900MB Storage Solution for Small Business

Posted on 2004-10-27
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I'm helping out a friend who is needing to store data (video snaps from security cameras).  With all the cameras he has; he needs ~900 MB to accomplish this and still leave some space.  The data will be purged every 7 days, so I don't think redundancy is needed. My question is this.

Is it feasible, economical and smart to do this on an XP Pro machine? If so should I use RAID or possibly dynamic disk spanning across say 4-250mb hard drives.  He doesn't really want to purchase a server unless that is the only solution.

 I can build a machine with XP on it, but haven't messed with RAID that much, but I'm sure I could figure it out.  I'm just looking to the experts here for some guidance and advice.  The cheaper the solution the better.

Thanks for taking the time,

Jeff W
Question by:skinswin
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Hi skinswin,

    It is only possible with the help of RAID. Go through the link given below and  I believe will help you to solve your problem.;EN-US;314343;en-us;113933
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    RAID is nice, but using RAID 0 puts you at a greater risk of loosing everything.  RAID 0 - if one disk fails, you loose ALL your data.  Yes, it's only one drive letter, but and it's faster, but it's not going to be much help, I don't think in your circumstance.  I'd suggest 4x250GB (or better still 4x400GB) hard drives and designate each drive for 2 days - Drive 1 = Monday & Tuesday, Drive 2 = Wednesday and Thursday, Drive 3 = Friday and Saturday, Drive 4 = Sunday (or some scheme like that).

    Author Comment

    Sandy-I've read the basic vs dynamic papers before, but don't see why spanning across multiple drives using dynamic wouldn't work.  Is raid difficult to setup and maintain?

    leew-If I use the 4x250GB solution, I'm not sure his security camera software will allow me to break it down into different days to different drives.  I'll have to check that out today.  Why don't you think RAID would help much?

    Thanks for your help so far, I sure appreciate it.

    Jeff W
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    I don't think software RAID is your best bet as it takes too many resources, especially if you don't have a server.  RAID will help with redundancy, but most of the time there is some overhead with sending data.  That is why I suggest doing it in hardware.  For example a Compaq/HP smart array (even the smaller ones) are much faster in terms of overall throughput than internal ide/ata/scsi controllers on a desktop and much faster and reliable than software raid from MS.  

    With Compaq/HP RAID, it is very easy to setup running what is called the Array configuration utility.  But just don't think of the setup...think about how to monitor if one fails!  You need something that will alert you to this as well so that you can fix and address the issue before you lose data.  

    You say you don't want to spend a lot of money...there are some servers (like a Compaq DL380 g2) that have built in RAID controllers and give you enough space to put some pluggable drives.  If this data is important to it right.  The server above is a couple of years old and is really not that expensive.  Probably $1K to 1500?  

    Overall, look at hardware RAID is my the long run, you will be much happier and still have your sanity.
    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    The only problem with a RAID 0 solution or Spanning across multiple drives is if you loose a drive you will loose all data across all the drives. This failure rate will increase with the more drives you have in the array or spanned across because there are more points of failure.
    We have 6 cameras on a XP box that has 3 drives in it. A 20GB system drive and 2 120GB drives to store data on. The program, we have, will let you choose where the video files will go and we have it set up for motion detect so we don't have huge files.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    Jeff -

    Crazijoe outlined my reasons for not using a RAID 0.  RAID 5 would be ok - but then you loose n-1 disks of space (where n=number of drives used).

    Software RAID is easy to setup using Disk Management.
    LVL 55

    Expert Comment

    With XP you don't have the option to use RAID 1 or RAID 5 so RAID 0 will have to do - since it's only camera logs it isn't mission critical so redundancy probably isn't necessary. I'd like to see it split into a disk per day as per Leew's original suggestion but if the s/ware doesn't allow that then a RAID0 set or a volume set would be fine although you won't want to put the program on that volume, just the data.
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Since you mentioned "who is needing to store data " I take it this is NOT for real-time storing, but merely as an ARCHIVE.

    With real-time storing, a RAID solution would be your best bet.

    But, if it is only for storing (ARCHIVE) applications, then the XP machine will be sufficient, so long as you have two HDDs in it.  Simply copy the files you want to archive into a specific folder on the first HDD, and set up a simple batch file (probably using XCOPY) to run at a specific time each day to copy everything over to the second drive.  You don't mention the size of the files to be stored!  You may want individual partitions for each weekday: Monday thru Sunday.  If it's a question of space, install 4 drives (i.e. 250GB) in the XP machine (you don't need the CD/DVD).  This would give you 1TB total capacity with 500GB usable space.  It's cheap and easy to maintain.  Again, this is only if you want to ARCHIVE.

    For real-time storage, you'll probably have to bite the bullet, but the server software and use RAID 5 for the best security.

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