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There are some not-identical disk of various capacities that I want to combine (somehow).

Since there are no duplicate models, I can't use raid between none of them.

Is there a way to use them efficiently while being safe?

What I have in mind is a software that will use them as if it were Raid-5 or something. I really don't care about max speed. I want in the end to have as less logical drives as possible. Also, I don't mind spending some money on hardware, if needed.

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On Linux, btrfs or LVM2 can do this. –  grawity Sep 1 '12 at 19:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can use ZFS for that. It can create a pool over non-identical disks and make use of the storage. It also can be set up with a redundancy (like a RAID), if desired.

A free solution would be to use FreeBSD.

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You didnt list the OS you use, which would help narrow down possibilities and solutions.

You absolutely can put different sized disks into a RAID. The RAID volumes will take on the smallest disk size. Every RAID software and hardware I have seen can do this.

You can use disk spanning to combine all the drives into one volume, with no redundancy.

Many NAS devices can utilize all the storage capacity. You can even use specialized OSs like FreeNAS to handle the storage.

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As a off the shelf solution, as long as all of the drives are desktop SATA drives, Drobo makes several products to fill that exact nitch.

It creates a pseudo RAID 5 that is not constrained by the smallest disk in the set. When you have more bigger drives to retire you just replace the smallest drive and it will automatically grow the partition to the new larger size after it has rebuilt the RAID array.

Ars technica did a 2 part piece on how it works and how well it performed.

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