I was in dire need of expansion. We’ve gotten a lot of new clients in the last couple of months, and as a result, have increased the amount of data I have here on my main workstation. I have plenty of internal storage… but up until this point, were running half as live, and the other half as onsite backup.

So the issue: I have 6tb of internal storage to backup (right now… that may soon grow)… and needed to build something large enough to encompass it all with room to grow. At the same time… not cost me an arm and two legs.

The goal: find something that would give me TONS of space (minimum 8tb, preferably expandable), for less than $1500.

So I started researching last week. I looked at a drobo first (as well as a drobo pro)… there are just too many issues that I’ve seen with it and time machine to be a viable option. As well, I’ve got a real hang-up about using a proprietary system that only THEY can restore. No thanks. Added to that… fw800 is the fastest thing available… and it’s just a no brainer… pass.

Then I started looking at other external drives… the only other thing I could find in a ‘prebuilt’ solution was the lacie quadra (and quadra stack). It has a lot of pluses going for it… removable drives… no proprietary bullshit… simple, effective, and ready to go out of the box. The ONLY downside was the price tag. To just get by with enough space, I would have to go with the 8tb 4big model… and the avg price on that thing online is around $1700. Ouch. I would still have to buy an esata controller as well (or run it through fw800… which is ok, but moving that much data, its just not feasible)

So I decided I was going to have to build my own array. I started looking at all the options out there… external raid arrays in all shapes and sizes. The end result: a sans digital tr5m1 towerraid. There are bigger options out there (they have an 8 bay model) but most limit to 5 drives in the array, and more than that starts to put too much load on the controller anyway. But it fit my needs… 5 bays, esata, quiet, and hot swappable. Its best feature… the price tag. Only $199 at fry’s. The only issue: the supplied controller is just not up to par. It runs off of a sil3132 chipset that has spotty 64bit support, and ZERO snow leopard support. But, at $199, it was still a good deal, even without the controller.

So… I started looking around at the options for esata controllers. There were only two to choose from that stated explicitly they supported 64 bit, and more importantly, snow leopard. Sonnet and highpoint. After looking at the specs and speed comparisons, I went with the highpoint rocketraid esata for Mac. It works perfectly.

After all the components were decided upon, I went after my plan. Purchased the sans digital 5 bay enclosure, the highpoint controller, and 5 x 2tb hard drives:
raid array, raid controller, and hard drives.

Grand total: $1,340.92

So I saved around $550 over the LaCie option, and got an extra 2tb worth of storage in the process. And, should I need to in the future, I can duplicate this process using the same card, for right at $1k (giving me 20tb of storage).

It may not be the most “professional” solution… but it accomplished my needs, and did so WELL within the budget I wanted. Mission accomplished