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File Server
Old 12-23-2006, 11:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Ok I ran into a storage problem recently (I ran outta space). I had a 160GB external HD which was used for image as well as data storage, plus I really had no structure in my archiving methods. Awhile ago I was introduced to a NAS software [ Network Attached Storage ] and have always thought of this as a very practical way to build a file server. This method has many advantages for someone on a budget or whom does not shoot for a living and will not produce tons of images per month. Now I know many will jump up and shout RAID RAID RAID - But keep in mind that a RAID is more expensive at startup as well as upkeep, If a drive fails in a RAID you must replace the drive with the same type of drive as all the drives in the RAID need to be of the same make and model. With this method its a simple JBOD [ Just a Bunch of Drives ] which can be of any size or brand, using basically any old computer you have laying around.

I have an older Dell OptiPlex GX110 with a 733 and 256mb ram. It came with a 20Gb HD and I just bought a 250MB HD and set this little file server up on my network and its doing its job nicely, I will be adding more drives soon and using the removable drive trays so that I can put in new drives when needed without opening the case. If you read the specs on the site the system I have is way more than whats needed to run the server, Now please keep in mind that this is not a bash against RAIDs, I'm just sharing some insight to those who maybe facing a storage problem and on a budget.

But what ever route you decide to take the most valuable thing you can do in either situation is BACK UP BACK UP BACK UP and store off site, something I wish I had done before the dreadful hurricane.

Oh and pick up Peter Krogh's "The DAM Book" Digital Asset Management for Photographers. This has helped with my file management system.

well heres the link http://www.serverelements.com/naslite-2-cdd.php

Happy Holiday's to all.

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Re: File Server
Old 12-24-2006, 12:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Backup is the key to any file management system. And RAID, naturally, is not a backup method at all, and that is why it seems to get so much mention. Raid just provides a method of quickly getting back on line after a drive failure. But if the building burns down, you have no data. There must always be "external" backups and one of them needs to be off premises. I personally use the external USB and/or Firewire hard drives. I buy them typically for $80 for a 250gb drive. I currently have 11 of them. Actually $80 is cheaper than what I use to pay for a single 25gb DAT tape, so its a great system. I can just plug the drive, in and instantly my photos are back on line.

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Re: File Server
Old 12-24-2006, 07:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Helpful information.

For my day job we have a new server system in the back room with cables duct taped to the floor until a wiring fellow can fish them through the ceiling and walls after the Holidays. This server has two large drives for automatic backup plus a tape system. I guess the idea is that system will automatically have a couple back ups so all I have to do is remember to take a tape off site every week. Tapes seem archaic, but whatever the consultant says ...


But for my photography hobby I really like the $80 250gB external drive idea.

Specific suggestion on what / where to buy?

Related question: Would the $80 external drive be small enough to take on a trip, such as to Rolando's workshop in France and a week of shooting at another event before that? Or should I just break down and replace my three year old laptop with a new one with a high capacity tiny internal drive and take a stack of CDs?

Steve
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Re: File Server
Old 12-24-2006, 08:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The drives are pretty small. I get mine at Fry's Electronics. They usually put a 250gb one on sale about once per month at around $80 after a rebate. Typical unit is 5" x 2 x 9".I usually carry a laptop to these events. When I went to RG's VI event I took my laptop also. I then copy the photos to the laptop each day. I take enough CF cards so I don't have to erase any of them. So that gives me two copies of the photos. You can take DVDs if you want to burn additional backups. CDs really have too little space to make them useful anymore.
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Re: File Server
Old 12-24-2006, 08:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hey Mr. Jazz,
this is just my solution to the same problem that I've had. I upgraded my main internal HD to a 140 GB (but had to reinstall windows and all other programs) and when I get the money too, I'll get an even larger secondary internal HD. I also have a 100gb external, which so far is good for my level of storage needs. But I also use CD-RW's to back all of my images up, but I wish I had a DVD-RW just so I'd use less cd's. Mr. Smith has an excellent idea with the DAT tapes. At work, we burn 2 dvd's, one we keep on premisis, and the other in a fire proof vault, and we also use 2 different types of DAT tape. So, there's a couple of ideas for you, I hope this helps.

Isaiah
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Re: File Server
Old 12-24-2006, 09:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I purchased my 250GB from BestBuy no rebate just $79.00 off the shelf. Don't worry in the future just like blank DVD prices dropped like hot cakes the same will happen with the new Blu-Ray DVD's that hold 25GB-100GB then we will have tons of backup in a convenient size for off site storage. http://www.blu-ray.com/media/
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Re: File Server
Old 12-25-2006, 04:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The problem with JBOD is that if one drive fails, you may lose the contents of ALL the drives, depending what is laid out where. That's not good. Moreover, you INCREASE your chances of a drive failure because you have the chance of any of the drives failing - it's additive - two drives in a JBOD arrangement is twice as likely to fail, three drives is three times as likely... Oh, and unless your JBOD volume is almost empty, the loss of a hard drive guarantees you'll lose at least SOME of your data. Depending on the frequency of your backups, you may lose stuff you have not yet backed up.

Sure, RAID is not backup for your data - it's insurance against losing data to a drive failure. Yes, you still need to backup, but you are less likely to need your backups. A RAID 5 setup can endure a single drive failure without loss of data. A RAID 6 setup can survive the loss of two drives.

Oh, and with modern RAID controllers you do not need to replace a failed drive with the same make and model drive - the replacement only needs to be big enough to host the RAID content - you can replace a 100Gb drive with a 200Gb if you want (it will probably need to have the same connection - SATA / PATA / SAS - but that's all). Moreover, you can replace all the drives gradually, and when they are all replaced you can increase the size of the RAID volume. (OK, not all RAID controllers offer that feature, but plenty do).

Not sure why you think RAID is more expensive to maintain, unless you are imagining keeping a stock of hard drives to feed to the RAID? RAID may well be a little more expensive in the first place, because you are buying multiple medium size drives instead of one big one (eg: four 100Gb drives instead of one 300Gb), but it's not a huge price to pay for the safety.

So I suggest that it's wise to use a RAID setup for your images (they are worth SOMETHING to you, aren't they?). Hard drives fail - they are one of the few moving parts in a PC, and moving parts have a limited lifetime. A RAID setup (of some level > 0) will protect you from losing some data to the inevitable drive failure. Do regular backups, as well, and store some of your backups off-site, but don't think of that as being the complete solution - backups are for surviving fire or earthquake or lightning, not drive failure.

All that said, I too use external hard drives, but I only use them for backup. For primary data storage I have two RAID 5 volumes, on separate servers with separate UPS. But I'm paranoid - I also burn at least one DVD backup of the images before I wipe the CF cards...

You should be aware that most (not all) cheap external hard drive cases keep the drive spinning all of the time that they are powered up. This keeps the drive hot, and the external drive cases are usually not well ventilated. Heat will shorten the life of the hard drive, and continuous spinning will wear the bearings. If you are using external drive cases, it's a good idea to power them down when you are not using the contents.
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Re: File Server
Old 12-26-2006, 12:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Several comments on your statements. First the fatal flaw in depending on RAID as a backup system is that if you have a fire, or robbery, etc, then you have no backups. You must have some external backup system independent of the RAID system. The primary reasons most businesses have RAID systems is so that they can continue operation when a drive fails. They don't want long down times. It can takes hours to restore backup copies. Businesses don't like to be down for hours.

As for using the External hard drives for backup: the key to their use is to only have them on when you are backing files up to them or restoring files. At all other times they are off. This means they will last much longer. Just as an added precaution I use Spinrite on them periodically to ensure their reliability.

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Re: File Server
Old 12-27-2006, 10:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Interesting comment.

Just curious (nosy?) - I'm using older Dell GX-xxx's in my lab, using Debian Linux. Is your system a 'nix-based LAN, or other?
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Re: File Server
Old 12-28-2006, 08:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes it is, and talking about storage space Fry's Electronics has a Seagate 400GB HD for $100 bucks.

http://shop3.outpost.com/product/479...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG
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