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FlexRAID? Drive Bender? RAID5?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Here's my situation...I just ordered a Sans Digital 5-bay RAID5 enclosure, along with five 2 TB drives. I'm trying to figure out the best way to set this up. Should I use the built-in RAID5 or give something like FlexRAID or Drive Bender a try? This box will be connected to my HTPC running Windows 7 64-bit. I'm looking for a solution that will protect my data so that I won't have to re-rip all of my DVDs/Blu-rays if one (or more perhaps?) of the drives bites the dust. I've tried reading online and it's done nothing but confuse me even more. Thanks.
post #2 of 42
Same setup, same sans digital box. What did you end up using? FlexRaid or DriveBender?
I'm looking for a hold over solution until Windows 8 is mature enough to switch over for built in DriveSpaces
post #3 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

Here's my situation...I just ordered a Sans Digital 5-bay RAID5 enclosure, along with five 2 TB drives. I'm trying to figure out the best way to set this up. Should I use the built-in RAID5 or give something like FlexRAID or Drive Bender a try? This box will be connected to my HTPC running Windows 7 64-bit. I'm looking for a solution that will protect my data so that I won't have to re-rip all of my DVDs/Blu-rays if one (or more perhaps?) of the drives bites the dust. I've tried reading online and it's done nothing but confuse me even more. Thanks.

I use WHS 2011 and FlexRaid ... LOVE the ease of use . Actually once it is set up properly there really is nothing to do . Flex has many many nice features but one of the nicest is that drives that are not in use are spun down . Makes it easy to use more economical Green drives and reduces ware on the drives . Saves power too.

Oh ... and you can add those drives with data to the Flex pool with out loosing the data on them too . In your situation with 5 - 2 tb drives you would need a parity drive . You could use on of the data drives out of the five if you could spare an empty one or the better solution would be to get another 3 tb drive and use it for parity . The parity drive has to be at least as large or preferably larger than the largest single drive in the pool . Just fyi .... u proly know all this , but hey , it never hurts to reiterate it

Assassin has a GREAT guide on how to set this usage up . Check it out .

http://www.assassinserver.com/
Edited by flocko - 7/14/12 at 8:09pm
post #4 of 42
Flexraid imo is the best option for media streaming solutions. It's efficient, easy to use, and plenty fast for streaming videos.
post #5 of 42
Hmmm what about for a Windows 7 HTPC? I'm moving away from having a seperate WHS box host my Pool. I want it directly connected to my Media Center.

Here are some posts I made & or commented on with lots of details thinking things through so far.

http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&t=30748

http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&m=151448&#151448

http://forum.drivebender.com/index.php?topic=817.msg3498#msg3498

http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&t=30153&p=2

I read up on the FlexRaid forums, and to find more talk about it on other Forums. (for HTPC / Media Center users) I'm not sure it's as stable and fool proof to recover data from like DrivePool/DriveBender is. I like knowing I can access the files directly on a pulled drive in a worst case scenario (in the hidden sub folder) Any thoughts on FlexRaid on a Windows 7 box?
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

Hmmm what about for a Windows 7 HTPC? I'm moving away from having a seperate WHS box host my Pool. I want it directly connected to my Media Center.
Here are some posts I made & or commented on with lots of details thinking things through so far.
http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&t=30748
http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&m=151448&#151448
http://forum.drivebender.com/index.php?topic=817.msg3498#msg3498
http://www.mymovies.dk/forum.aspx?g=posts&t=30153&p=2
I read up on the FlexRaid forums, and to find more talk about it on other Forums. (for HTPC / Media Center users) I'm not sure it's as stable and fool proof to recover data from like DrivePool/DriveBender is. I like knowing I can access the files directly on a pulled drive in a worst case scenario (in the hidden sub folder) Any thoughts on FlexRaid on a Windows 7 box?

It will work fine with Win 7.

I don't get the "as stable and fool proof" comments. Its been around for 4 years so its not like its a new piece of software. It works very well.
post #7 of 42
Say things get hosed up so bad, I can't get my FlexRaid pool working again for some unknown reason, or I need to migrate to a new Computer last minute. Will I be able to read the data off the drives? With DrivePool or DriveBender, you can still read the data in the hidden subfolders on a single drive.

By Fool proof I'm hinting at something like a simple migration moving and or importing your entire pool from one computer to another should you want to upgrade hardware, OS or a crash.

I guess I'm trying to find more testimony that FlexRaid is the way to go on a HTPC thinking about the above expectations though.

P.S. Why does AssassinServer.com ask for $25 just to view the forums? I'm not going to pay for site access to something I don't know much about. (maybe a couple dollars, but not $25)
Edited by jazjon - 7/14/12 at 8:59pm
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

Say things get hosed up so bad, I can't get my FlexRaid pool working again for some unknown reason, or I need to migrate to a new Computer last minute. Will I be able to read the data off the drives? With DrivePool or DriveBender, you can still read the data in the hidden subfolders on a single drive.

Yes, the data on the drives is readable from another computer without having to have Flexraid installed.

Quote:
By Fool proof I'm hinting at something like a simple migration moving and or importing your entire pool from one computer to another should you want to upgrade hardware, OS or a crash.

You can just re-run the parity sync again in the new system, and you are protected again... pretty simple actually. I'm not sure about the import ability of Flexraid. One would think that it would see that the parity data hasn't changed and leave the parity drive as-is.

Quote:
I guess I'm trying to find more testimony that FlexRaid is the way to go on a HTPC thinking about the above expectations though.

I used it for a couple of years while it was still a free product. I never had a HD die on me during that time, so I never had to use it's recovery features. I've gone back to just mirroring drives now. It takes a little while to understand the interface and get things going, but it's gotten much much better over the years.
post #9 of 42
That's good to know! Based on that I think I'll try a test install on my spare laptop. That way I don't mess up my HTPC DVR until I'm ready for prime time Pooling.

Wow, check out this review of Windows 8 Storage Spaces;
http://helgeklein.com/blog/2012/03/windows-8-storage-spaces-bugs-and-design-flaws/

Based on that read, I predict I'll be using a 3rd party Drive Pooling solution for some time to come. I don't plan on putting Windows 8 on my HTPC any time soon! (no need really)
post #10 of 42
Snapraid is both free and open source.

http://snapraid.sourceforge.net/
post #11 of 42
Ok, I think I'm almost sold on picking/trying FlexRaid! (over Drive Bender)

Again, I've been using WHS 2011 & easy to use StableBit DrivePool for the past 8 months with two 5 bay eSata enclosures.

My NEW migration plan is to hook the same two 5 bay eSata enclosures directly to my powerful Windows 7 Media Center HTPC. (and not use WHS for my main pool of videos/music/pictures any more) I want it all directly on my HTPC for various performance and compatibility reasons.
WHS was fun, but not really needed any more with 3rd party pooling being proven effective over the last year.

Since StableBit DrivePool is only supported on WHS, I thought I was going to be forced to use DriveBender. (which has a clunky UI to me from past experiments) I'm sure DriveBender would get the job done, but I'm not feeling confident in testing it over FlexRaid now. Well I'm glad I did some research first and heart about FlexRaid. I'm really impressed with what I've seen reading over their how to Wiki pages. I've learned a lot, and I'm ready to start with a Trial.


FlexRaid is only at 5% in this poll, but well it's new (the Cruise Control/Pooling with Raid part, and mainstreaming-commercial)
http://www.wegotserved.com/2012/04/11/storage-management-windows-home-server-2011/


FR seems to be off to a great start post 2.0 (with Cruise Control, pooling and raid). I'm feeling very confident that FlexRaid will meet my expectations, needs, and then some.

I guess the only hesitation is FlexRaid seems to be the new kid on the block, so I've yet to see as many reviews out there. (nothing on youtube for example even, but again it's pretty new post 2.0) I have a feeling that post 2.0 will bring in more people like me if it's as good as I'm thinking it will be.
Edited by jazjon - 7/16/12 at 4:35am
post #12 of 42
People will bash flexraid because the developer has the nerve to charge for his hard work. That's just the way people are.
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

Ok, I think I'm almost sold on picking/trying FlexRaid! (over Drive Bender)
Again, I've been using WHS 2011 & easy to use StableBit DrivePool for the past 8 months with two 5 bay eSata enclosures.
My NEW migration plan is to hook the same two 5 bay eSata enclosures directly to my powerful Windows 7 Media Center HTPC. (and not use WHS for my main pool of videos/music/pictures any more) I want it all directly on my HTPC for various performance and compatibility reasons.
WHS was fun, but not really needed any more with 3rd party pooling being proven effective over the last year.

Do you have more than one HTPC in the house? Do you have people in your house that want their media to "just work" (wife, kids, other)? If so, then I'd reconsider getting rid of the media server. If you ever need to take down the HTPC to do maintenance, or have a hardware failure then the media is now down for the whole house.

Now, you don't have to use WHS for your media server OS, you can use a copy of Win7 but still, I'd keep that Win7 "server" separate from your HTPCs.

Quote:
I guess the only hesitation is FlexRaid seems to be the new kid on the block, so I've yet to see as many reviews out there. (nothing on youtube for example even, but again it's pretty new post 2.0) I have a feeling that post 2.0 will bring in more people like me if it's as good as I'm thinking it will be.

Actually FlexRaid as been around about as long as UnRAID. It was one of the first non-realtime parity based psuedo-RAID systems out there. It's just now that the software has gone out of beta and into commercial status.
post #14 of 42
People will bash people who show there are free alternatives to flexraid because they make paid guides for the installation of flexraid. That's just the way people are.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puwaha View Post

I used it for a couple of years while it was still a free product. I never had a HD die on me during that time, so I never had to use it's recovery features. I've gone back to just mirroring drives now. It takes a little while to understand the interface and get things going, but it's gotten much much better over the years.

I had a drive die and flexraid worked perfectly to restore it. To speed it up, I copied all the files from the dying drive I could, then recovered using my last sync - about half the data was still good. The only times I had troubles when when the program was much younger, back in the 1.x days.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

People will bash people who show there are free alternatives to flexraid because they make paid guides for the installation of flexraid. That's just the way people are.

That's not at all accurate.

I make paid guides for SnapRaid, WHS2011, unRaid, and others as well. biggrin.gif
post #17 of 42
I went RAID5 route because of the uptime. Even if one drive has gone bad, the data is accessible during the rebuild or while you are waiting for a replacement drive to arrive.

Since this was for my wife's recordings, I dare not make them disappear, or unavailable.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I went RAID5 route because of the uptime. Even if one drive has gone bad, the data is accessible during the rebuild or while you are waiting for a replacement drive to arrive.
Since this was for my wife's recordings, I dare not make them disappear, or unavailable.

I thought this was true for Flexraid too. I could very well be wrong though. The thing I really don't like about RAID5 is if you lose a 2nd drive in the meantime, you lose everything. With Flexraid if you lose a 2nd drive, you only lose what's on the dead hard drives. The performance benefits from stripping in RAID 5 just aren't that useful for streaming movies anyway.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

People will bash flexraid because the developer has the nerve to charge for his hard work. That's just the way people are.
Good software that is reliable and works well is worth the $.

I happy to pay for it over the open source alternative provided I feel it is superior.

I think flex Raid is worth the cost.
post #20 of 42
I'll keep my EX495 around to play with Server 2012. I can always hookup my stata drives to the that if the htpc dies and is down awhile. I've been running htpc s since 2003 though and never had one die for more than 24 hours though so not worried.

Question
When I start my test, I'll be using a different eSata controller than when I'm ready for production. Will my FlexRaid pool have any problems if the drives get moved around? I know it didn't matter with StableBit DrivePool. It knew what was what based on the long hidden poolpart folders per drive. Is FlexRaid just as Flexible with moving drives around between reboots etc?

Also so I roll back my htpc via system restore or via last months image. Will flexraid freak out or recover? Also with a system rebuild is my pool easy to recover? What about my Shares/Permisions settings? Is their a settings file on my C: or are they on the flex drives? I need to learn how it works in those situations.
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

I'll keep my EX495 around to play with Server 2012. I can always hookup my stata drives to the that if the htpc dies and is down awhile. I've been running htpc s since 2003 though and never had one die for more than 24 hours though so not worried.
Question
When I start my test, I'll be using a different eSata controller than when I'm ready for production. Will my FlexRaid pool have any problems if the drives get moved around? I know it didn't matter with StableBit DrivePool. It knew what was what based on the long hidden poolpart folders per drive. Is FlexRaid just as Flexible with moving drives around between reboots etc?

You will just need to rebuild the parity drive. Pretty easy to do.
post #22 of 42
What about the flexraid set folder Permisions / shares? I guess re-setting up those isn't too big of a deal.
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

What about the flexraid set folder Permisions / shares? I guess re-setting up those isn't too big of a deal.

Very easy to do. You will need user accounts established via Windows on the host flexraid runs and once this is done you use the shares applet within flexraid to share folders and assign permissions using the same account names. In fact, if you are going to share flexraid folders permanently you need to do this because if you don't (and establish them via windows explorer instead which you can do), the shares established via windows will disappear if you reboot/restart flexraid.

I just did something very similar to what you plan to do with flexraid. I retired a WHS2011 media server running flexraid and moved it to my main HTPC in the living room so this box is serving double duty as a media client and server for the house. Overall, so far-so good though I did encounter one unexpected gotcha with flexraid that may or may not apply in your case. The HTPC running flexraid is also serving as a tuner client with a home-built Ceton server streaming encrypted cable from another room. When I tried to set WMC to save TV recordings on a flexraid share it would save the content, but also crash WMC if I tried to record live TV. As soon as I switched the recording target to a non-flexraid drive all recording worked properly.

Another nice flexraid feature is the scheduler for automated parity re-calculation.

I used the free version of flexraid for a year or so but happily paid for the licensed version given all of the features previously mentioned within this thread.
Edited by elockett - 7/16/12 at 4:00pm
post #24 of 42
Thats good to know, I use two quad USB Ceton tuners, but luckily I have a dedicated 3TB drive inside my Shuttle PC box for dedicated DVR recordings. I don't think trying to use the FlexRaid pool for recordings is a good idea. 3TB is plenty too! :-) I'm glad you mentioned it though so I don't get any crazy ideas to try that later.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

That's not at all accurate.
I make paid guides for SnapRaid, WHS2011, unRaid, and others as well. biggrin.gif

You go girl! biggrin.gif
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I went RAID5 route because of the uptime. Even if one drive has gone bad, the data is accessible during the rebuild or while you are waiting for a replacement drive to arrive.
Since this was for my wife's recordings, I dare not make them disappear, or unavailable.

Best money ever spent is the money used to keep the wife happy.
post #27 of 42
I just did my first test FlexRaid setup. I have few questions about how to get sharing working since it's being a bit funky.

http://forum.flexraid.com/index.php/topic,993.0.html
__________________________________

"mostly" So far so good on my initial Trial experiments using an old laptop that has an eSata port multiplier aware PCIi express card installed.

I followed the Wiki guides you have which are mostly pretty good.
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/getting-started-creating-your-first-flexraid-configuration/
I don't think I could have figured it out very quickly without them.

I have three 1.5TB drives pooled with one as PPU

http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/accessing-your-storage-pool-over-a-network/
I'm stumbling a bit on getting test shares setup. So far the shares I setup via the FlexRaid Server Sares page are NOT showing up on the network. I tried stopping/restarting the pool, and restarting the laptop. The first share I setup actually did show up, I than started messing around with turning the drive to not be removable, adding the FlexDrive to Windows Indexing, and then turning on HomeGroup. I also changed the default Videos, Pictures, Music library's in windows to point the test folders on the FlexDrive Pool. The HomeGroup shares (Videos, Pictures, Music) All showed up on the network, but are NOT showing up after a reboot. It shows I have P:\Test Share in my FlexRaid settings, but I don't see any shares. (I renamed my V: P: via FlexRaid like the Wiki shows by the way)

It's time for bed, so that's all for now. Hopefully someone can better explain how I can setup shares better. Some folders will be Read to Everyone, Some will be Read/Write to Everyone, and some will be Private to my JazJon account only. I'm still not sure if that account needs to be created on both computers and if it needs the computername\JazJon either. And if so, the computer name of the flexraid server, or the client accessing it?

These are all Windows 7 machines by the way.

______________________________________

Thoughts?
Edited by jazjon - 7/17/12 at 4:48am
post #28 of 42
Not sure what your asking for ???
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazjon View Post

I just did my first test FlexRaid setup. I have few questions about how to get sharing working since it's being a bit funky.
http://forum.flexraid.com/index.php/topic,993.0.html
__________________________________
"mostly" So far so good on my initial Trial experiments using an old laptop that has an eSata port multiplier aware PCIi express card installed.
I followed the Wiki guides you have which are mostly pretty good.
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/getting-started-creating-your-first-flexraid-configuration/
I don't think I could have figured it out very quickly without them.
I have three 1.5TB drives pooled with one as PPU
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/accessing-your-storage-pool-over-a-network/
I'm stumbling a bit on getting test shares setup. So far the shares I setup via the FlexRaid Server Sares page are NOT showing up on the network. I tried stopping/restarting the pool, and restarting the laptop. The first share I setup actually did show up, I than started messing around with turning the drive to not be removable, adding the FlexDrive to Windows Indexing, and then turning on HomeGroup. I also changed the default Videos, Pictures, Music library's in windows to point the test folders on the FlexDrive Pool. The HomeGroup shares (Videos, Pictures, Music) All showed up on the network, but are NOT showing up after a reboot. It shows I have P:\Test Share in my FlexRaid settings, but I don't see any shares. (I renamed my V: P: via FlexRaid like the Wiki shows by the way)
It's time for bed, so that's all for now. Hopefully someone can better explain how I can setup shares better. Some folders will be Read to Everyone, Some will be Read/Write to Everyone, and some will be Private to my JazJon account only. I'm still not sure if that account needs to be created on both computers and if it needs the computername\JazJon either. And if so, the computer name of the flexraid server, or the client accessing it?
These are all Windows 7 machines by the way.
______________________________________
Thoughts?

I have a couple of questions about your sharing. When you say you changed the default videos, pictures, music library's to point to flexraid test folders, how did you do the pointing?
What kind of permissions, if any, did you set for the flexraid shares? Does your user account name on the client match that of the server via Windows and the flexraid shares? All three have to match to see the shares unless you set group like "everyone" via Windows on the server and the flexraid shares.

Suggestion (because this worked for me): Consider creating new media shares on the flexraid pool drive directly and share them versus pointing from pre-existing shares. I personally don't use homegroups and simply set flexraid folder permissions via windows explorer and the flexraid shares applet.
post #30 of 42
I guess I'm asking if anyone has had trouble figuring out how to get network shares working since it seems to be a multipart process I haven't got down quite right yet. I was also wondering if there is a better example page or even youtube video of what to do right. (or what NOT to do that messes things up like I have so far) All I can find is this so far: http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/accessing-your-storage-pool-over-a-network/
I don't know why the example would give EVERYONE access to "Paddy's Documents" though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elockett View Post

I have a couple of questions about your sharing. When you say you changed the default videos, pictures, music library's to point to flexraid test folders, how did you do the pointing?
What kind of permissions, if any, did you set for the flexraid shares? Does your user account name on the client match that of the server via Windows and the flexraid shares? All three have to match to see the shares unless you set group like "everyone" via Windows on the server and the flexraid shares.
Suggestion (because this worked for me): Consider creating new media shares on the flexraid pool drive directly and share them versus pointing from pre-existing shares. I personally don't use homegroups and simply set flexraid folder permissions via windows explorer and the flexraid shares applet.

1)
On the flexserver (my test laptop) I opened explorer, right clicked on Videos, properties, add button, browsed to P:\Videos (I created that folder)

In HomeGroup I have Videos check box on to share.

On my other Laptop, I browse the network in explorer, see the test laptop computer name, click on it, and I'll actually see the Videos folder.

Once I reboot the FlexRaid laptop, that share no longer appears.

2) I created more folder on P: (My flex share) For example I created P:\TestShare
I then went into the FlexRaid web gui, and shared TestShare similar to the following instructions
http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/12/03/accessing-your-storage-pool-over-a-network/
The VERY first time I did this, the share showed up and worked.
Ever since I played with HomeGroup, and rebooted, NO shares show up at all no matter what I do.
But yes, both laptops are logged in as JazJon with the same password too. I even tried accessing the shares from my HTPC desktop, and again no shares are listed at all. (empty)
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