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The Mac is Back! HurRAID! HurRAID!

Well, I got a reply from the DiskWarrior [1] folks I mentioned on Saturday [2] and it turns out you must run it while logged in as an administrative user, simply elevating privileges at the usual prompt is not enough (a useful warning or something more descriptive would seem more in line for, you know, a Mac program… :-) Sure enough, that did it. Turns out there were some new OS X updates needed, so I started those while DiskWarrior was scanning the array. When I started the program, it actually recognized the array, told me that it was ready to scan and what file system it was, that it wasn’t on the desktop, all the nice details that gave me what I hoped was not false hope. I clicked Rebuild and let it run for about 45 minutes. It said it could do the repair but it couldn’t write the repaired directory structure to the disk and that I should run the bootable CD version of DiskWarrior (the disc is in the mail). The friend that recommended DiskWarrior suggested that I contact Alsoft and see about downloading an ISO, which I was about to do, but I thought, I have one more trick up my sleeve!

So I restarted the computer, which by that time was finished running software updates and demanding as much anyway. Logged in, and didn’t do anything else other than run DiskWarrior this time. Same process, but this time after it finished the option to Replace the repaired directory structure was available! Click, wait ten-or-so minutes. Ta-da! It works! Nothing like the good ‘ole “reboot” Windows trick to get a Mac fixed!

I grabbed some nice screenshots of DiskWarrior in action (thanks to some quick Googling to determine how to use the built-in screen shot capture feature I knew existed on the Mac — Command+Shift+4, Spacebar, click on window to capture), so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek, in case you want to get your geek on vicariously without going through the near-data-loss experience yourself!

DiskWarrior at the main screen, ready to scan [3] DiskWarrior Scanning Progress [4] DiskWarrior Results Report [5]

Thanks to the commenters from my last post [2] with suggestions, they were helpful to my sanity over the weekend since I knew I had some good alternate options if DiskWarrior failed! I could find plenty of options on my own, but it’s difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff without spending a lot of money trying various things, so the recommendations are very much appreciated.

Who needs backup?

Yep, we do! I mentioned in my last post that this server wasn’t originally intended for critical data storage(just temporary video where the RAID 5 redundancy was plenty of backup), but over time with staff turnover and other random happenings, it has sort of become much more critical. Several years ago, backing up the 1.6TB of data on this server was cost-prohibitive. Now? 1TB hard drives are $300 each [6], and even nice things like the Drobo [7] are $500, which will hold up to 4 of those drives and give 2.7TB of usable data storage for right at about $1700. Or, since the array is 1.5TB, put three 1TB drives in for $1400 and get 1.8TB usable space, which is still 0.2TB ahead of our needs for a mirrored backup.

Is this the best backup solution? I know there are less expensive NAS enclosures out there, some possibly directly-networkable and not just StoreVault [8] for $3k with 1TB, or expanding that a bit and put all our main storage there (including several virtual server hard drives) , and using the existing arrays we have for backups? Lots of questions to answer, and this almost-data-loss is a useful catalyst to demonstrate the need to spend money for backups. And by “useful catalyst” I mean, I have been asked to make sure this can’t happen again :-)

I know similar things have been a hot topic of discussion on the Church IT Podcast [9] and in other similar forums lately, but if anyone has specific information or suggestions, you can make a blogger happy with the comments form :-D Oh yeah, and sorry about that corny title. I couldn’t resist. It’s so much fun to make my wife roll her eyes when I make weird word plays like “HurRAID!” I imagine most of you rolled yours right along with her…

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "The Mac is Back! HurRAID! HurRAID!"

#1 Comment By Barry Buchanan On November 20, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

David, great post. However I must say Ihope you have some sort of off-site solution as well, either a tape backup or an off-site server. Truthfully if you don’t have that all the other drives give you is redundancy. Otherwise a fire or water damage could detroy everything and be lost forever. Or what if you can’t get to the data physically? I see so many people spend so much time implementing drive solutions and forget about “real” disators. I’m sure you must be backing up to tape and then offsite, your too smart to do any less, just think it is a point worth making. Yes, the title was corny, so in kind check my corny cartoon I did a while back. [10] Roll your eyes now everyone. :)

#2 Comment By David Szpunar On November 20, 2007 @ 5:33 pm

Hi Barry, great comment! Right now, we are backing up some data offsite, and some not. Our Exchange server and our Shelby database is backed up offsite via [11] daily, and Shelby is also backed up to two rotating external hard drives once each week on different days to prevent both backups being onsite at the same time.

However, our 500GB or so of user data is being mirrored to a second server, but not backed up off site currently. This is due to both cost (especially in the past), complexity, and a lot of other priorities taking, well, priority. However, with hard drive prices falling like rocks while the capacities increase, I believe we will very soon implement some new backups using something along these lines, although using [12] or even [13] is attractive but at the same time, expensive. It does get the data way, way offsite compared to taking a disk home, but fast restores become more difficult because it has to be transported over the network or out-of-state on some physical media. Also, initial backup times for Mozy at least are high, especially for anything more than several hundred megabytes!

So the crown jewels are safe, and everything else is somewhat safe but needs to get safer. I just need to find the best and most cost-effective way of doing that.

Nice cartoon by the way, maybe I’ll pass that along with whatever my backup proposal ends up being :-)

#3 Comment By Justin Moore On November 20, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

I’ve really been eyeballing the StoreVault S500. I want to like the S300, but it’s quirky form-factor and eight-drive limit kinda push me away. I wish they would announce the ability to do some EqualLogic-esque stuff, such as being able to intermix multiple StoreVaults to create a one large, centrally managed storage pool. Doesn’t cost anything to dream though…