I bought my first storage array in 2004, a LaCie 1TB “Bigger Disk Extreme” that failed almost exactly a year later — mere days after its warranty expired, to be exact. Unbeknownst to me, this bigger disk was actually four 250GB hard drives strung together. One of them went down, and brought down the whole thing with it.
I’m really hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself here.
What you’re looking at above is the QNAP TS-410 Turbo NAS, my second storage array and my first network-attached storage device. It’s not yet operational as I’m still shuttling around large amounts of data trying to free up some disks for it, but I can at least tell you how I got this far.
But first, if you haven’t been following the saga of my escape from the evil clutches of Apple, Inc. thus far, here’s what you need to know:
- I have an aging Mac Pro tower with four 500GB drives in it;
- I started thinking about putting Linux on it last summer but decided instead to start fresh with a new cheap and cheerful computer and a separate storage array.
An obvious candidate for my storage needs would be a 2nd-generation Drobo. As my router supports external USB drives I could plug a Drobo into it and instantly have a 1.5TB file and media server for my home network. Only thing is, I’ve read a number of troubling reports from Drobo owners — like Bill Streeter, for example.
I could also buy a cheap PC tower and install FreeNAS on it but honestly, that’s a project for another day when I get more comfortable with this stuff. For now I’m happy with an appliance that at least has official support for Linux out of the box (the 2nd-gen Drobo does not). I can always hack it later, right?
So here’s where I need your help: Once I get my drives in this thing, how should I set it up?
After reading this helpful primer on different RAID configurations it seems that RAID 5 is a popular choice, but elsewhere I’ve read that it should be entirely avoided — see here and here.
RAID 10 gets the nod from RAID 5 critics, but reading through the QNAP product page I can’t tell if it’s supported or not. Even if it is it would require the presence of all 4 drives from the get-go — and I kind of need the boot drive on my Mac for another week or two.
That leaves RAID 1, the safest option but also the most cumbersome — drives are mirrored so my available storage would be halved. Or RAID 0, where drives are striped with no redundancy and I set myself right back up for the same catastrophic data loss that I had to deal with in 2005.
My QNAP NAS apparently has this feature called RAID Level Migration, which I’m hoping means I can put two drives into it and set them up as RAID 1, then add two more and update the whole thing to RAID 10. We’ll have to see about that.
If you’re a QNAP owner and/or RAID expert any advice would be most welcome. I’m in almost over my head here, but I suppose it’s the only way I’ll learn…