Storage solution for media library.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by HalfNelson, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. HalfNelson macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #1
    Hi folks,

    I know many people have posted similar questions, regarding storage, but I haven't seen any response addressing my specific needs so I figured I'd spell out my situation and hope for some solutions.

    I currently use a Mac Mini that I have running Plex Media Server 24/7. I stream that content to my ipad/iPhone when I'm away from home, play it directly off the Mac mini through Plex Media Center, and allow several friends to stream remotely using Plex Share. I currently have all my media on 5 external hard drives (2 x 4TB drives, and 3 x 2TB drives), and none of it is backed up.

    I really want to consolidate everything into a single volume, that I can expand as my library grows, cleaning up folder clutter on my computer, physical hard drive clutter on my desk, and electrical clutter from all the power blocks taking up outlet space. While I would like a little bit of redundancy, data backup is not my primary concern at the moment (non of the data is irreplaceable). My main concern is a system that I can start with minimal drives and expand as my library grows. Something like an 8+ bay enclosure but one that I don't have to fill up all at once if I want everything to appear as a single drive.

    I shy away from NAS because I don't want anything impacting my network bandwidth (I also do online gaming from time to time), and USB 3 seems plenty fast enough to simply playback content. I love the idea of drobo, but it just feels expensive as all heck. Especially, if you need more than 5 disks worth of capacity.

    Thanks in advance for any and all helpful suggestions.
     
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #2
    Drobo's a nice solution if you want to keep everything in one volume, but add disks only as you need them. I don't think there's anything else in that price point that handles that particular task as well.
     
  3. HalfNelson thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #3
    I was afraid of that. I really wish they made a usb 3 only Drobo, or add usb 3 to the Ethernet model so you could choose NAS or DAS. The 5N is almost priced low enough for me to justify spending the money, but the one with Thunderbolt is just ridiculous for my needs.
     
  4. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #4
    Which ones from the current Drobo lineup would you characterize as having a price advantage over competition?
    PS The Beyond RAID technology (essentially expandable RAID-5) is available for many other NAS-es (eg Synology Hybrid RAID, Netgear XRAID-2, QNAP Online RAID Capacity Expansion).
     
  5. ColdCase, Aug 31, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #5
    The OP doesn't want a NAS, he wants something that plugs into his mac mini, USB preferred. And operates something like the synology hybrid RAID, which presents a single volume which increases in size as you add disks. A N-RAID devices like this one may work, it allows adding drives to a volume without reformat. But wants the drive all to be the same size.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/RAID/Desktop/

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/sata/RAID_Guide/Learn_About_NRAID

    (copy and paste the links)

    Lots of disks concatenated into large volumes have a good chance to fail, all you need is one bad disk to ruin your day.

    I wonder if there is a disk management software package you can run on the mini to accomplish this. Does the MacOS server provide hybrid RAID or N-RAID function?

    Hybrid RAID described here: http://forum.synology.com/wiki/index.php/What_is_Synology_Hybrid_RAID?

    Note that they say its is "quicker to build a volume (from scratch), versus expanding a volume via the addition of more disks". It takes some time for the RAID controller to rebuild and take advantage of added disks. Thats what many of us do when adding capacity. We add the disks, rebuild the RAID volume (destroys the data) and then restore the data. Its not a routine thing. In this case you could connect a JBOD enclosure holding multiple drives and use the built in OS RAID capability to concatenate those drives into a single large volume. Your only out the cost of an enclosure and drives. I think it will be hard to find a USB enclosure with more than a couple disks, however.

    There are a few discussion in the home theater forum you may want to check, like:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1530539&highlight=storage+jbod
     
  6. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #6
    Looking specifically at DAS, no one else has a consumer-grade solution that allows capacity to be added as easily as Drobo. Expandable RAID requires that you continue adding disks of the same size, whereas with Drobo if you started with 2TB disks you could add 4TB disks later and gradually upgrade old disks as needed.

    Edit: Note that I don't use a Drobo myself, too expensive and I don't mind the limitation of having to redo my JBOD volumes as needed when I outgrow them. But for someone who wants easy, Drobo is awesome.
     
  7. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #7
    At least Synology's Hybrid RAID allows you add different sized disks, as long as they are not smaller than the smallest in existing array. The same goes for Netgear XRAID-2. What I want to say is, that Drobo's solution is by no means so unique any more. They might have been the first to implement this, though.
     
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #8
    The topic is DAS specific, synology and others do not offer a DAS solution, so its capability is irrelevant....

    and that goes without saying that adding a disk to a synology hybrid RAID is so slow (maybe a week) that rarely would anyone want to do it. Synology forums used to be full of slow complaints... but rebuilding any RAID has alway been slow regardless of vendor.
     
  9. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #9
    Yes, I know. Sorry for that. I just failed to see the advantage of Drobo's solution (both technology- and price-wise) over the competition.
     
  10. HalfNelson thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    #10
    Thanks for all the info. At least I now know that I wan't missing anything, as there really doesn't seem to be a solution out there for my specific needs. I just wish Drobo had a regular consumer level of drive enclosures, as their only two current category offerings are catered to professionalls and businesses. I think I could justify $500 - $600 for an 8+ bay Drobo solution, but $800 for a 5 bay, that maxes out at 14.52TB of available storage, is just far to pricey for me. Especially considering, that I am currently at just over 11TB of data right now.

    I guess that I will just grab an inexpensive 8 bay enclosure for a JBOD configuration. At least that would help with the desktop/power plug clutter. Actually, seeing as most of my drives are Seagate GoFlex Desk drives, I wish somebody made an 8-12 bay dock that I could just snap all those on to so I could just have a single power source for all the drives.
     

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