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Areca ARC-1220 8-channel PCI-e 8x RAID card RRS feed

  • Question

  • I currently have built a WHS server utilizing a Gigabyte GA-M61PM-S2 motherboard.  This MB has 4 SATA II ports I believe arranged onto 2 SATA controllers (correct me if I am wrong).  I have four HD501LJ 500GB drives, giving me around 2 TB of space.  I also have a Thermaltake VA3000BNA case that this all rests in.  Per the specs, I have 11 drive bays in total.  5x 3.5" HD cage in front of a fan, 2x 3.5" device bays and 4x 5.25" device bays.  From the beginning I had always assumed I would use every internal bay (one way or another) for internal hard disks, minus one for the DVD drive.  That leaves me 10 bays, of which 6 are available.

     

    I now want to add more storage so I can completely digitize both my CD and DVD collections as well as both my families (my wife's and mine) photo album and family photo histories.  To that end I have been looking at multi-port SATA II controllers which can handle more than 4 drives in order to max out my case space before being forced to go external.  As most of you realize, once you go over 4 it starts to get pricey.  I am not bothered by this but at the same time want to keep costs relatively as low as possible of course.

     

    I have taken a liking to the Areca ARC-1220 (8 drive) PCI-e 8x to SATA II RAID controller.  All the reviews I have read have given *stellar* reviews of its driver support and performance.  So now onto my question....

     

    Which is a more ideal situation, configuring this controller for its onboard RAID and putting all the drives on the card, showing WHS one partition, giving the redundancy and performance control to the card -OR-  configuring the Areca (if not possible with this card, another) to BASE the drives so they all show up as individual physical drives to WHS and let WHS do the work (knowing this is partly what WHS has been designed to do).

     

    I realize the later pretty much negates the "greatness" of this board, so if this is perfectly acceptable (or the performance difference is neglible to the end users), what card is available on the market that will serve 6+ SATA II disks on one PCI-e slot *without* RAID functionality (and subsequently lower cost)?

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007 3:57 PM

All replies

  • My opinion is that it's better to expose the drives individually to WHS. A RAID array is difficult (often impossible) to extend, and there are a fair number of reports of folks here in the forums having trouble getting WHS to install on a drive connected to a controller that requires a driver.

    You won't find a card on the market that delivers 6+ SATA connectors that doesn't support RAID, BTW.
    Wednesday, April 25, 2007 5:21 PM
    Moderator
  • Although I have served as an administrator before, I have *never* attempted nor looked to configure a RAID controller to run the drives individually like that.  So part of my concern is, can all the modern RAID controllers be configured to run in a non-RAID fashion or does this go on a case by case basis?  Anyone have experience with this particular card at all, not just with WHS?  The other part of my concern is over a card with more than 4 channels since my MB (the GA-M61PM-S2) has 2x PCI, 1x PCI-e 1x and 1x PCI-e 16x.  I am already taking up one of the PCI slots with a modem so I can use faxing at all my computers on the network through a fax printer driver.  Maybe I am better off with a plain-Jane pair of SATA II controllers mix-matched in 2 of the remaining 3 card slots?  Opinions?
    Wednesday, April 25, 2007 6:30 PM
  • I've been using a Areca ARC-1170 24-channel PCI-X for about two years now and I've been very happy with this card. Based on my experience, I would recommend and buy Areca again. When I first loaded WHS on my server system I set all the drives connected to this card to Just a Bunch of Drives (JOB) thinking I would just use drive extender duplication features to protect my data. After re-thinking this discussion due to the type of data I was storing (movie files) I decided I didn't want to use all that disk space duplicating movie files would require so I decided to go with a combination of the two. I currently have 9 hard drives connected to this card. I configured 5 of the hard drives as raid 5 configuration and the other four as a second raid 5 configuration. I broke it this way due to the size of the hard drives 500GB and 300GB respectively. Because WHS see's each raid 5 setup as a single large hard drive on files I want drive extender to duplicate it can by spreading the files across the two raid 5 hard drive sets. As for the files like the movie files which as far as I'm concerned too large to duplicated and have that shared folder duplication turned off and used the raid 5 features as the safety net in case of a hard drive failure. In the future if I need to expand, all that needs to be done with this card is to expand the raid volume, create and new partition in that free area, then add it to WHS using drive extender, it looks like just another hard drive. Pre-WHS I was using Windows dynamic volumes, which allowed me to create additional partitions and combined them, but I was told WHS doesn't support this technology. This configuration has so far has been working flawless. I feel it gives me all the data loss protection I need for the type of data I'm storing.

     

    Jay

    Thursday, April 26, 2007 12:12 AM
  • That is great to hear!  Using a combination of the two sounds like an interesting angle I had not considered before.  It certainly provides a solution as my data needs are very similar to yours.  After hearing this and considering all the other great things being said about this card I think it's given me enough confidence to purchase, I just need to determine if Areca makes a similar card to the one I mentioned that also has eSATA ports for future expansion outside the case as well.  Thanks for the great input jlhinrichs!
    Thursday, April 26, 2007 11:17 AM