Good NAS Going Bad

Our household NAS, known as HAL, is suffering. A LaCie 5Big Network Drive, HAL arrived in December of 2008 loaded with five 500 GB hard drives, yielding 2 TB of RAID 5 storage.

HAL was a Christmas present. He addressed my wife’s need for a storage strategy for her digital photographs, amongst other things. Within the family I was widely known as a geek. The fact that she welcomed a NAS as a gift cemented her standing in that regard.

HAL was twice upgraded such that he presently sports five 2 TB Seagate Barracuda hard drives configured for RAID 10 + a hot spare. One drive failed a couple of months ago. At that time it pulled in the hot spare, spending a weekend rebuilding the volume. No data was lost.

This past week another drive has failed. Once again, no data has been lost, but our confidence in the remain drives has been shaken. The loss of two drives in as many months suggests that the remaining drives can’t be trusted.

I used to be a fan of Seagate disks, but I’m not so sure anymore. This set are only about 2 years old. I’m a little surprised that they have started to fail so soon.

As I write this HAL is disgorging his contents to a large, new portable hard drive. Not a speed demon even when he was new, the process is taking quite a long time. It’s time to replace the old-one-eyed file store.

I gather that LaCie was purchased by Seagate. According to a thread over at Small Net Builder the LaCie brand will eventually be repositioned as computer attached storage. The NAS range will soon be Seagate branded. Tim Higgins has the new systems in hand for review.

In truth, or data storage needs have subsided with my change in career path. Where HAL was once RAID5 and nearly full, I was able to shift to RAID 10 + spare when I didn’t need to hold onto file sets from my former broadcast customers. Now we are a lot more like a typical family, retaining mostly digital photos, music and some software.

In light of this new reality, I might be inclined to rely more upon local storage in our desktop computers, perhaps in conjunction with a cloud backup solution. However, Stella has stated her preference for a dedicated network bit bucket for her photo library. So I guess that we’ll be considering a new NAS shortly.

  • lifespeed

    I highly recommend Toshiba drives (used to be Hitachi before the WD merger, thank goodness for anti-trust regulators forcing the desktop drive sell off or we would be stuck with a Seagate/Western Digital duopoly). 3TB 5900 RPM drives are ideal for RAID. I have 11 of these and never a failure.

  • TheMole

    I’ve been running a Synology DS1813+ for about 6 months now and highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful device and gives the users as little or as much control over what you wnat to do.

    We should all remember that RAID is not a substitute for a backup. I’m configured with RAID 10, but do a nightly backup to a remote site, just in case.

    RAID 5 is dead and should not be used any longer. Additionally, there are some who recommend purchasing hard drives that were manufactured in different lots, so that if there was a manufacturing problem that could lead to a failure, you’re array is less exposed to more than 1 drive failing due to that problem.

    Good luck. Managing data in the SOHO is hard!

    • Michael Graves

      I still see RAID5 used in editing applications. In such a role there’s never enough storage. I do agree that it’s no longer appropriate for SOHO file storage.

    • lifespeed

      Sounds like you’re thinking of RAID5 as poorly implemented in a proprietary NAS software version. Real RAID5 (or RAID6, which I prefer) implemented on a proper RAID card has excellent performance and storage capacity. It is still heavily used today, and for good reason.

      • Michael Graves

        Looking at our needs, which are fairly typical of SOHO, disks have sufficient capacity to address our requirements in a practical RAID 1 solution. That is, a 5 x 2TB drive array setup for RAID 10+spare has been more than enough space for us. That’s 4TB actually file storage. It could be configured RAID 5 and deliver 8TB , or RAID 6 and deliver 6TB.

        Given that 6TB drives are now common and 8TB are coming, a 4-5 drive housing should meet our needs for some time.

        I’m thinking about the FreeNAS Mini from iX Systems. http://www.ixsystems.com/storage/freenas/

  • TheMole

    edit: your, not you’re!

  • TheMole

    I originally purchased a 4 bay NAS and quickly realized that I made the wrong decision; luckily Amazon is great with returns. A marginal increase in price will give you 8 bays. I’m happy that I made the change.