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I am building a storage system for myself. I have a 16 bay SATA chasis and right now I have

1 x 500GB SATA for booting 8 x 1.5TB for data. 3Ware 9500S-8 RAID card where these 8 drives above are connected to.

I am used to linux, but not in the RAID department. I have Windows experience too. What I am looking for is something that I can just let sit, be reliable and use for other items as well. (Like running test websites, Apache, MySQL, etc). This box is private on a Class-C subnet.

My thought is to at least consider Windows Server 2008. I especially like the potential for NON-GUI Mode.

Can Windows Server 2008 do a Software RAID 10 out of the box?

Software RAID is better performance and better in case the raid needs to be moved to another machine?

I just want to SCP files, so OpenSSH running on it?

Can one install the GUI, but not use it unless they get in a bind?

Is Windows a good idea or should I stick to a Linux Software RAID or FreeBSD + ZFS?

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I really hope that syste is not current. Otherwise - it was a bad buy. Getting SATA chassis these days is living in the past - should have been a SAS chassy. –  TomTom Mar 26 '10 at 20:40

2 Answers 2

You've got to focus a bit...

What's the server for? On the one hand, you're talking about storage and RAID, on the other you seem to want to run Apache, MySQL, etc. If you're building a server with tons of storage for your own use, I'd suggest using what you're most familiar with, which sounds like Linux.

As to the RAID, if you've got a 3Ware card, you can do hardware RAID, which is faster and better than software. If you're worried about moving the drives, my first suggestion would be to get another controller card as a spare.

You should also be thinking about backup, since RAID isn't backup (there really needs to be a shortcut for entering that phrase on ServerFault) and no matter what configuration you go for - RAID 5, 6, 10 - if you lose too many drives, you lose all your data.

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@Ward - I have not had a Windows server in years. When I changed jobs we have always implemented Linux or Solaris. The box yes is for my personal use, I want to store data and since it is a beefy box, I could use a place to test websites besides my macbook. I actually have two 3ware RAID 9500S-8 cards in the box, the second one is not being used since I only have 8 drives at this time (besides boot) –  JT Mar 26 '10 at 19:07
    
Personally, if it were just a test box I wouldn't waste any of the drives\drive space by setting up any form of RAID. –  joeqwerty Mar 26 '10 at 20:11
    
@joeqwerty - but it is not just test, I want to store data here as well –  JT Mar 26 '10 at 20:16
  1. You're familiar with linux (and Solaris from your other comment), use it. Windows is getting more complex every version and unless you really want to spent the time tinkering with it, just stick to what you know. Any Windows costs, Linux and OpenSolaris are free.
  2. Software RAID is slower than hardware and you'll have to get the configuration exactly right if you move the disks to another machine. Hardware is faster and if you use the same model controller you should be able to move the disks to another machine without having to mess with configuration much (sometimes not at all).
  3. RAID 10 has a questionable title as the highest performing RAID level. Sounds like this machine doesn't require much performance (they are SATA disks after all) and you'd be better off with RAID5 (especially since it sounds like storage is you're main goal).
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Gosh, don't be snippy. It is a amazing what good performance you can get with SATA discs on a proper controller those days. I usevelociraptors ina RAID 10 of 4 discs per partition and can copy files with about 500mb / second - while the discs are on use by quite some or so virtual machines on top. Also, RAID 10 is not quertionable the fastest - it is. It is insanely wastefull, but sometimes that is irrelevant. That said, high end RAID cards start having some interesting features to cope with that, like using SSD drives as buffer. –  TomTom Mar 26 '10 at 20:42
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TomTom: RAID 10 is slower than RAID 0 if you're after pure performance. It's all about balancing your needs. –  Nic Mar 27 '10 at 0:43
    
@TomTom: If you have 4 disks in RAID10, then you have 2 writing disks (and two mirrors). If you have the same 4 in RAID5 then you have 3 writing disks (and 1 parity). Assuming the controller doesn't bottleneck you disks, RAID5 will be faster than 10 for writes. For reads RAID10 will have 4 read disks, and RAID5 will still have 3, RAID10 will read faster. My apologies for being snippy, but Raptor drives don't come in 500GB, so they don't apply here. I've also seen Raptor compared to 15K SAS drives, and the raptors are slower (no surprise, they're also much cheaper). –  Chris S Mar 28 '10 at 13:47
    
This, sorry, is crap. In Raid 5 you have to do parity writes for every write. Write performance of a Raid 5 is inferior to a Raid 10, even with caching - if the cache of the controller does not hit, you have even slower writes on Raid 5. Check weblogs.sqlteam.com/billg/archive/2007/06/18/… for a discussion on that. Raptors ARE significantly slower than 15k drives- but even significantly cheaper. I start thining 15k drives are dead - you can go with Raptors, or get even more performance out of SSD's. Good enough to have a Raid 5 SSD instead of a Rad 10. –  TomTom Mar 28 '10 at 14:30
    
@TomTom, I wouldn't quote someone who starts with "My tests weren't very scientific.", as my only evidence. Maybe a bit of reading, blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=484, or a well respected manufacturer docs.hp.com/en/B2355-90950/apas03.html where RAID5's only drawback is a the single drive redundancy. Or 3ware.com/kb/article.aspx?id=15058, where RAID5 only "loses" in random non-cached writes. Now there are ways to screw up the RAID configuration to favor one or the other, but I try to stay away from outlier situations. –  Chris S Mar 29 '10 at 2:29

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