Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Upsizing NAS Storage from 500GB to 1.5TB

I have been planning to upgrade my NAS storage capacity after it crossed the 90% mark a couple of weeks ago. Just over a year ago, I went with a 500GB hard drive (1TB drives were available in the market then but at a premium) expecting it to last me for at least two years. I was pretty amazed to find myself consuming more than 400GB in just over a year.

On further analysis, I found out that most of the space was used up by my family's photo and video albums; It's not really surprising considering that my DSLR captures each frame at ten megapixels and my videos are captured in VGA quality at thirty frames a second and stored as mjpeg.

With that hindsight, I decided to go all out and get the largest drive on the market today for this upgrade. Other than size, the other two requirements I had were low power consumption and noise. This is because my NAS runs 24/7 and it sits in the living room where the constant clicking noises from the drives can get pretty annoying, especially late at night.

Based on today's market, my ideal choice is the Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB. Unfortunately, WD has yet to launch this model and the largest it offers is a 1TB model (WD10EADS). I would have waited for it if its due to launch within the next few months but I couldn't find any news of it online.

My next best choice is the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB model (ST31500341AS). Although the power consumption and noise performance isn't as fantastic as the WD Caviar Green range (reviews here, here and here), its price per GB ratio makes it a hard-to-resist offer; At $0.19/GB for the WD 1TB model vs $0.14/GB for the Seagate 1.5TB model, that is more than 20% cheaper! In addition, its also runs on slightly lower power and alot quieter(!) than my current pair of 7200.10 500GB drives. But do be careful when buying the Seagate drives as there are apparently some buggy production firmwares out there. Based on user feedback, it appears that those with firmware CC1G are ok.

As a compromise, I decided to replace my primary drive first while waiting to see if the WD Caviar Green 1.5TB model will turn up in the next couple of months and at what price point. FYI, I run a JBOD configuration with a full disk to disk backup setup (i.e. HD_a2 -> HD_b2) in my NAS hence it is possible for me to break the upgrade process into two phases. Obviously, I will have to stop backing up some folders due to the smaller backup drive.

The upgrade process was simple enough; I first swapped out the backup drive in the NAS with the new one, booted up the box and let the firmware detect and format the drive accordingly. After that, I copied the entire content in my primary drive to the new drive via ssh using the command cp -a /mnt/HD_a2 /mnt/HD_b2.

Once the copy is complete (be patient! It can take a long time to copy all 400+GB over!), shutdown the box, remove the old primary drive, move the new primary drive from the left drive bay to the right, put in the old backup drive in the left drive bay and reboot. Job done!

A couple of things to note:
  1. The primary drive is in the right drive bay while the backup drive is in the left.
  2. My DNS-323 firmware version is 1.05 and is able to detect the drive correctly. However, the "format new drive" dialog in the web admin console shows the drive having zero bytes. Just ignore that and continue to format the drive as normal. However if you are running a RAID configuration with your pair of 1.5TB drives, you will require the 1.06 firmware.
  3. The formatting process can take quite awhile (more than 30mins!), just be patient and let it complete.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday Joel!

This year, we decided to throw Joel a birthday bash right at home and invited some of his friends (ok... ok... more like his parent's friends with kids...) over to celebrate it with him.

We also decided to try something new... like not buying an off-the-shelf birthday cake but instead, have mommy bake one! It (the cake that is) turned out pretty well for a first attempt I must say... both in terms of aesthetics as well as in the taste department. The kids absolutely loved it! Hm... on second thought, it could be the thick chocolate icing that they liked...

Oh, and finally here's a shot of Joel with the loot he picked up today!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cleanboot finally working on my DNS-323!

If you are running fun_plug on your DNS-323, you may notice that your partitions are no longer unmounted properly at shutdown or reboot. You have this problem if you start seeing this line in your dmesg output:

EXT2-fs warning: mounting unchecked fs, running e2fsck is recommended

The solution to this problem is a utility called cleanboot. Unfortunately, since the first version, it has not worked for me and quite alot of other folks; instead of cleanly unmounting the partitions before shutting down or rebooting, it hangs the box. Bummer...

The good news is that a fellow forumer SilentException persisted and managed to fixed the utility for his box (forum post here). I just tried it and it works on mine too! Hooray! You may want to give it a shot and see if it works for you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jordan and Grandparents

Found these shots of my mom and dad with Jordan while cleaning up my picture library. These were taken during the period when Jordan was being cared for by them on a daily basis. The good thing about having your own folks look after the kids is that you are pretty much assured that they are getting the best attention one can give. Just look at how tightly my dad is hugging him in the photo! Thanks mom and dad for your help!