I need a cheap but reasonable reliable storage solution for a non-profit institution and thought about building a software RAID 5 with Windows Server 2003. It should have as many space as I can get for the money and performance (esp. write performance) is not the top priority as it will be accessed via WLAN (108 MBit) only which will limit anything to less then 10MB/s anyway.
I plan to use 6 IDE drives (either 300GB Samsung or 320 GB WD) with the onboard IDE controller (SIS 661FX Chipset) and an additional PCI IDE controller (Promise Ultra 133 TX2). The system will get a extra system disk of 30 GB and a CD/DVD-Reader. It will have a 1.7 GHz Willamette P4 and 512MB of RAM. The server also needs to be the network gateway (DHCP/DNS/NAT) of the institution.
I'm neither a admin nor hardware expert and have only limited knowledge about RAIDs and Windows Server. So I have a couple of questions:
1.) Will I be able to transfer the entire disk array to a different hardware some day with a fresh installation of Win2k3?
2.) Can I replace the CD-drive with a spare disk that will be used automatically if a disk of the array fails?
3.) Will it be possible to power down the RAID-drives while the server is running and automatically restart them when somebody accesses files on them? (it is very likely that there will be days without any access although I won't know in advance when this will be the case)
4.) Is it possible to make it send an email whenever a disk fails?
5.) Would you recommend the Samsung 300 GB drives (cheaper, less heat/noise?) or Western Digital 320 GB (larger, more reliable?)?
6.) I am aware that this will not be very fast but I guess the reading speed should be roughly comparable to the speed of a single disk and the writing speed should be at least 10 MB/s. Do you think this is correct?
7.) Do you have any other suggestions what could be optimized with this system (for no or almost no money)?
Thank you for your help.