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lotsofdrives

Recommendations for achieving Pool of Mixed NAS and Local Drives

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Greetings,

 

I have two NAS devices, plus a few local hard drives, and I'd like to aggregate them all together in one Pool (ie, so that they show up as a single drive in Windows). From reading through the website and forum it seems like this may be possible, but in my initial experiments with DrivePool and CloudDrive I'm having trouble achieving this. I can create a pool of the local drives in DrivePool, and I can create a drive of a shared folder using CloudDrive. But I'm not seeing that CloudDrive location show up in DrivePool.

 

From my initial looking I think I'd prefer to just use DrivePool if possible, as it seems to have the sorts of features I'm interested in (eg, I know that I want to use the Ordered File Placement plugin).

 

Ideally I'd like to be able to just enter in a UNC path for a shared folder on each NAS in order to add it as a pooled data location in DrivePool. But I could be fine with mapping NAS drives as well, though that doesn't seem to do anything.

 

I'm trying out DrivePool 2.1.1.561 x64 and CloudDrive 1.0.0.854 x64.

 

The background on all of this is that I have CrashPlan installed on this computer, and I want to create a pooled location to point CrashPlan to for storing data that will be backed up TO this computer from another computer (using CrashPlan computer-to-computer backup). CrashPlan only supports selecting a single location for this scenario, but since I have several old NAS's, plus some local hard drives I'd like to pool them all into one drive to use as my CrashPlan repository. For those that see the value in multiple offsite backups you'll appreciate knowing that I also backup to CrashPlan's servers as well. :)

 

Thanks in advance for any help or advice on all this!

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One other thing: I'm noticing that CloudDrive works pretty differently from DrivePool in that it seems to write a bunch of files to the defined space, corresponding to the size of the drive settings in CloudDrive. I imagine there's various benefits to this approach for using CloudDrive with online providers. But for using my NAS drives in DrivePool I would much rather they work the same way local drives do (ie, files are stored in their normal, easily accessible format, just within a hidden folder).

 

I know there's all sorts of caveats to getting network drives to act/appear like a local drive -- what are the particular reasons for DrivePool not supporting adding network drives directly (ie, as opposed to having to use CloudDrive and all that entails)? And is there (or could there be added) an option in CloudDrive to store the files in their native formats, instead of obfuscated? If there's significant advantage to CloudDrive's functionality (eg, the cache drive) for NAS / network drives I'm open to using that (I don't mind paying for the additional software), but it would be really helpful if the files could be stored in their native formats and not within obfuscated containers.

 

I'd like to go with DrivePool, as my impressions are very positive from everything I've read online (DrivePool seems to have a very happy user base!). :)  But I have discovered that DriveBender already supports adding network drives via UNC path, so I may end up needing to go that route in order to achieve my goals (particularly since I prefer that files be stored natively and not in containers). I'd be interested in people's thoughts, opinions, etc. on the pros/cons of DrivePool vs DriveBender, particularly with regards to NAS / network drive support.

 

Thanks!

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Sorry for the delay here.

 

StableBit DrivePool and StableBit CloudDrive are definitely very, very different products.  Specifically, StableBit DrivePool is a file based solution (storing the files on normal NTFS drives) while StableBit CloudDrive is a block based solution (storing blocks of "raw" disk data on the provider). 

 

That said, you can absolutely do this. 

 

If you're having issues with the CloudDrive disks showing up in the list for DrivePool, make sure that the disks are mounted and showing up in "This PC"/"My Computer", etc. 

 

And if that's still having issues, then please install this beta: 

http://dl.covecube.com/DrivePoolWindows/beta/download/StableBit.DrivePool_2.2.0.747_x64_BETA.exe

 

 

 

As for not supporting network drives/shares directly from StableBit DrivePool, there are a number of reasons for this.

The first is that that we're unable to determine physical location/layout of the drives. This is important, but it does no good to put files on multiple different shares, if they're located on the same physical drive on the remote system... as both copies would be lost. 

 

Additionally, where the driver is located.  StableBit DrivePool is a kernel driver, whereas Drive Bender is a user mode driver. This adds different requirements, profiles, etc.   IIRC, "in the kernel" is much more sensitive to IO delays and the like. Allowing network shares here would potentially cause all sorts of problems, and introduce stability issues. (as network connections can be finicky or take a long time 

Drive Bender gets away with this, because it's a user mode driver, and treated like an application, rather than a device. 

 

And it only gets more complicated from here. And I'm not even dealing with how we would access the shares in the kernel... 

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lotsofdrives, Depending on your NAS devices, you could potentially use them as iSCSI targets.  Present the iSCSI volumes to your windows box that has the "local" drives in it.  Then pool them there.  The caveat is that being remote iSCSI volumes, DrivePool and its relative software products won't be able to read any hardware data from the disks as they are not local disks.

 

I am doing something similar and using iSCSI to present disks to other machines where I can pool them there.

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Additionally, where the driver is located.  StableBit DrivePool is a kernel driver, whereas Drive Bender is a user mode driver. This adds different requirements, profiles, etc.   IIRC, "in the kernel" is much more sensitive to IO delays and the like. Allowing network shares here would potentially cause all sorts of problems, and introduce stability issues. (as network connections can be finicky or take a long time 

Drive Bender gets away with this, because it's a user mode driver, and treated like an application, rather than a device. 

 

And it only gets more complicated from here. And I'm not even dealing with how we would access the shares in the kernel... 

Thanks much for all of those details, and especially regarding the driver differences. Very helpful! :) That helps a lot in my understanding why the differences (particularly regarding network share support).

 

Do you, or others, happen to know what FlexRAID uses for their Storage Pooling (in comparison to the above)? At this point, even though I like StableBit as a company, I'm probably going to go with either Drive Bender or FlexRAID (just their Pooling feature--not the RAID stuff), as I'm not keen on the block-based approach of CloudDrive for my NAS-focused purposes (though if I was wanting something for online providers I can definitely see the benefits of that method).

 

lotsofdrives, Depending on your NAS devices, you could potentially use them as iSCSI targets.  Present the iSCSI volumes to your windows box that has the "local" drives in it.  Then pool them there. 

Thanks, yeah -- I've considered that. One of my NAS's is too old and slow to handle iSCSI (I suspect). And I'm also not keen on everything being being behind another layer in that way. I like the file-based approach of DrivePool, Drive Bender and FlexRAID and being able to access the files more easily if I needed to for some reason.

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iSCSI is a great solution. :)

 

 

@lotsofdrives: 

I'm not really sure. It's been a while since I've tested it out.  However, IIRC, they use a bunch of reparse points on an existing disk to accomplish the pooling. Which is messy if not setup correctly. 

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iSCSI is a great solution. :)

 

 

@lotsofdrives: 

I'm not really sure. It's been a while since I've tested it out.  However, IIRC, they use a bunch of reparse points on an existing disk to accomplish the pooling. Which is messy if not setup correctly. 

Thanks for all that. I'm trying out FlexRAID, but I've not yet got it actually working (ie, I've set it up, but I keep running into weird errors). Not sure if I'm willing to keep messing with it. Leaning towards just going with Drive Bender at this point (because of the network drive support). But if in the future StableBit ever develops UNC (or even Mapped) Network Drive support for DrivePool (other than the block-based CloudDrive route) I'd be very interested to have a look (I realize though that is pretty unlikely, because of the difference in how DrivePool works vs Drive Bender).

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Well, if the network drive support is a must, then Drive Bender is probably going to be the best option for you then.

 

As for FlexRAID, IIRC, it has a lot of weird issues ... and less than good support. 

 

 

And sorry, no, it's not likely that we'd add SMB/network share support to DrivePool any time soon. 

 

(though, if your NAS supports iSCSI, well, DrivePool supports iSCSI disks being added to the pool)

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Thanks for your thoughts/recommendations regarding Drive Bender vs FlexRAID.

 

And also for the continued iSCSI mentions. I've mulled over the iSCSI route a bit, but one of my NAS' is super-old and doesn't have that built in. It's one of the original Infrant ReadyNAS', the NV (not the +, mind you, which came a little later), from before Netgear bought them. There's a user-made plugin (for Sparc devices, which this is) for iSCSI that might work, but there's some risk it would bork my device and I'd have to factory reset (which would be a pain and a time-sink). I also don't know if the performance would be workable or if I'd be asking too much of this ancient thing.

 

However, it has occurred to me that if I'm entertaining iSCSI I might as well take another look at using CloudDrive for NAS drive support, since they both have similar traits that I don't like (eg, I interpret that with iSCSI I can only access the stored data if the iSCSI target is mounted, similar to how the CloudDrive data is stored in block format only accessible via CloudDrive).

 

Is there any way to turn off Caching for CloudDrive for a network drive? Because of what I'll be storing (ie, CrashPlan archives) I'm wary of the Cache functionality -- it seems better to me that the files be directly interacted with.

 

Also, any thoughts on pros/cons of iSCSI (if I can even get it to work for my oldest device) vs CloudDrive for a DrivePool of primarily NAS devices?

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Also, I just tried the DrivePool beta you linked to (and rebooted), and I still don't see the CloudDrive drive in DrivePool (though the drive is visible in Windows Explorer), so I can't yet add it to the pool.

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