13 Replies Latest reply on Jun 30, 2010 11:42 AM by Colin Brougham

    Adding easily-swapped hard drives to my system

    Colin Brougham Level 6

      In my current build, I've got my media drives (4x 1TB Samsung F3s) running in RAID 5 from the on-board ICH10 RAID controller. Nothing fancy, but for the most part, it'll get the job done for me. However, I've got gobs of loose hard drives which I primarily use as backups or archives for completed projects, but ocasionally, I'll edit off them as well.


      At present, I've been using a ThermalTake Blacx Duet hard drive dock with eSATA to mount these as additional or external drives--think big, fast floppies. Remember those? This works, but it's a little inelegant, and quite cluttered.


      While I could get a number of 3.5"-to-5.25" brackets and mount these drives (I'm currently doing that with my Projects drive, since I don't have enough 3.5" slots), that doesn't give me the swapping flexibility I'd like. Basically, I want to pop a drive in, power it up, and from the OS, it's just another mounted drive.


      I've found that there are some hard drive racks or cages you can get that will, for example, allow you to mount 4 3.5" drives in the space occupied by 3 5.25" bays. Some of them are fancier than others, with locking doors, fans, RAID backplanes, and so on. Lots to choose from... I just don't know what would be the best option.


      I'm thinking that I'll also add a dedicated RAID card to my system. I know the Areca 1680 is highly regarded, but that's way more than I can spend right now. I'm fine sticking with RAID 5; I'd move my current media drives from the mobo to the card, and then use the onboard ports to connect to the swappable bays (probably not as RAID, but just in IDE mode).


      So, two questions: can any recommend a hard drive cage that would provide swapping capability for three, or maybe four, drives, and what's a good affordable RAID card to look at for my purposes? While RAID 3 sounds enticing, I don't think I'll come close enough to taxing my RAID 5 to justify the expense.


      Thanks, gang...