In the tech business, you end up with tons of spare hard drives sitting around that are too small for use these days. But I have always wanted to throw them all in my old ATX case that sports 9 fans and chain them together somehow. I found in my venture several ways to EASILY accomplish this and the old AMD XP 2800+ CPU is enough for my needs (~10TB). Now if you know me at all, you know I’m a penny pincher! So paying for advanced NAS software is not an option. So here is what I found:
I LOVE IT! It runs from a USB flash drive and loads a highly trimmed version of Ubuntu linux OS that runs from memory. So ALL of your internal hard drives can be used for the UN-RAID array. The highly configured linux cuts I/O read/writes to the flash drive to an absolute minimum so it will last virtually forever. It also does a great job of powering down drives that are not in use. Its so simple to set up and everything, including networking just work perfectly on the first try. Only problem, a BIG problem for me, the free version is limited to 3 hard drives. Two storage drives that are combined, one to be used for parity backup. Despite the awesome performance, I have way more hard drives! So…
The PERFECT solution!
FlexRAID is a highly scalable and smart storage system that turns independent hard drives of various sizes, makes, and models into storage pools and storage pools into storage clouds. Additionally, FlexRAID provides both snapshot and real-time parity data protection with support for RAID4, RAID6, and RAIDX where X is any number of tolerances desired. Parity data protection can be configured at the storage pool level and/or at the storage cloud level. Furthermore, FlexRAID is not limited to hard disks as it can pool data from all accessible sources including removable media, external storage, network shares, LUNs, disk arrays, etc.
That’s their description. Use as many drives as you want. Even USB drives or just select folders. You can even use drives on other computers over the network! It will combine and protect in any way you can imagine! I set my parity drive to the size of my largest HD, 2TB. I have it in snapshot mode so every night it creates a 2TB parity archive based on all the other drives in the array. I have 2x 2TB, 2x 1TB, 2x 750GB, 3x 250GB and 5x 160GB hard drives. Don’t ask how I got them all attached! That gives me ~7TB total and if ANY drive fails, catches fire and explodes, I wont lose any data because I can plug another drive in and recover it from the parity snapshot.
With my new 7TB secured storage system, I feel a huge burden lifted off my shoulders knowing I will never run out of space doing critical backups or recording too much DVR and no more worries about keeping backups of all that massive data! Best of all, I didn’t pay a penny for it since it was all made using spare parts and free software 🙂