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New drives

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 00:15


I was gearing up for buying two 750 GB drives, put them in software RAID, and then re-encode all my CD's to FLAC instead of Ogg like they are now.

I want to use FLAC so I have a perfect copy stored, and from that I can regenerate whatever I want for whatever other situation.   I used to have everything in Ogg, but with my Nokia 800 and Kristien's iPod that's just not the most useful format to have.

I figure I should be able to store around 1700 CD's on there, which is about 400 more than I currently have.

Except that now it seems there are 1TB drives available, for 50% more money than the 750GB ones.  So not exactly at the sweet spot, but not that unreasonable either... And by now I have so many old hard drives lying around collecting dust that I've come back a little on always buying at the lowest dollar/GB price.

Sigh, decisions! Please vote in the comments.


  1. I recently converted all my CDs into FLAC format and store them on a USB drive. I managed to get 300 CDs / 3900 tracks into 100 GB. So 750 GB should trivially fit 2200 CDs. I also keep a copy of it all in OGG and MP3 too, just because its negligable extra space once you’re using FLAC and its useful for iPod syncs. That only added another 20 GB of usage for MP3 and similar for OGG

    Comment by Daniel — 2007-08-23 @ 00:56

  2. Save the cue files that you can generate off the CDs so that if by any chance a CD ever gets scratched, you can make a bit for bit replica.

    If these are internal, you may have some issues, but given what you can do with LVM these days, shrinking hard drive value is never a problem anymore. You could always hold out for a third one down the line, convert it to RAID5, and then setup a second RAID 5 array in a year from now with 2TB drives (or whatever the current size is), and just extend the logical volumes onto the new RAID5 array. I think you’re guaranteed about 20 years or more before there is a statistical chance of enough drives failing at once to completely hose that array. (You will of course have to replace individual drives once every few years)

    Comment by loupgaroublond — 2007-08-23 @ 01:29

  3. Get two 750 GB drivers and put them in RAID.

    Why? Because I want to read how you do it (setting up RAID and all) and it sounds a lot more fun. :)

    Comment by zodmaner — 2007-08-23 @ 02:02

  4. What about 3 in raid 5? Same price, extra 500GB.

    Comment by Brian — 2007-08-23 @ 02:06

  5. My biggest concern regarding the TB drives is that they are all (AFAIK) 5 platter designs. Historically (again, AFAIK), 5-platter drives are substantially more prone to failure than other drives. Remember the IBM “Deathstar” fiasco? A lot of those failures were attributed to their 5-platter design. Now, this may have all been sorted, but I’m inclined to let someone else verify whether it has or not.

    Also, when doing your comparisons on $/GB, it pays to use the _usable_ space as your benchmark, not the stated space. Since the industry defines a GB a 1 billion bytes, not 2^30th, the amount of error increases as the per-drive capacity goes up. So those 1″TB” drives only yield 935GB, and that’s before formatting.

    However, they are fast. See Storage Review’s review at http://storagereview.com/HDS721010KLA330.sr?page=0%2C0

    Comment by Quentin Hartman — 2007-08-23 @ 02:42

  6. Speaking as an intern at Seagate this summer, you should totally buy whatever gives Seagate the most profit. ;)

    With that (humorified) disclaimer out of the way, I personally think it totally depends on what you think you’ll be needing in the next 3-5 years. If you buy 750GB drives now, only to find that you needed more space, you’ll either buy more drives (leading to a hot, cramped case) or pitch them for a new drive (wasted drives + money, although the prices will naturally come down). This is balanced against the potential for totally wasting 50% of the price of the 750GB drive. :) In the past, I’ve gone with cheaper over storage, but it sounds like you’ll be pushing your capacity and likely to need to upgrade sooner rather than later. But I’m (for the summer) a Seagate shill, so take that how you will. ;)

    Regarding platter count, at least the ST31000340AS has 4 platters (http://www.seagate.com/docs/pdf/datasheet/disc/ds_barracuda_7200_11.pdf) I’d expect the other Seagate 1TB (not 1TiB ;) drives (if any) to be similar, but I’ve not looked them up.

    Comment by Joseph — 2007-08-23 @ 03:00

  7. I put my drives into an external SATA box ($200) which makes them easier to move to another machine. My mobo has six SATA connectors. I used an adapter in a PCI slot to convert four SATA cables into one multi-lane one which runs to the box. Four 500GB ($100ea) drives running RAID 10.

    This model gets the heat and power demands out of the main PC. I still have one SATA drive in main PC for booting and the OS.

    A fancier setup would have five drives with one being a hot spare.

    Comment by Jon Smirl — 2007-08-23 @ 05:50

  8. OK. I’d only like to know how long it took you to collect 1300 CDs? And could you post some photos of your collection?

    Comment by Piotr Gaczkowski — 2007-08-23 @ 09:30

  9. If you want to store even more albums, lossless, on the disks try wavpack.
    For me it’s faster to encode, and uses less space then flac.

    Comment by Qball — 2007-08-23 @ 09:54

  10. @loupgaroublond: Yes, I was thinking of doing that, and possibly really storing each CD as one flac file plus the cue file, then figuring out how to make GStreamer support this. What’s your experience ? Are there howto’s/tutorials that explain how to do this and allow me to test a burn to see I get the right result ?

    @zodmaner: RAID-1 in software is really easy, I’ve been doing it for most of my computers now as I have a pretty high casualty rate on drives and suffer a lot of pain every time one fails. BTW, to be clear, the question is not “RAID or not”. The question is “RAID of two 750 GB drives, or one of two 1 TB drives” :)

    @brian: the nicest feature of RAID-1 software is that either drive actually works on its own when there is a failure. I’ve found software raid itself doesn’t behave too well when there is an actual failure, and it’s sometimes easier to be able to access the known-good drive separately. Not sure if you have a better experience with RAID-5 ?

    @Piotr: around 10-15 years I guess. Apparently I don’t have pictures from my room when I still lived in Belgium. My CD’s are locked up in boxes at a friend’s place for safekeeping. I guess I could take a picture of the CD rack I have here in Barcelona which has about 200 CD’s, which is more or less par for the course.

    @Qball: I’ll give wavpack a try compared to FLAC to see if it helps a lot. I have a slight preference for FLAC, being under the Xiph umbrella.

    Comment by Thomas — 2007-08-23 @ 13:22

  11. @Thomas: “Apparently I don’t have pictures from my room when I still lived in Belgium. My CD’s are locked up in boxes at a friend’s place for safekeeping.”

    Actually, I have some pictures of your CD’s from when we put them on eBay. I also have pictures of the great party we organized with the profit we made :-)

    Comment by fons — 2007-08-23 @ 16:49

  12. Get whatever drives have the longest warranty.

    Comment by Linus — 2007-08-23 @ 21:10

  13. Drives exist in three possible states.

    About to die
    On fire

    Remember this when you are writing -anything- to disk.

    Comment by Wade Mealing — 2007-08-24 @ 04:59

  14. I lost my 700G RAID5 about a month ago. One disk failed and when I started doing backups another failed.
    So I would recoomend one 750G disk for the files and one more in another system with backuppc or some other simple backup strategy with history.

    Comment by Mikael — 2007-08-24 @ 07:24

  15. In case you did not buy anything yet:

    Buffalo TeraStation PRO. Very cheap, good warranties, supports the most important protocols, configurable (raid type etc), reliable, little effort to get running.

    Comment by erik — 2007-08-25 @ 01:15

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