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I hope this is the right 'exchange' to ask in.

I work in a research group, we have no SA's etc. monitoring our servers. We have total access to them, and decide what happens or doesn't happen on them. So obviously we are quite dangerous! I'll ask the following question so we don't cause our server to explode!

So... we got a new hard disk for a server today, we've installed it, formatted it, its now sitting in the server ready for use. I was wondering whats the 'best practice' with regards to setting the disk up for use.

The server itself is used by everyone in the group, therefore we all have our own home directories which we like to keep somewhat private (datasets, code etc.) We were thinking of just making everyone an individual directory on the new disk and putting an alias to it in their home directory.

Can anyone recommend what the 'best practice' for this type of situation is?

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+1 for "quite dangerous" :) – Sunny Aug 18 '11 at 15:00

The first best practice is to never put all of your data on a single hard drive unless that data isn't very important. RAID (software or hardware-based) is very necessary.

How to organize data to make permissions management, etc. depends on what data you have to organize for sure, but the approach we take is to have department shares with group permissions controlling access and a single user share with folders inside for each user to store their personal documents. The user's personal folders on the user share are setup to only be accessible by them...until they're terminated, in which case their manager is granted temporary access before the directory is deleted. In Windows, this personal file is setup as a mapped network drive. on Linux, we use an NFS share in the same scenario, but we make it their home directory.

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+1 For RAID Recommendation. I can't stress that enough (along with regular backups of your data) – DKNUCKLES Aug 18 '11 at 14:44
I agree with @JakePaulus RAID is a necessity. I also agree that you should organize the drive into folders, each folder should be dedicated to a specific group/department/project. – tkrabec Aug 18 '11 at 14:48

In addition to the RAID suggestion, take a look at LVM if it's available for your OS.

Move /home on a LVM volume. That way, whenever you add new storage space, you just add it to the LVM group/volume, and extend.

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how big is the learning curve for lvm ? this sounds like the best solution for us. – steve Aug 18 '11 at 15:23

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