neat solution to an ever grown tangled nest of external hard drives?

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  • neat solution to an ever grown tangled nest of external hard drives?
  • Premier Icon maccruiskeen

    My gf makes documentaries. HDV eats hard-disk space for breakfast and the new generation of tapeless cameras means double and triple backups as theres no original media. Up til now we’ve been buying a couple of external hard drives for each job – a working disk and a back up. But thats just getting nuts.

    I’ve got a late model G4 Powermac sitting about and I though about using that as girt big HD enclosure as theres space in there for 6 drives, but suitable SATA controllers seem to be like (expensive) hens teeth. If I solved the controllers then the macs can be picked up for less than the price of HD enclosures.

    Whats an economical, computer-illiterate (as in Mac user) solution to stacking up and backing up to maybe 5 or 10 3tb HDDs?


    Hi mate sounds like you’re making hard work of this. I suggest you read up a little about RAID storage, this is a process that protects your data by using various forms of storage across multiple hard drives within a single unit. What you’re doing is essentially a manual version of RAID 1 or mirroring – creating a second copy of your data.

    wiki on RAID

    Take a look at storage solutions from Netgear as an example (lots of other brands out there), they employ multiple drives and redundant power supplies to protect data from hardware failure. If you employ RAID 5 (minimum 3 drives) any drive failure is covered and you simply replace the drive. If you’re really worried backup this as well but it shouldn’t be necessary.

    Netgear entry level ReadyNAS

    Not cheap but this is what has been designed to handle exactly the dilemma you have.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Cougar will be along shortly to tell you not to rely on RAID as a back-up. Don’t raid it as the controller for this resides in the enclosure and if it goes wrong in the future can you be sure of getting a replacement with the same controller in it. If it’s mission critical stuff then tape may be the answer, but separate disks is probably as good as it gets currently.

    Premier Icon euain

    How about Drobo? Drobo devices

    As above – it’s RAID so not a backup – but may make your online versions more resilient and easier to manage (single device, not a load of disks). Maybe another DROBO for a backup? Or look at tape etc?

    Premier Icon euain

    Quick back of the envelope calculation – 30TB of data is going to take more than a month to upload/download from any cloud at 10MB/s.


    I didnt say it was a good idea 😀

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen


    If we were in Soho with its ubernetwork then yes. But we’re in a wood somewhere in scotland with a dizzying upload speed of 0.4MB/s 🙂


    What happened to Cougar?

    Premier Icon paulosoxo

    What happened to Couger?

    He’s changed.

    Premier Icon Cougar

    I don’t know who this “Couger” person is.

    In honesty, I was predictably going to say what Sandwich, er, predicted what I was going to say.

    As for the actual solution, that’s trickier, and I’m a bit out of touch with backup solutions as I’ve not been in Internal Systems for a little while mow.

    I think the first thing I’d suggest you do is rationalise what you actually want to back up. Do you need online (as in, immediately accessible, I don’t mean ‘cloud’) data or will an archive that you need to restore on demand suffice? What are your retention periods; do you actually need to keep three copies of everything forever? How about compression, do you need full quality archives (I’m thinking of DivX type conversion here, backups can be compressed losslessly)? Do you need to store them off site (ie, is it going to be career suicide if you have a burglary or a house fire)?

    For archival I’d perhaps be considering a tape drive, but depending on data volume and retention something like an LTO drive might not be cost effective. The drives are expensive but the tapes are cheap comparative to disks (this week anyway). They’ll be neater to file away, though.


    What’s your budget?

    Are you looking for a home office style solution or something a bit more resilient?

    The quantity of data you mention could get quite expensive, quite quickly. If its going through the books, that will lessen the pain somewhat.

    Premier Icon footflaps

    You could look at backing up to Cloud storage eg Amazon’s S3, but it get’s expensive for large quantities of data.

    Other than one drive failing, the most likely cause of major data loss would be something like flood, fire or burglary, which means that you could lose all your drives in one go. So you really want some form of multi-site backup, such as Cloud storage or syncing to another site over the internet. Or having two USB drive banks, with one in another part of the house (or shed)?

    EDIT: Amazon S3 costs (use a client such as Dragondisk):

    Amazon S3 enables you to utilize Amazon Glacier’s extremely low-cost storage service as a storage option for data archival. Amazon Glacier stores data for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month, and is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable. Examples include digital media archives, financial and healthcare records, raw genomic sequence data, long-term database backups, and data that must be retained for regulatory compliance.

    So 30 TB would be 30 x 1000 x $0.01 / month = $300 / month

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