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Thread: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

  1. #1
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    Question I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    I hope this is an appropriate place to ask this question. It doesn't seem to fit any of the technical help forums, but the General Chit-Chat forum says don't post help questions.

    My laptop is running on fumes. The battery is failing, and the Linux root partition has already gone south. I need a new computer.

    I am a geek in every sense of the word except one: actually having geek skills. I have a background in computer programming, but I can't keep up with modern software, and as for hardware, I barely know a wrench from a screwdriver. Friends, knowing my computer background, have asked me for recommendations, but I frankly have never had a clue. In my last job, I was asked to design a disaster recovery plan, and slammed head-on into the Peter Principle. Since then, the world of technology has rapidly passed me by. I need help.

    My brother is not a trained computer professional, but he uses them extensively for business. In terms of recommending a computer setup, he's way ahead of me. Yet, I have to take his recommendations with a grain of salt. OK, maybe a bagful.

    My brother can't understand why I settle for an external backup disk. He says, RAID, RAID, RAID, all the way. He doesn't lose a keystroke after an equipment failure, and he sees no use for external backups. So I'm looking into RAID, specifically for how it can work with a dual-boot Windows/Linux system. What I've read for Linux is most emphatically that RAID must not be used as a primary backup system. I carried my concerns to my brother, and he's thought of all that. Except that his solutions are all Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft.

    My brother is giving me the impression that he thinks external backups are a stupid idea. I don't feel comfortable without an external backup; however, if I do have an external backup, I don't see why I would need a RAID. Sure, without RAID, I can lose a few hours or a few days of work, but for my current (non-professional) needs, would that justify the extra expense of a RAID?

    For the past decade or so, I have only used laptops at home. Power blackouts are frequent in my community, and laptops seemed the ideal way to get around that. However, my brother says that with my heavy computer usage, I should have a desktop system, and just buy a cheap laptop for traveling. Does this sound like a reasonable arrangement? I did have a battery backup, but it didn't take long for it to fail in my environment. Should I just resign myself to buying a new battery backup every couple of years?

    The overarching message that I get from my brother is that I'm doing it wrong. Whether it be gardening, cooking, stargazing, or choosing a computer operating system that is not Microsoft, I'm doing it wrong. Oh, and did I mention that he's a die-hard Microsoft Windows apologist?

    I'm waiting for a phone call from a technician at the computer store to discuss my options. I really need other opinions before I make a decision!
    CPU: Dell Inspiron 17R (Intel Core i7, 64 bits)
    OS: dual boot Windows 7 Home Premium (broken) and openSUSE Leap 15.0
    Desktop: KDE

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    Hi
    And if you have multiple disk failures, or a controller driving the RAID fail, computer blows up, or stolen......backup, backup backup and keep those backups off site if you can....even the glovebox of your vehicle is an alternative in a pinch.

    The other alternative is a small single drive NAS for your data (but again that would need backing up )?

    Is speed an issue, use an SSD instead of a rotating device...
    Cheers Malcolm °¿° SUSE Knowledge Partner (Linux Counter #276890)
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    malcolmlewis wrote:

    >
    > Hi
    > And if you have multiple disk failures, or a controller driving the
    > RAID fail, computer blows up, or stolen......backup, backup backup and
    > keep those backups off site if you can....even the glovebox of your
    > vehicle is an alternative in a pinch.
    >
    > The other alternative is a small single drive NAS for your data (but
    > again that would need backing up )?
    >
    > Is speed an issue, use an SSD instead of a rotating device...
    >
    >

    I agree with your recommendation. I have seen many RAID arrays have
    multiple disc failures at the same time. in those instants external
    backup was the only solution. Raid is fine but please back it up! We
    used mirror for /root and RAID five for everything else.

    As for a UPS. I have usp backup on all my systems at home and when I was
    working on them. My UPS tend to last around 10 years before they need
    replacement. Batteries last 3-4 years, and then I replace them.
    --
    openSUSE 12.2(Linux 3.4.11-2.16-desktop x86_64)|
    KDE 4.9.5 "release 3"|Intel core2duo 2.5 MHZ,|8GB DDR3|GeForce
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  4. #4

    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    CousinRicky wrote:
    > I hope this is an appropriate place to ask this question.


    It's fair enough. The Hardware forum would be an alternative.

    > My brother can't understand why I settle for an external backup disk.
    > He says, RAID, RAID, RAID, all the way. He doesn't lose a keystroke
    > after an equipment failure, and he sees no use for external backups.


    Go to your hardware store and ask them to point out the sledgehammers.
    Buy one and use it on your brother's computer. Then ask him how he'll
    cope without a backup? Or get one of the neighbourhood kids to steal his
    computer. Or buy some lighter fluid, tip it over his computer and drop a
    lighted match on it. Or if he uses it for business, ask him what happens
    if a plane crashes on the building.

    > however, if I do have an external backup, I don't see why I would need a
    > RAID. Sure, without RAID, I can lose a few hours or a few days of work,
    > but for my current (non-professional) needs, would that justify the
    > extra expense of a RAID?


    Only you can decide, but personally I can't justify RAID for my home system.

    > For the past decade or so, I have only used laptops at home. Power
    > blackouts are frequent in my community, and laptops seemed the ideal way
    > to get around that. However, my brother says that with my heavy computer
    > usage, I should have a desktop system, and just buy a cheap laptop for
    > traveling. Does this sound like a reasonable arrangement?


    It depends on what your usage is. If you can find a laptop that copes
    with your 'heavy usage' and that you find pleasant to use, what's wrong
    with that? OTOH, having two systems may actually work out cheaper and
    certainly provides some backup. Neither option is unreasonable, so
    again, only you can decide.

    HTH, Dave

  5. #5
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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    Simply RAID is NOT a backup system!!!

    RAID is made for uptime and/or speed in a server environment depending on level. As noted above your data is not protected as such in many many real life cases.

    There are various levels of RAID and the differ greatly

    RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    For more info

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    On 2013-01-23 17:16, CousinRicky wrote:

    > My brother can't understand why I settle for an external backup disk.
    > He says, RAID, RAID, RAID, all the way. He doesn't lose a keystroke
    > after an equipment failure, and he sees no use for external backups.


    Well, he is wrong and you are right :-)

    If you have two disk, choose backups and not raid.
    If you have three disks, use two for raid and the third for backup.

    Sample scenario: there is a crash and some files are lost. Or you delete
    a file by mistake. Or software goes south and corrupts a partition. In
    all those cases, all raid sides are destroyed equally, but not the backup.

    > So
    > I'm looking into RAID, specifically for how it can work with a dual-boot
    > Windows/Linux system.


    In that case you'd better seek real hardware raid, not common
    motherboard raid.




    > For the past decade or so, I have only used laptops at home. Power
    > blackouts are frequent in my community, and laptops seemed the ideal way
    > to get around that. However, my brother says that with my heavy computer
    > usage, I should have a desktop system, and just buy a cheap laptop for
    > traveling. Does this sound like a reasonable arrangement? I did have a
    > battery backup, but it didn't take long for it to fail in my
    > environment. Should I just resign myself to buying a new battery backup
    > every couple of years?


    You could have a desktop with an UPS. Laptops are more fragile: I lost
    my laptop hard disk after about 3500 hours of use. My desktop disks have
    10000 hours and in good health.

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 11.4, with Evergreen, x86_64 "Celadon" (Minas Tirith))

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    It occurred to me that what I've been doing for the past decade or so has worked for me, so I just got another laptop, no RAID, just backups to external HD and USB SSD as before.

    It's a screamer. Dell Inspiron with 2.1 GHz quad Intel Core i7, 8 GB ram, at a great price.
    CPU: Dell Inspiron 17R (Intel Core i7, 64 bits)
    OS: dual boot Windows 7 Home Premium (broken) and openSUSE Leap 15.0
    Desktop: KDE

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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    Quote Originally Posted by CousinRicky View Post
    It occurred to me that what I've been doing for the past decade or so has worked for me, so I just got another laptop, no RAID, just backups to external HD and USB SSD as before.

    It's a screamer. Dell Inspiron with 2.1 GHz quad Intel Core i7, 8 GB ram, at a great price.
    Reads to be a great pc.

    One advantage of external backups, is if one has 2 external hard drives, one can keep one 'on site' and one 'off site' at some other secure location. Then alternate in one's backups such that the offsite / onsite backups are at most one backup out of date. Hence if there is a fire/theft/flood/hurricane or other disaster, the likelihood is increased that one still has their data on one of the two backups.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I need a new computer: RAID and other questions

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    2 external hard drives, one can keep one 'on site' and one 'off site' at some other secure location. Then alternate in one's backups such that the offsite / onsite backups are at most one backup out of date.
    I've done just that for many years, however I have one file that I update daily and which represents many hundreds of hours of my time to reproduce. That one is backed up to a thumb drive every time I leave my desk and it goes in my pocket every time I leave the building. Overkill? Of course it is. But, it gives me peace of mind, a commodity that's more precious than gold.
    MS user 1988-2008, Linux user 1998-present, openSUSE user since 2004
    (The first computer I used had a punch card reader)

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