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The company where I work has started to run out of disk space at 2.3TB. Originally it was a JBOD of a 1.5TB drive and a 1TB drive as a quick fix measure (yes I know this is bad, that's why I'm working out something better).

There isn't a need for blistering fast speed as this is all just for network shares.

I'm aiming for 6 x 1TB drives in a RAID 5, there will not be a database on here so RAID5 will be fine.

The problem is that I have well and truly run out of slots and ports to plug more HDD's into. I'm happy to get a SAS/RAID card if necessary.

I was thinking of getting an iSCSI bay but appears to be a very, very expensive measure.

Does anyone have any Suggestions on how to plug in many more drives into a server cheaply?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Why not buy an inexpensive NAS from QNAP? For $500 bucks you can get a 4-bay RAID unit with Jumbo Frames, iSCSI, CIFS/SMB, NFS, FTP, etc.

That way, there's a graceful transition with no risk of data loss or disruption: just load it up with disks (SATA's are fine for what you're doing), get it on the network, do some nightly rsyncs until you have a differential that's small enough to fully-sync over an evening cut-over.

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In addition to the good advice here, you will need to work out some kind of storage strategy and policy. While people think "the network" is some kind of bottomless pit of storage you will always be needing to do this. Also, don't forget to make sure that your backup solution can cope with whatever new storage you buy, remember: RAID is not a backup solution –  RobM May 11 '11 at 7:32
    
Yes, +1 for backup capacity. –  gravyface May 11 '11 at 13:06
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Does the server have PCIe slots? if so how about a PCIe -> SATA card.

Also if it's just a network file server you can build a new server for a reasonable price, most new motherboards will have 6-8 SATA ports by default + PCIe slots that you can expand into.

My desktop motherboard have 2 GB LAN ports + 8 on board SATA ports + 4 external SATA ports + 2 PCIe slots (so that's extra 8 SATA ports if you need to) and it's pretty cheap/old. (Gigabyte P55A-UD6)

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In addition to the QNAP unit mentioned, there are lots of other cheap boxes you can stuff some disks into and use CIFS or iSCSI to access.

If you want something really quick and dirty, how about an eSATA enclosure, e.g. this one from Startech (no affiliation, just a place we buy odds and ends from). This is another quick fix, that doesn't do you any good in the long run, so it's not an ideal solution.

We went the "build your own server" route one time - rack-mount case, decent 3Ware RAID card, 8-bays. We bought it with spares for almost everything so that if it went down, we could get it back quickly.

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