use the internal HDD bays (consists of trays that aren't as deep as well as cables). The ODD bays can be used under some circumstances, of which both power and data cables need to be acquired (Areca's tend to come with the necessary internal data cables).
  8. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    Well, that's not great at all.

    Perhaps I should wait out 10.7.3 before doing anything.... hopefully this is on the bug fix list!

    Is this an issue with hardware based RAID only or also software RAID? Currently using software RAID, but maybe I should turn it off in favor of disk cloning in the short term (if these issues include software RAID)...
  9. dholaday macrumors member


    Mar 27, 2009
    I've not had any problems with Lion [10.7.2] and my Areca 1880 RAID card.

    Here's my setup:

    - SSD in one of the Optical drive bays contains the OS and applications.

    - My home folder and all my data are on a 4-disc RAID 5 array controlled by the Areca 1880.

    Areca has posted a firmware update with Lion drivers. It MUST be installed for Lion to see and use the RAID volume.

    I STRONGLY recommend that you have an extra admin user account installed on the same disc as the OS. I learned that the hard way. :)
  10. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    nanofrog: thoughts on the Lion specific drivers he mentioned?
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    It does seem that it's getting better, going by what I've seen with 10.7.2, but it's not entirely sorted yet. Perhaps with the next update...

    Hopefully, this really is the case. Further testing is necessary, so please keep us posted.

    As per testing RAID systems out on new software, always make a fresh backup before proceeding, just in case the volume/s are wiped. ;)

    They may have it sorted (still needs further testing to be sure), but that's not the case with software implementations yet, nor is it confirmation that any other card make is problem free.

    The general rule with RAID and software updates, is proceed with extreme caution (why most of the time, the upgrade isn't done until it's confirmed the specific equipment works properly). Backup, test, test again, then wash, rinse, repeat. :eek: :p

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