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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

Over the past year I have been getting my HTPC/light gaming rig (though I never seem to game on it) up and running and am starting to fine tune some things. Currently I am running separate drives for each of my media: Movies, TV Shows, and Music. As my collections are different sizes I have been upgrading hard drives as space becomes an issue. As my collection grows, though, I worry about backups. With almost 4TB worth of content (spread out over the drives) I am wondering about setting up RAID for the machine, but I have a few questions:

I assume all my drives need to be the same size/speed for best results?

What type of RAID array would be best for a very average HTPC guy?

What software is there to make for an easy set up, or is there a good guide to help me out with getting the setup going?

Any clarification on this would be great! I really wanna make sure I’m as protected/efficient as possible!
 

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Hey everyone,

Over the past year I have been getting my HTPC/light gaming rig (though I never seem to game on it) up and running and am starting to fine tune some things. Currently I am running separate drives for each of my media: Movies, TV Shows, and Music. As my collections are different sizes I have been upgrading hard drives as space becomes an issue. As my collection grows, though, I worry about backups. With almost 4TB worth of content (spread out over the drives) I am wondering about setting up RAID for the machine, but I have a few questions:

I assume all my drives need to be the same size/speed for best results?

What type of RAID array would be best for a very average HTPC guy?

What software is there to make for an easy set up, or is there a good guide to help me out with getting the setup going?

Any clarification on this would be great! I really wanna make sure I’m as protected/efficient as possible!
For traditional RAID all the drives would need to be the same size (it will usually work with drives of different sizes, but you'll only be able to use the capacity equal to the smallest drive used, so it is typically avoided) If you were going for some form of redundancy, then RAID1 (mirroring) RAID10 (Mirroring + striping) or RAID5/6 (striping + parity) The latter is most efficient in terms of drive usage, but that is typically offset by the cost of a dedicated hardware RAID controller. (not absolutely necessary for RAID5 but I would say it is advisable)

For an HTPC or Media server, you're probably going to be happier avoiding traditional RAID and looking at one of the parity/pooling solutions. renethx has a comparison chart floating around in one of the FlexRAID threads that compares their features and assassin has guides for setting some of them up. Parity/pooling solutions can still add a level of redundancy for you, they typically don't require you to use the same size drives, and you often don't have to format your drives as part of the initialization (which you have to do with traditional RAID)
 

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There really isn't a reason for you to have your media spread across different discs. You could use a program like DriveBender and pool all your drives together right now and make use of your total free space.

Otherwise you should skip hardware RAID and look into software RAID. Just remember RAID isn't backup. I can mention the smart-ass response that your original media discs are your backup...
 

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With almost 4TB worth of content (spread out over the drives)
4TB drives are currently taking over the GB/$ crown, and the 6TB drives are catching up fast. Next year we'll be arguing about 10TB drives.

Forget about raid or parity addons...they are not worth the hassle for you if your collection fits on one drive and is not growing faster than drive sizes are. Just make full copies of everything. Buy a big drive now. Copy your collection onto it. When your existing drives start to die, buy an even bigger drive. Keep doing that every 18-24 months so you always have 2 full copies on drives less than 4 years old.
 

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Don't do hardware raid. Personally, I'd only start looking at a new installation of software raid for storage needs of 6TB and higher (3x3TB drives, two for data and one parity). If you are interested in that route, consult the Renethx chart for information on FlexRaid, unRAID, SnapRaid, and disParity.

+1 bryansj. Raid isn't backup. It's an array of disks that is more tolerant of a drive failure than a single disk. Make sure you have at least two copies of critical data, preferably one of them offsite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for the info! I'll be looking into some of these programs this weekend, the full on raid seems a bit much but pooling would be a great option!
 

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You could use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) or DAS (Direct Attached Storage) device for storage of your media. They are appliances that are plugged into your router or switch as a stand-alone device, or plug into your computer directly via USB, SCSI, etc.

Most of these devices will automatically combine your individual disks into one logical drive, but without all the headaches. Most will require a reformat of each drive installed, however. The beauty of devices like these are the individual drives don't have to match, you can expand capacity by simply swapping a drive, and you don't have to configure or manage RAID levels.

I personally use a Drobo 5N and I love it. http://www.drobo.com/storage-products/5n/
 
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