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I have a fairly busy media related website which allows my users to stream / download large MP3 files (50-200Mb), at busy periods I have around 250+ concurrent streams / downloads. I have over 500GB uploaded monthly, and 40+TB downloaded monthly.

Current Setup


2X :- Intel Xeon X3220, 4GB, 4x2TB SATA HDD, 100TB bandwidth (on each server) - Load-Balanced via Windows NLB

My current setup gives me decent disk read speed, backup of my data and high availability.

Currently Costs: $638 per month


My problem is that I have ran out of HDD bays in my chassis, only way to upgrade is with a higher spec server which comes with 12 bays.

2TB Hard disks cost $60 per month each with my provider.

Solution 1

Higher Spec Server: 2X :- Quadcore Xeon 5430 / 8GB RAM / 5x2TB HDD, 100TB BW, 7 Spare HDD bays.

Monthly Costs: $1240

Solution 2

1X :- Quadcore Xeon 5430 / 8GB RAM / 10x2TB HDD RAID0 Striped, 100TB BW, 7 Spare HDD bays.

Monthly Costs: $800

Offsite backup with Cloud Storage Service

Monthly Costs: $300 (for 10TB, $0.03 per GB, $0.075 per GB transfer bandwidth)

Solution 3

Another provider (Swiftway) in the Netherlands has offered me this spec server:

Intel Xeon X3450 (4x 2.66 GHz / 8 MB Cache) 16 GB DDR3-RAM (4xKingston DIMM 4 GB PC3-8500) 3ware 9650SE-24M8 SATA II 24-Port 24 x WD Caviar Green 2000GB WD20EARS 100TB bandwidth

Initial Setup Costs: 1000 euros

Monthly Costs: 400 euros

Option 3 is obviously the cheapest option if I combine it with the offsite Cloud backup service or get 2 of these servers and load-balance like I am now, but it uses WD Green HDD's, i'm not sure if they will be up to the task to handle my website...or will they?

Sorry about the long write-up I just wanted to make myself as clear as I can.

Looking for your input on my possible solutions and any other solutions you can think of, I want to keep to a sensible budget on this though.

Many Thanks!

Paul Hinett

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

firstly I want to thank you for such a detailed and well-written question, I only wish that 10% of the questions we got here were as cleanly thought out and explained.

The first thing to point out is that I don't think you should be thinking of moving to a 54xx-series Xeon - they're not only very old and inefficient (both in terms of capability but also watts/heat) but they've been replaced - TWICE. There was a simply huge jump in performance between the 54xx-series and the 55xx ('Nehelam') CPUs, especially for the general web server usage you appear to have.

The second thing to point out is DON'T USE RAID 0, ever, especially with large, probably consumer-grade (such as option 3's 'green' disks), SATA disks - it will impact your system availability enormously. Always use a higher RAID level, even the much-hated R5 if you have to over R0 ok. So that's option 2 out.

Now obviously you're happy with, I wasn't aware of them but they seem fine and if you're happy then you're doing well. You don't mention whether you NEED the uptime capability that two servers gives you or whether it's a WANT/LIKE. The reason I ask is that offer a 55xx-series Xeon-based solution that will not only outperform your current pair of 3220's but by some margin. If you could get one of those with the storage you like (if you can try to get RAID 10 - it'll perform and be safer) then I think you'd be happy.

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Well i think I can get the 55xx CPU from 100TB with 12/24 HDD bays for $376 per month, then i need the additonal HDD's at $60 many HDD's would I need to have available storage space of 10TB with either RAID 5/10. Is my data safe from HDD failure? Uptime capability is a LIKE more than a NEED. – Paul Hinett Oct 26 '10 at 13:05
Paul - for 10TB of usable space you'd need 6 x 2TB disks for RAID 5, 7 for RAID6 (it sounds like you do more reading than writing so R6 might be worth a look) or 10 for RAID10. In terms of failure, well R10 is great, R6 ok - better than R5 certainly but hits your write performance, and R5 is 'ok' - but hated by pro sysadmins. From your response I'd go with one server and negotiate that $60/mo - or ask if you could buy your own, they're not much more to buy than rent-per-month actually, you won't know if you don't ask. – Chopper3 Oct 26 '10 at 13:13
Sounds like RAID6 would be ideal for my situation. I won't be allowed to buy my own disks or pay a larger up-front fee...but will try to negotiate the monthly cost of $60. I will post up my final decision once I here back from my host. Thank you for your input! – Paul Hinett Oct 26 '10 at 14:02
one extra point, no matter if you choose RAID 5,6 or 10, DO get a hot spare disk! and be sure that the RAID controller performs constant dummy reads, that has saved my data already a few times. – Javier Oct 26 '10 at 18:06
My data center have spares available on site and will replace hardware asap if a failure occurs, would this be acceptable? – Paul Hinett Oct 26 '10 at 19:55

Just to be clear, the only question is will the Western Digital Caviar Green HDs be up to the job?

You have been offered 24 of them, so with a decent RAID level (like RAID 10) you should be able to get a decent speed out of them, however, these hard disks are aimed at the desktop market, and I don't think I'd like to run them in any server where uptime was important.

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I think I agree with you about the HDD's, im not too keen with running low-grade hardware for such intensive's a good price but probably not what I am looking for. – Paul Hinett Oct 26 '10 at 13:06

sounds like the exact usecase for file-like distributed/replicated systems. there are lots of them, my first options would be mogileFS for simplicity or GlusterFS for maturity.

specifically, i'd use mogileFS if i have full control of the code (likely in web applications), and GlusterFS if not (more common on LAN setups and desktop apps).

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