Jump to content
Covecube Inc.
  • 0
RussellS

Potential New Customer

Question

Hi, I have been a FlexRAID user for many years on two systems, a Windows 10 based media server and a Windows 7 based backup server both about 10Tb in size. I happen to like the functionality of FlexRAID and it has served me well over the years but whenever I have had a problem it seems to take ages to get it sorted and the system never quite does what it is supposed to. Support seems to be quite hit'n'miss and answers from Brahim can sometimes be quite abrupt if you get an answer at all. Also the licensing policy means that whenever I replace a piece of hardware I always have my fingers crossed when I boot it back up again in case it says I need to re-license the software.

So, I am looking around for a replacement that offers as near as possible the same functionality but a little less troublesome. The use I've got out of the two systems over the years means that the FlexRAID licenses have more than payed for themselves so I'm ready to move on.

I have been looking at Drivepool as a possibility but have a couple of questions. Firstly, I seem to have a habit of coming on board with a new piece of software just before it comes to the end of it's life and dies. I think this is more a case of poor timing on my part and not me being the kiss of death but it has happened a few times so I'm always a little wary. I know it's a difficult question to ask but what are the plans for Drivepool going forward. Are there still updates coming through and new versions on the horizon. I only ask because these forums do not appear to be overly vibrant but that may be because the software is so good that it never goes wrong and so no support is needed.

Secondly, Drivepool looks as though it fits the bill with regard to the pooling side of things but does not offer parity protection. I know that Drivepool will work in conjuction with certain RAID type software to offer similar functionality to FlexRAID but I wondered if there are any recommendations on what software to use. Also, how would the two pieces of software work together.

 

Regards

 

Russell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

I chose DrivePool and SnapRAID, as the two work very well together.  The Windows Scheduler runs a nightly "new" SnapRAID Sync (parity calculations on new additions) and then a new item Scrub (re-check parity to ensure it was calculated properly) based on the motto "Trust, but verify".  It also does a weekly scrub on the oldest 8% of the array so that the entire array is re-verified every 3 months.  There's a very flexible and well designed Powershell script available for it, which even emails status/logs after completion.  There's no GUI, but with the easy command line in Powershell and the configurable script, it's a non-issue.

While SnapRAID isn't real-time parity calculations (you schedule it when you want), I have full confidence in it's ability to help replace downed drives, repair corrupted files on damaged drives, etc.  Add to that fact that it is flexible enough to adjust to any changes made to the Pool on the fly (adding drives, removing drives, etc), can be expanded to whatever RAID level you want (all the way up to Hexa - 6 parity drives), can do split-parity drive pairing, is completely free... and it's a solid winner in my book.  It brings the ultimate in flexibility and reliability which is why I chose it.

There's a handy comparison chart from the maker of SnapRAID that helps determine if it's right for you.  I'd recommend it as the parity software to go with in conjunction to DrivePool, which is very active in development.  Alex & Christopher here show no signs of slowing down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Thanks very much, that's good to know.

I did look at SnapRAID but I was put off a little by the fact it is command line driven with no GUI. I don't have an issue with the command line, I use linux as my desktop system, but I always have trouble remembering the command structure and spend half my time googling it. My current systems use the FlexRAID snapshot RAID so I don't require real time parity calculation as the files do not change often so that is not an issue.

It's heartening to know that development is still very active.

Thanks again for your input. I think I will test it out for a while and then make a decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Hi again,

I've been getting my head round the command structure etc for SnapRAID and was just wondering if there was any particular reason why you use DrivePool instead of the 'Pool' feature already built in to SnapRAID.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Quite simply because it's more robust, highly configurable, portable pools, GUI for management, multiple pools & hierarchical pools, on-the-fly expandable/shrinkable pools, configurable duplication, read & write pools, performance enhancements, real-time pool monitoring, integration with Scanner for a bevy of other safety/monitoring features, etc etc.

As a side note:  I've been waiting over a month for a reply to a bug in SnapRAID that critically stops parity generation, and Andrea (the author of SnapRAID) hasn't replied yet.  I even have an un-moderated post over there that's sat for 3+ weeks without being approved.  It's freeware - you get what you pay for.  Here you pay for the software, and you get timely support.

Overall DrivePool is just a much better pooling system than what SnapRAID offers.  That isn't to say basic read-pooling doesn't work in SnapRAID - it does.  But given the choice and comparing the overall feature list, I'd go with Drivepool ten times out of ten.  It's more than worth the cost of the lifetime license.

On the flip-side, I wouldn't use any other software for parity generation and security of data than SnapRAID.  Each program has it's strengths, and Drivepool works amazingly well in conjunction with SnapRAID, each doing what they were originally designed for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
1 hour ago, Jaga said:

Quite simply because it's more robust, highly configurable, portable pools, GUI for management, multiple pools & hierarchical pools, on-the-fly expandable/shrinkable pools, configurable duplication, read & write pools, performance enhancements, real-time pool monitoring, integration with Scanner for a bevy of other safety/monitoring features, etc etc.

That's good enough for me. I have absolutely no issue with paying for software when there is a good reason to have it over a cheaper or open source alternative.

 

1 hour ago, Jaga said:

As a side note:  I've been waiting over a month for a reply to a bug in SnapRAID that critically stops parity generation, and Andrea (the author of SnapRAID) hasn't replied yet. 

So, if this bug stops parity calculation how do you get around it. Is this something I should be worried about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
1 minute ago, RussellS said:

So, if this bug stops parity calculation how do you get around it. Is this something I should be worried about.

Only if you have files that use non-standard English alphabet characters, like é.  I had to either rename the file(s), or move them off the pool for it to finish a sync correctly.  With my ~10TB data set I only had 2 that qualified for re-naming.  It's not a big issue, I just thought I'd point out that getting support on free products is very hit-and-miss sometimes.  :)  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

@RussellS Not sure if this helps you or not, but there are people that have worked on adding a GUI frontend for SnapRAID.

https://github.com/Smurf-IV/Elucidate

And it's actually mentioned on the SnapRAID FAQ  page: https://www.snapraid.it/faq#gui  (they're link takes you to codeplex, which has a link to github)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Unfortunately I tried Elucidate when I first chose SnapRAID, and it appeared to have some issues with the latest config file format.  It blew my old config away when it tried to re-format it, and never showed me the current parity data.  Had to start over and re-create the config from scratch.  :wacko:

So while I'd love to recommend -any- GUI for SnapRAID, that one's problematic from what I saw ~4 months ago.  Andrea should probably remove the link until (if) it's updated again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×