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Server Backup Solutions - "Raid 5" Style

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#1 UseLess

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:36

Morning Peeps,

I just finished doing the final touches for hardware changes to my server (for now) and am looking at some backup solutions.

My server OS and all on my OS drive is replaceable and unimportant, so I don't overly care about that. I do however have 5 other HDDs that store stuff I do want preserved (photos, videos, etc). I have about 8 TB of stuff, and the traditional method of backing up (ie mirroring) is simply not feasible. I want to run Raid 5, as the concept of a parity bit is truly brilliant, however getting an 8 port raid controller that supports Raid 5 is far too expensive (and still, if the controller dies, I'm still up shyt creek).

Seeing as 95% of my data is static, I figured an active backup isn't needed as I wouldn't lose much within the space of a week, or even a month. I'll describe what I think would be nice, and if there is something like it, or something better, please let me know =)

I think a pure software(running within the OS) raid5-style/parity-bit backup method would be exactly what I'm after. It would require an extra (equally largest) HDD to act as a parity drive, and then it could calculate parity across all the chosen drives. If a drive fails, it can be replaced and rebuilt from the parity drive. If the OS drive dies then either a boot-able recovery volume could be used, or a simple reinstall the OS (as i don't care about it =P). This would allow for one drive to backup all my others =) (The primary benefit, there is zero risk of the "raid" failing, and everything going bonkers - if i pull out one drive, the data is still 100% usable on that drive, and the others)

So...anyone heard of anything like this, or anything that could do a similar task?

Cheers! =)

UL

Edit: I should have said HOME server...not a business/enterprise server


#2 Osiris

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:47

Im not up to date on the free server side of things but in terms of Windows...if you are running WHS2011 there are $20 addons for WHS which bring back drive extender functionality or the like, essentially you allocate all the HDDS you want into the pool and it stores the data across the drives so yes you can remove a drive and all is well, alternatively easy to add to it also. Theres a couple of options out there for that.

If you are running Server08R2 you could just use the software Raid5 and if you are running Server2012 Essentials you can take advantage of Drive Spaces which is similar to the approach described above.

#3 +Chicane-UK

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:47

If I had data I cared about, I'd be looking at an external backup drive (either tape or HDD) rather than trusting all of my data to software RAID within the OS.

I use hardware RAID on a number of production systems at work and it's great and obviously a proven tech but it absolutely should not be your sole solution for data resilience. What happens if you get filesystem corruption or a virus? RAID won't protect you against that sort of scenario so definitely consider external backup if having reliable backups of your data is your primary objective here :)

#4 Osiris

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:49

If I had data I cared about, I'd be looking at an external backup drive (either tape or HDD) rather than trusting all of my data to software RAID within the OS.

I use hardware RAID on a number of production systems at work and it's great and obviously a proven tech but it absolutely should not be your sole solution for data resilience. What happens if you get filesystem corruption or a virus? RAID won't protect you against that sort of scenario so definitely consider external backup if having reliable backups of your data is your primary objective here :)


If he doesnt want to spend the money on a hardware raid card I would think an external 8TB backup would be pretty damn $$$ too.

I prefer the drive extender/disk spaces tech as it provides raid like protection, pooled storage but without the file system issues or corruption of traditional raid arrangements.

#5 sc302

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 13:00

What in the world makes someone think that any form of raid is a backup. Raid is raid, not a backup. A back up is where you take your data and copy it somewhere else. There are incremental backups which only take the modified data and copy that somewhere else. Backups prevent against accidental deletion, corruption, and failure. Raid protects against hardware failure, more specifically drive failure as you go from a single point of failure to multiple points. Relying on the fact that the chances that more than one drive is going to fail at a time is slim. Raid 5 is only tolerant of one drive completely failing, if two drives fail your data is gone. Raid is not a backup of any type it is fault tolerance.

#6 Mando

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 13:13

do not trust your vital data only on a RAID solution, I have had 2 instances of RAID5 (within 10yrs in the industry) on Dell servers and IBM servers lose 3 drives in the container and the data was gone forever, thank god for GFS rotation backups.

RAID is not infallible (less infallible than a single or sets of disks) and should not be the sole copy of your data.

#7 OP UseLess

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 14:51

Thanks for all the advice =) I think i should amend what I said too, as SC302 correctly pointed out, I am not after a true backup solution, but a fault tolerance/redundancy system. As Osiris mentioned, shelling out the money for sufficient space for a backup(mirror) solution is simply too expensive. While this is ideal, I can't justify spending that much money =(

I appear to have been a little less than clear however =/ I would like a raid 5 STYLE tolerance solution, not (necessarily) a raid solution. I am currently just using a Win7Pro box for my server =P (I had a key from a dead laptop lying around at the time =P) The biggest issue that I have with many of the solutions presented is that they (I think?) require clearing out the drives to format/prepare them - in the mean time I have nowhere to store the data that's currently on them.

Basically I need these features from a solution (i understand it may not be possible)
1) Not have to reformat disks to setup for solution (nowhere to put the data! =( )
2) Have it not depend on single point of weakness (for example, if the raid or raid controller controller died, then a non-raid1 system would fail)
3) If the solution was damaged/ceased to exist, data integrity would still be maintained

Thanks again for all the help! And I understand I may be asking the impossible =P

Edit: I am still digging around too - has anyone heard of/used disParity? Sounds roughly like what I'm after. The website is simplistic (to say the least!) so I can't get much of an idea from it =P

#8 +BudMan

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 15:15

I would suggest you take a look at http://www.flexraid.com/

As well as repeat sc302 statement - RAID is NOT a backup!!!

"I do however have 5 other HDDs that store stuff I do want preserved (photos, videos, etc)"

Dude these photos and videos, if of a home personal nature better be BACKED UP!! Preferably in multiple places on multiple types of media!! You can never get back the video of your kids 1st b-day, or photo of first time they had spaghetti, etc.. As to being concerned with cost - how do you put a price on video of kids first steps, or riding bike for first time?? Back UP your personal video/photos!!! In Multiple Places! Plan for the worst possible disaster!!

If its your rip of your DVD collection, those can be re-ripped. But photos and home videos are not replaceable - you can't just re order of copy of those movies via amazon if you loose your copy ;)

edit: My grand daughters videos are on 3 different disks, in 2 different systems (copies not any sort of raid). They are also stored in the cloud. And also on dvd in 2 different locations. I have copy here, and give my son copy for keeping in his house. What if fire in my place, and same time webhost goes out of business sort of thing.