I'm currently using 3 RAID5 controllers in each of several media systems. This is being done in an attempt to preempt future data loss. I store large amounts of scanned, video and audio historical data that can't re replaced so I want to make sure that the loss of a single drive or even two in one array will not mean the permanent loss of all data. Recently we had 2, 3TB 3.5" non-RAID drives fail after less than 2 years of intermittent use. As a result we lost over 2TB of non-replaceable data. Please don't harp about backup, storing that much data in the "cloud" or with some company like Carbonite is cost prohibitive. We expect to have over 40TB of data on similar RAID5 storage systems by the end of the year. This data is the written, audio, video and photographic memories of thousands of WWII vets. We are using RAID5 clusters so as to minimize the effect of loosing a drive.

These systems are currently set up with 3 RAID5 controllers each (HighPoint, RocketRaid), a set of 4 (1.5TB) drives on each. We are using 2.5" NON-enterprise drives because they were donated to us. The system is used anywhere from 0.5 to 6 hours a day. This is not a 24/7 server operation. We have many available drives of the same type to swap when needed. Our goal is to reach 100TB of "lossless" storage by years end.

The question is: Using these drives in this manner do I need to expect a higher than normal failure rate ? Or is the failure rate the same as normal home use ? Or is there a better way to do this using the available 1.5TB drives we have ? (2 Gross)

I thank you in advance for any help you may offer.

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    RAID 5 is a terrible choice for this application, since you cannot be reasonably sure a rebuild will complete before a second drive fails due to the large drive capacities. Intentionally not having backups is also a terrible choice; the reasons should be obvious, since you have already suffered data loss from not having backups. – Michael Hampton Jun 13 '14 at 5:08
  • Cloud based backups are not prohibitively expensive. You can store unlimited terabytes with BackBlaze for $50/year. Getting 40TB up there is another story. For all the reasons @MichaelHampton said. Sorry that this isn't actually answering your question, but we see red flags going up with every sentence I read... – Mark Henderson Jun 13 '14 at 5:12
  • Big companies spend big bucks for "lossless storage" and still have losses! What you ask to do is not trivial in any way. @MichaelHampton is right on all accounts. – Damon Jun 18 '14 at 3:57

We should harp on about backup because if the data is worth keeping then it is worth backing up. RAID is not backup. What would you do if for example you had a fire? Or if you got a virus which deleted the data?

It doesn't have to be cloud storage, make copies on bluray, tape or hard drives and store them offline at a different location

Particularly if you are using consumer drives, using no UPS and turning the machine on and off it is likely to lose more than one drive at a time.

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