20 Replies Latest reply on Jun 16, 2011 8:58 AM by mikeklar

    External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable

    mikeklar Level 1

      Having placed an order (but not yet received) for an Areca ARC-1880ix-12 RAID card and having reviewed my existing internal computer layout and storage capacity needs, I am beginning to realize external storage is necessary.

      Areca have one model ARC-4036, which is quite expensive but would suffice me for a long time.  See http://www.areca.us/products/6gsasjbod.htm

      Hopefully some of you can provide me with an alternate (less expensive) solution?

      Cheers,

      Michael

        • 1. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
          JEShort01 Level 4

          Michael,

           

          I prefer to mount drives in the main PC case primarily for two reasons:

          1) cost; as you have seen already the well made external drive solutions are expensive

          2) low noise + good cooling

           

          There are some excellent non hot-swap case designs out now that have large, slow turning fans and drives spaced with lots of physical room between them (i.e. Cooler Master HAF-X) that will hold the first 5 or 6 hard drives (3.5" drives).

           

          Supermicro's CSE-M35T-1B is an affordable and VERY well build hot-swap cage that holds 5 additional drives and only uses up 3 drive bays (5.25" std. drive bays); the included fan is a server quality NOISY fan, so you should plan on swapping out the included 92mm fan with a quieter version. I currently use one of these with a GELID fan that has a built in thermal speed control and like the overall setup. There are at least a few case designs with 12 bays on the front of the case so you could use these to hold 15 drives and still have 3 bays left over!

           

          There are a few really well made cases out there that have a huge number of drive bays. For example, Guru Harm on this forum uses a large Lian-li case that holds 17 drives! I think that his model (PC-A77B) is hard to find, but Lian-li's web site has a varity of large, well built designs that have massive hard drive capacities.

           

          What case are you currently using and how many drives will you be using?

           

          Do you HAVE to stick with your current case, or at least some aspect of the case (i.e. height/width/depth restriction, rack mount requirement, etc.)?

           

          Jim

          • 2. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
            JEShort01 Level 4

            Michael,

             

            I forgot another possible solution - build your own external drive solution!

             

            A few years ago I configured a poor-boy's external RAID drive solution like this:

            - case (i.e. Antec 900 with very open design); I used some hot-swap drive cages, but inexpensive 5.25/3.5" brackets could have been used as well

            - ATX PC power supply - preferably one of the models that has a physical power switch

            - paper clip - do a Google search to learn which two pins in the power connector can be shorted to turn the power supply on without having a motherboard attached

            - long SATA cables - I used 1 meter cables; these need to run all the way from your Areca to the drives in this separate case (Cooldrives.com caries 40 inch mini-SAS 4 channel cables for $22.50)

             

            I don't have this any more, but a co-worker does and it is still working great (this was built with 300GB drives when they were considered "large", approx. 5 years ago).

             

            You could get a lot fancier by going with special detachable 4x drive cabling too (eliminating the need to remove the case cover from your PC or the "HD box" just to disconnect the cables and move your system), but then your cost is going up considerbly; see PC-pitstop.com for some clever SFF-8087/SFF-8088 cables, PCI slot brackets, and more.

             

            Jim

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
              Harm Millaard Level 7

              Michael,

               

              If you have till Monday, I can look into this further and report my findings.

              • 4. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                mikeklar Level 1

                _DX06428_2.jpg

                Jim

                Thank you for your suggestions and yes after seeing the prices for good external enclosures I'm prepared to reconsider and locate all drives that are used  day to day inside the existing enclosure.

                I may move two of the SSDs to the bottom of the case which would give me enough room to put the four additional HDs for an 8 RAID drive configuration.

                Unfortunately my drive setup requires a somewhat confining HD configuration, in that at least one drive (other than the system drive) is a "stand-alone" drive.  Also, I have two burners, a DVD and a BluRay, which is the reason for moving the SSDs to the bottom of the case.

                As you can see in the image above, my only concern being that drives located above the five HD bays do not have any fan cooling and I'm notorious for watching temperatures

                What do you think?

                Cheers,

                Michael

                 

                Ps. the attached image is what the layout was about three or four months ago, the Areca RAID card and HDs are on order and expected to arrive in about a week.

                • 5. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                  mikeklar Level 1

                  Thank you Harm

                  For you I have at least two weeks

                  Cheers

                  Michael

                  • 6. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                    JEShort01 Level 4

                    Mikeklar,

                     

                    Regarding "what do I think", I have several comments:

                    - your system looks a lot like mine and I too care a lot about HD cooling!

                    - why not add a Supermicro cage as I mentioned above (modded with quieter fan); I did, see pics below

                    - your case appears to be a HAF-932; I have a very similar HAF-932 "Black" Edition

                    - I have 5 drives in bottom of case (WD Black / RE3 mix 1TB 32mb cache, 7200) and temperatures at this moment are: 37, 38, 39, 41 and 43 deg. C; possibly the coolest are near the center of the large front case fan and ther warmer ones are near the edges?

                    - I have 5 similar drives in Supermicro cage and they are all 39 deg. C

                     

                    Jim

                     

                    600 pixels case front2.jpg600 pixels case side.jpg

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                      mikeklar Level 1

                      Jim

                      That looks like a good solution. Doing this would give me the speed (8 drives RAID configuration) and a couple of years capacity before it reaches 60%.

                       

                      One more question; are you using enterprise hard drives?

                       

                      Out of curiosity, am I correct in assuming your drives are part of a RAID configuration?

                      Also yes, my case is a HAF 932.

                      BTW I like your cooling system, have been thinking of doing something like that, but am always worried about the plumbing

                      Thank you

                      Michael

                      • 8. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                        JEShort01 Level 4

                        Michael,

                         

                        Not all the drives are in the RAID; I have a 8x RAID5 + a 2x RAID 0 "off-site" backup array (rotate drives off site and in computer every month or two) + 2x RAID 0 SSDs for Boot/OS/Program which reside in the HAF-932 "space" under the right-side panel (up high and near the front, basically on the right side of the 5-1/4" drive bays.

                         

                        Jim

                        • 9. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                          mikeklar Level 1

                          Thank you Jim

                           

                          FYI my configuration is (or will be) as mentioned before 8 drives in RAID 3, one Intel SSD 250 GB SATA 600 for OS, one SSD 128 GB for cache & pagefile, one Raptor 10K RPM, all of these are (or will be) internal.  External there are three drive enclosures one is a RAID 5 and one is RAID 0 plus a stand alone.  All of these are either eSATA or Sil 3132 Link controller connected.

                          Because I'm over 70% on my existing internal RAID configuration (through an Adaptec 3405 RAID card) I'm using the external drives for both backup and some working files, the latter amounts to an additional 1TB.  Hence, the need for more capacity.

                           

                          Other than one HD the remaining 8 HDs are desktop (consumer) versions. 

                          Although I do backup all of my data religiously and some of the most critical information to two sets of drives (perhaps similar to what you ar doing) providing me three copies of the latter, I keep getting that twitch in my gut... hence my question if you are using enterprise HDs?

                          Anyway, with this new setup I will have enough external space for a little while to keep duplicate backups, which will ease my concerns and that will give me time to plan for the best way to do future backups.

                          Cheers,

                          Michael

                          • 10. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                            JEShort01 Level 4

                            Michael,

                             

                            Your latest post was not long, but has lots of new information. So, I have at least a few new comments!

                             

                            1) Intel 250GB - sweet OS drive, I see you have spoiled yourself a bit!

                            2) 128GB additional SSD - no need whatsoever! Assuming that you will be running at least 16GB of RAM, just point both cache and page file to your primary SSD. Sell it to a friend for their laptop, they will love you for it!

                            3) Raptor 10k - ditto the comment for the SSD; you simply do not need it now that you have the 8x RAID on an Areca

                            4) External backup - sounds great

                            5) You ask do I use Enterprise drives - kinda, but I would not if I were building a new array this month; my main array was build with WD RE3 and Black drives purchased a while back that allowed for the TLER utility to set the Black drives to work like Enterprise drives in a RAID array. The reason I would not is that some users with 24 channel Areca cards (mostly for media servers) are having great luck with non-enterprise drives. That being said, you may want to set your 8x array up as a RAID 6 and run that way for awhile to insure that your drives and your controller are really happy with each other. If you do go with non-enterprise drives make sure some Areca users are having good luck with whatever you choose. If I were building a new array, I would most likely be using Hitachi 7k3000 consumer drives; they are very fast, relatively affordable, and seem to play nicely with the Areca controllers.

                            6) Backups - you did not ask, but I do an "image" backup for my OS drive and use Beyond Compare to back up all data files to my backup array; I like this better than doing traditional "tape backup" style incremental backups

                             

                            Regards,

                             

                            Jim

                            • 11. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                              mikeklar Level 1

                              Jim

                              - I like your suggestion in going with RAID 6 to start with.  Although having used RAID configurations for a number years I don't consider myself an expert, hence a question for you - changing RAID configuration does it not comprimise existing data on the volume?

                              - The Intel 250GB SSD price is hard to swallow and you're right I did spoil myslef

                              - Regarding the 128 GB SSD, I got talked into that one and tend to agree with you.  However, since I can't get anyone to give me a decent $ for it (yea my colleagues will love me for it if I offer it gratis) I'm thinking of mounting it along with the 250GB SSD into the same 5.25" drive bay holder (on top of one another with an air gap between them) and keep using it as a PageFile/caching disk.  I realize there will be a speed difference between the two and am not convinced it is of any benefit.  So, judgment is still out on this and it may yet become one of my giveaways

                              - The RAM total is 24GB and quite fast.

                              - Thank you for your input on Backups, I didn't ask as I do not want to appear to be prying.  I use Retrospect as my backup program and mostly do sequential backups, and about once a quarter (when I remember to do so) I perform an image backup of the OS drive.

                              - Regarding the Raptor 10K, it used to be my OS drive, which now is replaced by the 250GB SSD, and will replace an older drive.  This is used for variety of programs which I do not want to add to the OS drive and keep seperate from media files, as well as customer documents and personal files, some of which are confidential and encrypted.  Using a separate drive for this is an old habit not easy to break.

                              Cheers,

                              Michael

                              • 12. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                JEShort01 Level 4

                                Michael,

                                 

                                Hopefully someone here can field your question about changing the RAID configuration that knows more about that topic than I do.

                                 

                                I think that you could migrate from RAID 6 to RAID 5 and recover the additional usable space and gain a bit more speed. I've personally added drives to an Areca RAID 5 set, and while everything came out OK in the end, it seemed to take forever; I suspect that doing a full backup, configuring the fresh RAID 5 set and doing a full restore would taken about the same amount of time and been more straight forward.

                                 

                                Jim

                                • 13. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                  mikeklar Level 1

                                  Jim

                                  Yes, just having re-read the manual (again) it appears there is no issue with increasisng the size of a volume, i.e. capacity expansion.  Also, and this is not clear to me and I quote from the manual -

                                  Online RAID Level and Stripe Size Migration:  For those who wish to later upgrade to any RAID capabilites, a system with only RAID level/stripe size migration allows a simplified upgrade to any supported RAID level without having to reinstall the operating system. ...

                                  The manual goes on to state that one can migrate from RAID level 1 to 5 by simply adding a third disk.  Further, one can only migrate upwards not backwards.

                                  Hmmm, I think before I would change a RAID configuration I'd make absolutely sure everything was backed up before doing so.

                                  Cheers,

                                  Michael

                                  • 14. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                    mikeklar Level 1

                                    Jim

                                    Having just received the "Supermicro" cage, I must say it is well build.  Thank you for suggesting it.

                                    However, before installing it I will wait until the Areca RAID card arrives.

                                    In the meantime there is one question, obviously it will be necessary to remove or bend at least two sets of the tray tabs to allow clearance for the cage to go into three slots.  Since you have done this what it the best way you found to do this?

                                    Cheers,

                                    Michael

                                    • 15. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                      JEShort01 Level 4

                                      Michael,

                                       

                                      I'd strongly recommend removing everything from your case and using a grinder to grind off the 5-1/4" drive bay "guides" as needed to mount the Supermicro cage.

                                       

                                      My system was pretty much built out, including water cooling parts, so I thought that I would save time by using a hammer to bend the guides out of the way and it took FOREVER. If I had to do it all over again, I would have removed everything from the case and used a grinder.

                                       

                                      Good luck!

                                       

                                      Jim

                                       

                                      PS - don't forget to replace the Supermicro fan with a quieter one!

                                      • 16. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                        mikeklar Level 1

                                        Jim

                                        Thank you.  Yes, that's going to be a bit of a challenge, but then what's life without a challange

                                         

                                        BTW, having read your comments about SSDs, you might be intereseted in the Intel SSD I installed as the systme drive.

                                        You are aware it is a 6Gb/s configuration.  Initially I installed it in a 3Gb/s port and the Windows Performance tool's socre was 6.8.  In the 6Gb/s port the score came in at 7.8

                                        Harm would say, so what does it do to the performace of PP and a what cost, I don't think it improves the performance by much if any, but as you pointed out in one of your threads it just feels more spiffy when navigating the system.

                                        Cheers,

                                        Michael

                                        • 17. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                          JEShort01 Level 4

                                          Agree with you Michael; one surprise on my system after changing from RAID 0 1TB HDs to RAID 0 2xSSD (for OS/programs) was web surfing occurs noticebly more quickly on sites such as PBase (photo site) even though I would have though the limiting factor was my ISP (1.5MB/s down rated ADSL).

                                           

                                          Jim

                                          • 18. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                            mikeklar Level 1

                                            Jim

                                            Well, I did manage to get the enclosure into the Cooler Master bay, and as you indicated it's a tight fit.  I used a side cutter and grinder to get it fitted and did manage to do so within half an hour.

                                            Still searching for a local distributor for the blower you recommended, in the meantime I did find one that is at least tollerable noise wise.

                                            BTW, always meant to mention your system layout is impressive, I am in awe.

                                            Cheers,

                                            Michael

                                            • 19. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                              JEShort01 Level 4

                                              Michael,

                                               

                                              Looks like your system is really coming along well! I diid see your other thread about benching your RAID.

                                               

                                              Also, thanks for the positive comments about the layout in my PC.

                                               

                                              Regarding fans for the Supermicro, anybody's 92mm quiet fan model (low rpm, or variable speed w/ sensor) should work fine.

                                               

                                              I used a variable speed Gelid, but probably would have even been better off with a Noctua Gentle Typhoon; they are expensive, but also excellent quiet fans (get a low speed model though).

                                               

                                              Jim

                                              • 20. Re: External Storage accessible via SFF-8088 cable
                                                mikeklar Level 1

                                                Jim

                                                Again I thank you for your recommendation regarding the fan.

                                                I'm ordering one (Noktua Ultra Quiet) as soon as I post this message.

                                                Cheers,

                                                Michael