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How To Store Internal Hard Drives?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the velcro-patches-and-a-strong-fuzzy-wall- dept.

Data Storage 393

mike writes "I have been ripping all my movies and TV shows for easy viewing through a media PC. Because I would rather not rip everything again I'm looking for a simple backup solution. I'm considering a hard drive dock and several internal hard drives to use as 'disks' to back things up every once in a while but I don't know what the best way to store internal drives would be in the meantime. Could they sit together in any empty box and be OK, or would a number of externals be worth the slightly higher cost with fewer worries about storing them in the meantime?"

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Take your pick (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921465)

Both methods have pros and cons. Which appeals to you and your budget more? Choose that one. Any clean, dry, vibration-free storage is good for removed internal drives.

Re:Take your pick (5, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921517)

Any clean, dry, vibration-free storage is good for removed internal drives.

Yeah, they come in a nice box with antistatic bag and desiccant... what's wrong with that? Certainly the manufacturer likes this setup.

Re:Take your pick (5, Informative)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921711)

And use one of these [] to plug them in when needed.

Any solution that has the drives unpowered is preferable - no point in spinning a drive 24/7 when it's used for backup 5 minutes a week.

eSATA and 'books' (4, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921881)

1Tb external 'books' are enclosed, store and look like books, can be labeled like books, and can be unplugged and plugged in like they're removable media. And they're not that expensive.

Re:Take your pick (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922085)

You could attach a metal handle and call them 'wedges' a la Dollhouse.

The scene where he 'saves' the wedge from calling, they show the back of the drive and they're SATA. Hehe.

Re:Take your pick (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922457)

I think the "wedge" refers to the slice of the brain contained on it and not the hard drive itself. The metal handle is there because they are hot swappable and the handle folds over to lock it in their cradle (think backplane). When they fist started talking about the wedges, they mentioned that they data blocks containing a slice of someone's life up to the time it was made.

It's like using a windows XP box as a file server. It isn't really a server but if that's its only rule, you generally call the workstation a server even though the system is not set up like a server or running a server OS.

Re:Take your pick (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922555)

When I saw that scene, I thought "Shenanigans!". I wouldn't trust my brain contents to be stored on a single drive with no RAID. =)

Re:Take your pick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922197)

I like those docks, but I'm afraid I'll fry the electronics on the bottom of the disk with static electricity. Why don't they make cartridge-like enclosures (ju to use with these things ?

Re:Take your pick (5, Informative)

Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922357)

I have contacts at the European Southern Observatory where the security copy of their archive is on disconnected hard-drives. Based on in-house tests, they reckon that the drives last very well provided that they are spun up at least once per year. If they are left unpowered for longer than that they tend to die.

Re:Take your pick (4, Insightful)

linear a (584575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922727)

Don't forget to migrate to a new (set of) drives every 5 years or so. Drives get bigger and in my experience you can collapse 4-5 into 1 after that period. This assumes you end up with lots of drives. This also refreshes your copies of the data. Sidebar - watch out for your O/S silently converting long file names to 8.3 filenames if your filepathnames are too long (esp. if you lengthen the filepathname somehow).

Re:Take your pick (5, Informative)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921733)

Newegg has Hard Drive Protectors []

I've just stored drives in anti-static bags for some of my test systems when I upgrade drives and want to keep the old drives for messing around with. Haven't run into any problems.

I'd add a couple additional comments (3, Informative)

arete (170676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922105)

The only big advantage of the externals is that the connectors are a bit more robust, so if you're going to plug/unplug them a LOT, you're a bit better off.

But for maximum longevity you should take 'vibration free' seriously. That is, you shouldn't lay a drive on a hard table, because when you set it there there's a surprisingly large impact. Set it on a layer of bubblewrap or foam, instead.

If you have humidity issues, I believe you can collect desiccant packets from other things and bake them on low heat to 'refresh' them (bake out the existing humidity) Ideally do this baking with good ventilation.

Why not store them Internally? (0)

n0dna (939092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921475)

I got nothin.

Safe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921485)

A fireproof/waterproof safe is good for that and a number of other items as well. Just make sure to also keep some moisture control in there as well (silica gel etc.). I would also keep them in an esd bag.

At the very least... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921521)

You should store them in the plastic containers they came in: [] These plastic boxes are anti-static and the bumps provide a modicum of shock absorbance. You might also want to add a (fresh) silica pack to prevent moisture from building up.

Re:At the very least... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921819)

Sorry, that server uses hotlinking protection. Copy-paste the url.

Easy solution (4, Informative)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921523)

Buy a cheap used box from a local shop.

You can get P4 class boxes for around $100.

Stuff it full of drives, set up software raid and keep everything there.

In addition to providing a nice place to store backups, you can also use it for primary storage. I assume since you're ripping video that this is an HT-PC.

I prefer not to have a bunch of loud HDD's in my HT-PC. Put that crap in a closet.

Re:Easy solution (4, Interesting)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921545)

make sure your closet doesn't overheat.

Re:Easy solution (2, Funny)

durval (233404) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922301)

make sure your closet doesn't overheat.

Nope. An unpowered hard-drive has MUCH greater tolerance to temperature than a powered one. Unless you are planning on keeping them powered up in your closet, that is... :-)

Re:Easy solution (2, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921661)

+1 - relatively cheap (just paid $350 for 3 1tb drives and a sata controller for a 2tb raid-5 array) and easy to do.

Just remember to use a redundant raid - remember the 0 in raid-0 indicates how much data you'll still have if you suffer a failure

Re:Easy solution (5, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922697)

after a failure in a RAID 0 , you have 0 copies of data.
after a failure in a RAID 1 , you have 1 copy of your data

no wonder RAID 50 is so good!!

ick, softraid (3, Insightful)

Benanov (583592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921717)

Unless it's one known for its ability to work on various and sundry drives (as opposed to identical ones), and probably built into whatever OS OP is running...don't recommend softraid.

Controller card/motherboard goes, or enough drives go and all his data's gone.

Re:Easy solution (1)

JayAEU (33022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921809)

While that certainly is a feasible solution, I'd rather get a proper NAS from Qnap or Synology instead. They do all the work for you and offer lots of additional benefits, staying cool and being reliable among the most important ones. Not to mention iSCSI, uPNP and advanced RAID and SMART configurations that let you know when (or before) something's wrong with your disks.

Re:Easy solution (1)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922137)

Granted, this isn't pertinent to the OP...

But, they're also SLOW. I've never found a NAS box that could even come close to a even a P4 running linux.

Use a faster box with multiple SATA channels on PCI-E cards and we're talking real performance.

I'm loathe to even think about how iSCSI would work off a cheap NAS box. I don't think I'd want to try it.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922591)

It's true that most commercial NAS boxes are slow, but it's not as bad as you might imagine for regular use.

Large-scale backups and transfers are a really big pain, but realistically, there are very few situations where you transfer more than a few gigs.

My NAS (Buffalo Terastation Live) can do around 80mbps after overhead using a Gigabit connection, and that will get me a gig to any machine on my network (inc 802.11n) in just over a minute and a half.

All video I ever play (files and DVDs that I ISO from my collection) take far longer to play than to transfer, so I just play them directly, and the DVD masters and video that I generate for work still transfer faster than my machine can burn them.

In the end, where do I actually need more speed?

Besides, it's nice to have a single machine that is low power, stores everything, serves media as a uPNP server and my printers. I activated the SSH server from the stock firmware, and the Apache instance, and life is good :)

Point Missed (4, Insightful)

travisd (35242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921839)

The OP already has the online storage covered. This is regarding using HDD's for offline (not spinning) storage. Even if they're not being accessed and are physically separate from the primary storage, you still are subject to wear (spinning platters) and things like power surges.

Putting the dries back into their orignal enclosures, or perhaps an "OEM Pack" piece of foam (with anti-static bags) may be the best option. Better, consider putting the whole mess into a media-rated fire-safe.

Re:Point Missed (2, Insightful)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922245)

When you need to back up, turn on the machine.

When you're done, shut it down.

Offline storage at it's finest.

Re:Easy solution (3, Insightful)

cuby (832037) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921955)

Low reliability end energy inefficient. A P4 burns more or less 60w in idle. A drive easily use 15w. If the power supply has an 50% efficiency... that is perfectly normal for old cases. If you have 3 disks you use (60+3*15)*1.5= 157.5 w. Add more 20w to motherboard, memory and stuff and you get almost 180W in idle. This is a LOT after one year.

If you are not still convinced. Try to imagine how to recover the raid array after one disk dies... Search the net and you'll find a lot of people that was unable to recover arrays because they used cheap hardware.

Because of this I discarded NAS and similar solutions. I have external hard drives and I plug them as I need using USB. Put them away from kids, sun and humidity and they will be fine.

Re:Easy solution (1)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922185)

It's only energy inefficient when it's on...

Because of this I discarded NAS and similar solutions.I have external hard drives and I plug them as I need using USB. Put them away from kids, sun and humidity and they will be fine.

And what happens to you in a drive failure? Instead of even having the option to recover your data, you just automatically loose it.

For the record, I've recovered lots of HW and SW raids over the years. It's been a pain in the ass a few times, but I've yet to loose data.

Those of you that backup to single external drives can't say that, or will soon not be able to say that once one of them fails.

I'd rather have to fight a recovery procedure then automatically know I'm going to loose data.

Re:Easy solution (1)

IsThisNickTaken (555227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922375)

But the real question is "Did you lose any data"??? I am getting better about letting the confusion of "lose" vs. "loose" slide. When I see it three times in a single post, I had to say something.

Re:Easy solution (0)

shayne321 (106803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922509)

Just so it's pointed out: RAID != Backup

RAID allows you to get your data back online quickly after a drive failure, and/or allows you to present multiple drives as one storage container. That is ALL. RAID does NOT protect you from:

* Viruses running wild on the network deleting data
* Executing "rm -rf *" in the wrong directory (and other sysadmin mistakes, like getting the arguments mixed up in a cp or mv command)
* Your house/office from burning down and taking your data with it (maybe not a big deal for movies, but definitely a big deal for digital photos)
* Losing all of your data when a pipe bursts in the ceiling above the server
* Losing all of your data when the power supply shorts and sends 110v to all your drives (this actually happened to a friend of mine)
* Losing some or all data due to a bug in the RAID controller firmware or a bug in the software implementation of RAID

Etc, etc. I could think of 1000 examples, but those are a few. I don't have the right answer for the original question, but RAID is never an appropriate answer to backup (unless you're talking about replicating from an onsite RAID array to an offsite RAID array, but that's a whole other discussion).

Do you plan on using the disks on a regular basis? (5, Informative)

wiplash (787883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921529)

If so, it might be smart to install/store them in inexpensive, standard USB disk enclosure caddies. That way, when you do need to go back to your archive, you can pop 'em into your USB port and they're ready to go straight away! And if you go for one of those book-style enclosures, it makes for a neat way to store them too.

I use em (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921567)

I use a removable chassis system (with built in fans). Hard drives have trouble catching viruses or wearing out if they are sitting in a drawer.

I keep the chassis in one of those little plastic sets of drawers from Target. Works like a champ.

How about... (4, Funny)

rednip (186217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921585)

Why don't you try a box and use magnets as packing peanuts? Be sure to leave them in a hot, humid place, like a shower, and never every spin them up

Dry, cool, and individually placed in anti-static bags, just be sure to spin them up every so often.

Re:How about... (2, Funny)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921621)

Don't forget to irradiate with X-rays to remove any bacteria.

Re:How about... (2, Interesting)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921983)

Nah, you can get better density if you use the original foam packing that they come with, the only problem is if you spin them up in it you will cook the things, I solved this by lining up a big 3" drill bit and driving it down through all the drives and attaching a fan to the end, keeps em cool.

Or (if you want a real solution) you could, I dunno, get an old army ammo case from your local disposals store (we have em called Aussie Disposals), cut the same packing foam used to ship (as joked about above) and fit about 20 drives in a nice tin safely and bullet proof :)

Re:How about... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922585)

I agree with everything you said except using foam. I'd suggest using a material that would still protect the drive, but conduct the heat from the drives to the exterior of the ammo box quickly (a la heatpipe/sink style).

Re:How about... (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922659)

Foam is cheap, doesn't conduct electricity, and the original question was just how to store them safely, not how to make something to power them up in :)

But yes, if you plan to power them up, I would suggest making up proper mounting brackets and bolting the drives into the box so it can dissipate heat through the casing.

Re:How about... (1)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922549)

Be sure to regularly douse your drives with flame retardant chemicals - then take a blowtorch to the platters just to be sure you did it right!

Static bags and a cardboard box (5, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921641)

At work, we would routinely have to deal with 5-10 hard drives a day and probably would order 40-60 a month. We stored them in anti-static bags [] in a bankers box. While that's not the exact brand we used (we bought them in 100 packs), its similar. During the few years we used those bags, we did not lose a single drive to storage loss. There were drives that were DOA or died during processing, or were dropped, but we never pulled a drive that was working the previous time only to discover that it was dead when we pulled it.

As for hookup, you have a couple of options. If you are going to do casual use, you can get an esata dock [] . It doesn't have a fan, but for all but the most intense use, it should be sufficient for transfering files and weekly backups. If you're looking for more, go with sata sleds [] (again not the brand I used, but similar), you can screw your hard drives into those and if your sata controller supports it, hot swap the drives. You can also buy extra sleds so that you can swap out your drives without having to handle the internal drive.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921825)

I do something similar, but use aluminum foil instead of the anti-static bags. Because anti-static bags are conductive (to force all charge to the outside of the bag via Gauss's law) this is just as effective, not to mention cheaper.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

greed (112493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921967)

Probably not a big deal these days, but in the pin-through-hole era, you ran the risk of getting scraps of aluminum stuck to the pins on the circuit boards. The plastic anti-stat bags are resistant to that.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (5, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922059)

Aluminum foil is not a good choice for anti-static material.

Mainly, it's too conductive. For a hard disk it's not that big of a deal, but suppose you used it on a motherboard. You'd have an exploded lithium battery.

In a hard disk, I can imagine an unlikely scenario where a charged capacitor on the board killed another component through the foil.

Anyway there's good reasons that anti-static material is only slightly conductive. At 1000+ volts it is plenty conductive, but at lower voltages, it's more like an insulator.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922109)

It's could just a fluke, but I got one of those cheapo NexStar docks (the single bay, not the double) and I got a lot of write errors. I'm guessing it's because the drive is real wobbly, standing up like that and it couldn't handle the vibrations. I would suggest either getting a different brand (something that locks the drive in place better) or just get a standard enclosure. It's a shame, I really like the concept.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922313)

There are various usb widgets that provide the same electronics without the 'cool' vertical plug in stuff: []

Many of them also attach to both SATA and PATA drives (which it seems might be trickier for a bay style device).

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922613)

Can you post the SATA sled brand you do use? I'm interested, but don't want to pay CDW $27/sled. =(

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922747)

we used to use kingwin [] and you can get trays for them for 14.99 a pop [] , but the fan gets noisy after a while, little plastic bits break off. I'm not super thrilled with the drive bays, which is why I didn't try to hard to find the ones I used. A trayless triple bay is really nice, but it takes up to 5.25" bays in the case. (I currently can't find the triple bays on cdw that we used).

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922617)

If you're looking for more, go with sata sleds (again not the brand I used, but similar), you can screw your hard drives into those and if your sata controller supports it, hot swap the drives. You can also buy extra sleds so that you can swap out your drives without having to handle the internal drive.

Forget sleds, go trayless. [] There are a variety of trayless sata racks available from a couple of different manufactureres, including multi-disk designs. I have them in all of my systems, they work great in windows and linux.

Re:Static bags and a cardboard box (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922675)

I worked on a project that simply had a long-term storage requirement. Given the amount of data and the retention they wanted, we went with a series of TB drives. We used this Hot swappable drive bay [] , it worked great and doesn't even require a sled to mount the drive in.

The olden days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921671)

Back in the olden days of file sharing I had 2 scsi hard drive chasis that could support mulitple 9 gb hd drives daisy chained in my basement. I also had a couple of dat tape drive down there.

Re:The olden days (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922317)

daisy chained in my basement

That's just so wrong.

Off site backup! (4, Informative)

MathFox (686808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921681)

Professionals keep (at least) one off-site backup. You could rent a private locker in a bank or some other organization or make an online backup deal. I do use (two) USB disks for backups. They are pretty portable, fairly robust, plug in nearly every computer, have decent speed and good capacity.

Rotate the backups! (2, Interesting)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921849)

Do a backup, drop it in the safe deposit box at the bank, take the other one out. Next quarter, rotate them.

Re:Rotate the backups! (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922007)

Or pay someone like Mozy $5 a month and not have to fuck with USB sticks, bank deposit bags/cases and the fees inherent in those.

Re:Rotate the backups! (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922275)

at $500/TB/Month it's not worth it for any large volume of data.

Re:Rotate the backups! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922647)

True. At that point you should be getting 1 or 2 U colo somewhere and have a NAS with 10-15TB of disk space that you can backup to, and get your data from, anywhere.

They make 250GB USB sticks? (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922349)

Damn. Where do I get those?

Re:They make 250GB USB sticks? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922577)

Easy, get some rectangular drain pipe, stuff a bunch of hard drives in it, weld up the end and glue a usb cable to it.

Re:Rotate the backups! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922361)

Or both, eggs in one basket and all that.

Wasn't there an online back-up service that crashed and burned and lost all the people's data not long ago?

Re:Off site backup! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922161)

Typical slashdot gobshite, use a bank locker to store some TV shows, oh yeah! Great advice kid ! Fucking asshole...

If no NAS, you can DIY one out of an old PC (1)

PenguinRadio (69089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921719)

While trying to scrounge up the funds for a super sexy NAS, I took an old G4 Mac I got on Ebay and followed some directions to throw in some extra drives. There are plenty of 'diy' NAS instructions on the net to take advantage of old PCs that you might have floating around.

I actually ran CAT5 to my detached garage. I think whatever your solution is (box, NAS, diy NAS) you should consider storing it 'off site' from your main house to ensure survivability if there is some fire or other disaster.

Re:If no NAS, you can DIY one out of an old PC (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922061)

To be honest, being semi-offsite is not the job of your NAS (which is a primary storage method), you should be backing your NAS up to something else.

It all comes down to how much your data is worth, if its just a large collection of stuff leeched from TPP, well, I don't even bother with a redundant array for that crap, my porn collection on the other hand... :P

Re:If no NAS, you can DIY one out of an old PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922171)

However much I like your idea, the only problem I see with it, is that an off-site works great if you deal with a backup or a redundant storage platform. Chances are that a NAS is used to store crap that otherwise would fill up your desktop/laptop. Therefore if your garage burnt down or got flooded that you would lose everything, just as you would if your house caught fire.

Either-way, when your house burns down, the last thing you will think about is about your whole collection of "Bob Villa's This Old House, Season 1 - 10" on your NAS. Let's not forget that your garage most likely gets hotter during summer than your house (unless you AC your empty garage).

Best off-site solution just might be to get a 1TB hard drive, backup all of your family albums, and critical data ("Frasier" does not count), get a safety deposit box at a bank, and store it there. Once every 4 months swap it out with another drive, and rotate them. This way you can backup your precious documents.

Secondly safety deposit boxes are quite specious so you could easily fit in 6-8 drives there. They are usually in a dry and dark place. And if you worry you can always ESD bag them and throw in a desiccant.

Lastly you should have thought of future expansion of your data-garage, and rigged CAT6 (for 1Gbps), CAT7 (10Gbps), or went with fiber. To this day I live with my mistakes of cabling BNC, damn Egghead sales man with his 10Base-2 being the future pitch.

Keep in mind (5, Informative)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921727)

Whatever route you choose, keep in mind that hard drives as a whole have terribly high failure rate (about 1 in 8 fail in my experience). Also, regardless of your chosen media, be sure to research the lifespan of your storage. If you are looking for long term (more than a couple years) and dependability you are going to be spending more than you would on a cheap raid box.

As much as I HATE to say it, magnetic tape is the ONLY storage media that has not failed me yet.

Re:Keep in mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921925)

As much as I HATE to say it, magnetic tape is the ONLY storage media that has not failed me yet.


Mag tape can still fail. I've had plenty fail (yes, it was stored well). However, it truly is the best long term solution and if rewritten on schedule your failure rate will be very low. Just yesterday I started reading some tapes that weren't rewritten by mistake. They're 8mm Exabyte tapes from 1993. 10 good and 0 bad, so far. Current linear tapes list a 10 year shelf life (the 8mms listed 3 years). The down side to tape is price. Hard disks seems to be the cheapest. Luckily my data at work is worth many millions, so no one complains about using tape. I just wish I had a tape drive at home.

Re:Keep in mind (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922101)

The best rule of thumb (ahem, rule of wrist)...

There's no such thing as permanent storage.

That said, the interesting article from google about a year or so back in regards to consumer drive failure was a very interesting read, most failures happened in the first year and after five years of working life.

Don't trust it in the first year
Don't trust it out of warranty
Don't trust it...

Re:Keep in mind (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922157)

Actually, hard disks have a 100% failure rate.

All mechanical devices have a finite lifespan.

But that doesn't mean you need to use tape. As long as your backup plan takes failure into account, there's no problem. I have put millions of dollars worth of data onto spinning media only, and I sleep just fine at night.

That said, RAID alone is not a replacement for backups, as some seem to think. Your backup strategy isn't valid if "rm -rf" destroys every copy you have of something.

6250BPI round reel and Cartridge tapes (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922273)

Then you have never used round reel tapes. Tape de-magnetizes.

Ever seen a videotape recorded in the 80's? A lot of em look like static now.

Re:Keep in mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922291)

As much as I HATE to say it, magnetic tape is the ONLY storage media that has not failed me yet.

So I take it you've never had to do a restore.

Re:Keep in mind (1)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922323)

I guess I should clarify a couple things...

In my experience, 1/8 of hard drives fail within a month

RAID is not a valid backup method.

I am speaking on the behalf of long-term, zero maintenance storage

Re:Keep in mind (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922419)

I am speaking on the behalf of long-term, zero maintenance storage

Such a thing does not exist. Well, maybe stone tablets.

Re:Keep in mind (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922649)

In my experience, 1/8 of hard drives fail within a month

Man, what do you do to your drives? :)

I've sold hard drives for years and I can tell you that 1 in 8 in a month is seriously out of whack. Yes drives are orders of magnitude more likely to fail than any other component, but 1 in 8 within a month is either fantasy, terrible bad luck, or an indication that something you are doing is causing them damage.

Re:Keep in mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922499)

Huh? A RAID box is going to have the same hard drives in it sitting in a closet as you would with regular drives sitting in the closet, except it's going to take more.

I hope you aren't suggesting RAID *instead* of separate backups to hard drives. RAID is not a backup.

WiebeTech anti-static storage box (2, Insightful)

paulievox (1455189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921773)

I like these guys: [] It's an anti-static, somewhat shock-mounted plastic case for 3.5" drives. I've got about a dozen stacked in a rubbermaid box. It eliminates the stress of the drives banging into each other, even in anti-static bags. I've never dropped a drive inside one of these, but i'll bet it'd survive a modest height.

on a related note... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27921777)

Could someone tell me how in the world you rip your movies without getting the video/audio time sync problem? Every time I do it, no matter which ripping application I use, no matter which computer I use, I ALWAYS get the same problem where the video and audio are in sync at the beginning, and by the end of a 2 hour film, they are out of sync by 10 or more seconds. It makes NO sense! It's not an "offset" issue. This is perplexing since I don't know how the audio/video can be fully in sync when I watch the DVD, but the duration lengths are DIFFERENT after ripping. It seems the video is always longer. It almost seems like a "scaling" issue. I suspect there's something inside the DVD player that "corrects" this realtime.

So, how do I rip CORRECTLY?!

Am I going to have to rip/demux/stretch audio/fuse back together EVERY time?! I can't even find a good audio "stretching" app either.

This is... irritating to say the least.

Network Attached Storage (1)

amcdiarmid (856796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921779)

It sounds like you want a backup to store the drive allready in the computer, although it could be you don't have enough storage and are just storing files on external drives. (Say movies ripped from DVD or so...)

In either case, it's probably easiest to make a network attached storage device (aka Linux server) to copy everything to.

Computer1: Primary use computer

OldComputer2: NAS in closet... You can get an old P3 (low heat producing) with a bunch of drive bays, and a PCI SATA card ($50). Use a junky IDE drive for the OS, and make a raid5 of several large capacity drives.

The advantage of this is that you can synch your existing "workstation" to the NAS, and get the files you were considering on external HD's on the fly. Moving HDs around is not really recommended, as there is a good chance you will damage them. There are many guides to configuring this, which you can find via google.

Note: a PCI SATA adaptor will limit you to about 1Gb/s throughput. Convient as a Gb Ethernet is the current networking standard.

RAID 1 (5, Interesting)

Calmiche (531074) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921789)

I actually had the same problem. I've got my entire 1,000+ Movie DVD and 400+ Television collection ripped to hard drive for use as streaming media to a media PC. I've been working on it for about 4 years now.

I ended up buying and setting up a bare-bones computers with RAID capabilities. Get a big tower with plenty of cooling. I originally used your same method. I purchased hard drives and external hard drive enclosures. This was cheaper than building pre-made drives. I especially like Vantec enclosures. However, I had a couple of drives go bad over the years. After some experimentation, I found that underpowered drives tend to loose data.

Now, I use the aforementioned RAID 1 solution. Originally I used 400gb drives but now I'm up to purchasing 1-TB drives. I've only had 1 drive go bad in the last 3 years and it was easily replaced with no loss of data. You could probably use Raid 5 just as easily, but my first setup didn't support it so I defaulted to Raid 1. The extra controller cars also used to be cheaper for RAID 1 but the costs have since equalized.

For the moment, I would advise against the 2TB drives. Many have serious slowdown problems and the cost/storage ratio is to high. 1.5tb drives are looking better and better.

Just remember good cooling! This may be the most important factor. Hot hard drives last a MUCH shorter time. I REALLY like Thermatake icage bays. They change 3-5.25" bays into 3-3.5" hard drive bays and have a really nice 120x120 fan on them to keep the drives cool.

If you buy a hard drive a month you can get some enormous storage capacity really quickly without breaking the bank. I'm up to 8TB right now. (16TB of drives).

Re:RAID 1 (2, Informative)

JayAEU (33022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921961)

That's some collection you have there...

Anyway, in a situation like yours, I'd have opted for a proper 4+ drive NAS like the ones offered by Qnap, Synology, etc.

Cooling is not an issue with those cases, since they're designed with cool drives in mind from the beginning. The air flow is optimized and driven by a large-diameter slow-spinning fan in the back.

As for cool drives, I found the Western Digital RE2 GP series to be really good. They spin slower than other drives, but they also stay a lot cooler and thus consume only a fraction of the power other drives do. In addition, they're designed for 24/7 operation, so you probably won't have them die on you after a few months of usage.

Re:RAID 1 (1)

indros (211103) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922427)

I decided to go with the Drobo. It works as a JBOD raid, and you can mix and match disks and capacities. The drawback with the drobo is that it doesn't have a native networking capability. For that you need to buy a droboshare, or hook it up to a box & share it. And it has USB2, and 1394b, but not 1394a. So if you don't currently have firewire 800 capabilities, I recommend you get a card immediately if you choose to hook it up to a PC. []

What to do, and what not to do. (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921801)

The things to protect internal hard drives from:

Heat (demagnetizes the data) Humidity (makes parts fail faster) Dust (makes parts fail faster) Static Electricity (no special explanation) Vibrations (makes parts fail faster, depending of the direction of the vibration) Wear and Tear of connecting/disconnecting

Don't just use an old shoe box. Use non-static bags and a humidity absorber, cushion the box you do use, and make sure you handle them with care (the connectors aren't exactly heavy duty).

External hard drives solve several problems: the wear and tear is reduced, but you'd have to find a completely airtight product to protect from humidity and such.

IMHO, you should buy an external hard drive bay, with the option to have about a terabyte of data.

After all, the less you move it around, the fewer problems there are. Just maintain it (clean the vents, make sure the fan is working), keep it connected to the computer, and you're golden.

The hassle of dealing with broken parts is MUCH more expensive than just putting a little bit of money into a hard drive bay. Consider getting one of those external bays that let you mount internal hard drives (duplicate if you need to, but 1 TB should be enough) and make sure the PSU doesn't give you dirty power.

my recent solution (3, Informative)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921803)

I just recently addressed this problem myself. My solution, although a little pricey compared to just stuffing an old box with hard drives, was to get one of these guys [] and put 5 1 TB drives into it. I have it running in a software RAID5, backing up everything from my server (media, subversion repository, etc) via a nightly cron job rsyncing between the server disks and the enclosure. So far it's been working like a charm.

Re:my recent solution (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922125)

Pray your raid doesn't fail.

And then pray another drive doesn't fail while you take the many many hours needed to rebuild the array onto a new disk.

Re:my recent solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922431)


Just attach a couple of extra cheap external USB/eSATA drives to the thing and rsync backups to that periodically.

I've got a 2TB RAID 5 NAS appliance, and I just added a couple of those cheap 1TB USB externals to it. The box just rsyncs backups overnight, and I'm good.

Eventually a drive in the box is going to fail, and then I'll have to do a rebuild, but that's not too bad. If another drive fails during the rebuild, I'll just swap it out and do a full rebuild with the data from the external backups.

And if the backups fail too? Then I'm screwed, but it'll probably be because my house burned down, not random disk failure.

P.S. Use a UPS for your NAS if you care for your data.

Re:my recent solution (1)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922225)

I also bought one of those when I ran out of internal bays.

They're a little slow compared to internal, but kick the shit out of USB.

Awesome little boxes.

ask mom (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921893)

Buy a cheap-o all-in-1 mobo/CPU/RAM/case combo. Fill it up with cheap TB sata disks in a software RAID. Add a dynamic DNS name, ssh server, and rsync. Plug it in at your mom's house, rsync your local fileserver with that one every night at 4am.

I thought about buying a fireproof save and external hard drives, but I realized I would not have the discipline to archive to them regularly. With the solution I posted, no discipline is required after the initial setup, and it would save you even thieves empties your safe.

Re:ask mom (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921951)

on top of that, the ignition point of paper is higher than data loss temperatures on a hard drive, so your documents may not burst into flames in some fireproof safes, but your data might go up in smoke. While they may make fireproof safes for hard drives, make sure you know what you're getting if you do buy one.

Re:ask mom (1)

danpritts (54685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922325)

Better yet, ask a friend who already has a system running 24/7.

beware, though - rsync will gladly delete files on the target system if you accidentally delete the originals on the local. Perhaps use --link-dest and the scheme described at []

Obvious (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921945)

"I have been ripping all my movies and TV shows for easy viewing through a media PC. Because I would rather not rip everything again I'm looking for a simple backup solution. I'm considering a hard drive dock and several internal hard drives to use as 'disks' to back things up every once in a while but I don't know what the best way to store internal drives would be in the meantime."

Well, you could store them internally.

Obvious (1)

Godman (767682) | more than 5 years ago | (#27921981)

Store em on the floor of your mom's basement like i do. Just don't step on them when you get up to get more pizza.

TPBB (5, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922027)

The pirate bay backup(tm) offers a free and easy 4 step method to backup most movies/tv shows.
1) create .torrent of all your movies
2) upload to TPBB(tm) trackers
3) seed
4) In case of catastrophic harddrive failure/house being nuked from oribt, re-download all your movies

Advantages of TPBB over conventional backup methods
*Off-site - the backups are held of site in multiple unsecured locations
*Distributed - these locations are distributed across multiple contents
*Unlimited storage - You can even backup more content than your hard drive has space for
*Content Filtering - TPBB will filter out boring content, ensuring just worthwhile movies are kept

**Please consult your lawyer before using TPBB as we are not responsible for any legal disputes in your jurisdiction.

Re:TPBB (2, Funny)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922287)

Real men don't use backups, they post their stuff on a public ftp server and let the rest of the world make copies.

- Linus Torvalds

Amazon S3? (2, Insightful)

plams (744927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922047)

They don't guarantee you don't lose your data, but it's probably more safe than what you can come up with yourself.

tape drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922135)

Buy a tape drive.

And store your old drives somewhere dry and protected eg. a fireproof safe with some desicant

Find a friend that needs a backup too. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922233)

I made a deal with a friend of mine. We each keep a backup of each others data. Its an off site fairly up to date replica of all our important data. We each have FTP servers running so everything is always available when needed. Neither of us run a RAID setup anymore. the money saved from not having to buy more disks and controllers allows us both to increase our total storage capacity as well. The chances that we will both have a drive fail or a disaster take out both servers are pretty slim too.

RAID5 - you're not as protected as you think (2, Insightful)

danpritts (54685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922305)

Maybe not directly relevant to the OP's question but since I see a bunch of folks mentioning using RAID, i thought i'd chime in about RAID5 survivability.

RAID5 protects you against one failure in a stripe. if you lose a drive, that's a failure. If you have a read error on a particular sector, that is another failure, and your data is gone.

the probability of a read error *somewhere* on a 1TB drive is actually quite high.

So, you lose a drive, you go to rebuild, you find you have a read error and can't get your data.

This can mean a few things.

1) lose a particular bit of data. Maybe you don't care, if you're archiving DVDs you'll probably cope just fine. If it's important data you'll be sad.

2) can't rebuild your RAID. Some RAID controllers will just give up if they get a read error during a rebuild, so then you have to back up the recoverable portion of your data (probably the vast majority), rebuild the RAID, etc.

I don't know how the various software RAIDs cope with this. I had this happen with a dell/lsilogic hardware raid card.

In my case, the read error was not something i noticed when i backed up and restored the data onto a new raid, but the parity didn't match so it wouldn't rebuild. It very well may have been on an unused portion of the filesystem.


1) scrub your RAID5's regularly. this process checks everything over and fixes any errors while you still have a full RAID5 set. This will reduce your chance of failure greatly.

2) use RAID6. it adds an extra drive's worth of redundancy.

3) use [] or some similar additional layer of redundancy.

You should also consider running an OS that supports ZFS (FreeBSD, OpenSolaris, Nexenta). It has additional data checksumming that can help. ZFS has software raid built in.

Several good blog posts on this subject here: []

He talks specifically about Solaris & ZFS, but the reliability stuff is generally applicable. RAID-Z is basically equivalent to RAID5; RAID-Z2 is basically RAID6.

I like externals (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922371)

They're easy to handle and store. But if you're going to use singles then you need to get the packaging material they ship bulk drives in, and put the drives in ZIPLOC antistatic baggies with those little moisture packets. Both are readily and inexpensively available via mail order.

External disk enclosures do little to protect hard drives.

Free anti-static bags (2, Insightful)

toppavak (943659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922397)

A great way to get free anti-static bags is to order samples from semiconductor companies like TI and Analog Devices. They'll send you free stuff wrapped up in decently sized anti-static bags. Great for if you only have a couple drives to store, but if you need 10, for example, just go ahead and buy some.

My favorite method (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922467)

I prefer to store mine in the cellar. Make sure you remove the lights and the stairs. Place the hard drives in a locked filing cabinet in an unused bathroom. And put a sign "Beware of the Leopard" on the bathroom door. That's the first place people would look for it. :P

My approach... (4, Insightful)

raw-sewage (679226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27922515)

I have two home-built servers: one is an always-on, live NAS; the other is a backup server that I power on only to do backups (or restores if it comes to that). First rule I go by: always use the slower 5400 RPM drives, such as the Western Digital "Green" [] or the Samsung EcoGreen [] . For both media streaming and backup purposes, these hard drives are still plenty fast. The biggest benefit, though, is that they use less energy (particularly important if your system is always on), and don't get as hot, making cooling much easier (which usually also translates to quieter).

My live server is currently 4 x 1TB drives in RAID-5, using Linux software RAID. (I know RAID is no substitute for backup, but I still consider it "quasi" backup. But I also have real backup.) This system is fairly un-interesting: it's your typical DIY NAS.

The backup server is housed in the Norco RPC-4020 [] . For $300, you get 24 SATA hot-swap bays. That price is hard to beat. I haven't filled this case up with drives yet, and I have plenty of physical space going forward. The hardware is just some unused spare components I had lying around. Extra SATA ports are provided by the Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 [] (which works fine in "regular" 32-bit PCI slots).

This, IMO, is a pretty simple set up. I just power up the backup server whenever I need it, and turn it off when I'm done. I don't care about performance, since backups are always run as a batch job (typically over night).

Before I bought that Norco case, I was just using individual drives with a Thermaltake BlacX [] SATA-to-USB hard drive docking station. This is cheaper, just slightly less convenient. I did order 50 "zip lock"-style anti-static bags for $13. I ordered them from [] ("GRC Enterprises" was listed on my invoice). After I copied data to the drive and put it in an anti-static bag, I just added it to the stack of drives I had on my bookshelf. The Norco case definitely looks better! :)

All in all, I consider my system fairly robust. It's only semi-secure against my stupidity, and since its all housed in the apartment, does not safeguard against fire. But since the media rips are just copies of DVDs I actually own, my insurance policy becomes the ultimate backup.

RAID is not a backup solution (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27922643)

RAID is used as redundancy against hardware failure, not as a backup solution. If one of your drives fails in a RAID 1, sweet, you've not lost your data. However, overwriting all your data with crap will leave then you with two drives of crap. Where's your data now?

TFA isn't asking about hardware failure in a way that RAID would be the correct answer.

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