Just A Box of Disks

Adrian Wontroba aw1 at stade.co.uk
Tue Oct 31 15:23:46 GMT 2000

Over the years I've always used tape backups, with these experiences:

* No matter how large the capacity of the backup device seems, within
its working life this becomes far too small relative to the installed
disk drives.  What was "stick in the tape, start the backup, and go
away" turns into "stick in the tape, start the backup, go away for a
while, come back, stick in the next tape, . . .

* The drives are expensive.

* The media is expensive - when you have lots of it.

* Eventually, the drive wears out, leaving you with a collection of
expensively bought, inaccessible and effectively worthless tapes.

* The most common reason for going to a backup is media failure.

* rcs and selective backups to other machines can protect you from
most of the consequences of finger trouble.  (Shades of the rm -rf /
discussion in -chat)

* I've never had the house burn down, a PC catch fire, or anything else
likely to damage the disks.  Should something like that happen, I'm
likely to be worried by more serious things than data loss.

My HP DDS2 drive looks as if it has died, so once again I am evaluating
cost effective options.

One I'm contemplating is a not very powerful PC (system unit only, 128
MB, Celeron 600, Intel PCI 10/100 network card, floppy, low end video
card), stuffed with 4 * at least 30 GB IDE drives, used as a file (and
perhaps mail) server, with much of the space used by Vinum mirrored and
striped drives, or even RAID5.  I suspect that this will be cheaper
than, say, a Quantum Snap 1000 server.  I also suspect that buying a
built machine will also be cheaper than buying the bits.

I've never used Vinum - does it work?  Any lurking gotchas?  (At one
time I experienced endless woe because of Sequent's volume manager).

Has anybody gone this route?

Does anybody want to tender (by private mail) for desk top, tower and
rack mount versions of the above?

Any recommendations for suppliers of bespoke machines?  It's a long time
since I had my then state of the art Pentium Pro workstation constructed.

Any hope of Adapec's AAA-UDMA IDE RAID card being supported by FreeBSD?
Grepping the last month or so's current doesn't show any mention of
this, so I suspect that it is not coming real soon.

Adrian Wontroba

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