File Servers

Posted on 2006-06-08
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
What is the current trend for file servers.  We currently have raid 5 15000 RPM drives that are used to store user files and other system backups.  Curious if more companies are going back to IDE drives or SATA drives since they are so cheap.  Thought about instead of backing up other servers to the file server backup, to a USB mass storage unit then backup that backup to a LTO2 tape drive each night.  Just curious.
Question by:michaelcamden
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    We currently use SATA drives in our SBS servers that we build for clients a, because they are considerably cheaper per GB and b, they are a damn sight easier to configure (if you give scsi's to a novice they can be there for hours trying to work out how to terminate the jumpers)

    I don't know what people prefer with fullblown servers that may be under high load but the majority of our customers wouldn't notice any impact on performance by using SATA.

    As for backups, we still use tape for our servers although we are starting to encourage customers to backup business critical data off site via a remote backup service as well. Occasionally where cost will allow we have also put an additional drive in the server for hard disk backup once a month, this depends on how disastorous data loss would be to the client.
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    SATA drives are fine for most small businesses, as long as you keep 2 factors in mind. 1 is that SATA drives have a higher failure rate, so make SURE to have redundancy built in - at least 2 drives mirrored.  2 is consider what is on the drives - if you have programs with a lot of disk activity, you may want the higher disk performace of SCSI. Realistically though most small companies won't notice a difference.

    I also agree with barnesm6 in that tape is still "primary" backup media (although very much a love/hate relationship), but also make sure you have off-site backups of some type. Either a tape stored in an off-site vault, a USB hard drive, remote backup service, etc.  (If you use USB for anything, though, make sure the device and server both are USB 2.0; the older standards are just too slow for massive data transfers).
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    Most high end servers will still use scsi. Sata is getting more and more popularfor smaller systems, and ide is hardly used inside servers. With sata many are starting to use raid 10 because of the speed and redundancy improvement, as well as today's large disk size compared to price. SCSI raid is normally still raid 5, as SCSI disk sizes are normally smaller and much more expensive.

    For backup I'd rather not use USB, as that seems to be a bit unreliable. Many new systems have external Sata ports, sousing an external scsi HD for backup is the way to go. For archiving tape is still the only real option. DVD's just don't have enough room. When using a D2D2T backup system, the disk you backup to is either internal, nas or san, but usually no external disk is used for that as you don't have to move those disks offsite, for that you are backing up to tape additionaly.
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    For backups, we've bought 2 extra enclosures for our EMC SAN, both of which are ATA as opposed to fiber channel disks. This has worked really well for us, we then follow the current trend of destaging to tape for offsite disaster recovery needs. For our servers, we're sticking with SCSI on our core servers, anything that is not deemed to be of high importance we've used SATA in a RAID 1 configuration. We've found in our environment (building work going on...lots of lovely power outages!) that we've have had more SATA drives go then SCSI or FC (on the SAN)

    The only other thing I'd say is that most people take backups for granted, it's one of those things that isn't on anyones importance list until they all go wrong and you really, really need it. We've invested heavily in it and it's really paid off for us (Netbackup, SAN arrays, tape library)...restore using netbackup are fast as you like!


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