I have a fairly speedy computer that I'd like to use as a file server. The motherboard has IDE and SCSI ports.

What is the best hard drive type to use? (IDE/SATA/SCSI, etc)

Would it be smart to get a SATA card to run drives?

Usage: 15 users, frequent write (shared CAD files edited on server), average read


5 Answers 5


SATA or SAS are the way to go.

IDE and SCSI models are usually older, smaller, slower drives. SCSI is also vastly more expensive.

Get a good (not cheap) RAID card and do a Raid 1 at least. In case this is too expensive, I would prefer OS-based software RAID over cheap raidcard or onboard RAID.

Also make sure to buy enterprise or nearline disks. Standard disks are not meant to run 24/7.


Given the fact the newest and biggest hard drives use SATA, you might want to get a SATA card. But if you don't need to use those drives, IDE or SCSI should be good enough, SCSI being better because it's more efficient and SCSI drives tend to be more reliable.

P.S. SCSI drives aren't more reliable because the SCSI bus makes them so, but because manufactures tend to make them more reliable since they will be used in servers and cost more.


You didn't say how many people will use this server, what kind of data it will hold, what kind of performance the users will require, etc. Without knowing it, giving a good advice is impossible. The two answers above, for example, could be good in one kind of situation and end up wasting your time and money in another.

Still, it's possible at least to steer you in the right direction.

First of all, regardless of your goals, set up RAID: RAID1, if you need something very basic, RAID5 if you need a whole lot of storage and don't care about high performance writes, or RAID10 if you have money and need fast storage.

Then look at your utilization to choose between SAS and SATA. If you have lots of users, or have few users, but their apps access lots of files simultaneously, or need high sustained transfers, or need high reliability - get SAS. If none of this applies - get SATA. This includes a new controller (IDE and SCSI are obsolete - I would even guess that your computer is not too speedy by the 2009 standards).

You will pay about 3x-5x more per unit of storage with SAS compared to SATA.

And now - forget everything I said and go get yourself a Drobo that would fit your needs.

  • I've added our usage details. Thanks for the thoughtful response!
    – Andrew C
    Dec 29, 2009 at 19:20
  • 1
    OK, never mind Drobo. If your users edit large files right on the server, SAS may be the only way to go. You may want to buy a complete server for that so that old CPU doesn't become a bottleneck, and the whole system is more reliable. Dec 29, 2009 at 21:14

I would like to follow up on this question with another question as I also am looking at a file server that needs to be as fast and efficient as possible. I am building a network file server that is an image server. I will be creating multiple images using acronis from upto 6 workstations at a time. These images will sent across my 1gb network. I am in the process of building this file server in the next few days. I have purchased the i7-870 sitting in a GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD5 utilizing 10 onboard sata connectors and 2 16x pci express slots. With 4gb of ram ( since its not for games or apps. ) should suffice. I will probably keep windows xp or ... maybe win 7. I am looking at 2 hitachi 2tb drives (one data - one backup due to the fact those images are customers data. ( I have been having problems with seagate hard drives failing in multiple unexplained circumstances as of the last 3 months. So I hope you dont reccommend seagate right now. My question is ... considering the continued usage need, the size of the images.... 20-500gb... can you recommend a solution for speed, reliabity and constant continued usage. I have thought of raid0 but am concerned that one day, one of the drives will fail and some poor sap who trusted me will have just lost his data. Anyway. I think you can read and push me in the right direction. Thanks guys

Farseeker....I know typically a new question should be asked. But. since this was so close to the first question which left a bit of follow up unanswered. I really didnt think it was such a bad thing to reask in the same topic rather than start a new one. I assumed it would be accepted NOT criticized and nit picked. Perhaps this is not the forum I am looking for since not only did you criticize but you also failed to answer either of the questions presented.

  • If you want to ask a question, replying to one isn't quite the right way to go about it. You should click the "Ask a Question" button at the top of the screen Jan 1, 2010 at 9:04
  • If you're concerned that a drive will fail, you're not doing it right. Drives WILL fail - build around it. Jan 1, 2010 at 17:47

For multi-user loads always try to go SCSI/SAS, SATA is getting better at this but is still really designed for single-user loads. Oh and try to RAID your disks one way or another ok, both for speed and resilience.

edit - oh and I agree with farseeker that this should be a new question but reading your secondary question I'm a bit worried; none of the kit you list is what I would dream of calling server spec. You've got an overly-powerful-for-the-job consumer CPU, consumer mobo, REALLY inappropriate disks and a client operating system. If you care at all about your client's data you need redundant power supplies, multiple NICs, a RAID controller and disks that are designed to be used 24/7 with an emphasis on write concurrency and an OS that's designed to spend it's life serving others rather than itself. Even the cheapest Dell server would give you these things.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.