A RAID tale and other encounters


floppybootstomp

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On my main machine I have two external twin hard disk enclosures both of which can be configured in 1 of 4 RAID variations. I've had one 2.5 years, a pair of identical 4Tb HDDs giving me 4Tb of backed up video files, configured in a RAID 1 (mirroring)

The other one is fairly new and had a pair of non identical (different makes) of 2Tb HDDs in same config - RAID 1 - for storing Audio with backup.

Recently I changed the hard disk I store games on from 3Tb to 4Tb which gave me a 3Tb disk spare. This one is a 3 year old Western Digital Red. I thought I'd buy another 3Tb hard disk and then make them into a mirrored pair for the audio disk enclosure, which I duly did. The new 3Tb disk is a Seagate Barracuda and was manufactured October last year.

This 'upgrade' in turn gave me two spare 2Tb HDDs. Before I found a home for them I thought I'd check their content to make sure my RAID 1 setup was in fact giving me a backup and that each 2Tb disk should have all my audio on it. To my dismay only one disk had the audio on it, the other was completely blank.

So I took a look at the manual and it said that when changing the RAID config the dock should first be put back to JBOD (just a bunch of disks) and then set to the chosen RAID mode. So with a great deal of faffing about I done that, this took quite a lot of time transferring files.

After I'd carried out those operations I looked at each 3Tb hard disk and again only one disk had the data on it. I started thinking either I've missed something here or the RAID enclosure is faulty. So I set the enclosure to JBOD and then I could read 2 separate disks as if they were in separate enclosures.

So for now I backed up all audio from one enclosure disk to the other but this means whenever I make changes to one I'll have to do it to the other and I'd hoped to avoid this by using the RAID function.

Then when I woke up on this relatively warm misty morning it struck me. No, not the wife, we parted 15 years ago, but a thought. The enclosure manual says identical disks must be used which I'd taken to mean just the same size. I'm guessing what's actually needed is a pair of completely identical hard disks being of the same model number and manufacturer.

So I then checked the pair of hard disks with films on in the other enclosure by taking them out and putting them in an external dock tray and taking a look at what's on them. These two are identical, 2 x HGST 4Tb's. They didn't show in Win 10 'This PC' but I could see them in Admin/Computer Management/Disk Management where they did in fact show that both had an identical amount of data on them. This proved that the RAID mirroring is working and probably bears out my theory that absolutely identical disks must be used for any RAID config in these enclosures.

I suppose to actually read one mirrored hard disk if one failed, I'd have to assign it a drive letter in disk management.

Unfortunately I can't afford another £96.96 for an identical 3Tb Seagate Barracuda atm so the audio RAID setup will have to wait. And besides, buying another 3Tb HDD would free up the WD Red 3Tb HDD which I really wouldn't have a use for. What a conundrum eh?

During all this I lost the use of my networked wireless printer which is in my bedroom and prints from a computer in the living room and the bedroom. Dunno why but suddenly it just wasn't there. I tried reconnecting it by reinstalling the driver and going through the setup procedure but try as I might it wouldn't work. I was starting to get worried.

Eventually, I managed to reinstall/reconnect my printer by disabling the firewall in Kaspersky AV. That damned Kaspersky has upset me several times now, seriously thinking about getting shot of it, too intrusive imo.

And that, folks, has been my computing adventures just lately.
 
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Ian

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That's quite unusual if it requires exactly identical disks - as some people even choose different manufacturers so that the mean time between failures is different. You'd think that any two 3TB drives would do :confused:. Perhaps it's something to do with the RAID implementation they're running.

Which model enclosure was that one running? Pretty bad that it didn't give any indication that RAID wasn't working!

TBH, if you were going to spend nearly £100 on a new drive, it may be worth getting a NAS enclosure instead - as they'll be much more reliable and you can stick anything in that, and it'll work.
 

Ian

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I really, really like NAS units - it's by far my favourite bit of tech I own, they're very useful.

If you want to do media streaming from the NAS, or put it to more advanced uses (hosting, docker containers, etc...) then I'd suggest a QNAP - but they start at around £200. A Synology NAS is going to be cheaper, but it would mainly be useful if you're using it as a file server only (although it can run Docker containers too).

Do you do any media streaming, as that would affect the choice of NAS?

You could always sell all of your RAID enclosures and switch to a 4/5 bay NAS unit? It'll cost more, but you could maximise your disk usage. For example, with a Synology NAS, you could use Hybrid RAID to allow for one disk failure out of the lot:

https://www.synology.com/en-uk/support/RAID_calculator

So 2 x 4GB and 2 x 3GB drives gives 10GB of useable space with SHR, or 9TB with traditional RAID 5.

IIRC, @ChristopherP has a Synology NAS too, so he may have some thoughts.
 

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floppybootstomp

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Certainly food for thought. Not interested in streaming at all, simply want video and audio storage with fuss free backup.

I have the means to play all of these files either through my computer system (which has a nice DAC & loudspeakers) or via switching through my Hi-Fi & 40" Monitor.

The audio is routed through a rotary wafer switch and the video through a two way display port switch.

Have just returned from a trek around Westminster, time for munch now then I shall look at those links, thank you Ian.
 
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floppybootstomp

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Had a look, the Synology DS416j is £255 on Amazon and has good reviews.

It does seem to make more sense, just wish I'd known of this option some time ago.

I should get between 80 to 100 for the pair of RAID enclosures so yes, probably going to go for this, just need to gather some loot.
 

Ian

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If you're not doing any streaming, that looks like a good choice :).
 

floppybootstomp

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Being an impatient sort of fellow I spent money that I'd hoped to leave alone and bought myself a Synology DS416J, a four port NAS.

The disks I put in are 2 identical Hitachi 4Tbs, 1 WD Red 3Tb and a Seagate Barracuda 3Tb. The NAS sees these and configures them with no problems. Total storage of these disks is around 12.5Tb and I've configured them to a RAID 5 which gives me 8.1Tb with backup.

How this works I'm really not sure but it's more space than my previous couple of RAID 1 setups gave me. This Synology NAS is also quieter than one of my previous RAID enclosures.

I haven't found this the easiest of devices to setup and I'm still not sure how to actually transfer data. When I first set the device up it gave its own config to all 4 disks and it took me quite some time to work out I'd have to delete that setup before I could configure a RAID 5, but I got there in the end. The manual I haven't found very helpful at all.

I've created 2 Storage folders so far. At the moment the NAS is only connected to my computer through my network, via my four port modem, hard-wired. I don't actually have a suitable USB cable here atm and I'm guessing that's the method used for data transfer.

I'll get a USB lead tomorrow and try. So far I haven't been able to copy and paste anything from my computer to the NAS though, right-clicking on a NAS folder doesn't give a paste option. I'm a bit worried about this, seems a bit more complicated than my previous arrangement.

Oh well, we shall find out come the morrow but any advice to relieve this anxiety would be appreciated ;)
 

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Once you're over the initial hurdle of getting used to a NAS, you'll love it - they're very flexible and much more powerful than a RAID enclosure.

No need to use a USB cable - in fact, I'd strongly recommend you don't! They're designed to work over a network :).

I'd also recommend using SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID), rather than RAID5, as you'll get the same level of disk protection, but more available space (an extra TB). This will still mean that any disk can fail and you'll be protected. Your previous RAID 1 setups had a single disk requiring another for redundancy - as they're all in one enclosure now, you have an extra disk available for use (while still allowing for one to fail).

You'll want to make sure that you've created network shares by going to the admin interface > Control Panel > Shared Folder page. Then, create folders and assign permissions to a user you've previously created (or allow access to guests, which means anyone connected to your network).

Then, in Windows, you can browse to the network share by typing in \\NASNAME or \\192.168.1.X (or whatever fixed IP the NAS has) and access it that way. You can choose the NAS Name in Control Panel > Network > Server Name. You can also permanently mount shares to a drive letter using this method: https://www.synology.com/en-uk/knowledgebase/DSM/help/DSM/Tutorial/store_with_windows

Don't give up on the NAS, as it's great once you understand how it works. I've got a very similar one and I'm happy to guide you through setting it up :).

Once you've got a couple of shares set up, you should be able to access the NAS from any PC from Windows Explorer - it'll show up as a network share and you can copy/read from it like any other folder on your PC.
 

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Also, it may be easier to enable Network discovery on your PCs. If you go to the Windows Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced sharing settings, then make sure "Turn on network discovery" is enabled for the current profile. That'll mean that the NAS will show up within Windows Explorer when viewing the "network" devices.
 
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floppybootstomp

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I haven't had much chance to tend to this since I last posted here but oddly enough I was just this moment thinking of having another look. I have changed the disk setup to SHR, that was quite painless but I still feel unsure about where to go from there.

So I was going to log in and employ my usual method of 'rummage around until it becomes clear'.

I'm pretty sure I have Network Discovery enabled within Win 10 but I'll check. I've also printed out the manual and have it in an A4 pocket folder.

I have the NAS as an entry in my browser, no probs logging in but I don't really understand the rest of your advice to be quite honest.

What I'm having trouble with is I don't see a device in 'My Computer' like I did with my RAID enclosures and I'm clueless so far as to how to transfer data to folders created on the NAS.

That's all I want to do, store stuff, not interested in streaming, using I-Tunes or any other media software, just playback software which atm is Foobar 2000 and Classic Media Player.

I hope it becomes clear.

EDIT: Have just looked at the link above to tutorial, let's give that a go.
 

floppybootstomp

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Here's some pix, this is my set up with SHR, then it tells me I have no volume, followed by only a custom option for a RAID setup, the SHR option is greyed out. So I click next and all I get is the option to 'create multiple volumes'. I thought I'd created a volume which is why I'm confused. Now all I want to do is create folders and transfer files.

I do feel extremely foolish but I just don't understand this thing at all so far.

synology001_800.jpg
synology002_800.jpg
synology003_800.jpg
synology004_800.jpg
 

floppybootstomp

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Have possibly made some progress. Have created a volume and it is now going through the process of re-synchronising the disks. It looks as though this is going to take some considerable time judging by the progress so far so I shall leave the computer & NAS on overnight.

If I'm guessing correctly then once the volume is created then I'll be able to map the NAS within 'This PC' as a network drive, create folders within it and then transfer data.

But that's just guesswork, I really have no idea ;)
 

Ian

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Once you've made that SHR volume on the drive, that'll give you a place to store all of your shared folders. I've just got a single SHR volume that spans all disks - that would be the easiest and most fault tolerant way of storing things in this instance. I didn't use disk groups, as I only have a single volume.

From what I remember, you can still use the NAS and create shares while the re-sync is in progress, it may just limit the speed somewhat. I think mine took a couple of days, as I made significant changes.

Anyway, now that you've got a volume available to store data, you can go to the control panel and select the "shared folder" option - this creates the folders that you'll see within Windows Explorer. Make a few entries here using the "create" dropdown at the top:

1.PNG


You may want to give the shared folders some permissions, if other people connect to your network.

Once you've done that, the folder should show up in Windows Explorer:

2.PNG


You can copy/paste/move etc... to here just like you would do for a RAID enclosure - but from anywhere on your network.

If you want to give it a drive letter, then right click the shared folder in Windows Explorer and select "map network drive"
 
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floppybootstomp

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Thanks Ian, currently at 74% re-synchronised, should be finished between 16:00 & 17:00 today.
 

floppybootstomp

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It finished re-synchronising at 15:30 and I've since created two folders 'Films' & 'FLAC' and transferred a few files to them.

Each 'folder' is designated a drive letter and I've started with 'I' & 'J' and I'll be creating 7 to 10 more probably so I'll be ok for drive letters but I did wonder what happens if you go past 'Z'.

It does seem there are a lot more facilities but as I mentioned I'm really only interested in storage space for the time being, maybe later when I've familiarised myself a little more I will explore other possibilities.

Now for several overnight file transfers, it's going to be a lengthy process.

I called my first folder 'Films'. btw, as a statement of Britishness, I simply refuse to bow down to using those colonial terms such as 'Movies' :D Movies are what Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made ;)
 

Ian

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Good work :D. It'll be much, much more reliable that the RAID enclosures. There's an option to send e-mail alerts if it notices any errors (i.e. RAID issue), which is probably the easiest way to be notified of anything.
 
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Abarbarian

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I called my first folder 'Films'. btw, as a statement of Britishness, I simply refuse to bow down to using those colonial terms such as 'Movies' :D Movies are what Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made ;)

I keep all my films and "movies" and animation stuff in a folder called ODEON and of course I keep all my books in a folder called LIBRARY. An all my pictures are kept in a folder called MEMORIES.

:cool:
 

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