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RAID system recommendations

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Hi! I really need to get a RAID system in place for my personal peace of mind (and no, cloud is not a good alternative as we have abysmal internet speeds and I would still want my own back-ups). I received what seemed to be the perfect e-mail with recommendations from a successful wedding photography team, but the drive they recommend is not available on Amazon, and it looks like it might be discontinued - and I have no idea of their technical knowledge so it may not even be a good set-up.   

I would like to keep this quality but without going all crazy on cost (I will be switching out probably three hard drives - one off site, two on site, monthly and then replacing as needed). 

Do you have suggestions? Also, do you think it makes more sense to have a separate/dedicated editing drive? I've never heard of doing this unless it was someone with a Mac/no space. I'm still waiting on my brother to order the components for my new machine that you helped me spec, so this would be an actual possibility if you recommend it.  Pros/cons? 

For reference, here was the recommended set-up for working/backing up from the photographer's e-mail. I trust you a lot more than them. =) 

editing drive: https://www.amazon.com/G-Technology-High-Performance-External-Interfaces-0G02484/dp/B009PK6VWM?ie=UTF8&inf_contact_key=376e405a0886c662d0db699f2058de5d165283aa95b31b5d2e6d2370b9edf4a5&keywords=g-tech 0 raid drive&qid=1431399186&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3

back-up: https://www.amazon.com/Thermaltake-BlacX-Drive-Docking-Station/dp/B0051U1XMS?ie=UTF8&inf_contact_key=fa834d32caf561ac2dddaf6537780b30dad0b2764d62a7d599386bd9b9b7f248&keywords=black x&qid=1431399404&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

drives for RAID: http://www.adorama.com/RecommendFor/wd30ezrx.html (no longer available - closest I could find was this one at least on Amazon: http://www.adorama.com/wdrd8tb.html)


Thanks for any help!



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I will have to answer this question when I get home, but here are some quick thoughts:

1. Don't Ever-Ever-Ever...EVER purchase a WD Green Drive. Like Ever. They are complete pieces of garbage that have high failure rates. Unless you want to send your HDs out for extreme data recovery at about $1500-$2000 a pop. ;)

Personally, I like the Western Digital Caviar Black line of HDs. The Caviar Blue is OK, but it's better to spend the extra $30. 

2. Forget everything that was recommended. That list has low-quality components. When it comes to backups and you are running a business...you don't mess around. The amount you think you will save will be spent in legal fees if you get sued.

Now before I begin, what budget are we looking at? A RAID setup can get expensive, especially if you want fancy features. 

You also might want to poke around here, I have answered a few of these RAID questions already.

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Thanks for responding! I shall look around in prior answers a bit later, I did a quick poke and didn't find anything, sorry if this is all duplication of something you already answered.  


Regarding your points:

1) green scared me. =) But I thought perhaps since it would be three copies in rotation, it wasn't a big issue since in theory they wouldn't all go at the same time. 

2) I'm actually a hobbyist although I have been taking some paid sessions. I'm the official documenter for my extended family so if I lose images, it's going to negatively impact a lot of people that are dear to me. So this is really for me, but I don't want to be stupid with my stuff anymore than someone else's (I also don't want to give my husband a heart attack with price).  We had purchased a couple of MyBook external drives (currently have three, one of the newer ones says it's corrupt and I haven't tried to recover yet but as it was a back-up, all should be fine elsewhere) that are full.  I really worry about two things: hard drive issues and house fires, so I want to always have at least two back-ups, one off site. Currently, I'm not backing up because I don't have enough drive space and the worry is killing me. 

3) don't need anything fancy, I was hoping for a few hundred budget but not sure if this is realistic. If it's better to keep buying external drives, I'm ok with that but I feel like it's clunky (and I really don't like the seemingly high failure rate on those drives) and in theory after start-up costs it seems like this would be both more space and cost effective.




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On 8/4/2016 at 0:17 PM, Maria S said:

don't need anything fancy, I was hoping for a few hundred budget but not sure if this is realistic.

RAID is expensive, no matter how you slice it, since you are purchasing multiple hard drives, buying hardware that is designed for RAID and the software to run it. For the majority of folks, there are three common types:

  • RAID Level 0 or RAID0: Multiple HDs act as one big Hard Drive. This is the fastest RAID of the bunch. Downside, no redundancy. If one HD fails, the whole RAID0 setup fails. RAID0 is great to be used as a cache drive when editing video, due to the performance of RAID0. 
  • RAID Level 1 or RAID1: Drive Mirroring. When a file or any bit of data is written / removed from one HD, it is instantaneously copied / deleted from the other HD. For the majority of folks, they usually go with this option as it's pretty simple to setup. The downside to this setup, if any bit of data is corrupted or deleted on one HD,  that corruption is carried over to the 2nd HD immediately. So if you screwed up and deleted the wrong folder, you are SOL and are looking at extreme data recovery, which is expensive. Good news with RAID1 is if one HD fails, you have the other to retrieve your data from. That's the original intent of RAID1.
  • RAID Level 5 or RAID5: This is the most common in servers and commercial clients. There are others, like RAID6 and RAID10, but to keep things simple we will stick with RAID5. RAID5 is kinda like the combination of RAID0 and RAID1; which is three or more hard drives act in unison as one big HD. If one drive fails, the other two pick up the slack and keep going. If TWO hard drives fail in a RAID5, the RAID fails.

When I setup RAID on a server, I typically will use two HDs on a RAID1 for the Operating System and Backup Software and a RAID5 for programs and database / data files. (A C: Drive and a D: Drive.) Most people in this forum won't ever go that route and will usually pick an external device that allows them to setup a RAID pretty easily. Let me get a few links....

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I like this HD box:


Even though it's a Thunderbolt Model, it does have a USB 3.0 port, and you can configure the software so that it becomes a Windows HD. It has RAID1. I like the fact that it comes with WD Caviar Black HDs and the drives are hot-swappable, which means you can pull them out without powering down the unit. You just have to tell the RAID software that you are doing this, unless it does it automatically.

The thing with RAID1, is that you take the advertised capacity of the external unit and divide it in half. The "12 TB" capacity is if you were configuring it as a RAID0. Since you really want RAID1 for backups, that's two identical HDs, so two 6TB drives or two 3TB drives, or 4TB drives, etc. A 12TB external RAID device becomes a 6TB mirrored HD setup when using RAID 1. Understand?

As for keeping an off-site backup, that's really important. What you could do is purchase a smaller RAID and a single large external HD that you could manually copy. For example, purchase a 6TB RAID1 box and then purchase and external 8TB HD which is taken off site. Like I said, this will get expensive. ;) I'd budget around $1000 total to do what you want to do.

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