I am building a file server my plan is the have the Operating system on one raid partition and the data storage on another partition.

I currently have 5 x 3GB IDE drives that i would like to put the operating system on theses drives are old but that doesnt matter to me at the moment i have a ton of them so for this raid partition i would probably want to be able to pull out dead a drive and rebuild the array.

My file partition is going to consist of 4 x 1.5TB SATA drives I would like the maximum storage with some redundancy.

Any suggestions to which Raid level i should use would be greatly appreciated and if you could also suggest a PCI or PCI-e raid controller to handle theses arrays.

Thanks in Advance,



Do you really mean 3 GB? As in Three Gigabytes? I'm not going to pick on the fact that they are quite likely to die, but I'm more thinking about the likely horrible performance (even building a raid out of them won't help that much) and the low space.

What operating system do you run? As RAID0 is suicide, that leaves RAID 1, 5, 6 or 10. RAID5 means you "lose" one drive, which leaves you at 12 GB but only allows one drive to die. I'd go RAID 10 normally, but that means a lot of capacity loss (half of the drives, which doesn't work with an odd number anyway).

As for the Data partition: For maximum space with "some" redundancy, RAID5 only "loses" one drive (so you still have 4.5 TB space), but only one can die though.

  • I don't mind the poor performance they are not that bad 5200 RPM 16MB Buffered memory. And i have about 30 of them on hand and another 100 or so if i need them so i really don't care if they die. I said i'm looking for an array that could have a single dead drive pulled out and rebuilt. If this gets to the point where they are failing constantly i will replace them all but for now i would like to use theses 3GB drives. I havent decided im leaning towards running gentoo. – Zen_Silence Mar 13 '10 at 18:17

Your 3GB drives are excellent... for doorstops and paperweights (but are too small to use as boat anchors).

They are well past their service life, and will likely fail very soon. Not only that, they will have horrendous performance compared to modern drives (especially ones which use perpendicular recording). Send them off for recycling. Seriously. I mean it.

You seem like you have very little experience with RAID. There's no shame in this, but RAID administration is part black magic, part science, part experience, and part voodoo. For you, I would recommend a Drobo. If you're going to boot off it, you can use a Drobo S with e-SATA if you're using Windows, or any Drobo for a Mac (since booting a Mac from USB or FireWire is fully supported; FW800 is best in this case).

Put the drives into the Drobo, configure it as NTFS (Windows) or HFS+ (Mac) with an 8 or 16 TB virtual array size (to allow for upsizing in the future up to the selected virtual size without redoing it all), aaaaaand... you're done. If one fails, it tells you (both in software and on the unit's LEDs), and you pop it out and replace it with any drive that's the same size or bigger -- without powering down. You can expand the RAID with larger drives by replacing them one at a time while the unit is powered on and online (the data is still accessible for read and write during upsizing!).

If you absolutely insist on doing it yourself, get a high-quality RAID adapter. 3Ware, Adaptec, Areca, and Intel are good examples of quality. Poor-quality adapters (Promise, Silicon Image, Realtek, etc) generally do the heavy lifting in the driver, resulting in performance issues. Use RAID5. Make sure the solution you're examining will alert you to failed drives, or else you might never know until the second drive dies (causing the loss of all data on the array).

  • I Dont want a drobo or any other NAS you just because i am asking a question about which raid level to use doesnt mean that i dont know alot about configuring it. Yes i know that my 3GB drives are funny i am using them because i do not want to buy anymore new drives then nessary if if they start failing all the time i will replace all of them with 80GB drives or something. Could you please send me links to two raid controllers that you would suggest to use in this situation company name are not a good judge of quality a company can make one good card then the next one is garbage. – Zen_Silence Mar 13 '10 at 18:23
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    @Zen: NAS stands for Network-Attached Storage. Drobo is not NAS (unless you also purchase a DroboShare, which I did not suggest doing) -- it is a directly-attached external RAID array for use by one machine. Companies who "can make one good card then the next one is garbage" are in my list of poor-quality adapter makers. Good luck with that. – Alex Mar 13 '10 at 20:59

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