I have just purchased and installed a new Storage Array to handle a rather extensively growing photography (Digital Asset) library. Until now, the entire photography library was stored on a RAID 1 array on a Mac Pro (Mid 2010). Three weeks ago, that storage was filled. I had been aware of this for some time, so had to take action.
I analysed various forms of storage, including local, cloud, and distributed, however in the end I decided to go with a NAS. This allows for a centralised storage location which is simultaneously accessible from multiple computers, and includes redundancy in the form of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).
After careful consideration of many different manufacturers I selected a Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 4, and subsequently populated it with four 2TB Seagate Barracuda Green SATA600 Disks.
I chose this particular unit for many reasons:
ReadyNAS Products are Linux-based and therefore highly flexible. The Operating System (OS) on these products includes many functions that are found in high-end business grade NAS / SAN devices. The OS can also be ‘rooted’ should a situation arise where certain functionality is needed but not offered by the base operating system.
The ReadyNAS supports X-RAID2 and RAID 5. This gives a good mix between reliability, redundancy, performance, and future expandability. Should a disk fail, then the disk needs to simply be replaced and the array will rebuild with no loss of data.
In X-RAID mode, the amount of available storage can easily be increased by replacing an existing disk with a larger disk. The array will then rebuild automatically and give access to the new space, while still maintaining the redundancy level from before.
This level of redundancy ensures that all Digital Asset libraries, customer data, and internal documents are kept safe.
ReadyNAS Pro’s include two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports. These ports can be teamed, giving a 2GB network connection. This also gives redundancy in case a port should fail.
Update – April 2013
Almost exactly two years on from when I purchased this product, and it has been absolutely wonderful. I have suffered two disk failures in 6 months of the Seagate Barracuda Green disks. Unfortunately both times Bay 3 failed. The faulty disk was RMA’d to Seagate each time, and fortunately I had a spare disk waiting to go in on both occasions, so at no point was the array left in a state where data was at risk.
After the second failure in the same bay I put in a technical support call to NetGear, who suggested the ReadyNAS might have a fault. They dispatched a replacement unit so that I could swap the disks over with no downtime. This proved to be a very pain-free experience, not even requiring me to backup the configuration from the existing unit.
Once the new unit was in place I purchased four 2TB Western Digital Red NAS Product drives to replace the consume end Seagate Barracuda drives. The Western Digital Red drives spin at 54ooRPM with a lower power draw than your average disk, and are designed to be running 24/7. Add their 3 year warranty and I’m confident that these drives will prove more reliable than the Seagate ones I’ve just replaced.
Migrating the data from the existing Seagate drives to the new Western Digital drives was a simple affair. I powered down the NAS and changed out one disk at a time. The array automatically rebuilt onto the new disk. Once complete I powered down the unit again and changed out the next disk, repeating the procedure until all four drives were replaced. The rebuild time for the array was 6 hours per disk, with the array usage at 53%.
Update – September 2016
Since the disk replacement in April 2011, the Western Digital Red drives have been working flawlessly (touch wood). The NAS is now only serving digital media to the house (via a Plex server), while all digital photography and video production files have been moved onto a Drobo unit connected to my Desktop.