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DP with Flexraid RaidF- Comments

edited September 2012 in DrivePool
I see that some folks here are using flex raid with DB, how is this working out, what pitfalls should new users look out for?  I assume your adding each individual drive as a separate DRU,  Is there a limit to the number of drives that you have offloading to a single PPU?  Is this over complicating your DP/WHS installation? I've seen a lot of posts about how stable Flexraid is, but folks seem to lump the discussion of both RaidF and pooling app into just flexraid, which from what I can tell are two completely separate applications, but there are benefits when used together, like real-time raid. 

If you troll the Flex raid forum, there is a lot of activity, and what appears to be a lot of issues, so I'm not so convinced of it's reliability, but I'm really intrigued by the concept.  I have 4X2TB drives in my Pool, plus 1 X 1tb for my recorded TV Archive folder, and if can obtain can obtain a single 2-3TB drive for parity (PPU), to protect against a single HDD (DRU) failure , it's very interesting.  I'll keep a complete backup of my irreplaceable data, but it's getting costly maintaining backups for replaceable data like Music and movies, while it would be a pain to go through all the disks, I have the original media. so why waste all that space with complete duplicates.  knock on wood, but I would hope not to have two HDD failures at the same time. 

Just sparking some conversation, I have some down time and looking for a new project. lol.
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Comments

  • Resident Guru
    I have Flex +DP setup and it works quite well. Each of my 2TB are in seperate DRU and i have 1x2TB as PPU. I have a few smaller drives all bunch up under 1 DRU(to equal 2TB). My PPU isnt part of my pool since i only use it for Flex. DP doesnt get in the way since my Validate and update are done at while i sleep. Also i use Stablebit scanner and it plays nice even when Flex is doing a validate/update. Depending on the configuration you choose in Flex, there is can be a limit to drives you can add.(im using the raid engine Tx). Flex pooling was a nightmare back when i used it(dont know how stable it is now) so i when DP came along, i was in heaven:) Dont forget that if you use Flex snapshot mode its in expert and not cruise control. If you have any other questions let me know :)
  • They work well together as saitoh183 says. Couple of tips;
    • Mount the drives as NTFS folders so they dont appear in Explorer. (unless you like drive letters for all drives)
    • If a drive fails and you need to recover using flexraid, simply uninstall drivepool (plus delete the info in the programdata > StableBitDrivePool folder) and then restore the DRU. Next install drivepool again. If you dont do this drivepool, will see the restored drive twice, one still in the pool and one outside. I've not found a way around that yet unless someone else has.
    • Small changing files are not the best thing to protect with flexraid, best keep them duplicated and protect large files with snapshot. You can do this with the latest drivepool beta per share. ie music share duplicated on 2 smaller hard disks and the unduplicated shares protected by Flexraid.
  • edited October 2012 Member
    They work well together as saitoh183 says. Couple of tips;
    • Mount the drives as NTFS folders so they dont appear in Explorer. (unless you like drive letters for all drives)
    • If a drive fails and you need to recover using flexraid, simply uninstall drivepool (plus delete the info in the programdata > StableBitDrivePool folder) and then restore the DRU. Next install drivepool again. If you dont do this drivepool, will see the restored drive twice, one still in the pool and one outside. I've not found a way around that yet unless someone else has.
    • Small changing files are not the best thing to protect with flexraid, best keep them duplicated and protect large files with snapshot. You can do this with the latest drivepool beta per share. ie music share duplicated on 2 smaller hard disks and the unduplicated shares protected by Flexraid.
    I have all drives assigned a letter, so I assume it's ok continuing this route.

    replacing a failed drive does add some complication,  sounds easy, but I'll need
    to write out all the steps, this one seems easy to over look.

    Are you saying with the beta, you can tell the pool which drives to use for
    certain shares, or even assign files of a certain size to specific
    drives, while assigning larger files to other drives? 

    Question, using snap shot raid,  and running parity nightly, I read some where,
    that even if one file changes/added/deleted in a dru you get data
    corruption errors if you need to restore a drive assuming the drive
    fails before the next parity schedule parity check.  Is this correct?  seems to me you would have an issue with just that file, but the rest should be intact.

    Thanks for the replies.
  • Resident Guru
    They work well together as saitoh183 says. Couple of tips;
    • Mount the drives as NTFS folders so they dont appear in Explorer. (unless you like drive letters for all drives)
    • If a drive fails and you need to recover using flexraid, simply uninstall drivepool (plus delete the info in the programdata > StableBitDrivePool folder) and then restore the DRU. Next install drivepool again. If you dont do this drivepool, will see the restored drive twice, one still in the pool and one outside. I've not found a way around that yet unless someone else has.
    • Small changing files are not the best thing to protect with flexraid, best keep them duplicated and protect large files with snapshot. You can do this with the latest drivepool beta per share. ie music share duplicated on 2 smaller hard disks and the unduplicated shares protected by Flexraid.


    I have never had to recover in my current setup, so Hopester advise is interesting. I would have approached it differently..using the method of Shane described
    here. Then insert the new disk and preform the restore via Flex and then restarted DP services to see if it picks up the drive. 


    I have all drives assigned a letter, so I assume it's ok continuing this route.
    I would recommend doing the NTFS folder route because if you come to a point where you either run out of letters or that you find it to cluttered and want to change, you will be forced to redo your flex snapshot configuration from scratch since Flex will not like the change from one mode to the other.(Thats what i had to do). The only reason to have letters for the disk in your pool is if you have programs that use the disk beside the DP that require drive letters(which shouldnt be the case).

    Are you saying with the beta, you can tell the pool which drives to use for
    certain shares, or even assign files of a certain size to specific
    drives, while assigning larger files to other drives? 
    No, All you can do is tell DP which drives are dedicated to Duplicate files and which drives are for unduplicated files. I have an update each night to add the new TV shows and movies to my PPU, Since I know that the rest of my data is for the most part static,Update isnt very long. And once a week i run a Validate which, with my current data size takes about 13h to run and i dont run update during the weekend since thats when i run the validate. Depending on how you setup your Flex (drive protection or Folder protection), you can just put the TV and movies folders in DRUs(adding each poolpart folder from each disk) and not the entire drive and have DP duplicate your My Docs,Music and Pictures folder (if they are in the pool as well).

    Question, using snap shot raid,  and running parity nightly, I read some where,
    that even if one file changes/added/deleted in a dru you get data
    corruption errors if you need to restore a drive assuming the drive
    fails before the next parity schedule parity check.  Is this correct?  seems to me you would have an issue with just that file, but the rest should be intact
    You should ask this question on the flexraid Forum to get a concrete answer
  • Are you saying with the beta, you can tell the pool which drives to use for
    certain shares, or even assign files of a certain size to specific
    drives, while assigning larger files to other drives? 
    You can run some shares duplicated and some not. The only control you have is which drives get that data. So In my case I have 2 drives set to receive duplicated Shares and my other 5 unduplicated. The 5 drives are then protected by FR with a parity disk. Best of both worlds (will be easier with the next version of DP and multiple pools)
  • I have never had to recover in my current setup, so Hopester advise is interesting. I would have approached it differently..using the method of Shane described here. Then insert the new disk and preform the restore via Flex and then restarted DP services to see if it picks up the drive. 
    I'll give that method a go on my test server when I get time, it sounds as if it should work.
  • Resident Guru
    I have never had to recover in my current setup, so Hopester advise is interesting. I would have approached it differently..using the method of Shane described here. Then insert the new disk and preform the restore via Flex and then restarted DP services to see if it picks up the drive. 
    I'll give that method a go on my test server when I get time, it sounds as if it should work.
    Cool let me know :)
  • Thanks for the information,I have an N40L collecting dust that I'll setup as a test server, but I need to locate some old drives to play around with. 

    From what I can tell, changing my current drives to NTFS folders will require that I create new partitions, right?  Do  you just name the folders something like Drive 1, 2, 3, etc?  what's a good naming convention? 
  • Resident Guru
    no you dont need a new partition, you go on your C drive, Create a folder and in disk management you remove the drive letter and choose NTFS folder(right-click on disk and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths..". As for naming convention i use the disk location like Disk0, Disk1, etc. that corresponds to what i see in my disk management


    image
  • Thanks, that worked out nicely.
  • edited October 2012 Member


    I have never had to recover in my current setup, so Hopester advise is interesting. I would have approached it differently..using the method of Shane described
    here. Then insert the new disk and preform the restore via Flex and then restarted DP services to see if it picks up the drive. 
    I would think this would work fine, since DP doesn't require the use of drive letters. Removing the drive that way, without waiting for files to be moved off should be quick too.  Between DP folder duplication, and FlexRAID DRU protection of the other folders on the drive, you have lost NOTHING.  Duplication should rebuild it's files, and the remaining folder contents from that drive will be restored from FlexRAID.

    Remember, you can direct FlexRAID to restore a DRU to another destination if you wish, such as a "reserved" empty share you have for this purpose or even a drive outside the pool.  If a share in the pool, then "move" the folders there to your proper shares, which will not really physically move anything, just update links to those folders/files.  Or just restore to \\Shares and let DP place the files back on the drives in your pool. 

    I run FlexRAID on my WHS V1 system.  I have never had to do a restore, but this is how I would basically manage a drive failure.  I use a combination of folder duplication for some shares (photos) and snapshot raid for my other shares with each drive as a DRU + 1 PPU.  9 Drives total, 18TB

    I am planning to move to WHS 2011 this week and will be utilizing Stablebit DP for pooling and folder duplication along with FlexRAID as you guys are. 
    Thanks for all the great information on your experiences with this setup.
  • Admittedly, I don't know much about FlexRAID, but I'm curious to the benefit of running both DP and FlexRAID on the same system. Aren't the two similiar to each other? I looked at FlexRAID a while back before deicding on DrivePoll, but am I missing something with not running both on my WHS2011? Your advice is appreciated.
  • Resident Guru
    Running FR along side DP has the benefit that you dont need to run duplication on your Media data which would cause a lost of space. FR does also have a pooling feature but its not as stable as DP, but its Raid feature helps cover from drive failure without compromising DP functionality 
  • Does that mean you use the pooling of DP and the data protection of FR? I might have to look into that so that I won't have to duplicate over 4TB of visual media. Interesting thought. Are there any basic tutorials out there on how to set up FR with DP already installed? Also, does FR need a dedicated drive for the raid?
  • Resident Guru
    FR requires you to sacrifice at least 1 disks to be use as a parity drive that will be as big as the biggest single drive in your system. This prarity drive will not be part of your pool since you dont want to have any other data on it besides FR parity data. The amount of parity drives will depend on how much protection you want , the more you have the more you can survive multiple drive failures at once. I only have 1 parity drive because its rare to have 2 drives die exactly at the same time.

    Check the FR website to learn how FR works, all you need to know really for using both in the same setup, is Dont make your parity drive part of the DP pool and that your protection is dont on each drive individually and not on the pool drive itself. You can also check this forum, i have posted a few screenshots of my setup which could help you understand the setup a bit better
  • Gotcha. I have a new 3TB drive coming in today and I think I'm going to use that for my parity drive then.

    Thanks for your help. I know some of the questions are on the FR site, so thanks for getting back to me.
  • Resident Guru
    np and good luck :)
  • Hi saitoh183,

    I was looking at documentation to set up my first parity drive and I think I'm a bit confused. it looks like the guide located here would be what I want since I don't plan on using FR for pooling: http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/08/29/setting-up-your-snapshot-raid/

    The other write up goes through setting up a pool and then doing your raid. The question I have is about where I set up DRUs and PPUs. Since I'm not using FR for pooling does that mean no DRUs? Or is that where I put the amount of discs I am using in my DP pool? And then possibly extra since I plan on adding more drives at a later date. I'm guessing all of that can be changed later though.

    This sounds great, but I will need to keep on reading to see what I need to do. I browsed for you of your screenshots, but only came up with the one from this topic and I didn't notice the FR interface in it.
  • Resident Guru
    Have a look here http://forum.covecube.com/discussion/554/parity-drive#Item_4

    DRU/PPu applies to the raid setup and not the pooling so you will want to use the advanced setup and not the Cruise control (Raid-F +Pooling). If i take my setup as an example:

    I have 1X2TB as PPU and 6 DRUs

    Under 1 DRU i have 6 drives which total 2TB

    Under each other DRU, I have 1X2TB and 1 DRU with 1x1TB

    if you compare this to a traditional Raid 5, each DRU = 1 drive in a Raid 5 setup so my DRU with 6 drives under it is considered as 1 failure even if multiple drives fail in that DRU but it would be 2 failures if that DRU failed + 1 of my DRUs that contains only 1x2TB drive. So PPU would recover only 1 DRU regarless of the amount of drives under that single DRU but would only be able to recover 1  DRU if 2 separate DRUs failed.

    For Expansion i suggest using the Raid Tx engine because this will allow for the best expansion as the other modes are limited to a certain number of PPUs and DRUs. http://wiki.flexraid.com/about/1355-2/

    Your link in your post is the right one to setup your raid. You are also not obligated to put a entire drive as DRU, you can also put just a folder.. Like for my PPU i put L:\PPU. For my DRU,s, since all my drives are in the DP pool, i put the entire drive instead of just the PD hidden poolpart folder incase 1 day somehappens or i need to recreate the pool, the poolpart folder might not have the same exact name which would force me to recreate the raid from scratch. Also before creating the raid, i would suggest mapping your drive to NTFS folders like i show above so that you wont have to recreate your raid down the line.

  • Thanks. My first step today will be to add my new 3TB drive to the computer. In Disk Management I will make sure the drive is recognized and assign it a drive letter. I will then take my existing drives (that are located in the pool) and map them to NTFS folders like you show above and this link shows how to do http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/09/29/tips-mounting-your-drives-as-folders-on-windows/.

    OK, Drive mounted in Disk Management. I have not taken the exisiting drives and mapped them to NTFS folders yet. Does it matter that I have data on those folders? Does it mess up the drivepool I've set up? Just some questions I hope you can help me with.

    Thanks!
  • Resident Guru
    it will only matter if you have programs that run off those drives. if its only data it should be fine
  • edited November 2012 Member
    It's all data as all the programs are on the C drive. I'd have to remap sabznzb because of where I have the folders located I'd guess, but I think I may just move that over to my drivepool anyway. Hopefully I have some more time to look into this today.
  • Resident Guru
    just a little heads up...to avoid headaches i would not run programs from pool since that does alot of read/write. I also have sab installed on my server but its on my C drive, downloads files to the second default partition created by WHS2011 (which i didnt put in the pool) and then moves the file to my completed download folder which is also on that partition and use a post processing script to move the file to its place in the pool. I do it this way to avoid extraction errors that the pool could cause or locked files when it tries to delete the rar files after extraction. So basically i use the default second partition created by WHS as a landing pad for all my read-write task before moving the file to the pool.
  • Good idea. I added my second default partition to the pool. I should look into how easy it is to remove that. I think your method sounds sound.
  • Well. That was easy to remove the drive from the pool. More later I guess.
  • Hi saitoh183

    I'm sure this is probably a dumb question, but when I add my existing drives (currently used by the drivepool) and map them to NTFS drives how does that affect the existing drivepool? Will my drivepool still be the current drive? I'm just curious as I probably wouldn't lose anything, but just want to make sure the existing drivepool remains intact and the current drive retains the existing drive location of J.

    Or would it just be easier for me to just use the current drives I'm using as DRU's in Flexraid? Is it just a matter of not running out of drive names? If so, I couldn't do that in my current set up anyway!

    And I think I can add drives to the DRU and PPU right?
  • Resident Guru
    You dont want the drive to be in the pool and be your PPU,if its your DRU, thats fine. Making them NTFS folders will change nothing to the pool setup
  • Yep. The PPU is not added to the pool. The drives that I will mount will be the DRU's. I mount all the drives except for the drivepool itself right?
  • Member
    FR requires you to sacrifice at least 1 disks to be use as a parity drive that will be as big as the biggest single drive in your system. This prarity drive will not be part of your pool since you dont want to have any other data on it besides FR parity data. The amount of parity drives will depend on how much protection you want , the more you have the more you can survive multiple drive failures at once. I only have 1 parity drive because its rare to have 2 drives die exactly at the same time.


    Check the FR website to learn how FR works, all you need to know really for using both in the same setup, is Dont make your parity drive part of the DP pool and that your protection is dont on each drive individually and not on the pool drive itself. You can also check this forum, i have posted a few screenshots of my setup which could help you understand the setup a bit better


    can you clarify your instructions here for me please?

    I've got drivepool on my WHS 2011 n40l with four 4tb drives inside.  The OS is on a sperate 250gb drive.

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