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My home server is running on an ancient 700Mhz PIII machine with Windows 2000. In addition to the web site I linked I use the machine as a file server for the family and (small) database server and source control repo for hobby dev projects. I really want to get the data off the old hard drive (already replaced once, but even the replacement is old now) and onto a pair of new external drives. To that end, I'm looking for advice on the best replacement options. Here are some thoughts/concerns to use when looking for suggestions:

  • I'm looking for drives about 1TB in size.
  • If you want to consider the enclosure and the drives separately that's fine.
  • They don't need to be incredibly fast: the network is more often the bottleneck and most anything you find will already be an upgrade over what's in there right now.
  • The are two available USB ports, but I'm pretty sure all the ports on the machine are only USB1.1.
  • There's no firewire or eSata, so the USB1.1 or ethernet are about my only connection options.
  • I'd like to use the disk manager to set up a single raid 1 volume. Is this possible for usb drives?
  • The server is in a cabinet with limited space and limited power, so bonus points if I can run the drives directly off power from the usb port or at least set it up somehow so both drives only use one outlet.
  • The server is in an out-of-the-way place so noise isn't a concern, but heat might be (the cabinet already gets warm at times).
  • The server is an old re-purposed consumer grade HP, with no room for add-on cards. Yes, I know I should replace the machine as well. That's coming eventually, but part of what I'm hoping to achieve here is putting off that purchase just a little longer.
  • I'm thinking about splitting mirrored volume into two partitions and keeping change history on the 2nd parition. Since the machine is running windows server 2000, the basic backup software that comes with external drives will often refuse to function for licensing reasons. I'm more than capable of writing my own backup script if need be, but if I could use an existing program that would be better.
  • If I go the NAS route, I really want something that will let me use NTFS with security users/groups from the server (it's a domain controller).

Update: My hand has been forced. My server started throwing bug checks at me on friday, and now crashes every 4-8 hours or so. It usually comes right back up but sometimes something doesn't work. The diagnosis is almost certainly just a bad stick of ram, but replacing the old ram isn't a very efficient use of my money.

So instead of a nice new raid array I'm going for a whole new system. It's what I need to do anyway. I'm going the ultra-low power route, and so ironically the new server will cost less than the pair of hard drives, ultimately save me even more money in electricity, and open up some space in the cabinet. I still get to add disk space, and because it'll be a new drive it should be reliable enough until I can revisit this in a year or so, and by then I should be able to get the drives for even less.

Thanks to everyone who helped.

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closed as off topic by Sathya May 17 '13 at 2:36

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NAS isn't an option? – hyperslug Aug 13 '09 at 17:33
Actually, as I think about it NAS would be okay, as long as it's not too expensive and I can map the drives directly to the server. – Joel Coehoorn Aug 13 '09 at 18:43
In fact, NAS would let me move the drives out of the server cabinet, so that may actually be a plus. – Joel Coehoorn Aug 13 '09 at 18:47
Update: most NAS solutions won't let me use NTFS. Back to looking for an eSata/USB2 enclosure where the USB connection is backwards compatible. – Joel Coehoorn Aug 13 '09 at 20:58
What's your price range, with or without going the NAS route? – arathorn Aug 13 '09 at 20:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I know you don't want eSATA but in the interest of providing a good answer for someone just searching on the title.

This comes with an eSATA controller, offers 4 swappable bays, can be configured in multiple configurations and screams with regard to drive speed.

Have one computer running these in JOBD mode and swap out full drives easily and regularly with no problems.

3.5in 4 Drive eSATA RAID External Hard Drive Enclosure w/ Controller ID: SAT3540ER

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My suggestion is LACIE 2big Quadra 301352U 2TB 7200 RPM USB 2.0 / IEEE 1394a / 1394b / eSATA External Hard Drive - Retail. From NewEgg (link below) it contains 2 drives which you can raid 1 together to get your 1 TB. Your transfer spec will be the bottleneck but you will get the reliability that you seem to be looking for.

Using Disk Manager you can setup the raids. I have had success with that before.

Good Luck.

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If you're willing to go the NAS route SU already has several recommendations:

I have a D-Link DNS-323 with 2 x 1TB drives in them, Samsung F1's. Both the Samsung's and the DNS-323 are very quiet, and they spin down when not in use. RAID1 is built in. Be aware it will format the drives when creating the mirror (so if you have 1 drive w/ data and later decide to add another it will reformat both, not sure why). Also has gigabit ethernet.

It costs USD 158 at Amazon, and there's a $30 mail in rebate at time of writing.

I'll hold off from explicitly recommending the Samsung F1's because a few users have reported problems with them. Mine have been flawless, fast, and extremely quiet.

I have them set up as 2 separate volumes and I mirror manually in order to have at least 1 level of versioning, so I can rollback just in case I make a mistake.

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