Brad's comments on the world of technology...

Linux Raid and "new age" IDE disks

It's a new age in IDE disks. Volume is up (way up) and quality is down (ahem, not sure how far). I've noticed that disks last about 2 years. In fairness, it's often the power supplies which go first.

After loosing too many IDE hard disks I decided to switch to RAID on my file servers. I thought this would be hard but it turns out to be easy. The first thing I did was buy a new, cheap PCI IDE controller. Then I bought two 80gb hard disks (Maxtor). I made them both masters and plugged them into the PCI dual IDE controller. I learned this trick from a friend who claimed it was easier to install a new HD to upgrade linux than install over an existing install (he was right).

Convincing linux to use two hard disks as a single RAID-1 array was easy. Interestingly I had one disk fail the first night I installed it. It turns out my power supply had a lot of connectors daisy chained with a lot of fans on one leg and the IDE drive did not like this. I cleaned up the disk power distribution and the disk was happy again. At least I got to test the RAID array. It noticed the drive was down, took it out of service and kept working. Bravo.

One thing to note. I've had one sever for about 5 years and in that time two (2) IDE disks have failed and none of the IBM SCSI disks in it have failed. My impression is that SCSI disks are just plain better and more reliable.

So, I'm now completly sold on RAID-1 for file servers. I won't go back to risking my data to a sinlge IDE disk, even with nightly backups.

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