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Server Upgrade: 1.5 TB Hard Drives

December 10th, 2008

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Last month on November 19th I picked up a pair of Seagate 1.5TB hard drives for the server.  At $139.99 a piece they have the cheapest price per gig for hard disk space as of that date.   At that price it comes out at approximately 10 cents per actual gigabyte!  As of writing this though they are going for $129.99 a piece making it 9.3 cents per actual gigabyte.  While technically it’s cheaper to use DVD’s still as they run about 5-7 cents per gig, who really wants to carry around 318 DVD’s to match the size of a 1.5TB drive.  Plus try keeping that many discs scratch free.  I think the convenience of a hard drive is way worth the extra cost.

Anyway, back to the server.  I put the new drives into the server and originally I was planning to run them in RAID1 but decided against it as I heard a lot of stuff on the net about the drives freezing momentarily and cause RAID arrays to go corrupt.  I heard Seagate had a firmware update on the way to fix that (which is now currently available), but I decided I didn’t want to risk it and put the drives in as solo drives.  I did however maintain my goal of data redundancy by creating what I like to call a fake RAID1 array by using the free tool from Microsoft called Sync Toy.  With this little app you select a couple of directories to make a pair and then you set how you would like them to be synced.  I selected the two drives right at the root and set the sync mode to echo because all the file movements would be done on the first drive and I just wanted the second drive to match it, thus creating my backup.  I then set the windows task scheduler to run the sync every night.  Sure it’s not as ideal as a RAID1 where the mirror copy is made at the same time as the original, but it works.  I also kind of like this method better too because should one drive go down the other has the backup copy, but because it is in a single drive mode there is no rebuilding the RAID array or anything like that.  I just replace the down drive and use Sync Toy to synchronize them again.  Also, it lets me pull the drive out and put it into any other computer and  it works!  It can read the drive without loading up any RAID drivers.  Always convenient.

I must say though that these drives are FAST!!!  When I put the drives in and copied the data off the 640 GB to the first 1.5TB I was able to get sustained transfer rates of 90 MB/sec, but that’s not even the fastest!  When I transferred the data from the first 1.5 TB to the second I was greeted with sustained transfer rates at high as 110 MB/sec!  Basically put, these are the first drives I’ve seen that would actually be capable of saturating a gigabit network link.  Nice!!

As a side note, I have not experienced the drive freeze issue thus far however, now that the firmware update is out I will be updating the drives.  I don’t know how the drives would respond to being upgraded if they where setup in RAID, but fortunately I don’t have to find out.

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