Pushing Virtual Limits

SS4200-E – To buy or not to buy?
April 27, 2008, 11:09 pm
Filed under: vmware

I was leaning heavily towards purchasing one of these units in the next two weeks this post has me very concerned – http://www.edbordenblog.com/2008/04/intel-nas-raid-malfunction-kill-me-now.html

It is the ultimate data dilemma in this modern era. As you can see from my earlier posts I am currently infatuated with PiWorx and the possibilities that opens up but I am quickly see the limitations.

The bloom is coming off that rose a bit as I have had my vista laptop crash THREE times since starting the program. Pretty BSODs (PNF Failure) just to show me Microsoft still loves me.

Right now at home I have 150 GB in VMware images. A mix of workstation/ESX/Server platforms so I can test and keep working on things at home. (A new ESX server for home use is also on the horizon)

400GB of video data, ~100GB of family and trip pictures, 250 GB of music, and a Series3 TiVo that I keep dumping video off of. All of this is data that matters. Data that if I lost I would likely be unable to recreate.

I have implemented my own “tiered storage” at home. As I upgrade hdd’s and put in larger ones I buy enclosures of the old ones. I have 4 200-250gb IDE drives that I never power on anymore. They all are completely full of backups. Will they power on when I need them? I hope to never have to find out.

All my “mission critical” data is stored on a RAID 5 grouping of Seagate 500gb ES drives. I spent the extra for the illusion of security. I still have the weak spot of using the built in motherboard raid technology and a single power supply.

To backup my office documents and smaller items I am a Mozy subscriber (love that service!). Two days ago Mozy stopped working and I have to open a support ticket with them and see what is going on.

PiWorx will work well to mirror the Mozy data but my internet connection just isn’t big enough to upload terabytes of data.

My backup strategy –

High Priority – Mozy/PiWorx + laptop hdd + Raid5 storage on my server

Medium – Raid5 on the server, some duplication to laptop or 2.5inch portable drives (I bring 160 gbs with me wherever I go)

Low/Archive – PiWorx tried to grab some of this data and I am still slapping its hand to tell it not to archive it. The rest of it lives on either detached usb hdds or on single hdds on my server. All of those drives are more than 3 years old and could fail at any moment.

Adding in the SS4200-E would give me reliable storage. My concern is that I know I would migrate production data to it and fill that 2.25 TB of usable disk space in a heartbeat. Now, after reading the post I linked to earlier I am starting to think I would need to buy two of these systems and attempt to mirror them.

Lots of options and yet none of them are really palatable at this point. Mozy would be ideal but my upload link is too slow (thank you Comcast) and the SS4200 is nice but it isn’t free.


5 Comments so far
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Comment by Mint

That article you linked to is about the 4000, not the 4200; they use a completely different storage OS.

If you are looking for a storage solution that is expandable then consider building a system yourself. Linux software RAID is pretty good these days and a platform like OpenFiler gives you a lot of options. If you’re worried about the box itself breaking then you might purchase a hardware RAID controller which would make moving the array to a new system a bit easier.

Comment by Jason Litka

The basic hardware remains the same and if you followed the link to the documentation you would see that a multitude of features didn’t make it to the final release.
I did have a conversation with some folks that makes me think the 1.1 software release for the 4200 will be out shortly and it should rectify most of the shortcomings. Once that is available I may take the plunge. There should also be some new Iomega kit coming out with this LifeLine technology. All good things and all reasons to wait just a little bit before buying.

Comment by berginjm

Just a word of warning using RAID controllers embedded on to motherboards.

From my own experience it can be a real nightmare when your motherboard fails a you can no longer access you RAID’d data. This only gets worse when you discover that the board is no longer manufactured and there aren’t any for sale on eBay. And even if there are some for sale on eBay, they have already failed, hence why the unscrupulous seller is selling it in the first place!!!!

My advice? Go with either a dedicated card (PCI, PCI express) and buy two! Or use a software RAID. It may not be that quick, but with today’s multi-core processors it a lot more practical than it was a few years ago.

Good luck,


Comment by Techfreakz

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