Glenn threw a real spanner in the works just before I went off to buy this damned USB Hard Drive as a backup device!

We both bought external hard disks around the same time, and would probably both do it differently if we were to do it again!

Destroyed Computer

Original photo by Topato

So where do we start?

Glenn’s advice was to get a cheap desktop (circa £200) and stick 4 HDD’s in it and RAID-5 them, this got me thinking – I have my old desktop and I’ve promised Emma I’ll buy a new desktop (that doesn’t have wires hanging out and is in a terrible half working condition) when we move.

Here’s the problem – I’ve not built a PC in years, and I know NOTHING about RAID.

Glenn sent me this article, which discusses RAID in some detail and how to achieve it under Windows. To be fair, I really didn’t want to looking at yet another Windows license.

Expensive “Out of the Box”

So I started looking around at the various “out of the box” solutions that would just require me to populate them with hard drives. Ultimate Storage seem to be the people for this, but the prices are high when you consider I’m likely to be buying four hard disks to put in them! It would be very easy to price yourself out of the market and into a high end solution with this project.

Another Requirement – Futureproofing

That’s another point, looking at hard disk prices, 1TB disk drives are supremely expensive, but that won’t always be the case – I’d be better off with 4 x 500 GB and then upgrading later, so whatever solution I go for should support that potential need for more space, and upgrading the existing space I have.

A Little Project is Born!

The’s when I stumbled across Tom’s Hardware and his Cheap, Fast, DIY RAID 5 NAS box…. This looks like a cunning plan, and we’ve found a card not dissimilar for just over £100 (the 8 port version is probably more aimed at the corporate/server world and hence it’s price hike!). 4 x 500GB Hard disks come in at around £70 including VAT. So providing my old desktop and case can take the pain – I might be able to do this for circa £400.

Just Backup Space?

I know the question most people are asking if you RAID 5 these 4 500GB disks, and you’ve got 1.5TB of data, are you really going to use it as backup space?

The answer is no, it’s likely to become a file server, a huge one at that! but with the four disks in, if one of them goes wrong I can quite easily replace the drive (using Tom’s “sane” method) and be up and running again with no data loss. Why would I then need a backup device?

Offsite backups have to be the next question I guess (but at the bare minimum I would expect to leave a DVD drive in the file server so I can backup data and take the CD’s elsewhere?). I’ll discuss that in another post.