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Disclaimer: I'm an undergraduate intern and this is my first server build

I've been asked to build a small server for our team around the office. We are trying to maximize space (our motherboard has room for 6 SATA hard drives) and hopefully get as much speed/performance as we can. The server is mainly to store medium-large files (from 1GB to 10GB) and they will be accessed through a network.

I have found most of the hardware I would like to use (I can link to it if anyone needs), however I'm stuck at which hard drives to pick. I have never set up a RAID before, and we have decided that RAID 5 would be the ideal in terms of space/performance. We were also thinking of 5x2TB drives (room for 1 drive to hold the OS). Seeing as I'm completely new to this, I was wondering what I should be looking for in a hard drive for this setup. I've heard mixed things about drives all over the place and it's hard to trust information without being knowledgeable in the field. Also, if it matters, we are trying to keep this build under 1000$.

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Check into ZFS based storage... nexentastor, openindiana, etc. You can build very fast file servers with advanced features like snapshots, replication, etc. They use raidZ 1-3, but not in the same way as a Raid controller does. In fact, it is best to NOT use a RAID card in a ZFS file server.. you can just use a cheap JBOD controller. You can also add SSD read and write caches as well. iscsi, nfs, cifs, ftp, rsync, even afp for timemachine use. pretty cool stuff! –  InChargeOfIT Mar 2 '12 at 7:37
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closed as off topic by Chris S Mar 2 '12 at 5:11

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

We were also thinking of 5x2TB drives (room for 1 drive to hold the OS)

That one crashes your system fails. Bad. I would put the OS on a separate partition of one large raid. When perforamncegets bad, moving to a Raid 10 is your only choice.

Also, if it matters, we are trying to keep this build under 1000$.

Soo get the most cehap drives. Wont matter - at your size and technology selection thesy are roughtly all the same. Choosing the best car of a budget fiat panda class car wont make much difference.

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As TomTom said, you'd want a 6-drive RAID, and put the OS and data on separate partitions within the RAID. Having the OS itself on one drive means you're boned if/when that one fails. However, with 6x2TB, that means statistically, if you need to rebuild the array from a drive failure, the rebuild WILL fail due to an unrecoverable read error. If space is an absolute premium, go with RAID6 (can tolerate 2 drive failures), but keep in mind that performance won't be as great as, let's say, RAID10. Just make sure you get a good RAID controller to mitigate the performance issues somewhat. –  Bigbio2002 Mar 2 '12 at 5:17
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