I love it when a plan comes together

Man, I really love it when things work the way they are supposed to.  Last night I fired up my notebook to check some emails and to pull up a technical manual that I wanted to read.  The manual was located on a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Drives) drive downstairs in the radio room.  But after checking my Emails I could not access the RAID drive.  I went downstairs to see what was wrong and discovered my RAID box was showing an error on one of the drives and had shutdown.

For a number of years I have used a RAID on Linux server to save files and backups from our computers in the house.  The RAID was a home-brewed computer running Redhat Linux 9.  Unlike a Windows computer, this one ran without a single hitch for years. Over that time I collected about 200 Gb of various files and backups.  Finally after about 6 or 7 years the power supply failed in that computer.  I replaced the supply in the computer and was back up and running.

Since the computer I was using was quite large and consumed a lot of power and took up a lot of space, I decided to upgrade to a Buffalo Terrastation NAS (Network Attached Storage) system.  I bought one from www.ecost.com on close out for just over a hundred bucks.  It was a terabyte box, with four 250 Gb drives.  In the RAID 5 configuration it had just at 700 Gb of storage, more than adequate for my uses. RAID 5 uses one of the disks in the array as a parity disk so that if any single disk in the array fails there is enough data on the other drives that the array can be rebuilt.

When I retired the old Redhat Linux server and RAID I saved a couple of 250 Gb IDE drives from the old RAID server just in case I ever needed a spare for the Terrastation.  Well, I needed one last night.

Just as advertised, I replaced the failed drive in the Terrastation, booted it back up, logged into its HTML interface and rebuilt the RAID.  The rebuild took overnight, but in the morning all my files were back!  Whew!  That was close!  I really like these computers when they work the way they are supposed too!

2 Comments so far

  1. TheGrayBeard on March 26th, 2010

    That’s a good way to do it and I really should have. Instead of always telling myself I ought to do that, I got a WD Terabyte backup drive at Sam’s. I hate the software in it and bought a cheap backup program, instead. It’s making copies, but I can’t say I have 100% confidence for the day everything depends on it.

    Don’t know if you ever read “Borepatch”, but he has a good one on security at http://borepatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/security-we-have-achieved-state-of-fail.html
    For general interest…

  2. admin on March 27th, 2010

    I highly recommend a backup program called Zip-Backup. It is pretty fast and creates a standard ZIP file on the backup media. Works well and is very easy to recover files from the zip. It is pretty cheap, I think about $40 to download.

    I read that post on Borepatch the other night. I agree with his assessment of Ubuntu Linux. I used Redhat and Fedora for many years on various computers, including this notebook. After trying Ubuntu I was sold. It is the easiest to install of all the Linux distros, it stall cheaper than any Windows version. In fact, I just switched this notebook from Fedora 9 to Ubuntu 9.10. It installs and works right off where Fedora takes a good bit of fooling with to get everything working.

    We are running Ubuntu at work on our virtual servers, it is the host OS. It is dead reliable and easy to work with. I am using it downstairs on my test server too, and it is a virtual machine host. It is a solid OS and the price is right! Free!