We are a small company that does video editing, among other things, and need a place to keep backup copies of large media files and make it easy to share them.
I've got a box set up with Ubuntu Server and 4 x 500 GB drives. They're currently set up with Samba as four shared folders that Mac/Windows workstations can see fine, but I want a better solution. There are two major reasons for this:
- 500 GB is not really big enough (some projects are larger)
- It is cumbersome to manage the current setup, because individual hard drives have different amounts of free space and duplicated data (for backup). It is confusing now and that will only get worse once there are multiple servers. ("the project is on sever2 in share4" etc)
So, I need a way to combine hard drives in such a way as to avoid complete data loss with the failure of a single drive, and so users see only a single share on each server. I've done linux software RAID5 and had a bad experience with it, but would try it again. LVM looks ok but it seems like no one uses it. ZFS seems interesting but it is relatively "new".
What is the most efficient and least risky way to to combine the hdd's that is convenient for my users?
Edit: The Goal here is basically to create servers that contain an arbitrary number of hard drives but limit complexity from an end-user perspective. (i.e. they see one "folder" per server) Backing up data is not an issue here, but how each solution responds to hardware failure is a serious concern. That is why I lump RAID, LVM, ZFS, and who-knows-what together.
My prior experience with RAID5 was also on an Ubuntu Server box and there was a tricky and unlikely set of circumstances that led to complete data loss. I could avoid that again but was left with a feeling that I was adding an unnecessary additional point of failure to the system.
I haven't used RAID10 but we are on commodity hardware and the most data drives per box is pretty much fixed at 6. We've got a lot of 500 GB drives and 1.5 TB is pretty small. (Still an option for at least one server, however)
I have no experience with LVM and have read conflicting reports on how it handles drive failure. If a (non-striped) LVM setup could handle a single drive failing and only loose whichever files had a portion stored on that drive (and stored most files on a single drive only) we could even live with that.
But as long as I have to learn something totally new, I may as well go all the way to ZFS. Unlike LVM, though, I would also have to change my operating system (?) so that increases the distance between where I am and where I want to be. I used a version of solaris at uni and wouldn't mind it terribly, though.
On the other end on the IT spectrum, I think I may also explore FreeNAS and/or Openfiler, but that doesn't really solve the how-to-combine-drives issue.