New RAID configuration questions.

I'm looking to build a home hard drive server for myself.  I bought the parts for a new box, so I can make it nothing but a server for myself.

I am going to configure RAID on it.  I am thinking RAID 5 because I do want to be able to recover data if one drive fails (unlike RAID 0), but I don't want full copies (like RAID 1 or 0+1).  I have movies, MP3's, ISO's, all the standard file share stuff; that's the primary use of it.  I will be using gigabit to my main PC and hoping a RAID will help improve performance.  I am sure I'm going with a software RAID, because although I have a cheap PCI controller and the motherboard supports RAID 0 & 1, I want all my hard drives to be one big RAID (excluding the samll system disk).  I will be running Ubuntu Linux, and I'm sure Linux has the ability to run RAID 5 from software.  My first question is:  Is RAID 5 a good solution to what I want and stated above?

I am looking to configure this RAID on drives I am currently using (two 120GB IDE, one 160GB IDE, and one 80GB IDE).  I have these drives absolutely full of data right now, and I'll be adding a new  (one 160GB SATA) drive to it as well.  The question here is:  Can I impliment my new RAID without losing my data (since these drives are not empty), or will I have to back up all the data elsewhere and bring it back in?

Thanks in advance.  Any help you can give me on the topic of RAID, Software RAID, and software RAID with Linux (Any recommendations on good Linux RAID software?) would be much appreciated, in addition to the two questions I asked.
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Hi, Pyromancer

It is not recommended to mix SATA & IDE disk in any Raid configuration.

On the other hand if you insert/created a R1 for the two 120GB IDE then you'll have Raid 1 mirror (seen as 120GB)
then if you just added all alot then you'll be getting 4*80GB before purchasing a new drive the new drive would be worth 80GB
It is recommended that you use the same size drives in RAID configurations, or you will waste space on the larger drives.  You will have to backup your existing data, because when you create an array, it wipes everything off the drive (or treats it as if it were clean).

RAID cards are not that expensive, and they do alleviate the load on the cpu:

RAID defined

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I have limited experience with software RAID and even less with Linux. But I would like to convince you to covert over to hardware RAID and SCSI disks. Hardware RAID doesn't tax your CPU, if implemented with the right hardware it supports hot swapping and the array controllers have battery backed cache on them which will protect you from data loss in the event of a power failure.

I picked up a pair of dual channel Compaq Array controllers on eBay the other day for $50. Thes are out of servers that were upgraded to the latest and greatest. Server quality hardware is what you want to be able to build a solid and stable file server.

Here is how I usually set up a server. The operating system array is RAID 1 with an online spare. The file serving array is configured for RAID 5, again with an online spare. This configuration makes for one of the highest perfroming setups around and it is extremely stable since there are spares already there.

Here is a litle tutorial on RAID:

Good luck...
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PyromancerAuthor Commented:
I see what you mean.  I totally neglected the rule that you have to have drives with the same size.  My primary concern here was to create a large Logical drive, instead of having to mess around with my five current hard drives.  The performance boost would be nice, as well.

What I'm thinking of doing now is this:  I have a RAID 0, 1, 0+1 PCI card (the same as the link from Callandor).  I'll use my 120's as one RAID 0 (my data isn't mission critical).  I'll use my 160's then, as another RAID on my new motherboard (it has support for SATA and IDE to work together).  This will combine four drive to two, increasing performance slightly.

A software RAID will no longer be necessary then, will it?  That's fine.  I plan on hosting some games from my computer, so the 2.2GHz CPU won't go to waste.  I'm a college student looking for more of a hobby server.  I spent $300 on a new computer (Mobo, CPU, RAM, Case...) to use as a Server.  I wasn't looking specifically for a RAID server for any multimedia production, etc...
I think you are asking for trouble using SATA and IDE on the same array, but I don't like SATA or IDE. All of my production machines are SCSI.

I would recommend you find another SATA or IDE, but don't mix.

Have fun and Good luck...
I will leave it up to the moderators to decide who's comments have the most value if the intitator is not willing.
PyromancerAuthor Commented:
Yeah... I implimented it.  I bought an MSI motherboard that has a built-in RAID controller (Fasttrack).  It gives the ability to combine 2 SATA drives and 2 IDE drives, plus 4 standard IDE drives (wow!).  This is more than what I was looking for.

I'm running Two 160GB SATA drives and one 160 IDE drive on RAID 0.  Works great, except I could not install Ubuntu Linux on it using their setup.  The problem was that it detected each drive indivudually...  I'll use a 120GB IDE on the non-RAID channels.  This should work great for home use.  I'm also using Gigabit built-in to the HDD server and PCI on my desktop PC.
The reason you are seing each drive individually is you have to pre-load the drivers for your OS.

I recently had to do a recovery on a machine that had an IDE array configured on a Promise RAID card. When I booted BartPE, I saw two independant drives that had an unrecognized format. I then downloaded the Promise drivers to floppy and installed them while BartPE was loading and I could then see the array as it was configured on the controller..

Good luck...
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