hard drive

Adding more drives with an External PCI-e 4 Port Card

When it comes to hard drives and the ridiculous use of space, I know a thing or two. It can be said that I have a few hard drives lying around. However, just because I have a few doesn’t mean I don’t need anymore. Thus, it was my goal to add 2 more hard drives to my larger machine. A 3TB internal drive is under $90 which is a great deal, so why not expand? Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there are a couple of hitches.

The machine in question has 2 internal hard drive, 2 optical drive, an SSD and a docking port for another Sata drive. Count that up and it’s 6 drives. My motherboard has 6 Sata sockets. Where to go from here?

I certainly could just add more USB drives like I’ve been doing with the other machine, but that’s not really where I’m going with this machine. I’d prefer the internal version. This lead me to look for an expansion card that would give me more Sata ports.

Talk about opening a can of worms! Not only are the card radically different in speed and ability, not to mention ports and how many can be active at one time, people are setting up all sorts of different configurations.

One thing I did notice which I completely disagree with is connecting an SSD drive to an external card like this. The fastest connection is through the motherboard, period. No matter what you do, adding a card will slow things down. I immediately threw out that idea and also had no desire to hook my 7200 rpm drives to the card. Thus, all the optical drives would be connected which gives me 2 open Sata ports and solves the problem.

The card I got is:

IO Crest SATA III 4-port PCI-e 2.0 x2 Card Marvell Hyper Duo and RAID Mode Support with Low Profile Brackets SI-PEX40057 Green

4 Internal SATA 6Gb/s Ports
Compatible with SATA 6G, 3G and 1.5G Hard Drives
PCI-Express x2 Interface is Compatible with PCI-Express x2, x4, x8, and x16 slots
RAID mode Supported: RAID 0/1/1+0
HyperDuo is configured with at least 1 hard disk drive (HDD) and up to 3 solid state drives (SSD). By embedding automated tiring technology into the chipset.
Does not support Hardware RAID using Port Multiplier
Support 3TB and 4TB GPT Hard drives
Chipset: Marvell 88SE9230
Chipset: Marvell 88SE9230
Installed with a full profile bracket, low profile included with the package
Port Multiplier FIS-based and Command-based switching supported
Supports SATA Rev 3.0 transfer speeds up to 6.0Gbps and backwards compatible with SATA I/II at 1.5/3.0Gbps
Supports RAID 0 and 1 modes

This should be more than adequate to run my optical drives. Seems like I could use the other 2 ports for more internal drives, but I don’t think I’ll go that route. The machine will have 12TB which should be adequate for my needs. I have a separate data warehouse for real storage.

I got the card and hooked it into an open PCI-e slot. I moved some cables around and in a few minutes had the whole thing hooked up. It was quite simple really.

Windows 7 shows the device, but gives an error about drives. I copied the enclosed driver disc to a USB drive and then installed the drivers from there. Safety tip, if you’re disconnecting your optical drives you might want to make a copy of the driver disc before you rip everything apart. Word to the wise! And you can stop laughing now.

The drivers loaded with no problem and after a reboot everything was fine. I did have to go in a change the drive letters around. I want the hard drives to be C, D, E and F, the SSD to remain G with the optical filling in after that. Not a big deal. A quick trip in Computer Manager had that sorted out. Good thing BluRay drives are very easy to rename.

With all that done, I how have the 4 hard drive inside the machine connected directly to the motherboard, the SSD connected to motherboard and the 2 optical drives off the card. So far, everything seems to run find. Discs play as expected and all the drives can be seen.

So, if you need some more expansion this might be the way to go. Again, don’t put SSDs on the damn thing. That makes no sense.

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Here is my drive cluster

He who dies with the most hard drives win. So here it is, my hard drive cluster. This is a series of external drives by Seagate and Western Digital, including my new 4TB drive by Seagate. For one particular machine it’s a total of 11 external drives and 2 internal drives all totaling 23TB of hard drive space. There is a secondary machine with an additional 6GB of space inside of it. I bought 2x3TB Seagate Barracudas for that machine. If you add up all the drives, it’s 30TB.

So why do I need all that space? I think the better question is, why not? All these drives constitute a massive media collection including thousands of photos from my cameras, my entire DVD collection in ISO and MP4 format, all my music in MP3 format, hundreds of gigs worth of cycling videos and tours, (Tour de France, Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice, etc) hundreds of gigs worth of Virtual Machines for VirtualBox (Windows 2008 R2, Exchange 2010, Windows 2003 Web Edition) and a couple of drives used as backups.

Yeah, it’s a lot of hard drive space, but in this crazy mixed up digital world of ours, a few terabytes doesn’t last as long as it used to.

hard-drive-cluster

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Seagate 4 TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive $139 Today Only

For Today Only, Amazon has put the Seagate 4TB External USB Drive on sale for $139. Just to make note, this is the same price as the 3TB drives by both Seagate and Western Digital. If you need more space, and who doesn’t, this is one hell of a deal!

I just grabbed one since this drive is obviously going to go back up in price. And I need more space for my DVD collection. I’m still converting DVDs to MP4 so I can play them all from my machine. Looks like this will be my new media drive.

It’s also on the Prime list so shipping is free.

How can you say no to this?

Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive

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Converting A Physical Hard Drive To A Virtual Hard Disk

At first glance the project seemed easy – clone the physical hard drive inside a server and restore it into VirtualBox so as to use the virtual copy. Turns out, it doesn’t work the way I envisioned it in my head. All the latest software made promises of one-click cloning and on the fly conversion to VHD. But in the end, after three days of trying, I’m scrapping this project. I just can’t seem to get it to work.

I tried using the latest software like O&O DiskImage 6, which listed VHD as one of the output formats. Well, it outputs to VHD alright, but that image doesn’t load. I cloned the drive without incident, but for the life of me I can’t that server to boot in a virtual environment. I created a VHD, I restored to a new VDI, I installed a new OS and tried the restore from there, I used a boot CD and restored from there. Not one of these methods would actually produce a working system. I can lay down the data to a data drive and see all the content with no problem, but no matter which process I use I can’t seem to get a bootable clone of my server. I admit, I’m not the sharpest knife in the things that holds knives, but I can’t for the life of me see what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been trying for three days and have called it quits.

This was supposed to be a simple task, a 3-4 hour job that would transport the server from the physical realm to the virtual one. With the amount of time I’ve wasted I could have installed a new server, installed all the frameworks and rebuilt everything from scratch, which is exactly what I’m going to do. I wanted a clone so I could perform maintenance with minimal downtime. If I had to rebuild the damn thing, I might as well start over and do a full blown upgrade.It’s not what I had in mine, but when all else fails, reinstalled is the best option.

If anyone knows the right process, the right software, the right way to hold your fingers to clone a drive and get it to load in VirtualBox, please let me know. I’m dying to know how it’s done. It’s sort of like a magic trick, I want to know how the cool kids do it.

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