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I have a windows server 2012 r2 setup with the following storage:

  • 1x 900GB Internal HDD (OS Drive)
  • 1x 1TB USB SSD (Client computer backup drive)
  • 2x 1TB USB SSD (C drive backup - hot swapped weekly for off site backup)

Currently all the shared folders on the network are on the C drive on which the server OS is installed. The C drive is backed up to one of the hot swapped SSDs nightly and disks are swapped weekly. The other backup SSD is used for client computer backups.

The problem, in addition to the fact I don't think this is a great setup, is that the C drive is out of space so an upgrade is required. My thinking is to completely rejig the setup as follows:

  1. Purchase a 3TB HDD
  2. Create a storage pool with 3x 1TB SSDs and the new 3TB HDD
  3. Create parity volumes on the storage pool
  4. Move Server Folders off the C Drive and onto a parity volume
  5. Back up C drive onto a parity volume
  6. Set up Azure Backup as an offsite backup solution for all volumes on the storage pool

Is this a robust enough setup to provide on and offsite redundancy? Am I correct to assume that this setup would give ~3TB of usable storage and should provide redundancy in case of any disk failing in the storage pool? Is this a cost effective solution?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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I think this would work, but my suggestion would be to lab it first. You can create a Windows Server 2012 R2 VM and give it an OS drive, and then you can replicate your storage setup scaled down 1:1000. I.e., give it a 3GB drive and 3 1GB drives, create your storage pool, and make sure you're happy with how it's working. Won't cost you anything.

A word of warning though. We've been having a nightmare with our Windows 2012 R2 storage server. Granted, we set it up with storage spaces and ReFS, all of which is pretty bleeding edge. But if you're copying large chunks of data to or from the pool, chances are it will be unstable. So test the hell out of it and make sure you're in a position to rebuild it if you need to.

Another thing, you haven't said what you plan to do with your client computer backups. Will these be going onto the storage pool too?

One other question, what backup software are you using? What is your backup method, regime and retention period?

Which leads into a final point. Using Azure Backup for ~3TB of data a night will cost you a fortune! If it's just deltas you should be OK, but you probably want to model the amount of data you'll be pumping across and how long you'll be keeping it for. With this data, you can use the Azure pricing calculator to work out how much it's going to cost you.

  • Thanks for the info! I've actually just done as you suggested with a VM but I'm struggling with the usable storage available. I used 3 5GB Drives and 1 15GB but only ended up with 9GB usable from that with parity... Does that sound right? I was expecting more than a third of total capacity! Wrt Client computer backups, yes they'd go on the pool too. Backups are done with windows server backup... – doovers Sep 11 '15 at 5:46
  • Would something like crashplan be a better/cheaper option than azure do you think? – doovers Sep 11 '15 at 7:41
  • Yes that's about right. Actually it should be 10GB, but close enough. Storage Spaces isn't anything special, when you create the virtual disk you're effectively specifying a RAID set. With the disk sizes you mentioned in RAID10 you'd expect a 10GB volume. If you set it with parity you should get 15GB. Honestly I couldn't say without running the numbers whether crashplan would be more cost effective, you'll need to do the math. Work out your total footprint and delta, then use each option's cost calculators. – Matt Sep 11 '15 at 22:48
  • BTW are you using the server for anything else? If not you may find that Azure backup, CrashPlan, Carbonite etc. cut out your need for the server altogether. Or at least investment in the backup component of it. – Matt Sep 11 '15 at 22:53
  • Yes it does a lot of other things too so it definitely is needed but I'm going to reconsider online backup and continue with the hot swap if it's going to work out very expensive. – doovers Sep 11 '15 at 22:57
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I would suggest something like this instead:

  • Pair of 2TB Harddrives in RAID1 for data redundancy.
  • A decent sized SSD (say 128-256GB)
  • A software SSD Caching Tech called PrimoCache
  • Decent, Tested UPS so you don't get bitten by unsynced writes.
  • Would primocache be roughly equivalent to storage tiers in windows server? If not how is it different/better? – doovers Sep 11 '15 at 5:49

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