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Old July 10, 2018, 05:24 PM
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Default Need software raid recommendations please

So I have 2 8tb Seagate Expansion external drives and a 3tb ext as well. I was hoping there was an easy way to create a raid with parity as I know some software can achieve even with different sized drives, I'm just not sure which ones to consider. It will be running on an older laptop but has decent specs (MSI Gaming laptop with 250gb M2 boot drive and a 1tb standard 2.5" drive, 16gb ram and a i7 6700HQ with 8 cores) but also runs my Plex server. I currently have a NAS but can't afford to replace all 5 drives and these 8tb externals were only $200 each. I wish you could just remove then from their enclosure and put them in my NAS but from what Ive see over the years is that you can't do that anymore.

So my question is how do I create a raid with parity with the 2 8tb drives and a single 3tb drive without the smaller drive affecting the size of the whole raid.

I'm running Windows 10 right now and would rather not have to run a VM or dual booting if I don't have to as that's just more crap to run in the background which I like to avoid if possible. It seems like all software raid solutions do have their own os so I understand if it can't be done. I'd prefer a VM solution over dual booting though.

This is just going to act as my media server so it doesn't have to be super fancy and have tons of options, just raid with parity (in one way or another) and able to accept a smaller 3rd drive without it causing all my drives to show up as 3tb like most raid boxes will do. If absolutely necessary I might be able to purchase a 3rd 8tb drive but would rather not as I have a very tight budget.

Hope I'm not asking too much but I'm sure there is a solution that will work. Just haven't had much luck finding anything so far and I know you guys know everything :)

Thanks
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Old July 11, 2018, 03:24 PM
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RAID1 has parity, why do you really want to mix in the 3TB drive? It will downgrade everything to 3TB on each drive, there is no way around it.
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:41 PM
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Youre basically asking to jimmy rig a bunch of half assed solutions together and just asking for trouble. Software raids are highly susceptible to data loss.

Sell the 3TB, maybe both the 8s, use the money from the 3rd 8TB you're thinking of buying and buy a cheap two bay hardware solution with real HDDs
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Old July 11, 2018, 10:00 PM
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Can't be done unless you are willing to lose an 8TB drive for the parity. And using externals in any sort of RAID is an absolute bad idea. Accidently unplug a drive and it would start rebuilding.
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Old July 13, 2018, 12:45 AM
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Thanks, I thought there were software raid solutions (unraid, freenas etc) which allowed for different sized drives but I guess that doesn't include parity. Only reason I was thinking of doing it this way was to have some kind of backup in case a drive failed.

I do have a decent 5 bay NAS but that would cost me about $1000 even just going to 3tb or 4tb drives. Hence the reason I was hoping there was some kind of solution out there for what I have on hand since I was going to give away the NAS to a friend who could really use it and can't afford one. The 8tb externals are only $200 but even a 4tb drive costs about the same which I don't understand but that's just the way it is these days.

Thanks for all your answers. Guess I'll just have to run the 8tb's on their own or use Windows Spaces (to see what that can do and if it's even worthwhile.)

Cheers.
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Old July 13, 2018, 05:23 AM
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If you are looking for a purely software based raid, with some possible redundancy (nothing as good as RAID), you could check out Drive Bender. I've been using it for years and haven't really had many issues with it. It is similar to Windows Space but I find it's far superior (i.e. you can add/remove a drive without losing content on the raid or the drive, hell you can even directly access drives if you want to). I use it so that my computers and Kodi/Emby see one storage drive rather than having to navigate the 4 or 5 that I have. As it is 95% just for media I don't care for real/true redundancy so this software has always worked for me.
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Old July 13, 2018, 08:52 AM
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Are you sure you cannot remove the HDD"s from their enclosures?
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Old July 13, 2018, 02:51 PM
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The externals cost less because they usually come with shorter warranties than the internal version of the drive being sued. Ive pulled many an external apart to use the 3.5" drive inside a system. Do it carefully, keep the external enclosure... and if the drive dies while in warranty... RMA it after reinstalling inside its chassis.

As for mixing and matching different sizes. Yeah drive bender is probably the best idea IF you really... really need to mix and match dif sized drives AND need to do so under windows OS.
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Old July 14, 2018, 06:25 PM
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I used to pull drives out of externals all the time myself but in the last year or two (maybe more) I've found that they don't actually have a usb connection but is connected to a mainboard which has the usb connection (mostly WD drives). I don't know if that's on all drives now but it's been like that for the last few 2.5" drives I've tried and a couple 3.5" drives so I stopped doing it figuring everyone is doing that so people can't just pull the hd out of the case and use it as a normal hd. Maybe I'll do some checking online to see if that's the case for the Seagate Expansion externals. Would be nice if they were normal HD's then I could just save up for a few more drives and use them in my nas although I don't know how long they'd last in that environment. My WD Black 2tb drives have lasted 5 years + now with no signs of slowing down.

I'll definitely check into Drive Bender to see if it fits my needs. Sounds like a perfect suggestion Arinoth...thanks much.
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Old July 18, 2018, 09:02 PM
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From my research it looks like the drive can be pulled from the Seagate Expansion 8tb which is huge. I can get the drive on Amazon for $200 instead of the $300-$400 for an internal drive of the same size everywhere else. Not sure how well they will hold up in a NAS environment but I'm just using it for media so that shouldn't be too stressful on them I don't think.
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