Attack of The Hard Drives Redux

While the mess of hard drives has been cleaned up on my desk my hard drive addiction has only grown worse. I currently have one 1.5TB drive, nine 1TB drives, eight 500GB drives, a 160GB drive and a 320GB drive that I consider “in use”.

My iMac has an internal 500GB drive along with my 500GB Western Digital My Book and my Drobo with three 1TB drives in it. Because of my initial performance problems with the Drobo it’s still pretty lite on files and used only for backups. This places little stress on the drive so performance hasn’t been serious a problem and I want the extra protection the Drobo offers. The Drobo has a 500GB partition that contains backup copy of my system disk that’s updated by SuperDuper every night. Another 500GB partition is used by Time Machine. I exclude large files like video and my entire iTunes library so Time Machine doesn’t use a lot of disk space. The WD My Book contains the virtual machines for Parallels. The VMs would fit on my internal drive or Drobo but I see better performance when they have their own drive.

My Windows Home Server has one 1.5TB drive and five 1TB drives. Two of the 1TB drives are in an external USB enclosure while the rest of the drives are internal. My attempt to add an eSata enclosure ended up being a disaster so I’m still using USB. The main use of the WHS is as a home for my Video files, currently taking up 2.7TB. I also throw my software application source files out there along with backups of my photos, music library and virtual machines. I don’t turn on file duplication anymore since everything is backed up.

Six of those 500GB drives and one of the 1TB drives are for backing up my video library and storing them offsite. I started off using older drives but had to start buying drives. I use ChronSync to copy the files to the drives and end up storing them outside my house as an offsite backup. Since the video files don’t change once they’re created this works fairly well. Despite the cost of the hard drives this is actually a pretty cost effective way to get offsite storage for terabytes of data. I save the ChronoSync scripts for each drive and every couple of months or so I’ll spend less than half an hour updating the older drives to catch what few changes there have been. This also allows all the drives to spin up and run for awhile which needs to be done to avoid problems that may occur if they sit unused for too long. While the drives seem expensive it’s a cost effective solution. Even if I had the bandwidth to use Amazon S3, storing 465GB (the effective size of a 500GB drive) on S3 would cost $70/mth which is the approximate cost of a 500GB drive these days. The alternative is no backup of the files and spend time recreating the videos from the source when a drive fails. This assumes the source is still good at that time.

The remaining drives? My iMac has an internal 160GB drive and an external 320GB drive serves as a media computer in the bedroom.

The 1TB drives are all Western Digital Caviar Green Drives (WD10EACS). Some customer reviews indicate some quality problems with these drives but I haven’t had any. Most of the problems are that they’re DOA or fail soon after delivery. I’m not sure the DOA rate is any worse than other drives. The drives run about 6°c cooler than the original drives. They’re also nice and quiet. I haven’t done any power measurements but the fact that they’re cooler indicates less energy used and also means the fans needs to run less. They’re in both my Windows Home Server and Drobo. The specs aren’t the fastest for drives in their price range but they perform fine for what I need. Mostly media streaming and backups.

So the mess on the desk is gone, but the hard drives keep multiplying.