Infrant NAS up and running!

Per a prior rant here, I just bought a 2nd RAID store to backup my data, so I could at least have it redundant on site. After 3 disk problems (all 250GB Seagates, 2 failed, one just had an error it needed to run through and map out) on my other RAID, I got skiddish about having that be my sole source of redundancy, since it’s gone if a second disk has an error while it’s spending 12 hours rebuilding the first. I assembled the last one myself from very nice hardware bits purchased from MacGurus. Only problem is the controller card was from NetCell via XFXforce. Alas, the card is no longer manufactured (or supported). So, when it decides to go belly up, the data on the RAID will be history. Being a belt, suspenders, and velcro kinda guy, I just got nervous.

Since my existing RAID was a high performance, 5 channel SATA affair, I decided I’d use that for real-time video capture and all that fun stuff, but that I could afford something with less raw performance that hopefully had other benefits to put my photo and music library on. After much reading, decided to go with a pre-packaged solution this time. An Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ . It’s a pretty little box. Doesn’t have the really cool individual LCD displays with temperature that my MacGurus RAID has, but it does have a single LCD with informative messages like "Booting" "Expanding", and tells you how much free/used space you have, as well as its’ IP address (what a practical idea!).

First thing I did was put in 3 500GB Seagate drives. I got the ST3500630NS model, ’cause some folks say they’re designed to spin 24×7 and should be very reliable. The new Seagate warranty can’t be beat, so I’ll give ’em a shot. Followed the quickstart, installed the RAID finder utility (although since the ReadyNAS tells you its’ IP address, that’s not strictly necessary). I left it at its’ default "X-Raid" setting (which you can change, the ReadyNAS can run RAID 0, 1, or 5) so that it’d automatically add drives as I plugged ’em in, reallocating as necessary. Up it came, 950GB or so available, and said it was adding the 3rd drive (making it a protected RAID array). I then put the backups from my external ST3500630AS on the drive while that was happening. After a bunch of hours (I didn’t time it, sorry, but more than 5) I had 950+GB of storage, protected by RAID redundancy. I then put the 500GB drive that used to be the external backup in the array, and did a reboot. Took about an hour to add it to the array, and I’ve now got 1.33TB of storage, running with RAID 5.

After two evenings of first copying nearly a TB of data over to it, then another night teaching all the photo and audio apps where the new files are (and in some cases having to copy them there again), it’s all up and running.

One cool new benefit, the ReadyNAS can easily stream my iTunes library, with its’ built in streaming server. All I did was enable it, and point it at my iTunes music directory, and voila! It just showed up on iTunes clients on the network that look for published music. No need for a "master" Mac to serve up the big tunes library anymore. Oh, but that’s not all. It’ll automatically feed your squeezebox in the same way, and it can also stream via UPnP AV and Home Media Streaming Server protocols.

Only thing which didn’t work just as I’d expected was when hooking my PowerMac G5 directly to the ReadyNAS, although they indicated they were running GigE, the performance wasn’t a whole lot faster than 100Mb. Something to look into later with more fine-grained measurements, and maybe a GigE switch to be able to put in the mix. The ReadyNAS certainly claims GigE, but it’s the first time I’d tried my PowerMac with more than 100Mb.

At a little over $1200 for a pre-packaged controller, and nearly 2TB of raw disk capacity, this stuff is becoming amazingly affordable. Almost cheap enough to start archiving my laserdisks to, rather than backing them up to DVD. Gotta hurry, they don’t last forever, and I’m down to one working player!

Oh, and one hint that came in handy. To mount this network share on boot on my Mac, just mount the disk manually, then drag that mounted image on your login items. Just that easy. For remounting, I keep some aliases to the different shares in a folder, so I don’t have to go through the finder search to mount ’em each time.

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