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I need a large amount of external storage for an upcoming project. I'm planning on purchasing 10 2TB external drives. I need them all hooked up to a single machine at the same time. What issues will I run into?

I plan on using 2 power strips and having them all externally powered from the wall. I will use a USB hub to plug in all the drives. I need drive access time to be as fast as possible.

I am using Ubuntu Linux(64 bit). Will I be able to mount 10 drives?

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4 Answers 4

You can plug in that many drives via USB . . . but I wouldn't recommend it. The single biggest issue you're going to run into is the use of USB 2.0 (480Mb/sec shared across all devices on the controller). Unless you're using USB 3.0, you are going to seriously limit your disk throughput.

USB was intended for temporary (hot plug) or situations where very high data rate wasn't the primary concern. It's fine for a desktop backup drive, for example. If you need that many external disks and want decent performance at a low price point (assumptions made based on your question), you should look into eSATA (3Gb/sec). It won't cost you that much more, and the performance will be significantly better.

If this is intended as a permanent setup, there are eSATA disk enclosures available that will hold and power your drives. If it's a temporary setup, you can get SATA Port Multipliers (kinda like a SATA version of a USB Hub) to connect additional drives.

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+1 for eSATA Way better unless all USB 3.0 devices –  Dave M Mar 26 '12 at 19:42

Mounting them is not the problem: It's going to be as slow as hell.

USB performance for external harddrives sucks at the best of times anyway.

Everything on the same USB controller/hub shares the bandwidth. You will have to spread them out over as many separate USB controllers as possible. Most motherboards only have 1 or 2 controllers so you will have to add additional USB controller cards.

Unless you have USB3 drives, controllers and/or hubs (Expensive!) performance will be awfull.

You are much better of plugin in several Pci-E SATA controllers and connecting the drives by SATA. Is a lot faster and probably cheaper as well.

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You can mount 10 drives on Ubuntu without any problem.

BUT I think you might be better off into building a NAS system. For the price of 10 external hard drives you can get a cheap mobo/cpu with a lot of SATA ports (and if necessary just add a cheap RAID or SATA controller on the PCI(e) slots) . You will hit the limits of the USB hub. With a NAS you can easily get 1Gb, if there is more than one network port even more. Since you want fast access this might will be a lot better.

Have a look at freeNAS.

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the limit is actually 127 or something like that so there is nothing to worry about that.

however, if you are going to use them at the same time, you may run into some sort of limit elsewhere, such as your bus speed, etc., and you may not be able to sustain the throughput you are hoping for.

i have use 4 at most in the past, so have no practical experience.

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This post would be better if "or something like that" was replaced with a reliable reference, and if "have no practical experience" was not true. –  Jay Bazuzi Mar 27 '12 at 1:21

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