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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,


I am appealing to the collective for some advice. I currently own ~1500 cds. It has become an impossible situation in terms of storage and logistics of listening. I am interested in building a server only for uncompressed cds, only in one place. I know this is pretty simple, but I am new at this.


I think that I want RAID 5, so I can rebuild the array if I lose a drive, which I have done. I also want some kind of future proofing in the space issue, so I was considering a 3Ware 8506-12, and populating it with 300Gig drives.


My questions are, is this a good solution to my problem, and what kind of motherboard do I need to fit the card listed -- it doesn't look like PCI or AGP. (I said I am new at this)


I also understand that I will need to partition it in a couple of partitions because of the size of the array, should I have another drive in the box to hold the OS (WinXPPro) and other files?


I am sure that I will think of more questions later, but this is a start.


Thanks in advance,


Blake
 

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I don't have a 3ware controller, but I researched them a while back while looking to build a similar device. I'm certain that it's a PCI card. (AGP is only for video cards). So, any motherboard with a PCI slot should work just fine.


My suggestion for RAID configuration is this:


RAID 1 ARRAY = OS

Take two small drives and configure them in a mirrored configuration. Load your OS in that volume.


RAID 5 ARRAY = DATA

Take 4 drives and configure in a RAID 5 configuration. I would suggest 3 drives with a hot spare (meaning the last drive isn't used unless another drive fails. Then the controller will automatically disable the failed drive and rebuild the array with the new drive inserted).


One word of advice for buying RAID drives. You should not buy all drives at the same place/time because you don't want to get 3 drives from the same manufacturing line. This increases your chances of multiple drive failures.


Someone who knows more than I do should address the expansion issue because I think that you need to carefully plan this out as to how to add new drives without having to rebuild the entire array.
 

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Couple of things, not much reason for RAID 1 for the OS, it shouldn't need that level of protection or complexity. Also your probably more likely to destroy the OS with SW than from a HDD failure and RAID 1 won't help with that since both drives are identical. Just backup to CD/DVD (not a problem if you keep the OS clean. But yes, definitely put the OS on it's own drive.


RAID 5 with hot spare, what you describe would take 5 drives, 4 for data+parity (standard RAID 5) plus another hot spare that gets inserted into the array automatically if a drive fails. The hot spare is not necessary since the array will still work in "degraded" mode. Hots spare is only necessary if you need to abolutely guaranty 24/7 operation with zero down time (think NSA server) it's overkill for a Media server.


About the 3ware cards, they are PCI but they are 64bit PCI, but before you worry, they work just fine in standard 32bit PCI as well, my friend has one running this way. Another thing to note is that 3ware cards currently only support 2Tb per array so that would be ~7x300Gb drives. You can put more on the cards but you'd have to create two arrays.


Actually you want all the the drives to be the same since using different drives adversely affects performance since all drives perform differently.


As for expansion, 3ware doesn't do Online Capacity Expansion, there are some that do (LSI). I'm not sure how I feel about OCE right now, on the plus side I can see it being handy to add an extra drive to an array from time to time; on the minus side, by the time I'd want to increase my storage, new larger faster drives would be available and "Expanding" them into an array would waste space on those drives.


You shouldn't need to use multiple partitions for data if you don't want to. I have several partitions, but that's to segregate different types of data, ie, CDs, DVDs, OS, SageTV recordings, general crap, etc.


Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things though, just one more piece of advice, don't store the CDs uncompressed, go with lossless compression like APE of FLAC, it will get you about 40% smaller files, plus the files would include tags.
 

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Just helped one of my friends put together a system to store his 800CDs. Went with manual RAID 1 for the data... i.e. a second set of disks, which have the data copied to them and then are removed from the system and taken to a different location. The drives all sit in an external firewire location.


For files, I went with APE for the 40% reduction in size and then use jRiver's MediaCenter for playback. I would highly recommend this combination, as MediaCenter has an excellent library management/database system.


kiwi
 

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I really really really like the Quantum Snap Servers. I run a small business out of our house, and have one of the RAID5 units they sell. They're pricey, but bulletproof, and very easy to setup.
 

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Which model did you get? THey look interesting? What price range are they in?


Why not get two of the LaCie 1TB firewire drives and just do a simple mirror? That would work. They're going for a grand each.


kiwi
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the quick replies. I am looking into the APE scheme, is there really no advantage to putting on the CDs uncompressed? I know they will take up a ton more space, but drives are cheap, you know?


I have decided to go RAID 5, you mentioned that there is a 2TB limit to an array, does that mean that I would need (2) parity discs, one for each array? If so, I think that I would be better to just max out the 2TB limit, and fortget about it, using smaller drives.


I am only storing audio -- no video, no HD, no DVDs. This will all be hooked up via touchpanel LCD or PDA -- I have not decided. Using a pretty simple PC front end, with a M-Audio sound card, I hope to have an Escient killer.


Thanks for all the quick replies.


Blake
 

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No there's no reason to store CDs uncompressed, APE is mathematically lossless like a Zip file, what goes in, comes back out, plus you get the MP3-like tagging.


Yes you need an extra drive per array due to parity. However, what I would do is build the 2Tb array of 300Gbs that way there would be some space left on the array and you could add another array later if you needed/wanted more space. The other option would be to get a 8-port card instead of the 12. Actually I just looked and it appears that 200Gb and 250Gb drives are less/Gb than the 300Gb but I don't know if cheaper drives would save more than the smaller card.
 

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I built an 8 drive 3ware array with 250 Gig drives so I ended up with ~1.7 TB and have only wav files stored on that array. OS is on a separate drive and soundcard is RME Hammerfall DSP 9632. I've been contemplating APEs (haven't decided yet) but I've only got about 30 gig left after 3,300 CD's so I need to decide pretty quick. Been using it with J.River/MusicLobby with a couple of touch-panels and it's been flawless for months.
 

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Shoot, a 4 port 3ware card would do just fine, would it not?


Ape CD (0.4 GB) x 1500 = 600 GB


4 - 300 GB drives in raid 5 would give enough room for 2000 ish cd's


2 TB would be a waste of cash unless you by a few hundred cd's a month. Save the money and expand later (if required) when drives are cheaper


My $0.02


Wes
 

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I thought you could tag WAV files with Media Center? I'm almost certain you can... Regardless, thanks to Stanger, I'm using Media Center 9.1 now and have been ripping CD's for a week using APE. I use a Meridian 861, seven Bryston 7BST monoblocks, Custom subwoofer array, and five N802 speakers... so I know what you mean about wanting perfection in your music source.


It is apparent to me that ripping CDs is likely to increase the quality if anything, because in secure mode ripping, it will re-read until it gets good data wheras if you are playing back by a DVD/CD player, it is simply reading on the fly and relying on error correction. An M-audio sound card is nothig other than a dgital conduit as far as I'm concerned using the SPDIF output...


Either way I use APE Mode. I use normal mode, but I'm sure the highest setting is fine also. Lossless is lossless.
 

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Quote:
not much reason for RAID 1 for the OS
I understand your point, but I respectfully disagree. When I build mine I am going to mirror the OS because the whole point of a server like this is to put an OS on it and forget it. No windows update, no service packs, no maintenance what so ever. Configure it and forget about it. I think we can just agree to disagree on this point.

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RAID 5 with hot spare, what you describe would take 5 drives, 4 for data+parity (standard RAID 5) plus another hot spare that gets inserted into the array automatically if a drive fails.
Sorry, but you are wrong. You can have a RAID5 configuration with 3 data drives and a hot spare (or two, or three, etc...). That's the way my snap server is currently configured. Now, having said that, I don't know for sure that the 3ware controller supports this, but I'd be suprised if this wasn't the case.


Quote:
Actually you want all the the drives to be the same since using different drives adversely affects performance since all drives perform differently
I was kind of vague on this point. I agree that you want all the drives to be the same spec. But you DO NOT want all the drives to have the same lot #. It really really sucks with 2 drives in a RAID5 array go bad at the same time. Basically, you are SOL if this happens.

Quote:
Which model did you get? THey look interesting? What price range are they in?
I have a Snap 4100. I think I paid something like $2200 for it a couple of years ago. They are pricey. You can buy a 1U rack mountable case, a cheap motherboard, a good controller like the 3 ware, etc... and build it yourself much cheaper. However, if you aren't skilled at this, Snap is definately a much more painless route to take.

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Why not get two of the LaCie 1TB firewire drives and just do a simple mirror? That would work. They're going for a grand each.
The only problem with this is that you need a PC to plug them into and a firewire RAID controller (do these even exist?). I suppose you you could do a poor man's mirror by using a nice little utility like cmdsync on a timed schedule. That would surely work. I use this utility and a mirrored pair of drives to backup my snap server. The mirrored drives are removable drives which get swapped around for offsite storage every month or so. Also use a sony DVD writer to backup important stuff like digital pictures and stuff.
 

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The last component you may want to look at is a GUI front end for the music server.


While MC9 is (imho) the best ripper/player, it's certainly not the best front end.


I would start looking at Musiclobby ( http://www.cinemaronline.com/musiclobby.html )


at myhtpc

( http://www.myhtpc.net )


Both are front-ends for MC9. Musiclobby is the clear winner for style and usability, but you can't beat myhtpc's price :>
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
OK, I see what you are saying. I have been messing around with APE and it seems pretty easy.


Is there any benefit to getting a serial ATA controller? Are they backwards compatible to parallel ATA? I know that I do not need the speed and bandwith increase, and it would make my cost/GB a lot higher, but I was just wondering.


Is there a particular ripping program that works better than others? Or do I just use EAC and then go from there?


I want to thank you for your answers, as you can tell I am a complete NOOB when it comes to this, and there is so much fractured information out there.


I am going to go with a server case like this one:

http://www.dealsonic.com/skyhawip5ura.html


and as robust a power supply as I can get. I am now leaning toward getting all 300gig drives, and putting 2 seperate arrays on a 12 drive card, each with 6 drives -- that will give me ~ 1.5TB per array, with complete protection (I hope) and a lot of room for expansion. Anything I am overlooking that you can see?


Thanks again,

Blake
 

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Blake I was in your exact boat 2 weeks ago. I downlowded EAC and now don't even look at it. I left it there, but MC-9 does everything EAC does when in secure mode, but it does it all in one step and adds tags. I absolutely love the automixing between songs on random! I also love being able to rate my songs... so I spend most of the time evalutaing my music collection while I'm ripping, because I only rip songs that get 3-5 stars... no reason to rip whole CD's... If I don't like it, I don't like it!!! So nice to streamline your CD sollection and get rid of all the bad songs!!
 

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It just means the latest stable version. I thought the latest 10 beta was stable, but found out it needs another couple weeks or so... it is mostly stable now but a week ago, I got the only build that didn't transfer the tag info to the ripped file... figures. So I am using the 30 day trial version right now and will probably buy the version 10 licence and use that. So go download J Rivers Media Center 9.1 now and start ripping. Get version 10 in about 4 weeks and then use that from then on...
 

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I also rip everything, never know, maybe someone will like/want it someday. And I do all of my set-ups in MC9 too, just use MusicLobby as a sort of "playing now" screen. I find it too slow to add songs to a playlist. I would like an screen similar to xlobby which seems to be more album-centric whereas most juke-box type players are track-centric. Xlobby's browse by cover art is nice since you can get a lot more covers on the screen. I typically browse with 28 albums displayed (you can hit page-up, page-down to zoom in and out the # of covers) and with MusicLobby I can only get 9 small images in the cover-art browser.
 

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My jukebox is music only and I have now reached over 21,000 APE titles... audio-jukebox


I have upgraded to two Maxtor 250GB in the meantime (not yet updated on the site) and use Media Center only with NetRemote as the Frontend.


Used EAC for ripping and MC for tagging. Maybe MC is just as good for ripping but I have been loyal to EAC for a very long time, so I guess I stick to it...
 

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MC is totally automated for one step-rip, APE, tag... You cut your work in half or more by going with just MC in secure mode. If it rips as 100%, it is 100%... it tells you how many bad arreas it finds and how many times it had to read though that section to get good data. It slows down as neccessary, or you can re-rip setting it on 1X if you find a tough disc... Just don;t want people to waste their time if they don't have to... EAC is balls to the wall, but secure mode is secure mode and 100% is 100%.
 
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