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Outgrew 4TB Single Enclosure...Next?


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After many trials and errors over the years I settled on a single enclosure (Icydock) with a 4TB drive connected to my Zuma via eSATA. Well...I'm full up so the time has come to move ahead. Seems I'll now need to move to a multi bay enclosure of some sorts, just not sure which. Since I used 4TB already, the safe thing would be to move to around 8TB now.

 

I know a lot of guys here prefer a NAS but I am more inclined to use a hard wired enclosure for a few reasons. I experimented with an Acoustic Revive LAN filter and noticed an obvious drop in the noise floor. That showed me that there is clearly junk on the network line. I also believe simpler is better so since it's not trouble for me to have a device near my gear (it's not directly in my room) then why not. I'm not completely ruling out a NAS, really I am open to anything.

 

I was thinking I should get one unit for my library and one for a mirror that I connect and backup with once/month. That's how I have been running, just with the single enclosure's. So....any suggestions?!! I was looking at these Search Results for MEPQ946QL2 at MacSales.com They seem simple, inexpensive and they build decent stuff. My hesitation was they are still using USB 2.0 and the OWC single enclosures I have will not work via eSATA with my Zuma (a problem I could never get sorted out...I tried threads here, discussion with Small Green Computer who built my Zuma, calls to OWC etc). I was hoping these would not have the same issue but if they did I would return them and try to find something similar.

 

Anyways, I know there are folks here with larger libraries and since I was getting pretty overwhelmed I thought I'd reach out for a little love....any thoughts?

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I think crossing the 4 TB threshold is a big one. It usually is not a good idea to just add a second drive in a stripe RAID 0 because there is no fault tolerance in RAID 0 and it is doubling your chance of hard drive failure. So the solution is a RAID configuration with fault tolerance. Once you start adding all these drives the noise level goes up and the power requirements also goes up. You probably will want to locate the drives somewhere other than the music room. Maybe keep the best of your music local and relocate the other to the network. I have not faced this issue yet but these are just some of my thoughts.

AMR 777 DAC, Purist Ultimate USB, PC server 4gig SOTM USB, server 2012, Audiophil Optimizer,Joule Preamp LAP150 Platinum Vcaps Bybee, Spectron Monoblocks Bybee Vcaps, Eggleston Savoy speakers, 2 REL Stentor III subwoofers, Pranawire Cosmos speaker wire, Purist Dominus Praesto cabling, Purist Anniversary (Canorus)power cables and Elrod Statement Gold power cable, VPI Aries I SDS w/Grado The Statement LP, 11kVA power isolation, 16 sound panels and bass traps TAD,RPG,GIK and Realtraps

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coxhaus I appreciate your comments, thanks. I agree, I've been dreading crossing the 4TB line and was hoping there would be larger single drives once I got there....but I am here. I'm not so concerned about fault tolerance because I would not be using RAID as a backup solution, more just a way to combine drives. I would have an actual copy or 2 of my library which would serve that purpose. Regarding increased noise, this also is not a concern as my gear is not located in my room. Now I am concerned that it may not sounds as good but this I would not know until I tried it.

 

I noticed you use PranaWire speaker cables. I recently tried his USB cable and it is my new reference. Quite spectacular!

 

I guess a lot of guys here use Synology NAS. For me, I am trying to understand what the benefit would be vs something like this Search Results for MEPQ946QL2 at MacSales.com then also trying to figure out how I would create these mirror backups.

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Depending on each one's objectives, conclusions and acceptable solutions, I have temporarily discarted RAID. Instead I looked for an alternative that I solved in having a HDD on which I stripped my albums from the music I knew I would not really listen to. For example, if on a CD I only like 2 songs out of 10, I would only keep these 2 songs on what I call "My personal drive". I keep the whole albums on backups and can spread them over many HDDs as needed while I extend my library.

 

Of course it's a trade-off, but it comes to a matter of being reasonably certain that I will not really like the songs I discarted. And if I have a change of mind, I can copy it again on that "personal drive".

 

Not necessarily an elegant solution, but I am ok with it... And I allow myself to change my mind :)

Alain

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AlainGr....this is what my wife suggested as well. I just would have a very hard time splitting up my library. I often play it on random and that is how I select music. Crazy, I know. I'm a total music freak as much or more so than audiophile.

 

I guess I have things narrowed to either Synology DiskStation DS412+ Review - Network Storage - CNET Reviews which seems like a popular solution here. Or the OWC devices I linked to above. I don't need all the bells and whistles the Synology has, I doubt I would use much of them at all. I do like the idea of being able to mix drives of different sizes as well as being able to protect from 2 drives failing at once. I know having a mirror copy elsewhere is the only true protection but it sure makes losing a library unlikely if it protects from 2 drives out of 4 failing at once. Damn unlikely. The upside of the OWC device is a big cost savings and a much simpler unit. Simpler has sounded better so far in my computer audio experience. Actually, that is my biggest concern about making any change at all wondering if they will not sound as good as my simple enclosure now.

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I like your first suggestion (the first link you provided) :) Could be with the 2 independant drive mode ? That would allow you to use 2 x 4TB drives :) I suppose that you will see 2 different drives though ?

 

EDIT: I have the same concern about USB 2 though... Not very fast when you wish to copy... I may have another suggestion, but I have to find it...

Alain

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I think this shows as one drive. Here is how it is explained on OWC's site:

 

"Speed is key in a RAID 0 "Stripe" array. In a RAID 0 "Stripe" array, blocks of data alternate writing to two or more drives. This spreads out the workload to provide write and read speed increases over a single drive. This also combines the drive together to form one large volume, for example two 500GB drives would form a 1TB volume in a RAID 0 array."

 

I have no experience with RAID so would be fumbling my way through it. I'm sure I'd figure it out.

 

Also the Oxford chipset used in the OWC used to be talked about here a lot as the best for sound. I don't see much mention of chipsets anymore, though.

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Would you like to have a USB 3 dual drive enclosure ? I often buy from Startech (StarTech.com | We make parts for IT & A/V professionals that connect, convert, extend, split & switch) and up to now I have no complaint about their products... They have dual drive enclosures with USB 3 interface, even one with Esata and USB 3 interfaces, RAID (0,1,Span and independant), just like the OWC model you are looking at.

 

You can type "external hard drive enclosure" in the search and should see some dual enclosures. They are not grouped together, but I scrolled through them in less than 5 minutes...

 

What I like is that since the DC connection is a barrel type, I can use a linear power supply to feed the drives with good power... Not that you asked for this, but if you ever decide to experiment this one day...

 

You have to check if there is a fan or not on the enclosure (they usually are noisy)... I have a few enclosures here on which I disconnected the fan, but we have to keep in mind that some hard drives can get hotter than others...

 

Don't hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure of a potential choice :)

Alain

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I think this shows as one drive. Here is how it is explained on OWC's site:

 

"Speed is key in a RAID 0 "Stripe" array. In a RAID 0 "Stripe" array, blocks of data alternate writing to two or more drives. This spreads out the workload to provide write and read speed increases over a single drive. This also combines the drive together to form one large volume, for example two 500GB drives would form a 1TB volume in a RAID 0 array."

 

I have no experience with RAID so would be fumbling my way through it. I'm sure I'd figure it out.

 

Also the Oxford chipset used in the OWC used to be talked about here a lot as the best for sound. I don't see much mention of chipsets anymore, though.

 

... Can I suggest you not to use RAID 0 ? "RAID" and "0" do not match well together... This is the fastest RAID method, but the most dangerous... To summarize very roughly, a RAID 0 will allow to save a file simultaneously in "stripes" on each hard drive. The drawback is that when one drive fails, it means that the whole RAID array fails...

Alain

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Many dual enclosures offer RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD.

RAID 0: not a real RAID (as it does not provide any "security" - when one drive fails, all the other fails too)

RAID 1: "mirrored" drives. 2 drives on which the write operations are the same, so you have each file copied twice, but you don't gain any space - example: 2 x 1TB drives in RAID 1 configuration will only mean 1TB, not 2TB...

JBOD: "Just a Bunch Of Disks". Means that there is not real RAID applied. You have 2 independent disks in one enclosure... But they will also be seen as 2 independent drives (drive D and drive E for example), even if they are in the same enclosure. The only advantage is that they are tied with only one connection at the rear of the enclosure (as opposed to 2 external drives, each in their own independent enclosure)...

 

 

 

This for a dual enclosure of course...

Alain

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When people start hitting the level of $1000... I often start to sit and ask... why not build yourself a server/nas/san device yourself...that will allow it to grow to your need? It might cost a little more up front...for getting it put together, but the end result is you pay a LOT less expanding it to what you need.

 

You can build yourself a nice 4 to 8 TB server for about $1500 - $2000, which sounds like a lot, but it's all cost in buying what you might not have, case, systemboard, processor, memory, and RAID card, however, this route can easily allow for 80TB+ of storage as you need to grow it. If you have old computer parts laying around, you might be well on your way to having what you need. That's what I've done and I get some of the best sound off my system (ie no degradation due to running a SAN)... and for me it's grown as I needed it to. (I started out with 8TB total on it). So this allows you to spread out the cost which is much easier to deal with.

 

Might be something to think of.

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Like the original poster, I have a large music library. I'm approaching 10TB. I'm much more knowledgeable about audio than I am about storage and it's time I learned more, with so much precious data on hand.

 

I use directly connected drive enclosures. I back up my data using differential backup software to a separate set of drives that I otherwise keep offline.

 

I've looked into the NAS approach and will likely move in that direction in the future, as I can see the advantages it offers. What I don't understand is why RAID is beneficial in an audio server.

 

I know there are different RAID configurations, but my understanding is that basically, RAID offers either faster data access or parallel drives to ensure uptime in the event a drive fails. Serving music does not demand particluarly fast data access and as for all-important backup, I'd rather not have my backup drives in use 100% of the time that I'm using my system. With the backup drives offline, they see very little wear and are likely to last far longer than they would in a RAID system.

 

If there is something about all of this that I don't understand, I'd like to know.

 

Thanks.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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RAID, depending on the type (RAID 1, 5, 6, 10, etc...) will allow multiple users to access the data faster. For instance, if someone uses RAID 1 ("mirroring"), in write mode it will be slower than a single drive, since the writing has to be completed for the 2 drives (and there can be differences in access time for each of time, even for 2 drives of the same brand, same model). But in read mode, if 2 users are trying to access two different portions of the data (like 2 different albums, located at very different portions of a drive), then the controller managing the RAID 1 will allow 1 user to use 1 drive, while the second will be accessing the other drive... Just an example of course.

 

Faster access, less downtime and, of course, redundancy (except for RAID 0, spanning, JBOD), all things that are helpful for intensive tasks (multiple users) - all this is good for commercial purpose.

 

But like it is mentionned, having more drives spinning all the time also means that many drives are wearing alltogether. Is there a potential for more noise also - I can't tell, but it could depend on how it is implemented (internally or in an external powered enclosure)...

 

As for NAS (with its own OS) vs an external RAID box (no OS) connected to the server, there are probably other factors that I am not enough knowledgeable about...

 

Since my library is actually contained in less than 4TB, I did not study the different approaches, but I keep on working with one drive, plus 2 backups, with one of the backups that I bring back and forth from the office... There are surely more simple ways to manage things, but as of now, with a little disciplin, I feel ok with this...

Alain

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I know there are different RAID configurations, but my understanding is that basically, RAID offers either faster data access or parallel drives to ensure uptime in the event a drive fails. Serving music does not demand particluarly fast data access and as for all-important backup, I'd rather not have my backup drives in use 100% of the time that I'm using my system. With the backup drives offline, they see very little wear and are likely to last far longer than they would in a RAID system.

 

If there is something about all of this that I don't understand, I'd like to know.

 

Mirrored drives in a RAID set are not intended to be a backup. You would still keep backups (note the plural) on other devices.

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Mirrored drives in a RAID set are not intended to be a backup. You would still keep backups (note the plural) on other devices.

 

So then the purpose would be to maintain uptime in the event of a drive failure? That wouldn't be a priority for me in an audio server.

 

I was just wondering if there was a particular benefit to running a RAID configuration in my music system that I was missing.

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

And yes, I hear you on the backupS. LOL

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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So then the purpose would be to maintain uptime in the event of a drive failure? That wouldn't be a priority for me in an audio server.

Yes... Makes sure you can continue listening to your music without the agony of a break while you unplug a dead USB drive and plug in the working one!

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Yes... Makes sure you can continue listening to your music without the agony of a break while you unplug a dead USB drive and plug in the working one!

 

Eloise

 

Agony... LOL :)

 

Of course, maximizing uptime makes sense in a business situation, where downtime = lost orders/income, but in my case, mirroring would mean having to run an extra set of 10TBs worth of drives in parallel, with both sets getting equal wear... and still needing offline backup!!

 

I didn't want to be the only one who didn't "get it" about RAID.

 

On the other hand, good differential backup software is critically important, since making the process quick and easy leads to more regular backups and better security for that precious library data.

 

I've gotten great results from these two free/donate-ware apps:

 

 

 

The first is simpler with fewer options and the second is extremely configurable and provides more in depth detail about what it's doing. Both have served me very well.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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If you want to make a back up and are using windows then use robocopy with /mirror option as it will keep an exact copy of your drive and is readable with any windows machine. Robocopy is a windows command and not an aftermarket piece of software.

AMR 777 DAC, Purist Ultimate USB, PC server 4gig SOTM USB, server 2012, Audiophil Optimizer,Joule Preamp LAP150 Platinum Vcaps Bybee, Spectron Monoblocks Bybee Vcaps, Eggleston Savoy speakers, 2 REL Stentor III subwoofers, Pranawire Cosmos speaker wire, Purist Dominus Praesto cabling, Purist Anniversary (Canorus)power cables and Elrod Statement Gold power cable, VPI Aries I SDS w/Grado The Statement LP, 11kVA power isolation, 16 sound panels and bass traps TAD,RPG,GIK and Realtraps

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If you want to make a back up and are using windows then use robocopy with /mirror option as it will keep an exact copy of your drive and is readable with any windows machine. Robocopy is a windows command and not an aftermarket piece of software.

 

Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't know about robocopy. I'll give it a try.

 

The software I recommended isn't for coyping my Windows OS, I use it for making differential backups of my music, which is on separate drives. The "differential" part is key. After an initial backup, it allows me to synchronize my original data to the backups - only making the changes necessary to make them identical. With a large library, it's a huge time saver.

 

The backups I create are not proprietary and are also readable with any windows machine.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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