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Hardware RAID advices needed

Hi all!

I'm finally back after getting a nasty project on my back, and I have a 
question... I'm thinking about buying a hardware RAID controller for my 
desktop. The main reason I don't want to go with software RAID is that 
my mobo IDE controllers are allready full with other stuff, and one of 
them may have a problem. So, I would need some kind of controller 

I'm not doing it for performance, just for reliability. Yeah, I have 
additional backup, but I like the idea that the data will be accessible 
even if a disk crashes. So, that's main priority.

Now, what I was thinking: If I buy a four channel RAID card now, and two 
S-ATA disks (which is what I want), set them up in RAID 1, can I add a 
third disk later, and convert this system seamlessly to RAID 5 without 
a reinstall? 

Every Linux geek I know says "no, I don't think so", but I think my old 
sysadmin did that routinely on Tru64 years ago... If a disk blew up, 
he'd just throw it away and replace it, no worries. 

I'll go with a HW RAID even if I can't do exactly this, but then I think 
I'll go with a 2-channel controller. Can I have your recommendations, 
please, for a controller for a simple desktop system, with the main 
object of having redundancy in case of a disk crash? 

I think I'll go with the cheapest there is for the task. 

I've seen a 2-channel RAID 1 Adaptec AAR-1210SA, that's a really cheap 
one, I can go a bit higher than that. The cheapest 4-channel RAID 4 
I've seen is HighPoint RocketRAID 1640 S-ATA. Same range is a number of 
Promise FastTrak cards. Then there's the Adaptec  2410SA, which I have 
seen recommended, but I think that if I go that high, it should be able 
to do the RAID 1 to 5 seemlessly thing, or have a good reputation for 
taking good care of my data.

I've heard that some HW controllers can make it really painful to access 
the data, even if just one disk crashed. Is this a problem with any of 
the mentioned?

Finally, would you buy disks from the same or different manufacturers? I 
would guess that similar disks are easier on the controller, but OTOH 
if there is a flaw in one, it is likely to be in the other too.... 

Your recommendations are most welcome! :-)


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Programmer / Astrophysicist / Ski-orienteer / Orienteer / Mountaineer
Homepage: http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/     OpenPGP KeyID: 6A6A0BBC

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