Updating Server with new HDs

So after yesterday’s discussion I am trying to do a little bit of research on where to find affordable but realiable server harddrives. Does anybody have a suggestion? I am probably looking at a pair of 250s or so – size is not as much of an issue as reliablility. And then there is the whole issue of how to make the swap. Can it be as easy as installing the drives, setting up the mirror raid, and copying all the files?

Does anyone have an opinion on whether or not it makes sense to reuse the existing drives in the server for some purpose, or to keep the OS on that pair. I am not sure how easy it would be to move the OS X server installation anyways. I guess any thoughts on the subject are appreciated. I am currently working on a proposal that I would like to put in front of my bosses. Thanks.
Config: Apple PowerMac Dual G4 (1GHz) Server, 768MB RAM, (2) 120GB HDs, GB Ethernet Network, OS X Server (10.4.4. Tiger)
Services: AFS and SMB Filesharing, NUD/C Server, FTP Server

6 thoughts on “Updating Server with new HDs”

  1. I would take the existing drives and mirror them with just the OS. You’ll have a lot of space left on the drives but oh well. Then take your new drives and set them up RAID 5 for your data store. You can just copy the data from the old drives to the new RAID. Then you can reformat the old drives, setup the mirror and use carbon copy cloner to move the OS onto it. Then move those new drives into the box to run the OS. That’s what I would do.

  2. Pretty much what Scottie says. The old drives are still good, but since they’ve been around for a few years, I would move the critical live data to new drives and use the old ones for less critical tasks. Drives are cheap it really doesn’t hurt to rotate them out every couple years.

    None of this will take the place of a solid backup routine, including archiving and refreshing the backups. But it will help deal with most issues surrounding reliable and spacious on-line and near-line storage.

    If you’re trying to do it on a budget, SATA is the way to go. Fast drives with high capacities fairly inexpensively. If you pay more than about $0.60/G for a 7200RPM drive these days, you’re not looking hard enough. NewEgg has 250G Western Digital SATA150 drives, 7200 RPM for $105. They have a Seagate 500G 3.0MB/s SATA w/ 7200 RPM for $342 and the 250G Seagate is $118.

    If you want true enterprise class storage, you’re should still look at SCSI. Pretty much all drives are rated at 100,000 hours MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), however the SCSI stuff is typically rated at a 24×7 duty cycle where SATA and IDE/ATA have a 8-12 hour duty cycle.

    Another option is something the the Buffalo Terrastation. It’s a NAS box and they have models that will hold 1TB of disk. I seem to remember pricing being in the sub $1000 range for the 1TB model. Patrick was also talking about a similar box from a different company that was a bit cheaper.

  3. Loads of options. Thanks for the suggestions. I think I will look into the SATA upgrade. Our drives are mainly active 10 hours a day. Yes, the NUD/C and FTP servers are running 24/7, but they get very moderate traffic. The computer actually shuts the drives down, when they haven’t been used for more than an hour. This should extend their life some.

    I wonder if there are quality standards for drives. Would I purchase the same drive for any desktop and a server?

    I will start looking a bit to put together a proposal here at work.

    Would you guys recommend an additional standard backup – in addition to the external drive backup? Our archived files are permanently backed up to two sets of CDs/DVDs – but current files are only backed up to an external fw hd on a daily basis using Dantz Retrospect.

  4. Here is some news. After further investigation it turns out that the machine offers two different hd buses:
    1 Ultra ATA/66 (ATA-5)
    1 ATA/100 (ATA-6) 48 bit LBA

    Guess I am not looking for an SATA drive after all unless I am also looking for a controller…

    I wonder if these drives might work: 200GB drive or 160GB

  5. the ATA/66 bus probably won’t be able to use more than 120G (I think that’s the limit) of the drive. It’s an address space thing in the controller.

    The 48 bit LBA on the ATA/100 side can go significantly more than 120G (isn’t it something like 32TB?)

    By today’s standards, ATA/100 is even pretty slow. For under $100 you could get an Adaptec SATA controller and benefit from faster drives. The flip-side of that, however, is that I don’t know if your system will a) support the controller, b) boot from it. If you’re using an existing drive to load the OS, then item b is a non-issue.

    Right now I’m torn when it comes to CD/DVD backups. I like the convenience, but there is evidence that currently available blanks are only good for 3-5 years once they’re burned.

    Being an old-fashioned sort of guy, I like tape, which has an estimated shelf-life of 20 years. Still, conventional wisdom with tape is to clone them every year or two and recycle the old ones. One side-effect is that this forces you to read the tape to make the clone, so you can catch bad media or storage practices before they become catastrophic.

    If you follow a similar practice with CD/DVD backups, you should be fine as long as your backups fit on just one or two discs. Make clones every year, store the newest clone off site, keep the next newest on-site, throw away the oldest.

    That really distills the pros and cons down to tape affording much higher capacities, but the media and drives are more expensive. With CD/DVD, you get inexpensive media and drives, but at the expense of capacity.

    If the company is willing to toss a few thousand at the task, you could buy a couple Apple disk arrays and mirror them against each other. Then you get several terrabytes of super-redundant storage on the local network. If you have two offices, put one cabinet in each office and sync them against each other so you have off-site backups.

    As you can see, corporate data storage is a monsterous undertaking.

  6. So the current plan is to purchase a pair of 300GB ultra ata drives and use them for data storage. the pair of 120GB drives can still serve for the OS and apps. I have yet to check how many drives can fit in the box and how the two busses are configured… some more research and hopefully a good and secure solution to the problem in the end.

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