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Old March 31st, 2008, 11:42 PM   #1
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Mission-Critical Video storage solutions

Another two of my external Lacie hard drives just started giving
signs of slow demise. One of them - the 300GB one shows up in "My
Computer" after several attempts to connect, and that's the one that
clicks. The other one, 500GB, is only visible in "Disk Management"
under Administrative tools of the Windows XP OS. I am going to start
finding ways to recover the data, the 300GB one contains pictures of
my niece since she was born in 1998. I have discovered that I would
never trust Maxtor ever in my life, and that's the kind of drives
sitting inside the "sexy" Lacie enclosure of the 500GB one. I kept
all the important data on the 300GB, which is a Seagate inside, yet,
I am now facing this painful situation.

Seems like four years is the point when one has to trasfer all data
to a newer storage option. Do hard drive manufacturers do it on
purpose so people go out and buy new ones? I know for a fact that
cell phone manufacturers use this horrible tactic.

What are your experiences with mainstream hard drive manufacturers
when it comes to hard drive failures? Do you have solutions to
recover data and, perhaps, finding mission-critical storage for
contect like raw video?

I have created a yahoo group dedictated solely to data archiving. If you ever lost valuable precious data to a failed hard drive or scrached optical media (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray), leaving you wondering if there is a long-term future-proof data archival solution out there that will not break the bank, this group is for you. I cordinally invite you to join to share information and find solutions to be able to preserve the data for the future generations.
Here is the group;
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/archivist/

Thanks
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Old April 1st, 2008, 05:48 AM   #2
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Renat,

1/ You don't say which models you are having trouble with.
2/ You do know that Seagate bought Maxtor, don't you?
3/ I have used Maxtor drives in the past. Never had a problem.
They got replaced when time made them unacceptably small & slow.
Like the computer they were sitting inside.

4/ I hang all my computer/video/audio equiptment off of a UPS.
5/ It appears from LaCie's website that most of their designs are not only
fanless, but totally enclosed, allowing no air circulation. I would avoid
designs like these. Like the plague. Regardless of the marketing,
it is an inadequate design.

The only hard drives that can get away with this are generally the smaller
Western Digital Passport style hard drives, where the whole thing is
operated and powered solely by a USB cable. That ensures power
consumption is 2.5 watts or less and therefore there just isn't much
heat to get rid of.

I tend to be particular about making sure my drives stay cool.
Heat is a big enemy of hard drives. I happen to use Western Digital
MyBook USB Drives in 320GB and 500GB capacities. They are open
enough to allow some air circulation. In addition, when in use
I have them sitting on a laptop cooler actively blowing air through
them.

Noisy, but makes a big difference in the hard drive operating temperature.
If I forget and add/turn on the laptop cooler after the hard drives have
been running for a while (hours), you can really feel the heat pour out of
the drive enclosures.

My desktop computer uses an Antec P180 case. All the hard drives
have a nice big 120mm fan sitting right there blowing air over them.
Again, makes a big difference in the operating temps.

You do know hard drives aren't supposed to get over 100F/40C, correct?
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Old April 1st, 2008, 03:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
Renat,

1/ You don't say which models you are having trouble with.
2/ You do know that Seagate bought Maxtor, don't you?
3/ I have used Maxtor drives in the past. Never had a problem.
They got replaced when time made them unacceptably small & slow.
Like the computer they were sitting inside.

4/ I hang all my computer/video/audio equiptment off of a UPS.
5/ It appears from LaCie's website that most of their designs are not only
fanless, but totally enclosed, allowing no air circulation. I would avoid
designs like these. Like the plague. Regardless of the marketing,
it is an inadequate design.

The only hard drives that can get away with this are generally the smaller
Western Digital Passport style hard drives, where the whole thing is
operated and powered solely by a USB cable. That ensures power
consumption is 2.5 watts or less and therefore there just isn't much
heat to get rid of.

I tend to be particular about making sure my drives stay cool.
Heat is a big enemy of hard drives. I happen to use Western Digital
MyBook USB Drives in 320GB and 500GB capacities. They are open
enough to allow some air circulation. In addition, when in use
I have them sitting on a laptop cooler actively blowing air through
them.

Noisy, but makes a big difference in the hard drive operating temperature.
If I forget and add/turn on the laptop cooler after the hard drives have
been running for a while (hours), you can really feel the heat pour out of
the drive enclosures.

My desktop computer uses an Antec P180 case. All the hard drives
have a nice big 120mm fan sitting right there blowing air over them.
Again, makes a big difference in the operating temps.

You do know hard drives aren't supposed to get over 100F/40C, correct?
Thanks Bill!

I do agree with you that hard drives must have sufficient cooling. But do you think that will prolong their 4-years lifespan? I have built systems with Antec P180 cases. Nice internal design, albeit hard to access the internal hard drives once everything is set and go.

To answer the rest of the questions you posted;

1. The drives are:
500GB Lacie d2 Big Disk
300GB Lacie d2 Big Disk

2. Yeah I am aware that Maxtor owns Segate, it's been sometime now.

3. I always had problems with Maxtor drives, I teke off my hat to them though for not messing with the Segate production after aquisition.

4. I am not sure if UPS can improve the lifespan of hard drives.

5. Lacie has been on my shitlist since the first 500GB drive failed back in 2006 after I came back from a vacation and powered up the workstaion. This company is the worst in the history of computing! I hope they never existed and it was all just a nightmare. All they do is outsource the internal components, sometimes making a "board" to raid two Maxtor drives, and make packaging look to resemble that of Apple's. I have most of the people I talked with about them back me up since they trusted them when they first emerged.

Now, what a way to measure the temperature of a hard drive to stay within 100F/40C?

Thanks again!
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
I do agree with you that hard drives must have sufficient cooling. But do you think that will prolong their 4-years lifespan?
Yes.

Quote:
1. The drives are:
500GB Lacie d2 Big Disk
300GB Lacie d2 Big Disk
As I suspected. Totally enclosed design, no airflow.
Replace as soon as possible. They are just waiting to die.

Quote:
2. Yeah I am aware that Maxtor owns Segate, it's been sometime now.
Actually, it is the other way around. Seagate bought Maxtor.
Seagate & Western Digital have been the two biggest drive manufacturers
for...the past 15 or twenty years. There used to be a Quantum, but they
got bought by Maxtor. And now Maxtor has disappeared into Seagate.

Quote:
4. I am not sure if UPS can improve the lifespan of hard drives.
Back in the 1992 - 1995 I lived in Michigan outside of Ann Arbor.
I had constant computer failure problems. Hard drives, tape drives,
phone answering machines....

I was wiping my hard drive ~every two weeks and reinjecting my system
from the last tape backup. Then I bought my first UPS and all of that went
away.

A UPS ensures clean power at all times. I am not going back.

Quote:
All they do is outsource the internal components, sometimes making a "board" to raid two Maxtor drives, and make packaging look to resemble that of Apple's.
Most companies outsource production of the main components. There
just aren't that many companies that can afford the multi-billion dollar
investment for the factories needed to do mass volume super precision
component production. So look for the majors, because that's where the
parts are coming from anyhow.

Quote:
Now, what a way to measure the temperature of a hard drive to stay within 100F/40C?
I haven't figured it out for external USB drives, but if it hangs off of a
PATA or SATA connection, this program works pretty well.

http://www.filehippo.com/download_speedfan/
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 05:56 PM   #5
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I am interested in your thoughts on Lacie having read your bad experience. i just bought the 500 gig LaCie de Quadra Hard drive, which is possibly an improvement over the one you have? it is touted as having the lates heat sink technology..whatever that means.

bill, bothell wa
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Old April 10th, 2008, 03:13 AM   #6
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All hard drives are subject to failure.

For anything long-term I use a "mirrored RAID" consisting of two drives. Both drives are written to simultaneously. In case one drive goes bad, the other one continues to run.

The important issue is discovering when one drive goes bad, and knowing which drive is still good.

Apple's Disk Utility isn't much help in this case.

However, something called SoftRaid might be. I have to check it out and see how well it works. It's supposed to provide the user with an immediate warning if a drive has gone bad, and be able to help identify which drive needs to be replaced.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 02:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
It appears from LaCie's website that most of their designs are not only fanless, but totally enclosed, allowing no air circulation. I would avoid designs like these. Like the plague. Regardless of the marketing, it is an inadequate design.
I used to think so, but now I'm not so sure. I just tested 2 aluminum enclosures side by side, with the same model 3.5" 7200RPM drive.

One enclosure was "sealed," and the drive temp stabilized at 95F in a 75F room.

The other enclosure was vented (but fanless). The venting made the drive's spin noise easily 3 times as loud, and the drive temp stabilized at 105F. Maybe it was a matter of poor venting design.

I agree with you in theory, but I've settled on the quiet, sealed enclosure, and it's keeping the drive's temp identical to the one in my desktop chassis. Sure, I'd happier if both of them were running at 85F, but I don't think 95F is a particularly big deal.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Kolitz View Post
I used to think so, but now I'm not so sure. I just tested 2 aluminum enclosures side by side, with the same model 3.5" 7200RPM drive.

One enclosure was "sealed," and the drive temp stabilized at 95F in a 75F room.

The other enclosure was vented (but fanless). The venting made the drive's spin noise easily 3 times as loud, and the drive temp stabilized at 105F. Maybe it was a matter of poor venting design.

I agree with you in theory, but I've settled on the quiet, sealed enclosure, and it's keeping the drive's temp identical to the one in my desktop chassis. Sure, I'd happier if both of them were running at 85F, but I don't think 95F is a particularly big deal.
I have decided to never buy external drives. Simply buying internal SATAII drives and enhousing them into self-built boxes with 120mm Nexus noiseless fans pointed at the drives. The aim is to achieve almost cool to touch surface of the drives using this approach.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #9
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If those fans are really quiet, that sounds like a great idea. Do you have any pictures? Sourcing the fan isn't a big deal, but I'm not much for constructing my own box...

Cool to the touch would be ideal, of course.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brent Kolitz View Post
If those fans are really quiet, that sounds like a great idea. Do you have any pictures? Sourcing the fan isn't a big deal, but I'm not much for constructing my own box...

Cool to the touch would be ideal, of course.
Actually the boxes are not really self-built. I just took them off of old Dell cases. You can slide the hard drives in and attach the 120mm Nexus fan on the openning opposite to where you connect all the cables of the drives. The box I am currently using even has some holes on the sides, great for attaching another fan. The cooler the better the lifespan of the drives. Sorry no pix though...
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:58 PM   #11
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As others have said, all drives will fail. It's not "if" but "when." Maxtor (now Seagate), Western Digital, IBM (now Hitachi), etc.,. have all had times when a batch of bad drives have hit the streets. A mirrored RAID will help get you back up and running quickly if a drive eats it, but if a power spike comes thru and fries your gear the RAID doesn't offer much protection in that situation. I like to back-up footage onto FW drives and keep them disconnected & unplugged for that reason.

For mission-critical storage back up to data tape. Keep one tape on location and another copy in a safe-deposit box or something.


-A
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #12
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Right on the money, Andrew.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 06:40 AM   #13
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As others have said, all drives will fail. It's not "if" but "when." Maxtor (now Seagate), Western Digital, IBM (now Hitachi), etc.,. have all had times when a batch of bad drives have hit the streets. A mirrored RAID will help get you back up and running quickly if a drive eats it, but if a power spike comes thru and fries your gear the RAID doesn't offer much protection in that situation. I like to back-up footage onto FW drives and keep them disconnected & unplugged for that reason.

For mission-critical storage back up to data tape. Keep one tape on location and another copy in a safe-deposit box or something.


-A
I am about to setup a RAID0 configuration on two 500GB Seagate 7200.11 drives but wonder if I should set it to RAID10 by adding another drive to backup these two on the fly. I have never setup RAID10 and wonder if you'd tell me how it's done. Do I first setup the RAID0 on the two 500GB drives and then turn the resulting 1TB drive to RAID10 with another 1TB? Also, does the backup drive have to be 1TB as well or can it be less, like 500GB?

As far as tape back up; What is the most durable mission-critical brand to go with? I heard there's holographic technology out there now, albeit very expensive for an idependednt video professional (InPhase Tapestry drive runs for $18k and can backup to 50GB disks - each ne costing $180 or so).
Blue-Ray is promising but it's very slow to write and read at this point. The fastest one being 6X (40 mins to write a 25GB disc), and that's when the 6X media will be available. Currently there's only 2X, which takes 2 hours to burn 25GB disc. I tested it.

For those who who haven't heard, I have created a yahoo group related to archiving data for future generations to come. I cordinaly invite anyone who is not careless about preserving data. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/archivist/

cheers
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Old April 18th, 2008, 11:52 AM   #14
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Hi Renat,

The topic you started was "Mission-Critical Video storage solutions", yet the discussion is basically about external "consumer" drives in single disk configuration.

Using a stripe-set (RAID0) with will (more than) [i]halve[/u] the reliability when using two drives as all data is lost whein either one of the drives develop a problem. It gets progressivly worse with more drives added to a RAID0 array.

Using mirrored drives (RAID1) provides you with better protection against hardware failure, but you only "get" halve the capacity and if you get a power surge, both drives can get damaged, especially if they're in the same housing. Newer RAID controllers can mirror an uneven number of drives (i.e. 3, 5, etc.). I personally find this an odd system (no pun intended).

Mirrored drives give you faster read times and slower write times. A stripe set is the fasted configuration. You can combine the twe to RAID10, but you need at least 4 drives and, get halve the capacity, but at the best performance.

RAID5/6 compromise speed and capacity, i.e. you get more capacity then when using RAID1, but you get a little less speed compared to RAID0 (or RAID10). You need at least three disks for a RAID5 array.

With the current PCIe SATAII controllers and disks, the speed of a RAID5 array will likely be more than enough for your needs, especially if you use USB / FW400 external disks now.

If you are indeed are looking for "Mission-Critical Video storage solutions" you should pay attention to the housing, the connection, redundancy and the drives. Basically in that order.

George/
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Old April 18th, 2008, 10:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renat Zarbailov View Post
As far as tape back up; What is the most durable mission-critical brand to go with? I heard there's holographic technology out there now, albeit very expensive for an idependednt video professional (InPhase Tapestry drive runs for $18k and can backup to 50GB disks - each ne costing $180 or so).
Blue-Ray is promising but it's very slow to write and read at this point. The fastest one being 6X (40 mins to write a 25GB disc), and that's when the 6X media will be available. Currently there's only 2X, which takes 2 hours to burn 25GB disc. I tested it.
I don't think any experienced IT professional could ever recommend "consumer" optical storage as a long-term archival worthy product. I certainly would not and I've been in this field for almost 15 years. Optical WORM media (whole different game compared to CD's and DVD's) never really took off in the market and certainly did not displace tape as the preferred backup medium or even the preferred archiving medium among smaller and mid-sized businesses.

But if you've got $20K to blow on an archiving solution, then perhaps you should look at the magneto optical stuff. Otherwise, you could spend a fraction of that and go with a quality tape product - LTO, DLT, etc. These are industry standard formats that have proven themselves as appropriate solutions to this problem, a problem that is beginning to hit more and more small businesses due to compliance requirements from regulatory agencies.
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