One question we get with mirroring products such as the 2 bay High-Rely, the FirstRAID, or the Netswap Plus is whether they can be used for both storage and backup. The answer is a qualified “Yes”. The idea is one drive or volume can be used as “primary storage” and then the mirrored drive is removed for offsite protection. We have customers that use this arrangement successfully for “softwareless backup” because the mirroring replaces the need for conventional backup software and scheduled jobs. Tom Hoops talks more about Softwareless Backup here
Although our products are designed and intended to be used as backup devices, if the customer has a small workgroup (say less than 10 users) that primarily uses server storage for files that are accessed by only a few users this configuration will work. Examples of typical single user files include documents, spreadsheets, drawings, videos, and the like.
The order of server storage from Fast to Slow would be:
- Fast SSD drives
- 15,000 RPM SAS drives connected to server bus controller
- 10,000 RPM SAS drives connected to server bus controller
- iSATA or eSATA external 7200 RPM SATA or USB 3.0 drives
- NAS or Network connected storage via Gigabit Ethernet (Note: the speed will be highly variable and depends on factors such as CPU speed of NAS, protocol and drive format used, etc.)
- USB 2.0 connected devices
As you can see, #4 and 5 represent the position of High-Rely DAS and NAS products. While they are slower than server storage, they can be considerably less expensive and have higher capacities. You should use #1-3 for Microsoft Exchange or heavily used databases but you can “mix and match” your storage and save money by buying smaller high speed RAID drives for your server, and using High-Rely products for larger, more static, and less mission critical storage.
Mirroring products can be used as primary server storage, but are not recommended for multi-user database applications. Heavily used database apps such as Exchange and Accounting applications often get sluggish with multiple users. For these application you will get better performance and manageability when using higher speed drives directly connected to hardware controllers. Choose Solid State Disk (SSD) or higher RPM hard drives (10,000 or 15,000) and multiple drives (RAID5 or RAID6) for multi-user databases. You can use our Tandem, FirstRAID or one of our NAS mirroring products if speed is not critical but size and effortless backup without the need for software is.
Just make sure to regularly swap the mirror drive and take it off-site to maintain copies of critical data.