Seems like there’s a raft of people I know who recently lost some stuff due to disk crashes or are looking at ways to store that ever growing pile/stack/stash/gigabytes/terabytes/petabytes of data that people nowadays are generating. Even non-photographer friends I have are either busy downloading TV series or accumulating lots of media here and there such as e-books, songs, photos of their children, etc. Generally, media is usually the biggest culprit. I mean how large can a collection of excel spreadsheets or word documents be?
My approach is a two-tier storage system with my QNAP NAS playing primary on-line storage and a custom-built machine serving as the full storage backup. The following is a simple sketch of my network with my QNAP and my storage server. They’re connected to my Cisco switch using Link Aggregation (802.3ad) which offers both redundancy and faster transfer speeds. The little diagram on the right is how my content is stored between the server and the NAS. In a nutshell, my main storage server contains everything but the NAS has a little sub-set of the data.
Basically, my server stores everything in 1TB & 1.5TB disks, mirrored of course. I use rsync/robocopy to mirror as I’ve mentioned much earlier about using cheaper RAID cards. The mirrored pair is exposed on the network with one disk primarily for reading and the other for writing. What basically happens is that I back up to my NAS and my Storage Server (when it’s switched on – which is like at least a few times a week), pulls the backup from the NAS. When working on photos (especially for paid clients), I usually back-up simultaneously to both my QNAP and my Storage server. You can see below where I have my disks…
In case you are wondering (which you will), my disks are all short-stroked. My two swap disks are 150Gb 10,000rpm Raptor disks. Also, if you noticed, my storage server seems rather short of space… well, that’s because all the files are using NTFS junction points since I don’t have a RAID array… there’s actually 3 sets of mirrored disks. Total capacity is 1TBx 2 and 1.5TB x 4 / 2 due to the mirror. Usable capacity is about 3.4TB. Using junction points, 2001 and 2002 directories can reside on Pair A while 2003 and 2004 can be actually on Pair B. A bit complex but cost wise, all you need is a system with more than 4 SATA ports and you’re set. Recovery is also easier. Currently, the Samsung HD154UI 5,400rpm 1.5TB disks are good value but I’ll be moving away from them considering their slow-as-snail spin-up time and generally overall poor performance. I’m testing Hitachi’s affordable (runs a little hot though) 2TB, 5-platter, 7K2000 drive and see if it’ll give me back some performance lost to the Samsungs. Green drives may consume less power but the slow speed may result in high power consumption if we end up leaving more systems on just to complete back-ups and disks synchronization.
So far, I’ve been satisfied with my Seagate 7200.12 1TBs but looking for 1.5TB and 2TB drives are tough if you’re trying to avoid the green marketing crap.