Do I upgrade HD or install a NAS?

Posted on 2006-03-23
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hello Experts!

I am running a RAID 5 on my DC.  I have the RAID partitioned into a 30 gig and 40 gig partitions.  On the 30 gig, I have 6 gigs remaining and on the 40 gig, I have 12 gigs remaining.  We've used up the 24 and 28 gigs within the past two years.  I would like to have enough storage for another two or three years.

The question I have is should I upgrade the HD's or should I install a NAS?  And why?  

Like everything else...cost is an issue.  

Thank you.

Question by:braman1
    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    Cost is always an issue, but you have to weigh the cost of labor to maintain and re-configure raid arrays.  The cost of NAS has dropped significantly.  

    For $650 you can get a Buffalo with 1 terabyte.  It can be mirrored as 500 gigs or Raid V at 750 Gigs

    There are smaller one's as well.

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    LVL 9

    Accepted Solution

    NAS provides you with seperation from a physical server to provide the shares to your uses/applications. It also allows multiple OS to access the same data volumes. This is important if

    a. you have multiple OS running within an environment
    b. you have performance issues with hosting the disks on a server. A NAS is tweaked to optomise file sharing.
    c. you don't have the experience to be able to administer the OS file server and need an 'easier' admin solution for the shares
    d. You need flexibility for expansion of your storage.

    If you are predicting a growth of 50GB per 2 years and you have the space to perform the migration, then I would add/replace the hard disks within the server. Quick and simple, but only if you have spare physical space to install the disks.

    If you are concerned about the migration, then NAS is easier in that it will be installed onto the network in parallel with your existing file server and you can migrate as and when you like without service disruption.

    NAS would also remove the traffic hitting the DC and give you some resilience and future options (like replacing the DC in the future, without having to touch the large amount of data).
    It also makes backup simpler as you seperate functions, thus restores are easier to manage.

    Hope this helps
    IPKON Networks Ltd
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    As to the why?  It allows you to add multiple years very easily.  The amount of labor involved is minimal.  You aren't cracking open a server to add more dives and expand the array, the monkeying around with adding the drives to the array.  I've been there and done it, and it just takes time.  I expanded a client with the Buffalo as a 500 mirrored and iut was easy and took almost no time at all.
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    Let me get this straight--   on your domain contoller, your RAID5 configuration has a total of 70GB of useable space (40G partition, 30G partition).     Assuming you're running (guessing here) um, 18GB hard drives, that means you have five (5) hard drives, and out of that, you lose one for overhead for RAID5.

    Since cost is an issue, I'd recommend against going with a NAS- while there are all sorts of benefits (see previous postings), I don't believe you have the storage need to warrant it.    In two years you've used a whopping 24+28GB...   by today's standards, that's pretty small.......

    Therefore, I would recommend the following:

    Replace your 18G hard drives with 80G hard drives (after all, you want multiple spindles, and you just don't have the storage need for massive drives like 200G etc).   These can be found for as low as $50 each, which gives you an approximate cost of $250, assuming you're really using 5 drives.   If you have more or less drives, modify the math accordingly- (and more, if the drives are SCSI, but I'm guessing they're not...).


    So, for all of $250, your total storage moves from 70G capacity to 320G capacity.      At the rate you're using storage now (let's call it 30G a year), this setup will last you another 8 years.    Of course, you'll be replacing the whole server AND storage way before than anyway.    $250 to extend your existing hardware is a small investment, and swapping out the old hard drives with the new ones is basically a full backup+restore operation.

    Yes, NAS is cool and wise and wonderful and such- I simply don't believe you need it-- and "another" box to have to manage.   Go replace your existing drives.   Simple, easy, and inexpensive.

    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    I'm not sure if I'd go with Casey's recommendation because first of all, most RAID array's are done on SCSI, and SCSI drives tend to cost quite a bit more than IDE or SATA.  However, most RAID 5 Arrays are only built with 3 HD's, so that would mean that if he got 3 - 70 Gig Drives, it would basically double his capacity, lasting him another 2 years or so.  However, IF the hard drives are SCSI, then ADDING 3 more drives is no big deal, as it doesn't cause any more load on the server, like IDE & ATA solutions do.  If that is the case, the new drives can be added as a singled partitioned array of 140 Gigs, one of the other partitions can be backed up, and restored to this one (to preserve security settings).  The remaining partition can then be resized to take up all the space on the old partition (70Gigs).  Of course, since SCSI is more expensive than ATA:
    It will cost around $600.00 for this solution, about the same as getting a NAS, but he's only getting an additional 140 Gigs of space, with the Buffalo unit;
    You can get around 750Gigs setup as a RAID5 Array, that's about 5X more storage, sure it's not SCSI, but it's a dedicated Box, so it should outperform an SCSI over a network.  In order to reduce complexity, you can add the NAS as a Server Folder stemming off an existing network share, or as a DFS root folder, again stemming off an existing network share.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    My final 2 cents:
    All of our recommendations I believe will do the job.  Matt factor in time.  That is the biggest piece usually missed.  Wou can go get 3-4 more scsi's, assuming your server and hardware will support both at the same time so that you can build the new array, then transfer the data.  (I say that because I am making the assumption you will remove the older one's since you have newer one's)  What time is involved to do this as opposed to attaching the NAS seperately.  There are pros and cons to both ways.  I've done both, and in the end, we do NAS now.  The time and effort just wasn't worth it.  We are a large retailer, it is much easier to manage the addional over head (it is slight) than to take down boxes to add drives, create arrays, then transfer data.  Just my opinion, to some it is worth the trouble and that is fine, it is also a good solution.
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Forget what Casey said it makes no sense.  You will have a nightmare cloning everything to the new drives IF you aren't SCSI which of course you are because thats what rules the RAID world.  However, what about an external raid device like Micronet's Platinum Raid series.  We just added a few here and they have made all the difference in the world.  Check them out.  They come with a built in hardware RAID controller and you can hook them up directly to the external SCSI port on the computer which you probably have.

    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    if your server has spare drive bays just get another drive or two like the ones you already have in the system (they should be the same size). If your raid controller is a good one it'll allow you to expand the array on the fly to accomodate the extra drives. Then you will get the extra space inside diskmanagement (if it is a windoze OS you are running). If you are currently running dynamic disks you can use the builtin utility "partimage" to extend the current partitions to use the extra space, or you can just create a new partition inside diskmanagement (or use 3rd party tools like acronis diskdirector suite or bootit-ng to extend your current partitions). It isn't too difficult but do make sure you have a good and tested backup before making any changes...

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