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I do not have a lot of money so when I need a personal dev servers I decided I will use Xen on one machine to run various OS's. Although, I really like Dell Zino ( as a very economical and compact PC which can be scaled to 8GB of RAM, I do not know how to have a RAID setup, for the failover.

Is there an economical way to add a RAID setup to Dell Zino or I would have to invest in a proper box for that?

Thanks for your help in advance.

**Also, please let me know if this question is not meant for this forum.

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You're in the right place for questions like this. – Chris S Mar 30 '10 at 23:24
Does a personal development machine need raid failover? Uptime is less critical I would imagine? I run all my dev servers as virtual machines on my workstation, which is a single drive machine. I would have though a good backup procedure is more important that uptime in this instance. – micmcg Mar 31 '10 at 0:36
@ micmcg: You make sense, backing up can be economical also...hook up one external hard drive that. But I was hoping if there could be a way to have RAID failover. – sabertooth Mar 31 '10 at 0:53
up vote 0 down vote accepted

BAD hardware choice, if you ask me.

  • Get something custom build.

  • Use an AMD chip on a micro-ATX board. Some of them support up to 16gb RAM. This gives you some scalability. Go for an AMD X4 or one of the soon coming X6.

  • Given the proper case, you can put in a nice 4x2.5" hard disc tray. Use on board RAID as you please.

  • Given a LOT more money (I went that way) and the proper case, you can use a SuperMicro SAS tray - 2x5.25" takes 8x2.5". Spend even more money ona RAID controller (I went that way - ouch) and you even get decent performance out of it ;) Especially if you spend even more money (I did that- but not on that machine) and get high performance discs).

  • Given a little more money there is a nice 3.5" to 2x2.5" tray you can also use - for backup drives (i.e. to put in a 750gb 2.5" and back your stuff up onto it).

Anyhow, the micro-atx-approach has various advantages:

  • It is a lot more expandable. The Zino thing is just TOO small. It is cheap, but the moment you run into the limit there, you basically can use it for somethin else.

  • It is a lot more future proof. As in: buy quality components and you can basically keep the server current many years, replacing components as you go.

  • 8gb RAM may not be enough. 16gb gives you the max you can have at the moment without going too expensive board wise. But 8GB - for a number of VM's - may simply not be enough.

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Wow! I wanted to have my own custom build. What do you think will be an approx. cost of a system with: micro-ATX board AMD X4 16gb RAM 4x2.5" hard disc array Any companies you can suggest are good and economical at the same time? – sabertooth Mar 31 '10 at 17:50
Well, companies - no. We really do custom builds in that I order the parts and put them together with a colleague. It does not take special skill. I also prefer to go with high quality - not cheap. Like power supply etc. As tips... Wait for the AMD X6 to come in a month or so - 6 cores + boost = great for virtualization. COntrary to Intel ALL modern AMD support hardware virtualization. – TomTom Apr 1 '10 at 5:20
Boards: RIGHT NOW I Would go for a MSI 890GXM-G65 - but I mostly wait whether the business class boards come in a month. I hope so. A cheap 4x2.5" tray that goes into a 5.25" slot costs about 30 USD or so - Software RAID from your OS. – TomTom Apr 1 '10 at 5:22
Depending on your needs to really as high on RAM As you can - this ü disc IO is your likely bottleneck. My next computer (which will also serve as workstation + hyper-v travl server) will go with WD 320gb Scorpio black drives. Decent performance. – TomTom Apr 1 '10 at 5:23
For the case: MAke sure you have 2x5.25" bays WITHOUT ANYTHING BETWEEN THEM. THis allows you later to put in a double height 8x2.5" tray should the need arrive. Bad if there is a 0.25" space between the two slots then. Aerocool QX2000, Sharkoon Temptation are decent cases from the looks. I may get a Temptation for my media center, actually. – TomTom Apr 1 '10 at 5:25

RAID is not Backup. Backup is an external hard drive, or backup tape, or online service, or whatever (but it's not in the computer itself in any case).

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Sorry, I meant the failover. – sabertooth Mar 30 '10 at 23:26
If you're going with a Zeno your only RAID-ish option is an external enclosure. For instance – Chris S Mar 31 '10 at 2:19
I agree. I saw those later. – sabertooth Mar 31 '10 at 17:47

If you are running Xen with multiple OSes including Windows, you will need to get a system with hardware virtualisation support - vmx in the case of AMD. It seems that only the 6850e processor option has that supported according to this site. That may factor into your purchase.

Also, the casing only has enough space to put a single hard-disk in it. So, any internal RAID setup would not work. But the good thing is that it comes with two e-SATA ports that allow you to plug an external storage array to it. There are some products that take multiple SATA disks and sticks them in an enclosure with e-SATA connections.

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Thanks for the update. I see that with Zino I might have to buy additional hardware for RAID. Just trying to figure out how much would that cost. If the cost is comparable to a custom build, I should go with the custom build, according to the answer below. – sabertooth Mar 31 '10 at 17:51

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