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Raid Upgrade | stoopidsimple.com

Raid Upgrade

salem | 2006-01-03 03:08

Over the last couple years I have gotten hooked on photography. Digital in particular. If you take a ton of pictures eventually you realize you need a workflow and a way of managing the amount of data you are creating.

I post most of the pictures I like to ganzhorn.org. As of today I have close to 6k images on line. My first attempt at cataloging and sharing my photos was a NetBSD box using gallery 1.4x. A year and a half ago my server melted down. The HD crashed and I could not recover any data off the disk. Luckily I had been keeping DVD back-ups of my files. But the pain of rebuilding was enough motivation to construct a more reliable setup.

My next setup was a Linux box running a software RAID 1 array of 120GB disks. This has been very stable. When I shut it off this morning it had 168 days of uptime.

I use mdadm and I really like it. Especially the monitoring features. I had one disk die in my array and the imediate notification via email is really nice.

This lasted me only one year. With my 300D I am acumulating data at the rate of about 100GB a year. Ouch!

So I needed to add more space. The plan:
I wanted to add enough RAID 1 space to archive my images for a couple more years. I chose RAID 1 because I am too paranoid to run RAID 5.

I chose 300GB because that seems to be the sweet spot in price right now.

I also wanted to add storage for movies. We have a ton of DVD's and I like the idea of having them on the HD. My kids love to make a mess of the disks and I dispise the amount of comercials they make you watch before you can get to the menu. For this I decided to scavenge the disks from my existing 100GB array and use LVM to make one large and growable partition.

I installed the 300GB drives today and was shocked at how easy the upgrade was. The hardest part was figuring out how I was going to spin 5 disks in my Antec Sonata case. That is a ton of cables and I was afraid my TruePower 380 would not be up to the task. I actually had to remove my CD-ROM drive because I didn't have enough power cables!

One nice thing about the Sonata case is that you can attach a 120mm fan to the HD cage for extra cooling. However you have to use a really oddball mounting hardware. The standard screws do not fit through the holes. I actually had to use electrician's tape because TigerDirect sucks (long story). I also could not figure out how to mount a HD in the external 3.5 drive bays. So I had to use 3.5 to 5.25 converters.

On the software side the setup went very smoothly. The only wrinkle was figuring out where the new disks were. I relied on fdisk for that. I knew the pattern would be /dev/hd[a-z]. So I ran fdisk on the device hitting "p" to see a print out of disk info until I found my two added disks.
After that the switch can best be described with the simple commands:

% mdadm --create /dev/md1
% mkfs.jfs /dev/md1
% mkdir /l1
% mount /dev/md1 /l1
% rsync -av /l0 /l1
% echo twiddle thumbs
% umount /l1
% umount /l0
% mount /dev/md1 /l0
% echo update /etc/fstab to reflect changes

I will work on the LVM setup after I get past the headache of "upgrading" from PHP 4 to 5.

My current setup is:
Ancient AMD chipset MB
1.2GHz Athlon
512MB Ram
Silicon Image PCI ATA controler
60G System Disk
120G Disk
160G Disk
2x300G Disk
Antec Sonata
Antec TruePower 380 (came with case)

Upgrade cost:
2x300GB HD 90$x2 (after MIR)
120mm fan 14$
Total: 194$ USD

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