This post assumes you know and/or care about RAID5. If you don’t, skip today’s post.
A couple of years ago, I set up what was, at the time, a pretty large RAID5 container. I used four 1TB drives and, being on a budget, put them in their own tower, connected them to a cheap SATA card, and used Windows Server to turn them into a software RAID5. It gave me almost 3TB of usable space which nobody could ever, ever fill up, unless they were me.
Last week, one of the drives failed. I hit TigerDirect to order a spare, but after seeing how low the price of 2TB drives had dropped, I ordered 4 of those instead, along with a tiny little drive enclosure. The enclosure does hardware RAID 0/1/5/10, and supports USB, eSATA, and Firewire.
After backing up the contents of my original RAID5 partition — and really, just how AWESOME is it that we live in a world in which I happen to have 2.5TB of space just SITTING AROUND (seriously!) — I reset the failed drive and started it rebuilding. That turned out to be a 24 hour process that resulted in recovering a lot, but not all of, my files. Again, thank goodness for backups. All is safe.
Then I plugged in and configured the new hardware-based RAID5. Right now it’s connected via USB 2.0, and it’s slow. After another ~24 hours of formatting, I have spent the past 8 hours copying mp3s back over to it. Then will come the movies, the home directories, the digital pictures, and whatever else I have backed up. I am quickly seeing that USB may not be the way to go, and I don’t think the SATA card I originally installed has an eSATA port. I’ll check tonight and, if it doesn’t, I’ll be buying one tomorrow.
So anyway, here’s the takeaway: thank goodness for RAID5 and thank goodness for backups. Oh, and USB is slow when trying to move 3TB of crap around.