Quiet hard drive enclosures
March 20, 2012 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Any recommendations for quiet eSATA two- or four-hard drive enclosure that supports RAID 0/1?

Looking to replace a noisy enclosure (cannot replace hardwired fans) with a new box that is near-dead quiet, with eSATA, that quietly supports two or four 2 TB drives in a quiet, mirrored or striped arrangement. If such a thing exists, I would welcome your advice. Thank you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, I should have probably stated from the beginning: No to Drobo, as it is noisy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2012

Are you looking for something that is rack mounted, or is that not a concern?
posted by AMSBoethius at 8:09 PM on March 20, 2012

Synology and QNAP are the two biggies in SOHO NASes, and I think a NAS is likely to serve you better in terms of loudness and capabilities than a dumb(er) enclosure here.

The Synology DS411 specs say 21.6 dB(A). The 411 is the mid-range option; the 411j [21.7 dB(A)] is cheaper, while the 412+ [19.4 dB(A)] is more expensive. The model numbers follow the pattern of the two-drive models, implying heavily that there'll be a 412 and 412j arriving soon, which are likely to be in the 19dB(A) range.

I've had a Synology two-drive model (211j) for a few months, and I like it a lot. It's quiet.
posted by holgate at 8:09 PM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Are you looking for something that is rack mounted, or is that not a concern?

I don't think there are any two- or four-drive rack mounted enclosures.

Not looking for relatively slow NAS, either. Just a quiet hard drive enclosure over an eSATA interface. Does such a thing exist?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 PM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Which supports hardware RAID, as noted before. Thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 PM on March 20, 2012

Ah, mea culpa: I forgot that the eSATA port on Synology boxes is for hooking up externals, not for PC connectivity.

Something like the DAT Optic eBOX-R5, then? Very not cheap, but the cheapos (Rosewills at NewEgg) have very mixed reviews. Rated at about 20dB(A) here.
posted by holgate at 9:47 PM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Hey, that's looks interesting. I'll check it out. Thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:01 AM on March 21, 2012

Along those lines, OWC has a decent selection, because they're selling to Mac pro users who need lots of external storage for video/music/graphics work. This is their quad-bay: the bare kit costs $279, but with the standard disclaimer that you'll need matching drives to do RAID properly.
posted by holgate at 8:12 AM on March 21, 2012

I went through this for my Mac, and a hardware based RAID solution is immediately pricey. I ended up with one of these Sans Digital units from Amazon - 4 bays, relatively quiet (single fan in the back), and eSATA. Without hardware RAID, you have to move to a software solution for RAID (built into Mac OS X, not sure on current Windows). You will lose some speed, but this unit works perfectly fine for my use, editing HD video.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:25 PM on March 21, 2012

I've done it on the Mac with RAID 1 - RAID 0 is useless for me, the risk of losing data with that is just too incredibly high. In that case, I was able to pull the bad drive and continue working with the one good drive. That was my purpose from the start, to reduce downtime, not for backup purposes.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:11 PM on March 21, 2012

Response by poster: OWC has a decent selection

Thanks. I had seen OWC's line, but they are suspiciously quiet (too quiet) about the noise levels of their products. When I sent them an email, they did not answer.

I wouldn't want to risk several hundred dollars or an equivalently substantial restocking fee if they cannot answer a basic, straightforward question about their gear.

software solution for RAID

I don't mean to be short, and I do appreciate the desire to help, but to be absolutely clear about the parameters of this question: I am after an enclosure with hardware RAID 0/1 support, eSATA bus, two or four drive support, and low-noise. I am not looking for NAS, SAN or JBOD.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:10 PM on March 21, 2012

This is a tall order. The tradeoff to low noise is going to be higher heat, which will lead to increased risk of drive failure. I'd be extremely careful about running that kind of a setup in RAID 0, it's just begging for trouble. The more drives you cram in there, the higher the heat will be. Four drives with low fans will get scorching. I have a couple of the Rosewill 2-drive JBOD boxes at home, and they're fairly quiet but I have to enable the option to let the drives sleep. If I don't they get downright hot.

Maybe this one (with 120mm fan) would be more suitable, but newegg reviews say it's a bit noisy.
posted by mullingitover at 6:03 PM on March 21, 2012

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