1. Should I disable the RAID 0 until I can get more HDD's so I won't lose data? If so, how do I go about that....I would need to re-install Win 7 correct?
Win 7 and your programs are on the SSD, so there is no need to re-install Win7. To disable the current raid0, you have to know how it was setup. Was this done in the BIOS using the ICHR10 or the Marvell chip or was it done in software under Windows? Look in the user guide in section 4.4 for instructions on how to break out the raid to individual disks.
2. Or, should I just go ahead, get 2 more drives and go with a different RAID (x)?
Getting 2 more internals is always wise, since they are a lot faster than your current USB externals and these are already pretty full. I would make sure you get the identical model as your current WD Caviar Black. Also make sure that ACPI is disabled in the BIOS, because it can disrupt reliable operation of the Caviars in a raid. BTW, I'll explain later, but consider getting 3 Caviars instead of 2.
3. If I have to get a RAID controller card for RAID 3, what's my cheapest/most reliable option? I just don't think I can swing the high end Areca cards right now.
AFAIK Areca is the only controller card to offer Raid3. Also keep in mind that buying an Areca controller card is like buying a Vinten or Sachtler tripod and fluid head. Pretty expensive, but usually they last a lifetime. Now the Areca may not last a lifetime, but can certainly last a couple of PC generations.
4. If I go RAID 3, and want to expand to RAID 30, will I have to run an external RAID tower instead of internal discs?
Not at all, if your case is large enough. For instance in my case I currently have 2 BRD burners and 17 3.5" disks. If I want I can increase that to 2 BRD burners plus 21 3.5" disks of which 15 hot-swappable.
5. If a drive goes down, how fast do I need to get the new drive in?
As I said above, I suggest you get 3 WD CB disks. You can then configure them in a 4 disk raid5 array plus 1 hot-spare. The dilemma is that AFAIK neither the ICHR10 nor the Marvell support hot-spares, so you may need an Adaptec, Areca or 3Ware controller to get hot-spare support. If you don't have the budget for an Areca controller, then in the future you may find that the more affordable Adaptec or 3Ware card (or even Hightpoint or LSI) have no further use if the time comes for a raid3 card.
With a hot-spare in a raid5 when one disk fails, you can take your time with getting a new one (although with reduced security untill replacement). If one disk fails, you will have reduced performance for less than an hour, maybe only for minutes, untill the hot-spare kicks in. You can easily take a week or even two weeks to get a replacement disk if you can live with the reduced security of not having a hot-spare available anymore.
With hot-swappable drive cages you gain easy access to all your disks, like for instance the SuperMicro CSE-M35T, http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E16817121405
Hope this helps.
Thanks Harm, that pretty much confirmed what I was thinking, and I think you're spot on with going on to the Areca card and at least 3 more drives. I dread the extra cost, but at least it will last.I will check the Adaptec cards though too.
Does RAID 5 and RAID 3, in a 5 disc array give about the same speed/performance? I know RAID 3 is more for dedicated long reads, whereas RAID 5 is better for both read/writes, correct?
In your opinion, is RAID 3 (or 30) really the way to go?
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Raid5 can deliver more IO transactions, but the main advantage of dedicated parity (raid3) versus distributed parity (raid5 or 6) is that rebuilding an array with a failed drive is far less taxing for the system and allows you to continue working on your editing with much less performance degradation than a raid5 or 6. In general raid3 or 5 will deliver about the same perfomance, more than enough for video editing, it is only when a drive fails that raid3 has a distinct advantage.