questionsany suggestions for server grade hdd for a futureā€¦

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There no such thing as a never die HDD, or SSD for that matter.

To protect the important data you're storing, you want to set up a RAID configuration with multiple redundant drives. Personally, my machines are set up with RAID 10 configurations consisting of four drives, striped and mirrored. No single drive failure will cost me data, and I get better performance as well. I have a secondary drive I use for backups in an eSATA docking bay - which gives me the flexibility to mount the backup drive to perform backups, and when I need to read another disk I can swap it in.

SSD or HDD will depend on your budget and physical space in the cabinet. If space is tight, consider using 2.5" laptop drives in a mounting rack that slides into one of the 5.25" bays, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Vantec-NexStar-2-5-Inch-Drive-MRK-525ST/dp/B004C3VI20/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&qid=1389411990&sr=8-22&keywords=2.5+hard+drive+bays+vantec+nexstar

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@durkzilla: I understand that but some drives are engineered better than others and I thought I'd start there... Or are you saying that redundancy trumps long life expectancy???
I use an ESATA dock on my main machine and alternately clone to one of 2 drives each month...

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@hobbitss: Yes, I had 2 drives warrantied for 5 years replaced 8 times, I ran on a single drive until the one returned from repair, never needed to reload machine by the time the warranty drive returned array rebuilt. Raid0

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@durkzilla: I sort of disagree with the RAID for home use. Even though it can protect against a single hard drive failure, it doesn't protect against things like a lightning strike that can take out both drives. You would still need off-site storage to be truly server grade.

I used Raid but I now have a bad taste for it because the controllers are not compatible with each other. So when the external case failed, I tried to put the drives in a different case and even directly into the computer and discovered the data is stored in a proprietary format that is specific to that Raid controller and case.

Unless you plan on having backups of all the hardware such as the drives, the controller, and the case they go in, Raid is still a single point of failure for data loss.

Also, unless you use Raid specific drives, I find my Raid array dropping and having to be rebuilt frequently. Depending on the Raid method, it can take 24 hours to rebuild and performance is slowed in the meantime.

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@cengland0: There is no substitute for backups when it comes to protecting data.

One of the advantages of building my own computers is that I choose the components - all the motherboards I buy have the same Intel RAID controller, so my drives and arrays can be mounted on any of my computers. But you are correct; the average home user doesn't need the additional cost and complexity of RAID.

My point for hobbitss is that there is no such thing as a "better engineered" drive for servers that is guaranteed to last longer. Servers use RAID to ensure availability because drives fail. "Server class" drives are usually only different in performance specs, interface type (SATA, SAS) and RAID compatible firmware (they never spin down to save power, which is what causes those dropouts you had).

Even with RAID protection you need to do backups to ensure you don't lose data.

There is no secret ingredient.

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@hobbitss: Google did a study about hard drive failure rates in their datacenters. This article summarizes the findings and explains a lot of the technical mumbo jumbo:

http://storagemojo.com/2007/02/19/googles-disk-failure-experience/

For the TL;DR folks, scroll down to the section "The StorageMojo take" where the author summarizes the findings of the study.

This response to the original study from one of the industry leading storage vendors is also quite interesting:
http://storagemojo.com/2007/02/26/netapp-weighs-in-on-disks/

Take a good look at point #2...

And as I said in my response to the excellent comments made by @cengland0, there is no substitute for backups when it comes to protecting data.

[Edit] I do realize the Google study is from 2007, but not much has changed since then.

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The down-side to raid & mirroring is that your live backup disk is the same age (and typically model) as the failing one. When you replace a failed drive, it really stresses the remaining drives, and could cause a failure and data loss.

What you really want is a backup, preferably offline and offsite. A media server shouldn't have a huge delta of data, so once the initial copy is done, updates should be fairly quick.

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I would like to be clear. Both of my almost 6 year old PC with Raid1 (not raid0 as mentioned above) has never lost data. I have reloaded Windows on my terms not a hard drive failure. The reason I had so many HD failures imhop is the replacement drives they sent were refurbished.
I like raid1. I built 2 PC exactly the same. Both running Intel Mobos. They have been rock solid. I recently downgraded 1 to a media server.
Of course you can still get malware and viruses with raid1. I do not allow risky behavior on my media machine (no internet browsing, not facebook), media server only. You can still encounter hardware failure, I was tired of buying junk and having it last a few years that is why I got the Intel boards. Ultra (lifetime warranty PS) oversized super quiet heat sink. 5 year warrantied drives raided 1.

Raid1 did exactly what I expected, it protected me from single drive failure. Nothing more nothing less. You do not need SSD for media server.

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@caffeine_dude: My thought was to boot using a small SSD and store all media on the standard HDD/s using matching HDD/s for back-ups..

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@durkzilla: Thanks for the informative links... I had heard about the Google study but hadn't read any of it... Lots of info to digest...

Still wondering what people would recommend for media HDDs??...
What do you guys use or does it not really matter??

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@hobbitss: All the studies I have seen avoid naming brands - I'm sure it's a liability thing. Pick a drive that fits your space requirements and budget, then read the reviews for that exact model to see what the DOA rate is and long term viability has been.

I've had great luck in the past with Seagate drives (two 500GB refurbs bought from Woot in 2008 are still running great), but you'll hear horror stories from people about pretty much every manufacturer. Have a read at one such list of rants: http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2213892

Conventional wisdom these days is that the major vendors are pretty much equal in reliability. Just because a model shows better reliability doesn't mean you won't get the lemon in the bunch. Backup your data and buy a drive with a good warranty.

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@durkzilla: My question actually came about after reading many HDD reviews on Amazon and NewEgg.. I noticed there were some "don't buy this brand, buy XYZ instead" comments but was more interested in the bad reviews for specific Size releases of some HDDs and comments like... ie: 1TB of this model are good, 2TB are bad, 3 and 4TB editions are ok so far... One lengthy review even suggested that production from one factory was superior to that from another factory for one specific 1TB drive... That and my, at the time, lack of understanding on the basic differences between Consumer and Enterprise Grade Drives made think I should spend more and get a better drive than what I was more familiar with...

I am now better informed and have a better idea of what I need to do but as yet don't know which specific drives to look at...

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If you are really looking to spend, check out the WD SE 4/RE 4 lines. I don't know if any SATA HDD is truly "enterprise" grade, but those certainly have the featureset.

If you're not looking to break the bank, check out the WD Red drives. They are built for NAS setups, with the understanding that they will spin 24/7 (they're rated for 8760 hrs/year... that's 365x24). They are a bit slower than other drives (5900 RPM I believe), so there is a performance hit. However, the other side of that coin is that the drives run cooler than many others. They are supposed to be better balanced or something to that effect as well.

NewEgg this week ran 3TB for $120, which is an alright deal. They were available for like $90 during December after a bunch of TigerDirect gimmickry (clearance rebate, 20/100 coupon, cashback, etc.). Depends on your tolerance for that junk (mine is low, if you can't tell).

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If it's a true media server, Western Digital has Caviar Red drives that seemed to do well out of the gate. I honestly haven't followed up on their performance since though.

Personally, I run my computer on an SSD with 2-1TB Wester Digital Caviar Black HDDs in Raid 0. They've been running like that for about 4 years now and I've never had a single issue. About once a month or so, I'll hook up my 2TB external and back up all of my files (I have two that I alternate so I always have one that is in-tact. They are stored in a fireproof safe. I have been tempted on several occasions to upgrade to 2-2TB Caviar Black drives in RAID 0 but just don't have the time and can't justify spending the money when I don't really need the upgrade at this point.

I wish that SSD prices would continue to drop like they did in 2012 but they plateaued and didn't get to the price point I wanted them to. The 1TB drives are too expensive or I'd just swap to those.

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If we're talking about a media server, are you only serving media that you own other copies of (ie, music from CDs you own, movies from DVD / Blu-Ray you own), or are you also serving up original files (your own images, your own audio, your own documents) that exist only on those drives?

The reason I ask is that a lot of people build media servers for exclusively the former purpose. I'm not asking this to raise the copyright question but rather to point out that if 100% of what is on the drive is stuff that exists somewhere else in your home, then you have more tolerance for failure. Granted some people have years worth of media on their servers, and re-ripping would take a great deal of time, but if they still have the original media they can (at least in theory) do it.

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@dcalotta: Not looking to break the bank but also do not want to pay for junk as the cost to replace in time and money isn't worth the trouble..

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The above advice looks pretty good. I'll add this - do NOT buy WD Green drives. Last I knew, they were intentionally crippled against being used in a RAID. It will cause problems, and they will fall asleep, stop responding and drop out of the RAID regularly.

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You want to search for enterprise hard drives - a common one being western digital's RE series.

That said - there's no single failproof hard drive. As others have said - you'll need a mirroring RAID setup... This will require (at least) 2 identical hard drives. My favorite, however is a RAID5 setup- consisting of (at least) 3 identical hard drives, and it's self-healing. If one drive goes bad, your data is still retrievable. Obviously, replacing the bad drive needs to be done ASAP at that point, but with proper monitoring software, you'll know it right away (you'll even know when it's failing, often long before it actually dies)

For truly important stuff (and re-downloadable media isn't important - i'm talking about irreplaceable documents, photos, etc) - you should also be backing up the data externally.. I use a combination external drive as well as cloud services (mozy, carbonite, amazon's s3 are a few that i've used an have been happy with)

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@capguncowboy: Mentioned Red, I was thinking Red based on what I have read. That being said I would go with the ones with the longest warranty. Cost comes into play here. Example my 5 year old 500gb drive seems small now but 5 years ago it was huge.
@hobbitss: I do not see the cost benefit in SSD on a media server.
Brands: I am currently WD leaning but I am sure they are with in reason equal. Last time I was Seagate.
Even our enterprise grade HDs fail at work, this is why we have Raid, same day replacement, and hot swap.
Yes my green falls asleep and 'clicks when it wakes up'. I am not sure how this works on Raid but I could totally understand @omnichad: post.

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Have you ever considered NAS?
Example Synology Diskstation?

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Leaving aside the issues of using RAID (in some redundant form or other) and backup (absolutely necessary):

I'd cast a vote either for the WD Caviar Red (drives designed for server use) or if you are really worried about the drives and really don't want them to die early I would also consider the enterprise grade drives from WD or Seagate. Please be aware, though, that the enterprise grade drives are designed for performance and durability. Price and noise aren't really factors there.

I'd also add that drives lasting 3.5 years is about a normal lifespan for a consumer grade drive, maybe a bit on the short side. These disc drives have moving parts, and as such will eventually fail. And don't think that SSDs don't wear out either: they do as well.

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@caffeine_dude:
I've been looking at this device for use as my home network data storage & back-up... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DW1UNS8/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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@caffeine_dude: I was considering the SSD as a boot drive with data stored on a standard HDD... Kingston 120GB SSDs are $70 on NewEgg right now.. 120GB should be plenty of space for an OS and Applications..

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@hobbitss: The reason I mentioned the NAS is Plex, I have not tested this but I did give it some thought. http://www.synology.com/en-global/company/news/article/340

I am using XBMC I source videos from a jump drive from my router, locally on my XBMC, and a network drive.
Noise, this did get me into trouble on my media server.
Hooked up my PC in a closet behind the TV and routed the cables through the wall.
I had to swap out a server fan keeping my overclocked video card cool with a lower noise. I have it hooked up via HDMI and 3.5 to RCA for sound. I also installed foam under the feet, I think the PC was resonating with the self.
When the TV is powered on the PC wakes from sleep, not sure this is an IR thing or HDMI thing.

SSD is insanely fast and quiet.The cost per byte is high my only point is, is it worth it?

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On the Enterprise side you see a lot of 2.5" drives. For example, look at the Seagate Savvio line of drives (you can find them on Amazon). You can get a 5" drive cage that holds 4 of these in the space of a CD drive and create a RAID 10 set up with 600GB of space with 10k drives for under $400. That's expensive, but it's cheaper than SSD for the amount of space, almost as fast and more reliable. You can also get faster 15k drives and / or bigger drives, but that's likely overkill...

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@caffeine_dude: On the SSD issue.. My buddy doesn't like to wait for his computer to boot so hew leaves it running 24/7 and just wakes it up when he wants to use it or listen to music... I'm hoping that the increase in boot speed will be enough that he will shut the machine down when he doesn't need it.. If not, that the SSD without moving parts proves to be longer lasting... At the very least by separating the OS from the Data and instituting regular back-up I will be saving him more grief...

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@phunsberger: I was thinking about 2.5 inch drives as possible back-up drives.. I figured they should be more efficient and have a lower impact on my electric bill..

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RAIDs were designed for increasing up-time & performance, not necessarily to safeguard data.

My 2¢...

The best way to safeguard data (like your >10 year old iTunes library) is to have a type of removable or offline backup; be it internet based (cloud), removable disk/tape, or separate backup disks.

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@hobbitss: This is why I put my media PC to sleep. I use an Android tablet or phone as a remote and added a wake on lan button on each remote. If the PC is sleeping and you are on my network you can press the button and the PC wakes up.
But I do understand. Seep has been working so good for me that I use it by default on my desktop now even though it has SSD.

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Another thought: don't count on SSDs being any more reliable than hard drives, at least not the consumer grade SSDs. I was an early adopter and have had 4 SSD drives over the last several years. My failure rate has been 50%, and with this was with brands such as OCX and Crucial. The two that have not failed are a more expensive Samsung and a cheaper Kingston. Go figure...

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And another thought; I back up our 3 family machines to each other and a server class machine in a closet (which runs multiple RAID 6 arrays). Instead of using conventional backups I use BitTorrent Sync. This allows one of the machines to be off site and still continuously backed up. It's also nice to have the ability for the family to upload pictures to anyone of the machines and have them automagically show up on the other machines within minutes...

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I know this thread is over, but I just saw this report this morning...

http://www.zdnet.com/who-makes-the-best-disk-drives-7000025375/

Their data says go Hitachi.

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@durkzilla: Threads here are never "over", they just seem to fade away into obscurity since they age but do not come back to the top when there is new activity.. A flaw in the system that has been questioned but TPTB don't appear to want to change..
IIRC Hitachi purchased the IBM Plants when IBM decided to get out of manufacturing HDDrives.. The designs they used at the time had reached the maximum density and had started to fail at ever increasing rates as they attempted to push the HDDs to larger capacities.. Prior to that, IBM Drives were excellent and if Hitachi has turned them around more power to them..