For the last year my research lab at UTD has been using my school computer as a file server for several users and large projects. I set my PC up as the server because it was the only one with some degree of redundancy (RAID 1) and it had 250GB drives. Since it was already running Fedora Core 6 it was a natural fit. I have recently become nervous that one of these days I will do something to accidentally corrupt the data. Usually its only a matter of time before something bad happens when you use the server as a general purpose desktop too.

Here comes the new project. Last May I convinced my research adviser that this was a risk and that he should invest in some new hardware for the lab so that we can move the storage to a couple year old server we just re-acquired. The other benefit of doing this is that the server is housed in the Department data center and will be scheduled for nightly tape backups.

The Task

Build a file server using a Dell PowerEdge 6650 with as much disk space as possible for around $500 hardware cost. Seems easy right?

Choice 1: Use internal SCSI RAID controller

For my $5oo budget I could buy 2 146GB drives. … For a research lab with 20 users, that’s a rip, no thanks.

Choice 2: (Suggested by Dept. Sys. Admin) Buy external RAID enclosure, load it with SATA disks

I hesitated at first. I didn’t want our data sitting on a USB device. Network attached storage (Netgear quality) wouldn’t really fit our needs either with user authentication and who knows what else. Then came the idea of using eSATA. It’s fast and trustworthy!

The Order

So with some research here was our order.

Qty Brand Model Description Price Ea.
1 American Media Systems (AMS) DS-2350S 5 bay eSata II external hard disk enclosure with RAID. Uses SIL4726 controller. $217.99
1 Syba SD-SATA2-2E2I PCI SATA II Controller Card w/ 2 external. Uses SIL3124 controller. $39.99
2 Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3750330AS 750GB SATA II Hard Drive w/ 5 year warranty $129.99
Total 750GB in RAID 1 $517.96

This turned out to be a much more acceptable quantity of storage for the price.

Building it

Putting these pieces together has been split into several sub-posts.