An all-in-one drive solution with RAID and room for optical drives?
June 26, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I want a box that will hold 2-4 HDs and 2 optical drives, and connect to my laptop via one or more USB cables.

I got great help on this question, but I never did pull the trigger. Instead, I'm leaning toward buying a very serious laptop and employing a formidable external drive cluster. What I'd like to do is build/buy a tower that will hold at least 2 (4 is better) hard drives (SATA is a bonus, but not a necessity) with RAID support, and 2 optical drives. This will need to interface with the laptop via USB.

I've looked around at the enclosures on NewEgg, but as far as I can tell, no one makes what I am looking for. Surely this product exists? If not, a stackable, matching solution consisting of an optical drive box and a HD box will also suffice.

In case anyone is curious, I've concluded that the 2.16GHz core duo with 2GB of RAM is fast enough to do anything I need, and the only limiting factor of the laptop-only setup is storage. Disconfirming questions and/or opinions are welcome.
posted by Kwantsar to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Would it suffice to use a low-end desktop computer and connect via ethernet (or wireless)? Do you really need to connect by USB?
posted by exogenous at 8:00 AM on June 26, 2006

Connecting via ethernet is fine (heck, maybe it's even better), but I'd really like to avoid using a low-end desktop-- I'd like to stay as small as possible and to avoid using an additional OS.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2006

As the (single?) USB-connection will be the bottleneck of this setup a couple of (SATA-)USB-IDE cables, the cheapest (wire-tricked) PSU you can find and a USB-hub should suffice. Add a shoe- or pizza-box for an enclosure.

This solution is cheap and extendable: 4x$12 USB-IDE cables + old PSU + $10 hub. A "universal" Sata/IDE-USB cable + adapter will set you back $35.

For more performance you could try to attach half of your drive to one USB port and the other half to another.
posted by Akeem at 8:22 AM on June 26, 2006

This has both Firewire 800 and USB 2, with five bays. I don't know if you can put two optical drives in it, but it would satisfy your HD/RAID side.

Firewiredirect has a couple of other enclosures like that, two and four bays.

The optical drive thing is probably going to be the hardest piece to do since you either have full-size drives or notebook drives to choose from. The former probably won't fit into any firewire/usb enclosures (without hacking) and the latter might fit, but might require some conversion (notebook IDE to IDE) and a faceplate mod of some sort for the tray.
posted by tomierna at 8:25 AM on June 26, 2006

There are lots of boxes out there which will allow you to throw in a few drives and run a RAID array. In the jargon they are often called "Network Attached Storage" - google that. Finding a box that will allow for two optical drives will be more tricky - I can't imagine such a product existing.

Oh and with a NAS box you're looking at needing a network rather than USB. This could be cool because you could just connect to the array via wifi... so it could sit in your closet out of sight.

A better (cheaper) way to build storage with optical drive support is to use a standard desktop with a IDE-ATA RAID card. You can stick it in a closet and get to it via wifi (like the NAS box) but also administer it remotely via PCAnywhere, etc. (This is what I do, btw.)
posted by wfrgms at 8:25 AM on June 26, 2006

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