Our Mac guys have had close to a dozen external LaCie drives crap out on 'em in the last 6 months. Ed and I have preached to our Mac guys that they need good backup solutions, but it's usually not until something critical happens that we're actually listened to :-)
Finally our video creation guru Jeff agreed that he needed a solution so we sat down and went over his needs and several backup senarios. His video crunching Quad G5 is at his home so we had to find a solution separate from our network. As with most projects, cost was a big limiting factor So the final solution was to do something along the lines of the ghetto-tastic fileserver we created a while back.
We'd place a big RAID card in his G5 ... run the cables out the back and into some enclosure with a bunch of drives and separate power supply. It wouldn't be pretty, but it would be high performance, redundant, and a great bang-for-the-buck.
After I did some searching for RAID cards with OSX drivers, the only recommended one I could find was the Highpoint RocketRAID 2320. So over to zipzoomfly.com to begin shopping.
1 RocketRAID 2320 ... $255
Now for some drives. I'm a fan of Western Digital ... I've seen very few fail and they come with a 5yr warranty. Jeff wanted loads of space so I went with the big 500GB 16MB cache model.
8 Western Digital 500GB drives ... 8x$200=$1600
I did some rough calcs and figured a 600 Watt power supply to should be plenty for spinning 8 hard drives simultaneously. X-Finity had a 600W model that's inexpensive and has enough hard drive power cables to outfit our 8 drives ... and it's a sweet blue color :-)
1 X-Finity 600W power supply ... $90
What to put the power supply and drives in ... hmm. I searched for PC cases that could hold 8 drives, but the were all very large and too much $. We could try building our own drive enclosure using hardware store parts ... nah, would take to much time. Final solution was to dig through our PC grave yard and create some franken-case. A donor was quickly found ... an old non-brand case. It would need mods to fit 8 drives so we canibalized some old Gateway cases for their drive cages.
We then waited for a dark and stormy night to begin our creation ... muuuhaawwwhaawwwhaawwww
Donor PC case and drive cages ... new power supply already onboard. (special thanks to Adam C for the use of his lovely new desk!)
Drive cage mod testing ...
Picked up a couple fans ($15/ea) to force lots of air over the drives to keep them cool. Heat is the enemy! Here I'm testing fan placement for best airflow ...
The 8 drives in their new home. I ended up taking the case home for some precision dremel work on the lower part for better airflow. Ed installed the power switch and got it correctly wired to the power supply.
Some carefully applied gaffer's tape gave the front face a mean butch look and created better airflow over the drives.
It was a tight fit into the G5, but the RAID card and cables were able to be snaked out the back. We hacked a large section out of the bracket that holds the card in the case for the cables to poke out of. We couldn't use the other slot as Jeff plans to place another video card in there down the road.
I'll also note that while it's pretty to look at, the inside of the G5 case is NOT user friendly. Apparently they don't expect people to expand their systems much ... and why does the inside of the case need to look so fancy? Save the buyer some $$ and make the inside user friendly over pretty.
Now for the final mating act ... Rated G
Beauty and the Beast? :-)
The RAID card did not come with OSX drivers ... had to get them off their website. They installed fine and soon I was building the arrays. At Jeff's suggestion we decided on 2 arrays.
2 drives would be put into a RAID0 array ... this will create a super fast 1TB scratch space for rendering and non-critical data as RAID0 has NO redundancy.
The other 6 drives would be a RAID5 array ... this will create 2.5TB space that is still very fast and can tolerate a drive failure without loss of data. Critical data will go here.
After everything was configured I did some quick testing. Wow that RAID0 is fast! 3GB copied in less than 20 seconds!
Sadly we couldn't get the Mac to recognize that these hard drives had SMART technology ... they'll alert you if they encounter any problems or predict a future failure. This is important on the RAID5 array as Jeff needs to know if a drive is about to go south so a replacement can made. Hopefully our Mac guru Brian can come up with a solution.
It's been a few weeks since Jeff's been using this system ... he reports it's the fastest thing he's ever experienced :-)
So if you need to build a cheap drive array ... this is certainly one proven way to tackle it.
Oh and Ben walked by with the steadycam ... since he's another Mac user I figured it fitting to include him in this post :-)
(sorry for the poor picture quality ... camera phones bite)