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 Post subject: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:38 pm 
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I have about 400 DVDs and that is really a lot of space and a lot of time spent searching for a particular item and then putting them in the PC. Since now we have media players which connect to PC(mine is always on anyway) this also eliminates the need for DVD players.

Basically all of that would fit onto a single 2TB HDD, that's like 50 times less space, hassle and time wasted.

But I'm really worried if a HDD fails, obviously DVDs(they are all VERBATIM) can't fail.

So, is there a special type of robust HDD that can last for a decade and has some kind of warning system if it starts to fail, so the data can be safely transferred to a new HDD?

Is this at all a reliable approach to storage?


Last edited by Mettyx on Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:34 pm 
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First off, why would you say DVDs can't fail? DVDs, even pressed ones, certainly can and do fail. Especially if they are handled regularly and not simply stored as an archive. In my experience burned DVDs are far less reliable than hard drives, at least on an individual level. The flip side is that a failed hard drive will likely loose far more data than a DVD.

There are hard drives that are rated higher, such as those for "enterprise" or "RAID" use, but in my experience they are not any more or less reliable. There are some very high end drives meant for SAN use that have a small amount of extra error correction, but those are way out of consideration for any home user.

The reliable approach to storage is to have good backups. No matter how "good" a drive you get, there is always a chance it will fail. I have "consumer" hard drives that are over 20 years old that still work fine. I've had new "enterprise" class drives die in less than a week.

A simple starting point is to buy two hard drives and use one to back up the other. Depending on your budget you can look at RAID and multiple backups. However, don't fall into the trap of using RAID as a backup. Get a backup in place first, then go RAID if your budget allows. Another possibility if you have a decent internet connection is to use a cloud backup service.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:42 pm 
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I was afraid someone would say something like that.

So basically it is all random and to reduce the randomness get an extra HDD which is used exclusively as backup, not intermittent use...

You think SSD or something new will change this?
Also which brand is the most reliable, Western Digital, Samsung, Hitachi, Seagate..?


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:47 pm 
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Mettyx wrote:
So, is there a special type of robust HDD that can last for a decade and has some kind of warning system if it starts to fail, so the data can be safely transferred to a new HDD?


Btw, I'm surprised something like this doesn't already exist..


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Mettyx wrote:
I was afraid someone would say something like that.

So basically it is all random and to reduce the randomness get an extra HDD which is used exclusively as backup, not intermittent use...

You think SSD or something new will change this?
Also which brand is the most reliable, Western Digital, Samsung, Hitachi, Seagate..?


Backup is not simply because of hardware failure. Even if you had an "invincible" drive there are many thing that could still kill your data. Accidental deletion, OS failure, viruses, computer got stolen, etc. My daughter at two years old once pulled pulled the plug while one of my servers was doing a disk check. Boom, data gone other than backups, no hardware failure.

I've been a system administrator for nearly 20 years and lost data due to human error far outweighs hardware failure. Even if drives never died I would still be just a vigilant at backing up.

I think SSDs will improve hardware reliability in the long run. I've had good luck with them, but there are of course lots of horror stories too. They do have a big downside in that they can truly erase data in normal operation. TRIM can erase data permanently right away, while a mechanical drive keeps data unless it is explicitly overwritten.

All manufactures have good and bad drives. None is really better than the other, now that Maxtor is long gone (they were bad). If you want to be really safe buy a different brand of drive for your backups. My main array is currently Seagates with a primary backup on WD drives.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:20 pm 
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Mettyx wrote:
Btw, I'm surprised something like this doesn't already exist..

All hard drives are like this actually... only the odds of the drive lasting 10 years (what would be the point anyway?) aren't that good and the standard warning system (called SMART) is unreliable. I guess it's worth using but you should plan as if you were going to get failures without warning.

Using "an extra HDD" as you put it is actually unsafe.
Using only hard drives, what I'd call robust would be at least three copies on at least three different drives, at least two of which are normally disconnected from a computer (or at least in a powered down computer). The point being that you want to have at least one copy safely powered down at all times and this requires at least two backup copies.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:23 pm 
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Mettyx wrote:
Btw, I'm surprised something like this doesn't already exist..


The reason is it wouldn't be cost effective. As I said before, some SAN drives have a bit of extra error correction. They aren't significantly more reliable. They do however cost way more than normal drives, partially because of lower volume and partially just because they can.

For example, I could buy a single EMC rated 500 GB drive for $500, or two normal 500 GB drives for $160 for both. The chance that both normal drives would fail is significantly less than the EMC drive, even if the EMC drive is slightly more reliable than one normal drive.

Modern hard drives already have massive amounts of error correction. Even increasing the error correction wouldn't help significantly as head, motor or electronics failure can take out the whole drive.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:32 pm 
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HFat wrote:
Using only hard drives, what I'd call robust would be at least three copies on at least three different drives, at least two of which are normally disconnected from a computer (or at least in a powered down computer). The point being that you want to have at least one copy safely powered down at all times and this requires at least two backup copies.


HFat as usual is quite correct. More copies with at least one offline is even more reliable. My explanation for backups was quite simple and assuming some significant budget restraints. It may be overkill for some, but other than data I don't care about loosing I have at least 5 copies, including offline and offsite. Just DVDs may be a bit different, but a good portion of my personal data simply cannot be replaced (photos, etc).

If you can only afford two drives have the backup offline unless you are updating it.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:52 pm 
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You're too kind washu.
I distinctly remember being wrong about the underclocking capability of (most) Sandy Bridge desktop boards. ;-)

Oh yeah, I forgot this:
Mettyx wrote:
Since now we have media players which connect to PC

Lots of TVs already have this capability built in now.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:42 pm 
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HFat wrote:
drive lasting 10 years (what would be the point anyway?)


Zombie apocalypse and things of that nature? :o

But seriously it is always nice not having a throwaway technology.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:53 am 
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It's even better to have technology you want to throw away because the new stuff is so much better.

You don't have to buy new by the way. I've bought most of my backup drives on the used market.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:23 am 
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Mettyx wrote:

But seriously it is always nice not having a throwaway technology.


How useful would a drive from 10 years ago be, even if it still worked perfectly? That would be a 40 GB drive, maybe an 80 if you were lucky. That's a whole 5 DVD rips, or maybe 10 if they are small. Not really useful.

Will we have the same issue in 2022? No one can say for sure, but probably. How many 4K videos (or greater) will a 2 TB drive hold? Probably not many. Hard drives keep getting bigger and we keep finding ways to fill them.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:04 pm 
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Just one more question about media players.

All DVD movies have a structure with root folder containing folder "VIDEO_TS" and within that folder are .vob files.
So for example, if I on my HDD create a folder "DVDs" and within that folder folders named after the titles of the movies, would the media player be able to list(and make them instantly playable of course) all the movies as soon as I enter "DVDs" folder or would I have to go into ...\DVDs\DVDtitle\VIDEO_TS\specific_vobfile.vob to actually initiate the play of any movie?


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:25 pm 
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With the expection of DVD players obviously, all the devices I've used work better with single-file DVD rips. Rips also save you capacity and electricity. By "device" I do not mean "media player" specifically (I've never used one and probably never will).
You could rip your own drives or simply download rips from the Internet. The legality of downloading content you've got a license for from random strangers varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But as far as reasonably popular movies are concerned, it's certainly easier than ripping your own discs.
If you really want to dump your DVDs' content on a drive, the usability will depend on the device. No doubt some can handle that just fine. All I can tell you is that some devices work better with rips.

Also be aware that your DVDs might have copy protection, requiring cracking. Again, the legality depends on the jurisdiction. And again, people routinely do it regardless of the legality.


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:22 pm 
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HFat wrote:
With the expection of DVD players obviously, all the devices I've used work better with single-file DVD rips.


You mean avi files which have significantly reduced quality, I wouldn't like to do that.
Of course you can easily remove any protection with this, as I recall, haven't used it for a couple of years now.

So what you are saying is that media players generally don't recognize such folder arrangement?


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 Post subject: Re: Robust storage solution/media center?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Worse than devices not recognizing the raw DVD files as a DVD and forcing you to navigate manually, you sometimes actually miss features (like the file plays but you can't skip ahead). Some devs apparently expect customers will use rips and don't bother to support raw DVD files properly.
But I don't want to make any general statements, especially about a class of devices I have no interest in. I'm only talking about the devices I've used.

There are other containers but it hardly matters if you create or download AVI files or not because there's no such thing as "AVI quality". You choose the quality when you rip. It can be very good if you want, easily better than DVD if you rip a better source or download a rip made from a better source (DVDs aren't all that great if you've got a 1080p display).
Compression software is getting better all the time and you can make surprisingly small files with excellent subjective quality (compared to a DVD).


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