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View Full Version : External Backup systems for home network. Drobo or DIY


bphillips330
20th of November 2008 (Thu), 17:49
ok here are my needs. I have a desktop (main work station) and a laptop (used for around the house). The main machine is where i have all my photos. In that box I have 2 drives (250 gig main drive, 500 gig partitioned into 250 a piece) I also have an external 500 gig my book for backup. I use one internal drive for photos only, and backup that to external drive.

The pain in the butt part is if I want to have my laptop see pictures on the hard drive, I have to have main pc on all the time.........

Here is what I need advice on. I want and external backup system that:

can be raided (mirrored etc...)
be able to hook via ethernet (hooked into my router so I don't have main pc on all the time
if it is hot swapable internally (hard drives) is a bonus but not needed.
Be able to log into from outside my network, via ftp or the like.I have seen DROBO and that looks nice, but out of my budget. What sort of DIY or less expensive systems are out there that I can tie into my network. I am guessing two 500 gig drives mirrored inside.

CyberDyneSystems
20th of November 2008 (Thu), 18:09
I went through a similar quest, and did not find an option that was affordable to me.
I went instead with a Non raided solution, and used TWO products.

The key was this little item;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817394066&Tpk=belkin%20network%20usb%20hub
Belkin Network USB hub, which allows me to access any USB External hard drive over the network (wired or wireless via wireless router) with any PC.

Then you can plug in any of a number of USB devices including external hard drives, and printers and access them from any PC. You COULD plug in a RAID - 1 USB system to get that redundancy you crave,
OR plug in a pair of USB external drives and simply run your back up to both.

The only draw back I see is that it does not allow two PCs to access the drive at the same time, and you must install the software.
Also, it is "named" quite incorrectly. The unit is in no way "wireless" ???
It is a wired unit relying on Cat-5 to talk to your network.
However with a wireless router on the net work you can indeed access it and the USB units attached wirelessly.
Nice to print from the laptop over the wireless network!

I have it working fine on an XP64 OS and my laptop with XP home.
I use it for back up of the laptop, and to sync the "my docs" folder on all machines in the house.

tim
20th of November 2008 (Thu), 18:38
Remember a fire can burn a RAID array as well as it can burn a single drive. Offsite backups ftw.

neil_g
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 04:49
i wouldnt use RAID as a backup device tbh, im starting to sound like a broken record but RAID controllers can and do fail and then your drives are toast.

stick to multiple copies across single drives. e.g - 2 external drives that are sync'd and another off site disk.

AdamC
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 04:53
I asked a similar question recently elsewhere, and got lots of votes for Dlink's DNS-323. Does RAID1/JBOD and a bunch of other stuff. Not the cheapest, but loads cheaper than a Drobo. I'm looking at doing a DIY setup though, using FreeNAS (www.freenas.org) and standard clone-PC parts.

Greg_C
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 05:38
I uses a Microsoft product called Windows Home Server (WHS). It's a cut down version of Small Business Server for home network use and will possibly do most of what you want. I speced the machine and where I bought it from assembled it but I then had to install WHS.

You could store the photos in a shared drive on the WHS and they would be available to both the Main PC and the Laptop. Of course this then means the server has to run all of the time. I keep the photos from the current year on the main machine and the remainder are on the server. I don't run the server 24/7 as I don't always need to see the actual images as the thumbnails are in my Image Management DB (IMatch).


* can be raided (mirrored etc...)
While not a RAID system you can switch on Duplication of shared folders, when this is done the files two copies of the files are kept on separate HD in the server. To other PC's in the network it appears as only one copy of the files. Duplication is switched on by default when you have more than one HD as part of the system. The Drive Extender lets you add new HD to the server at any time. The advantage of Drive Extender over RAID is that the HDs do not need to be the same size, speed, or connection. Other other side of this is that the RAID system is going to be more efficient for larger storage requirements if you are going to switch on Duplication for ALL of your shares.

* be able to hook via ethernet (hooked into my router so I don't have main pc on all the time
This is a requirement of a WHS system. It must be directly connected to the router not a wireless connection. If needed you can set up independent share for each of your family members on the server. Trouble is, it's not all that different from running the main machine all of the time.
* if it is hot swapable internally (hard drives) is a bonus but not needed.
It almost does this, if you tell the server you want to remove a HD from the server it copies to the files to another HD in the server with free space. The flip side of this is the Drive Extender, you just keep adding HDs and the server adds them to the Pool. To each of the PC on the network it just looks like the available space on the server just increased by the size of the new HD. The shares don't appear as drive letters, just a named area.
* Be able to log into from outside my network, via ftp or the like.
Yes. Will also act as a web server if you switch this bit on (I'm not using this feature)

This may be out of your price range, my box cost $1100AU to get up and running (software and hardware) and I've since added another HD to the Pool.

The added advantage is the backup facility that WHS has. Your Main PC and Laptop will be backed up to the server. Another useful feature is it can act as a Media server for music etc.


Here's the review I did on it here on POTN
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=533051

It works well for me, but is NOT a substitute for a off site backup, I keep a separate off site backup also.

chrisvl
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 12:59
Check out the promise Smartstore. It's like Drobo but at the time Drobo wasn't networkable.
http://www.promise.com/product/product_detail_eng.asp?product_id=177
I've had mine for about 8 months now. runs from my laundry room (too loud for me).
Backup runs weekly.
I forget that its there.

bphillips330
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 17:51
I uses a Microsoft product called Windows Home Server (WHS). It's a cut down version of Small Business Server for home network use and will possibly do most of what you want. I speced the machine and where I bought it from assembled it but I then had to install WHS.

You could store the photos in a shared drive on the WHS and they would be available to both the Main PC and the Laptop. Of course this then means the server has to run all of the time. I keep the photos from the current year on the main machine and the remainder are on the server. I don't run the server 24/7 as I don't always need to see the actual images as the thumbnails are in my Image Management DB (IMatch).


* can be raided (mirrored etc...)
While not a RAID system you can switch on Duplication of shared folders, when this is done the files two copies of the files are kept on separate HD in the server. To other PC's in the network it appears as only one copy of the files. Duplication is switched on by default when you have more than one HD as part of the system. The Drive Extender lets you add new HD to the server at any time. The advantage of Drive Extender over RAID is that the HDs do not need to be the same size, speed, or connection. Other other side of this is that the RAID system is going to be more efficient for larger storage requirements if you are going to switch on Duplication for ALL of your shares.

* be able to hook via ethernet (hooked into my router so I don't have main pc on all the time
This is a requirement of a WHS system. It must be directly connected to the router not a wireless connection. If needed you can set up independent share for each of your family members on the server. Trouble is, it's not all that different from running the main machine all of the time.
* if it is hot swapable internally (hard drives) is a bonus but not needed.
It almost does this, if you tell the server you want to remove a HD from the server it copies to the files to another HD in the server with free space. The flip side of this is the Drive Extender, you just keep adding HDs and the server adds them to the Pool. To each of the PC on the network it just looks like the available space on the server just increased by the size of the new HD. The shares don't appear as drive letters, just a named area.
* Be able to log into from outside my network, via ftp or the like.
Yes. Will also act as a web server if you switch this bit on (I'm not using this feature)

This may be out of your price range, my box cost $1100AU to get up and running (software and hardware) and I've since added another HD to the Pool.

The added advantage is the backup facility that WHS has. Your Main PC and Laptop will be backed up to the server. Another useful feature is it can act as a Media server for music etc.


Here's the review I did on it here on POTN
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=533051

It works well for me, but is NOT a substitute for a off site backup, I keep a separate off site backup also.



That is a good idea. I have an older computer (4 years or so) that i have sitting in the basement. It is not really fast enough anymore for new software. but can be a simple internet box. I can proboly use this box as a simple server? It is an amd atholon with 2 or 3 gigs of ram on it.

Greg_C
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 18:07
That is a good idea. I have an older computer (4 years or so) that i have sitting in the basement. It is not really fast enough anymore for new software. but can be a simple internet box. I can proboly use this box as a simple server? It is an amd atholon with 2 or 3 gigs of ram on it.
Yes, there's quite a lot of people on the We Got Served forums that have converted an old box into a WHS. You'd need to do some more research but if I remember correctly the spec needed for a WHS box aren't that big - it's not doing much 99% of the time is it.

This is what a quick Google search turned up for a minimum spec.

CPU: 1GHz Pentium 3 or better
RAM: 512MB minimum
Hard Drive:1 Hard Drive 80GB internal (IDE, ATA, SATA, or SCSI) - more than one HD is better and a requirement if you want dupliciation.
DVD drive that is bootable
Monitor for the installation
QWERTY Keyboard and mouse or a compatible pointing device. Also installation only.
Network Interface Card (NIC) 100Mbps Ethernet

SATA card could be usefull as then you don't have to rely on the number of SATA ports on your motherboard. When I bought mine I spec'ed it with a MB that had 8 SATA ports - room to grow.

The Drive Extender odesn't care about the HD's you add to the box, so you mix and match old IDE and new SATA II's. Mind you, I wouldn't be that happy relying on a 4yr old drive.

We Got Served
http://www.wegotserved.co.uk/

AdamC
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 18:29
What's WHS cost for software only?

Greg_C
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 19:48
What's WHS cost for software only?
$240AU for WHS and 10 CALs, which gives you the WHS install and then you can connect 10PC's to it for backups etc.

AdamC
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 20:53
$240AU for WHS and 10 CALs, which gives you the WHS install and then you can install the connect 10PC's to it for backups etc.

Not too bad, considering.

tim
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 22:59
Repeat after me... RAID is not a backup, RAID is not a backup, RAID is not a backup!

AdamC
21st of November 2008 (Fri), 23:36
Repeat after me... RAID is not a backup, RAID is not a backup, RAID is not a backup!

I think you already made that point..

neil_g
22nd of November 2008 (Sat), 05:04
I think you already made that point..

i think its a point worth pointing out again, people seem to be pinning all of their hopes and dreams on RAID these days and its a false sense of security imo.

tim
22nd of November 2008 (Sat), 06:07
I think you already made that point..

Yeah. 3 years ago. But I had to point it out again in this thread, because people are stupid. Want me to make it again? You should assume the governor of California will find a terminator in your house, and will try to kill them using napalm. Your backup regime should account for this, even if you live in Timbuktu, Arnie gets around.

Matthew62024
22nd of November 2008 (Sat), 17:01
What's WHS cost for software only?

The OP is from Ohio so the price here is around $99. You can but that and download the Power Pack 1 update free or buy the updated disk and pay $109. I bought the $99 version to save a few bucks.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116395

I think I paid around $149 a couple months ago so the price has came down. It is a great program and I have been using it for about two and a half months with no problems. You can also request a free 120 day trial of the software here.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx

AdamC
22nd of November 2008 (Sat), 20:31
Yeah. 3 years ago. But I had to point it out again in this thread, because people are stupid. Want me to make it again? You should assume the governor of California will find a terminator in your house, and will try to kill them using napalm. Your backup regime should account for this, even if you live in Timbuktu, Arnie gets around.

He can nuke the whole country if he likes, I have backups off-continent.

Obviously you're seeing something I'm not, because I haven't noticed any tendency towards treating RAID as an alternative to backups. In any case, of course what you say is correct - RAID hopefully will mitigate the need to use your backups, but is certainly not a replacement for them. Backup early and often, onsite, offsite, and everywhere in between. Your paranoia about losing it should be indexed to your grief should you lose it all.

"The best time to back up is yesterday. The second-best time is right now." - Me

</OT>

LuckyRobJ
22nd of November 2008 (Sat), 23:56
I'm in pretty much the same boat as the OP. Would really like a Drobo, but I think they're a bit too spendy for me at the moment.

Does anyone have any good experience with other NAS RAID devices (like the D-Link DNS 323)? Is the connection speed usable for Lightroom, or am I stuck with directly attached devices using USB or Firewire?

Palladium
23rd of November 2008 (Sun), 00:16
I've added a network attached storage box to my home network.

I use a linksys wireless router and I added the linksys NAS 200 network attached storage box with a couple of 1TB drives.

see the linksys website for the actual spec.