locked
"Best" Way to add external storage? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Good evening -

     

    I currently have WHS installed on a PowerEdge server, with a 500GB and a few TB Drives internally via SATA.  I had planned on adding more storage a few months ago, then I never actually did because I had plenty of space left.  I am at a point now though where I'll HAVE to add more space very soon.  All of my internal SATA ports are taken, leaving me with a few external USB ports.

     

    Is there a "better" or preferred way to add more external storage?

     

    USB is quite simple, and BestBuy has 1TB USB 2.0 Western Digital External Drives onsale for $230 this week ($30 more for a drive with eSata)

     

    The other option I could think of would be to get a addon pci or pci express eSATA card.  I could then get some drives and throw them in a external enclosure. This seems more "Professional" to me, but I don't really know.

     

    A couple questions regardding those montioned methods -

    If going USB, I'd guess that I would be limited to the builtin ports on the server, and using a USB Hub would be less then ideal?

     

    eSata seems like the "right" way to go, but again....I don't know much about this beyond what I can learn in forums and google.  If I go the eSata route, would a I need a card with 4 ports to connect to 4 seperate drives in 1 enclosure, or can you use 1 eSata cable to make the connection between the PC and the enclosure, with the enclosure handling the connections to the individual drives?

     

    I'm looking to get something figured out in the next few days hopefully,

     

    Thanks guys I appreciate it!

    Monday, February 4, 2008 2:29 AM

Answers

  • USB is very slow comparatively, and most internal USB controllers are pretty awful - you'll be sharing limited bandwidth between multiple USB disks. If you're looking at bulk storage (say more than a couple hundred GB), I'd go with eSATA.

     

    eSATA can be a bit confusing, but in my experience it all just works. You've got a few scenarios:

     

    1) Single disk - easy, one cable going into the eSATA port. One disk to one port.

    2) Multi-disk array with straight pass-through - the enclosure isn't smart, it just provides power. One disk to one port, as above.

    3) Multi-disk array with port replicator - the enclosure has some smarts and daisy-chains the disks off one port. Multiple disks to one port.

     

    1 and 2 are easy. 3 has some complications in that your SATA controller needs to support port replicators (in my experience most do), and all the disks are sharing one bus (which will slow things down, but not nearly as much as USB).

     

    There are some pretty decent and cost effective pass-through SATA enclosures out there. If you can get enough external SATA ports, that'd be my preference.

     

    Monday, February 4, 2008 9:08 AM
    Moderator
  • Basically you have a few options, and a few questions too:

    How many drives will your motherboard support?
    How many SATA connections does it have?

    I currently have six drives in my system as my motherboard had six SATA ports on it.

    You could do any of the following if you have exhausted your motherboard options:


    1. Get an internal SATA expansion PCI card.  These usually add 2-4 internal SATA ports if you have the space in the case for that many more hard drives

    2.  Go with an external enclosure / eSATA Expansion PCI card combo (or, if your motherboard has an eSATA port just the enclosure)  You can find these in many different flavors from a single drive up to 6 to 8 drives.  These usually require an external power supply and you should check to make sure there are Windows 2003 drivers available in order to get this solution to work.

    3.  The more expensive and 'server' related option is to look as a SCSI option similar to numbers 1 or 2 above.  This will almost definately be more expensive, but also an option.


    Finally, the key is to make sure your 'SYSTEM' drive is large, and preferably as large as or the largest drive in your system.  Otherwise you will run into issues if you ever decide to swap out a drive....which reminds me, you can also look at swapping out your data drives (if you have more than one) with a larger drive as well.
    Tuesday, February 5, 2008 7:15 PM

All replies

  • USB is very slow comparatively, and most internal USB controllers are pretty awful - you'll be sharing limited bandwidth between multiple USB disks. If you're looking at bulk storage (say more than a couple hundred GB), I'd go with eSATA.

     

    eSATA can be a bit confusing, but in my experience it all just works. You've got a few scenarios:

     

    1) Single disk - easy, one cable going into the eSATA port. One disk to one port.

    2) Multi-disk array with straight pass-through - the enclosure isn't smart, it just provides power. One disk to one port, as above.

    3) Multi-disk array with port replicator - the enclosure has some smarts and daisy-chains the disks off one port. Multiple disks to one port.

     

    1 and 2 are easy. 3 has some complications in that your SATA controller needs to support port replicators (in my experience most do), and all the disks are sharing one bus (which will slow things down, but not nearly as much as USB).

     

    There are some pretty decent and cost effective pass-through SATA enclosures out there. If you can get enough external SATA ports, that'd be my preference.

     

    Monday, February 4, 2008 9:08 AM
    Moderator
  • I was able to find this on newegg, it seems promising -

     

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817332017

     

    It includes a pci-express esate card as well, so the compatiability factor isn't a problem which is convenient...any reason why that enclosure wouldn't be a good option?

     

    Thanks!

    Monday, February 4, 2008 2:51 PM
  • That's not a bad price at all.

     

    It comes down to personal preference, really. If you're going to set up a RAID array with it, have a read through some of the RAID threads around here (2 TB max volume size etc).

     

    Monday, February 4, 2008 6:15 PM
    Moderator
  • Basically you have a few options, and a few questions too:

    How many drives will your motherboard support?
    How many SATA connections does it have?

    I currently have six drives in my system as my motherboard had six SATA ports on it.

    You could do any of the following if you have exhausted your motherboard options:


    1. Get an internal SATA expansion PCI card.  These usually add 2-4 internal SATA ports if you have the space in the case for that many more hard drives

    2.  Go with an external enclosure / eSATA Expansion PCI card combo (or, if your motherboard has an eSATA port just the enclosure)  You can find these in many different flavors from a single drive up to 6 to 8 drives.  These usually require an external power supply and you should check to make sure there are Windows 2003 drivers available in order to get this solution to work.

    3.  The more expensive and 'server' related option is to look as a SCSI option similar to numbers 1 or 2 above.  This will almost definately be more expensive, but also an option.


    Finally, the key is to make sure your 'SYSTEM' drive is large, and preferably as large as or the largest drive in your system.  Otherwise you will run into issues if you ever decide to swap out a drive....which reminds me, you can also look at swapping out your data drives (if you have more than one) with a larger drive as well.
    Tuesday, February 5, 2008 7:15 PM
  • I cracked open the case again to look things over, and I was partially correct in my current setup...I have 2x250GB, and 2x1TB - The WHS Software is installed to one of the 250GB drives, then there's the additional 250GB, 1TB, and 1TB on the other internal SATA ports.  I also have 1 750GB external USB currently.  I had considered replacing the  smaller 250 gig drives with TB drives, but from what I've read people tend to have a lot of problems with the "Removing" a drive from the array, espeically the drive the OS is installed on?  I suppose tha people that don't have any problems dont  come on the forum to post about how it went good for em either though.  It would be great to swap that other 250GB data drive out, but the problem is both of the 250 drives are the exact same model, so I wouldn't know which one to remove once I selected to remove it in the storage manager, unless there's a obvious way I'm missing?

     

    I don't want to do anything too "risky", as there is a lot of data - some stuff from as far back as 1997 that I couldn't ever find again.  I lost a single season of a TV show called LAX that was on in 2004, and it's been over a year and I still haven't found all those episodes (there's only 13 I think) so I don't even want to begin to think about losing anything.  I'm working towards getting enough space for duplication as soon as possible....It would be nice to have all 4 internal drives as TB drives though.  Do you think that would  likely work out ok, or end in myself having a heart attack?  The only other large storage device that I have is a Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ with 4x750 drives in it and 750GB total on my other main PC.

     

    Thanks!

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008 5:14 AM
  •  

    I just wanted to reply back about this, I purchased this enclosure http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817332017 along with a TB drive, and it literally went from shipping box to being installed and ingested into the server within 15 mins.  I can't say enough good things about this enclosure currently, I'm going to pick up a 2nd one before they stom making them.....just like what happened to my Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ boxes!

    Sunday, February 10, 2008 8:18 AM
  • Codee,

     

    What box are you using as your WHS? Also what chipset is the eSata port.. I am trying to find out if my box is compatible. HP ex470

     

    Thanks

     

    Monday, February 11, 2008 2:11 PM
  • I'm also interested in the answers to these questions... specifically, whether that sort of external eSATA-port-replicating device is compatible with retail-provided WHS boxes.  (I'm about to buy an ex470 and am assuming that I'll have to upgrade its capacity at some point so this sort of awesome-looking, cost-effective enclosure would be ideal, but only if the SATA controller on the 470's mobo can handle it.)
    Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:19 PM
  • I don't know the specs of those systems, but you also have the option of using either a free PCI-E or PCI slot to add an eSata port to the computer.
    Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:24 PM
  • Good evening guys -

     

    The box I am running the WHS software on is a Dell Poweredge 840.  It has 4 internal SATA ports, but no external SATA ports when it shipped.  That enclosure that I linked to in one of my earlier posts actually includes a PCI-E 2-Port eSATA card with it. It uses the SiliconImage 3132 chipset, and looks almost identical to this card - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816855002

     

    The card included with the storge device includes the regular and low-profile bracket as well.  I should be able to add a 2nd array on the same card (Which I will be ordering very soon, I was a big fan of the Diskless Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ systems, but only got 1 originally and then netgear bought the company out and they dont sell diskless ones anymore *grrrr*)

     

    In my previous readings, the chipset can make or break the device connected via eSATA it seems, which may be why they include a known compatiable card with the unit when it ships - to eliminate returns from incompatiable eSATA chipsets...

     

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008 8:20 AM