How do you back up a ton of stuff?


This one is for my buddy Howard Cunningham (CEO of Macro Systems LLC, our go-to service provider in the Washington DC area) who has a unique challenge in backing up clients monster SAN. What Howard ran into, and the challenge we deal with all the time, is that there is just no “backup” once you get into a system that is beefy enough. You sort of put your faith into the controllers, drivers and the systems that are built for high density, high capacity storage.

If you run a business however, you don’t get “faith” deductions from your E&O insurance. So how do you back up a massive amount of data? Most of your “reasonably priced” storage systems require stacking of storage arrays. Stacking means expensive.

Is there a cheaper way? Yes, but you have to build it. Here is what we do:

Storage Array
areca ARC-1680IX-24 PCIe x8 SAS RAID Card – $1129
SUPERMICRO CSE-846TQ-R900B Black 4U Rackmount Server Case w/ 900W Redundant Power Supply – $999

Hard Drives

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive – $154

Or if you want to step up to enterprise storage:

Western Digital RE4 WD2003FYYS 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive – $299


So to sum it up, a 24 bay hotswap chasis with an enterprise grade storage controller, RAID6, etc will cost you $2,000 (or less, depending on reseller) and the hard drives will cost you between $3,696 for the general purpose and $7,176 for the enterprise grade drives. We opt for the FALS (non-enterprise) since they can have their firmware flashed and turned into WD RE3/RE4 ones. There, I just saved you $3k 😉

Budget another $500 for the CPU, motherboard and gigabit network controller and you’ve got a ton of storage. Could you spend 10x as much? Absolutely, Dell will sell you a 15x 2TB MD1000 PowerVault for $18,000 barebone (no support, etc) while HP will charge you more than that for the 24x chasis alone (and just wait till you see the markup they charge on their drives – I’ll give you a hint, the quote comes with a pillow you can bite down when you see the total cost).

Can a case be made for the expensive primary storage built and backed by an enterprise manufacturer? Sure, we use Dell PowerVaults exclusively. Can the same case be made for the backup/failover systems? No, no it can’t. Unless money is not an issue and I’d just love to do business in that fantasy land 🙂

3 Responses to How do you back up a ton of stuff?

  1. Pingback: Vlad Mazek – Vladville Blog » Blog Archive » How would you build a RAMzilla?

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