Build Advice [Build Log] Sleeper PC with RAID 1 array

RAIDGoblin

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I thought a build log would be a fun idea, so here goes... let me know if I posted it in the wrong place or with the wrong prefix or something, I wasn't sure?

[Build Log] Entry 1:

Years ago I built my first PC from hand-me-down parts, it cost me almost nothing and it worked:


^cables look a mess because RAID controller and HDD's have already been (not that carefully) removed

It ran windows XP on a Pentium 4 and once it got outdated I reduced it to the function of data storage RAID 1 array and my Lenovo ThinkPad became my main-use PC, that is until a few weeks ago when the old Intel motherboard died and I decided it was about time for an upgrade


My Plan: To build a reasonably powerful PC that will do video/photo editing and digital art etc... better than my laptop, and I still need a data storage RAID 1 array a long with a DVD RW drive

Also, because I'm fond of it, I'm using the same old case, hence the thread title 'Sleeper PC Build'


Hardware:

CPU:
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
- GPU: Ryzen CPU internal graphics
Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M Gaming, Micro-ATX
RAM: 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz
Boot drive: 240GB Corsair MP510, M.2
HDD's for RAID array: 2x 1TB Seagate BarraCuda
PSU: 300W SilverStone SST-SX300-B, SFX Seiries
Case: the one in the above photo

OS: Debian

Fans: 1x 60mm Noctua NF-A6x25 FLX, 3x 92mm Noctua REDUX-1600 PWM
Akasa 6 Port Internal Card Reader, 3.5'' drive bay
Asus DVD RW optical drive, 5.25'' drive bay
ICY BOX IB-168SK-B Trayless HotSwap 3.5'' HDD port, 5.25'' drive bay


Everything is ordered, it should come tomorrow, and I already have the CPU (second hand):



More updates coming soon ;)
 

RAIDGoblin

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may i ask why the raid 1? Since its mirroring if one file gets corrupted the mirrored copy will as well. You would be better off using the second drive as a backup drive for the first one.
Raid 1 is to protect against drive failure, everything will be backed up somewhere else as well, between portable HDD and DVD's
 
'protect' against failure is perhaps the wrong word...

Guard against downtime in the event of a single drive failure is correct, however. (RAID 1 is indeed somewhat of a waste of space for home use, however)

GOod luck in your build!
 

RAIDGoblin

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'protect' against failure is perhaps the wrong word...

Guard against downtime in the event of a single drive failure is correct, however. (RAID 1 is indeed somewhat of a waste of space for home use, however)
if a drive fails needing to reload a PC is no worry, just an afternoons work, although as a photographer and artist who want's reference and templates from past works all the time, the idea that a drive failure could force me to spend weeks finding everything I need from years of backups is terrifying

RAID 1 is what I've used for years and it's saved me from a few disasters, although I'll admit to not being the most tech-savvy of people so just out of interest, what would you do instead?

GOod luck in your build!
Cheers (y)
 

USAFRet

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if a drive fails needing to reload a PC is no worry, just an afternoons work, although as a photographer and artist who want's reference and templates from past works all the time, the idea that a drive failure could force me to spend weeks finding everything I need from years of backups is terrifying

RAID 1 is what I've used for years and it's saved me from a few disasters, although I'll admit to not being the most tech-savvy of people so just out of interest, what would you do instead?
If it would take weeks to find everything from your backups, you're doing it wrong.

Full drive backups, Incremental every night.
A new drive, an hour, and back up and running exactly as it was.
No reinstalling anything, no weeks of looking around.

Literally, the entire drive, exactly as it was, from <last night or last week>.

This also gives defense in depth. I can retrieve a particular version of a file from "Last Tuesday".
Which has saved my bacon a couple of times.
 

RAIDGoblin

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I read that guide you wrote already, your method is very sensible and makes sense, although I don't really have the technical expertise to set something up like that, I think I'll just stick with what I understand if that's ok, and I've bought the stuff
If it would take weeks to find everything from your backups, you're doing it wrong
I know :oops:

A lot of my stuff is backed up on DVD's because they don't degrade if you don't power them and aren't damaged by dust, magnets etc... and I know I'm organized enough to be absolutely sure everything is backed up (apart from the past three weeks) but the problem is I've never been organized enough with backing up to know exactly where everything is, I'm working on changing this ;)
 

USAFRet

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DVD's don't degrade?

Some years ago, I was burning movies onto DVD.
Maybe 5 years later, I pulled them out to write to HDD.
I got about 50% success.

Last week, I pulled out a small container with 10 or 12 data CD/DVD.
These were all from 2005-2006 era.
2 out of that stack was readable.

When I get some free time, I'll eventually go through the other couple hundred DVD's floating around. I don't expect any better success rate.
 

RAIDGoblin

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odd? I think I've had 2 or 3 fail over 10 yrs or so, between me and my brother we've used hundreds

[edit] I have a hot swap HDD drive, it was only bought to fill an empty drive bay (I've lost the covers and didn't want an after market one that didn't quite match the plastic), so maybe I should do exactly what you suggest only manually when I have time and drop DVD's etc... ?
 
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RAIDGoblin

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[Build Log] Entry 3:

Now I have everything needed, I spent the evening working out how to fit more fans in the case

it turns out that's harder to do than I first thought because it's one of those cases that the cover slides on and off so I can't attach fans directly to it, and there's so little clearance underneath the cover that there's no room for a bolt head through the frame to the outside, what I came up with is probably a bit over engineered but it works

The bars that make up the case frame have grooves in so I made tiny threaded plates to go inside the slots, anyone who has ever seen unistrut will recognize this:



Then I made metal plates to fix to the top of the fans, they're from an old bit of rusty car bodywork, don't worry, I'll paint them ;)



then I had a scary moment when I unwrapped the motherboard and found the SATA ports were right in the corner where the fans needed to go, so I hastily dug out my anti-static mat to test fit it, I can't believe how close it is, but it fits, phew!


^btw that's the most awesome looking motherboard I think I've ever seen xD

Here's a rough sketch of the airflow I'm after:



Three 92mm Noctua redux fans positioned in the sides of the case, two in, and one out along with the PSU fan and the 60mm fan in the back behind the CPU cooler, hopefully it will work and if it doesn't I'll make adjustments



My next task just has to be an awesome paint job inside the case to match that motherboard, don't worry, it will still look exactly the same on the outside 😎
 
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RAIDGoblin

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[Build Log] Entry 4:

First I drilled new holes in the case for the different size PSU, then I cut a hole in the HDD drive bay facing the fans, my thinking was that it would improve airflow, only after I saw what it looked like I realize that it probably won't make any difference :oops: never mind, it's there now:



Now to painting:



 

RAIDGoblin

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I had hoped to do it black and red (like the motherboard),but I couldn't get hold of any red spray so I just used what I had, black and orange seems to look just fine :D

And while I was at it I painted the rusty fan brackets:



Next task: to cut holes in the outside of the case to match the fan locations
 
if a drive fails needing to reload a PC is no worry, just an afternoons work, although as a photographer and artist who want's reference and templates from past works all the time, the idea that a drive failure could force me to spend weeks finding everything I need from years of backups is terrifying

RAID 1 is what I've used for years and it's saved me from a few disasters, although I'll admit to not being the most tech-savvy of people so just out of interest, what would you do instead?


Cheers (y)
Were your aforementioned disasters over the years with spinning drives, presumably?

Nothing wrong with RAID 1, it is just a tad expensive (a pair of top 1 TB NVME drives cost about $150 each?), and, for instance, your money spent on a pair of disks with only half the total usable storage space, has your money spent really just sitting there waiting/guarding against a single disk failure preventing the system from being usable. If that sort of uptime is important to you, it might indeed be worth it to you. But, also have full backups of your data elsewhere, preferably disconnected, so that your data is not be vulnerable to ransomware.

In the event of an actual ransomware attack (alas, a single click on an attachment thought to be legit can ruin anyone's day!), however, both your hypothetical RAID 1 disks would merely be identical copies of all of your now encrypted files.

With a 4 TB external spinning drive costing but $40-$50 on sale these days, I'd instead get a larger NVME drive (I'd prefer a single 2 TB drive vice a pair half that size in RAID1 guarding only against bootup failures in the event one dies), and, just make a full backup image periodically, with incremental backups in between, with Macrium Reflect. A 300 GB image can be restored from a slow spinning drive in a couple hours, or from an SSD is 20 minutes. Installing WIn10 alone to an SSD takes all of about 4-5 minutes these days.

You can also make easy full image backups with Rescuezilla, but Macrium Reflect images can be done within WIn10 while operating. (In my opinion, it's practically a 'must have', but, alas, most don't find out about it until after suffering from ransomware attacks and losing all data.

Good luck whatever you ultimately choose to do, of course. :) (As devil's advocate against my own plan, one would only be able to quickly restore to an NVME drive if you already had one on hand as a spare, vice waiting 4 days for one to come from Amazon, etc.)
 

tennis2

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I prefer an external/unpowered backup (or cloud service) to RAID 1 for personal use. External backups have the advantage of not being subject to power surges that fry your system, or malware attacks like mdd1963 mentioned. Drawback is that you don't have the backups taking place as frequently because it's more of a "manual" process than RAID 1 which is happening at all times.
It really depends on what your "personal usage" is.
 

RAIDGoblin

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Were your aforementioned disasters over the years with spinning drives, presumably?
Yep, cheap second hand ones, my very first PC only had 1 HDD, that started making bad noises and it had all the photography I'd ever taken on it, all un-backed up (I was inexperienced) I panicked because I had no where else to put the data, so I asked my high-school systems administrator what to do. He gave two second hand HDD's the same size as the bad one I had and explained to me how to make a RAID array in windows XP. I know second hand data storage is an absolute no go, but it was free and a year later when the oldest one of the drives failed I didn't loose any data, because of RAID

I still didn't fancy spending my Christmas money on HDD's so I begged another old drive from a PC repair shop, and so the cycle repeated it's self for a while :oops: and I still never lost any data

Nothing wrong with RAID 1, it is just a tad expensive (a pair of top 1 TB NVME drives cost about $150 each?), and, for instance, your money spent on a pair of disks with only half the total usable storage space, has your money spent really just sitting there waiting/guarding against a single disk failure preventing the system from being usable. If that sort of uptime is important to you, it might indeed be worth it to you. But, also have full backups of your data elsewhere, preferably disconnected, so that your data is not be vulnerable to ransomware.
I guess my logic is if I start with brand new drives (I already have them), and now I have a job I don't mind spending money on necessary things, it'll be more reliable than anything I've ever had even if they're not high end drives (2x 1TB Seagate BarraCuda), and I'll still have an external disconnected backup

I appreciate the risk of ransomware attacks, although I'm running Debian, I'm well aware it can still happen but I've heard about very few incidents of this with Linux

Good luck whatever you ultimately choose to do, of course. :)
Thanks (y)

I prefer an external/unpowered backup (or cloud service) to RAID 1 for personal use. External backups have the advantage of not being subject to power surges that fry your system, or malware attacks like mdd1963 mentioned. Drawback is that you don't have the backups taking place as frequently because it's more of a "manual" process than RAID 1 which is happening at all times.
It really depends on what your "personal usage" is.
No offense intended but I'm one of those stubborn people who really don't trust the cloud, as I said above I'll have an external disconnected backup as well
 

tennis2

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No offense intended but I'm one of those stubborn people who really don't trust the cloud, as I said above I'll have an external disconnected backup as well
I'm right there with ya!

At the end of the day. We're talking about $40-ish for the extra 1TB hdd that was already purchased. Sure, there's the extra noise an all, but we're splitting hairs with this RAID conversation in this scenario (and against username "RAIDgoblin"). Do what you're comfortable with.
 

RAIDGoblin

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I'm right there with ya!
Glad I'm not the only one :D

At the end of the day. We're talking about $40-ish for the extra 1TB hdd that was already purchased. Sure, there's the extra noise an all, but we're splitting hairs with this RAID conversation in this scenario (and against username "RAIDgoblin"). Do what you're comfortable with
of course, extra noise doesn't bother me at all, and yep, got to be true to my username LOL
 

RAIDGoblin

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[Build Log] Entry 5:

This was a bit rough to do with the tools I have:



But it should clean up OK :D then I got bored of filing metal for the time being and I decided I don't need a finished cover to start mounting hardware in the case, so the CPU went in the motherboard:


^(I still can't get over how awesome that motherboard looks)



...and IT LIVES!!!!

^ minimum setup, just motherboard, CPU with ryzen internal graphics, PSU and RAM


Next: finish the holes in the case, and more building
 

RAIDGoblin

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yep, it probably would have been a better idea, I didn't because I wanted angular holes instead of round ones

never-mind, it's done now anyway, I'll post some pictures once I've mounted the mesh covers on the case
 

RAIDGoblin

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[Build Log] Entry 6:

Now I very almost have the fan grills on the case, I've drilled the holes, counter sunk them and checked that the case still slides together



and here's what it will (mostly) look like when more C/S bolts and nice brass dome nuts finally arrive in the mail:



I have everything in the case, and orange doesn't look so bad after all:



cable management was a nightmare, after about an hour of work I managed to get the PSU cable bundle to hug the top of the case so it doesn't get in the way of the air flow

I'm waiting on an order to add some lighting (I hoping to have an ominous red glow coming from the fan grills and the holes on the front of the case) and replace that nasty coloured Molex to sata power adaptor on the DVD drive for a black braded one

The good news is: everything works, I have my RAID 1 array set up, Debian installed on the M.2 SSD and, with the lid off anyway, the temperatures are all OK (y)


so far so good :D
 
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