Posts tagged with: backup

Experience: RAID5 is it over-rated?

RAID (redundant array of independent disks, originally redundant array of inexpensive disk)is a storage system developed in the 80’s. It was during the time when drives are expensive. But it is a viable solution for online redundancy to protect against hardware failure. Anyway, a lesson in RAID is not what I wanted to tell in this “Experience” post. I wanted to quote from one of my experience on using RAID5 and how I think RAID5 is not a viable solution anymore in this modern era where drive technology has advanced by leaps and bound since the days of tapes.

Years ago in the 2000’s, I was building server for the company I was working with. Naturally, RAID5 comes to mind as it was the “right” thing to do for storage redundancy. Well, RAID5 is a viable option since it allow 1 drive to fail anytime and we had RAID5 running with 3 drives. Everything went well and fast forward to more than 5 years later, the drives begin to show signs of aging. In one miserable day, one of the drive in the RAID5 went dead. So we are chugging along with the 2 remaining drives. With the inexperience that I am, we did not have any hotspares not coldspares. I proceeded with ordering a new drive. As with the nature of fast moving technology, it is hard to find a replacement drive. The replacement quoted by vendor is crazy expensive. So I had a trip around looking for replacement in second hand shops. A few days passed by and then something terrible happened.

One of the remaining 2 drives failed as well. I am screwed. Screwed for not having proper disaster recovery placed. So I attempted to take drives to recovery centers. The said they can try to recover the data but no guarantee. On top of that, the price they quote, well..let’s say we can buy a few new servers with it. Naturally management did not approve of that recovery. But I got a serious lecture and they had to rebuild some important data from various locations filed in local PC.

Years later, I build another RAID5 system in my home. It did not end well too.

Out of some of my experience using RAID5, I can say I will stay away from RAID5 given the choice. Below are some of the reasons:

  • hotspares are totally neccessary for RAID5. Else don’t use RAID5
  • RAID5 are dependent on the controller. If the controller died, that whole array might not work. Depending on whether it’s hardware RAID or software RAID.
  • RAID5 overrated. Better alternative would be RAID6 or RAID10.

For now, my choice of RAID would be RAID10. Cause anytime, I take one of the drives out, I can totally read all the files in it. I do not need to depend on other drives in order to recover few files in the array. For those who are still using RAID5, it is time to change to a better RAID system or at the very least have a good disaster recovery in place.

On-line cloud backup compare – Backblaze vs Crashplan vs Spideroak vs Carbonite vs Mozy

On-line backup solution has been getting more and more popular recently. This is a good idea and I am sure many have thought of such a backup solution long when tapes are pain in the ass to manage. It was PITA then and is PITA now and will always be PITA. I hate tapes. Thanks to the emergence of cloud computing, backing-up valuable data into these service provider is getting easier and not to mention CHEAPER.

I came across such a backup solution a year ago and has been looking into using them. With little time of mine between work and play, I manage to test out a few and I would like to comment on them. Okay, let’s look at each of the backup solution providers one by one. Bear in mind that I have not tried all of them. Some I would just skip due to the price structure being not attractive to me.


backblaze logoBackblaze
Supported Platform: Windows, Mac

Comment: This is actually the first on-line backup solution provider that I tested. It was recommended by some review sites and got a lot of praise. Upon testing, I find their backup software to be like what most said. Simple and easy to use. You basically just set it up and then let it run. The backup speed I had with them is also quite decent. No much hiccup and I manage to upload over 300GB of data during their 30 days trial. A good balance between speed and easy of use.

Good: easy to use software, decent upload speed, good pricing

Bad: does not want to install into server OS (Windows Server), lack support for linux

My Rating: 7/10


crashplan logoCrashplan
Supported Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

Comment: Crashplan seems to be quite a comprehensive solution provider. They have plans from most basic home users to multi-level corporate users. So their pricing is very well customized. Their software is also very powerful which have a lot of customization. However, I do get some problems with the software. My data does not get uploaded well when I schedule it to upload only during night time. When I go check the next day, it shows me only around 2 hours of upload time. Even when I change it to upload non-stop 24 hour, it still does not upload as often. Also their software seems to not able to handle uploading files when there are huge data. With the 30 days trial, the software only manage to upload over 100GB of my 356GB data. This is a shame because the software works fine on my home test server (Ubuntu) with 9GB of data. Good thing about the software is that it allow installation on server which can save small companies a lot of cost if they only have 1 storage server that need backing-up. Another good thing about their software is they have extra feature like friends backup and LAN backup. This means your friends can have their backup uploaded to your server and LAN computers can upload their data into your server. From this server, you only need 1 account to upload all the data. This I think is one of the strongest point of crashplan. I also need to mention their speed is not that good from Malaysia. Another reason why my data does not get uploaded as much as Backblaze.

Good: Support all platforms, very powerful software, allow friends and LAN backup into 1 server for single backup solution

Bad: software does not work well with large data, upload speed is slow, software does not upload files often even set to 24 hours backup

My Rating: 8/10


spideroak logoSpideroak
Supported Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

Comment: This is the latest on-line backup system that I am currently testing. So far I quite like them because they are fast. Their website is fast, their backup is fast and their price also quite high. The reason for their fast backup speed is because of the way they handle data compression as stated in their website here. I like the fact that they also support multiple platform which is another plus. Their plan is also simple with only 1 package starting from USD10 per month and you add along as you use more space. The problem is, with this pricing, you can get 2 accounts with other provider with UNLIMITED storage space. They also have a free 2GB account which potential customers can use to test their service. This can be expanded to 50GB with their referral system. Speaking of which, I would really appreciate if the people reading this to use my referral link when signing up for a free account in spideaoak.

Good: Support all platforms, simple and fast software, fast upload

Bad: price, price, price

My Rating: 8/10


Honourable Mention for services that I did not test:

carbonite logoCarbonite
Supported Platform: Windows, Mac
Reason for not testing: Price is slightly higher than others. But seems like quite popular in US.


mozy logoMozy
Supported Platform: Windows, Mac
Reason for not testing: Price is also higher than others. Have backup plan for servers but even more expensive.


If you are going to test out spideroak, please click on my [referral link] for that I get 1GB added into my account. You will also get 1GB added into your free account. Appreciate it very much.