The RAID array of the main Mac is my primary work area. I also have several servers for long-term storage, online backup, and media serving. I discovered Thecus brand servers long ago and found them to be reliable, cost-effective, fast, and have a small footprint. I currently have 5 of Thecus Servers online.
The two main servers are Data storage and Backup servers. The Data storage server keeps all my data, other than whats on my internal RAID of my Computer. I can access photos, videos, and graphic designs going back over 15 years. These servers are networked through a gigabit LAN, so it is slower than my internal array, but effective enough. They are each populated with 4TB server class hard drives. The Data server has 5 drives, the backup drive has 7 drives, each configured in RAID5. The backup drive automatically backups up the data server and all the computers I have, each night. In this pic you can also see the UPS for the Servers and my HP color laser printer.
Some techies may be able to do some math and realize that my backup server is not sufficient to backup everything. The Data server and the internal RAID were the last to be upgraded to 4TB drives. Before that time, there was sufficient space on the backup server. Were I to fill up all my data space, the backup server would be overloaded. The backup server will need to be expanded at some point in the near future.
A bank of smaller servers serve other minor functions. The closest server in the pic to the right is a iMovie archive server. I use iMovie to edit movies for most of my YouTube videos. Locally, iMovie stores the video content and completed projects in a database similar to Apple’s other apps. If this database gets too large, it slows down iMovie. I transfer my completed projects from my internal RAID onto this server when I am done. I keep the data in the iMovie database format in case I want to re-edit the video again in the future. The next two servers in the pic are music and video streaming servers. I am really into music, and have an extensive Sonos system to listen to it, the music server runs my iTunes server. The video streaming server serves the videos for my UStream channels. The last server you see is currently off-line.
In addition to servers, I use various external drives to archive data. This is data that I probably will never need again but just can’t bring myself to totally get rid of it. I also try to keep spare, new drives on-hand for each of my RAID array. I purchase an extra drive when I buy the drives for the array to be sure I have an exact same model and firmware drive as the array is built with. That way if one drive fails, not only do I have a drive on hand to get it back to redundancy immediately, but years down the road I don’t have to search for an out of production replacement drive that matches the rest. So this means a lot of drives are sitting in my equipment closet.
Between all of my hard drives, I have over 40TBs of online data storage. Well more than double that when you count redundancy, backups, spares and archive. It is a constant challenge to keep everything organized for easy retrieval later. And it’s a technical challenge to keep it all online reliably. Hard Drives fail, space fills up on volumes, and equipment becomes out dated faster than I can keep up with sometimes.