I need help and suggestions for small business RAID server or NAS.
July 8, 2009 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I need the best affordable solution for small business server/NAS with RAID.

We are a small business with 6 computers + server attached to a workgroup network. Currently we have an old Dell PowerVault which has 4 drives in it that serves our file sharing needs.

The way the Dell is set up with RAID is that Volume C: is disk 0 and 1 in mirrored volume. It is the active system volume. Volume D: is disk 2 and 3 in mirrored volume. It is labeled as Page File. And Volume D: is made up of disk 0, 1, 2 and 3 in RAID 5. It is the shared NAS volume where all of our files are stored.

The problem that I have with our current set up is that if a drive fails, the entire NAS volume is not accessible to my users until I replace the failed drive and rebuild the RAID array. This downtime is not acceptable.

What I am asking here is what system can I buy or build that would give me my required RAID for the system and data, but still be able to limp along with a failed drive for my users until I can replace the drive and rebuild the RAID array?

Thank you,

posted by Jackie_Treehorn to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I dont see how volume D is a raid5 array of raid 1 arrays with a different logical volume.

Youre either using RAID1 or RAID5. if you are using RAID5 then you can lose a disk with no downtime, thats why RAID5 exists. Are you certain youre just not running a RAID5 array? Or perhaps just running RAID1 for C: and RAID5 for D:, both of which give you the redundancy you need.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:26 AM on July 8, 2009

I am a huge lover and proponent of ACNC stuff. At my last job, we used them exclusively (high performance computing data storage) and we never had any hardware problems. Also, they're dirt cheap.

I suggest their NAS2000 box with a 16 drive array attached to it. The box is totally web-configurable, and is bulletproof. Don't waste money on Dell or Sun or any of that crap if you don't need to. Give them a call on the phone, and they'll get you going for cheap.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:35 AM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: Damn Dirty Ape:

Here is a pic of our device config:

posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2009

The ACNC stuff supports "RAID 6" (which is not an official raidlevel, but who's counting?) which will allow you to throw two disks before dataloss ensues. That third disk, however, kills the whole volume. It will email you when you need to replace a disk.

Also, that screenshot reminds me of why I will never, ever, ever do windows admin work.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:51 AM on July 8, 2009

You have less than 500GB of space? This is trivial, I wouldn't even go with RAID5. Get two commodity boxes setup in mirror RAID. Set them both up and have one be a DFS target. That way one box will fail and you'll still be okay. You can do this with OpenNAS and save your money on Windows licenses. I wouldn't even spend money on commodity server boxes because you're not going to tax it. White box the parts off NewEgg and just choose two for every option, I bet you can do this all for under $1500.
posted by geoff. at 9:24 AM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: Geoff. I'm not not familiar with "DFS target" I am familiar with OpenNAS. Never really used it in a file server environment, but I have tinkered around with it.

Can you elaborate on DFS?
posted by Jackie_Treehorn at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2009

You want to mirror the physical drives, not the logical volumes. I set my small file servers up with 3 volumes, RAID 1 for the OS (put the pagefile here too), RAID 1 for a shadow copy volume, and RAID 5 for data. If you don't find yourself doing a lot of restores, drop the shadow copy volume.

Get a couple of 72GB drives for the OS, another couple for shadow copy if you want to use it, and 3 146GB drives for the data volume.

You need a server that can host at least 5 drives, 7 with shadow copy. I like the HP Proliant ML370. I don't know Dell's range as well, but I'm sure there's an equivalent.

If this is overkill I would recommend rebuilding your Dell server and adding a couple of drives that are the same sizes as the two larger ones. Mirror the 72GB drive as your OS and pagefile, mirror the 100GB drives as your data volume.
posted by IanMorr at 9:48 AM on July 8, 2009

>Here is a pic of our device config:

Can you show me the view from the disk section right above the logical drive section?

FWIW, Ive had a lot of luck with the ReadyNas 1100, up to 4TB.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:32 PM on July 8, 2009

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