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I too am not crazy about SANs but I disagree that a direct attached device is like a SAN--I'd say it's a lot more like an external disk.  You're not dealing with networks, network protocols, network drivers, etc.  It's simply a directly attached device.

Of course, that attachment would be a lot faster and more useable if it was USB 3 or Thunderbolt than USB 2.  I've seen some shockingly poor performance on USB 2 connections, depending on the controllers, OS's, etc.  A high quality dedicated NAS over 1Gb Ethernet can perform quite well (better than a lot of direct attached USB2 single disks I've seen), but may be overkill if this is really more of a backup device (and may not perform well enough if one needs real time data access, etc).

I do agree that RAID controller failure is pretty uncommon (at least in the enterprise level devices I've run) compared to disk failures, and that dual redundancy wrt disk failures is a very good thing.  

I would take a good luck at Drobo.  They've gotten a fair amount of good press (and a bit of ungood press in the past, no surprise).  They originally started out as a direct attached device but can now also do NAS.  They can be set up with dual redundant disks.  You can choose your own disks.  If one wants real performance one could go with SSD tiered data and high rpm/performance SAS disks, but both would be expensive overkill for what is essentially a backup device.

For cloud based storage/backup you might want to take a look at CrashPlan (used by some people who's opinions I trust) and DropBox, though the latter gets expensive with a lot of data.  From the reported experience Carbonite doesn't sound like much of a win (which doesn't surprise me given their target market and marketing campaigns, definitely looking for a non-technical audience).

Arthur Gaer
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On Apr 16, 2013, at 12:47 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:

> Hi, Tom,
> 
> If the connection is via USB, then you're in the realm more of SAN than NAS. (Storage Area Network vs Network Attached Storage) I have never liked the SAN approach for what we do as it ties the storage (in small systems) to one machine.
> 
> I got involved with the LaCie EthernetDisk which was 500 GB and used Embedded Windows XP. It wasn't a great product, but being able to create shares with security was a plus.
> 
> When I moved to more of the mainstream SOHO NAS solutions (Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ and Thecus N5200), I was really impressed. The original NV+ is fairly slow, though I can usually play a few channels of 96/24 off it (I think at least four), over the Gigabit Ethernet LAN.
> 
> The Thecus units I've had since 2008 are faster than the Netgears (I actually own four and am possibly buying my neighbour's off-site backup as he's considering moving and is heading towards retirement). They are fine for storage and limited playback. I'd want something faster for my main NAS if I was running things off it.
> 
> I have used ViceVersa Pro for ten years at least to manage backups--it is normally batch but they may have options for immediate backup now--not something I'm interested in.
> 
> With the less-than-wonderful experience I've had with desktop drives above 1 GB in NAS units (Seagate 1.5 GB) I would suggest seriously considering the Western Digital RED drives to go in the NAS. My pair of ReadyNAS NV+ from 2007 still are running strong with four 500 GB Server Seagate drives. I replaced one drive under warranty. These were online for three years then sat out two years and now have been reborn as dorm room servers for the boys. I used one this year for non-redundant files.
> 
> Search www.richardhess.com/notes for NAS and I have the brands listed that are worth looking at but I've only used the original Netgear and the Thecus.
> 
> If you are using a single NAS unit, I'd suggest RAID 6 as that gives you more margin for error/failure. You can lose any TWO discs in RAID 6 without losing data. For that, I'd suggest at least a 5-bay NAS. With five 2 GB WD Reds, you'd end up with super redundancy with 6 TB of storage (more or less). The next NAS that I get--either the used one from my neighbour or a new one--will use 2 GB WD Reds.
> 
> Cheers,
> 
> Richard
> 
> On 2013-04-16 8:10 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> Is anyone using any of the USB-attached RAID backup systems? If so, can you share your recommendations and experienced. Connection would be to a PC that has two external USB2 drives as the main storage. I'd like to have some WindowsXP-compatible software that is crash-proof, doesn't hog resources and runs in the background, using idle times to keep things backed up to the attached RAID array. I've seen 2-HD and 4-HD enclosures, and I'm curious which kind other folks are using? I can't afford nor do I have the expertise to deal with one of the fancy NAS systems (plus, it would take forever to back up my studio drives over Ethernet, the backup needs to be via USB).
>> 
>> Input much appreciated. Up to now, I've been manually backing up to a third, bigger USB drive. There's got to be a better way that won't take down Windows or be unreliable.
>> 
>> BTW, for what it's worth, I signed up for Carbonite for my office PC last year. So far, 9 months into it, it's only got the PC and external hard drive 30% backed up! So, not a practical solution if you have a lot of data to backup! I don't run the PC 24-7, but I do leave it on overnight most nights. To Carbonite's credit, the software prioritized My Documents and the key system-identification files and those got backed up first. But stuff like my iTunes library, my extensive audio-documentaton library, my HDTracks downloads, it'll take literally years. Not practical!
>> 
>> -- Tom Fine
>> 
> 
> -- 
> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
> http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
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