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So we have a about 25 laptop hard disks lying around (when we get new laptops, we replace the hard disks with SSDs). What is the best way to use these? Ideally, I'd like to build some kind of disk bay or disk attachment or rack of some sort. Is there any hardware that can do this?

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Windows 8 has Storage Spaces, I would use, provided you don't have to boot to them. I assume you have the ability to place them in external bays. – Ramhound Nov 15 '12 at 19:45

one possible solution would be to find a server that supports 2.5" drives and install them in the server. you could use hardware or software raid to create a larger volume and protect the data.

A Dell PowerEdge R820 would fit 16 disks in a 2RU server. There are many other configurations that would work as well.

Once your disks are in the server, you could use Windows to create a file share on the new disks or I would also recommend looking into OpenFiler, FreeNAS, NexentaStor and similar offerings. These appliances will allow you to present your storage over a network via NFS, CIFS or iSCSI.

I've taken a similar approach to use extra 2.5" disks in a Dell PowerEdge R610 with Openfiler to build an array for an ESXi lab (using iSCSI). You could also use CIFS and create file shares for departmental or user folders or this space could be used for backups.

This is just one scenario on how these disks could be used.

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Find a SAS storage array that you can buy without disks already in it. I just googled '2.5" sas storage array' and found this. [note: n > 2 disks are best on a SAS controller, SATA drives work on SAS, but not vice-versa]

You might have to buy extra gear like a RAID controller or an HBA card, but this is probably what you were thinking of.

Honestly though, unless you have a lot of money to throw away just to play around with something like this, or actually plan on using it, you're probably better off just selling the disks as surplus.

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If those are SATA disks you could technically use a SAS controller to hook 'em all up. But i doubt it would make much economical sense buying one for that purpose. There are models that support 16 devices, but those are not exactly cheap. 25 external USB based HDD enclosures aren't either though.

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You might want to consider something like Icy Dock. Won't get all 25 into one but they do have some interesting options.

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Please expand your answer by providing more details how the software you're suggesting answers the question. – bytebuster Nov 16 '12 at 4:20

I realize this is an older thread from almost two years ago, but I will chip in my two cents anyway.

I recently bought an HP StorageWorks MSA 70 Enclosure which supports up to 25 2.5" SAS or SATA hard disks (the same as the ones from your laptops). I also bought an "LSI Logic 9200-8e 8-ports SAS Controller" to be able to connect the enclosure to my server.

This combination works specially well if you want to have the option to see each disk individually (JBOD style). I bought this particular card specifically for this reason as I wanted to be able to clone SAS disks from an HP-UX server individually.

I have already finished doing the cloning of the disks by the way, and it worked perfectly. Just today I was playing with the enclosure again and decided to connect one SATA 2.5" laptop hard disk and I was able to access the data on it. I was thinking of using this enclosure connected to my Linux server to provide iSCSI storage to my VMWare servers, but I have my doubts in using laptop hard disks in this setup as they are not enterprise level and might not work well in a RAID array, but I might give it a try and see how it goes. The setup is for a lab, so performance is not necessarily a concern.

In any case, an HP MSA70 enclosure will work well with laptop hard disks (SATA 2.5"), just don't expect great performance and be ready for a higher rate of hard disk failures.

Also, the enclosure was not terribly expensive. I paid $100.00 from a local supplier.

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