Data Heaven, Data Haven

For the first time in my life, I lost a hard drive last night. I had backups, but it's still very irritating (and perhaps it's only transhumanist conceit, but its passing faintly echoes to me intimations of my own mortality). I've sent the drive, which still emits a healthy hum and is even sort of recognized when attached to a USB-SATA interface, off to an outfit in Florida who will charge me $199 if they can recover my data (and nothing if they can't). Here's hoping it's a mere failure of the outer card and not shattered platters.

Meanwhile, on to a new PC, which I was looking at anyway as mine is a couple years old now. I was extremely gratified to learn that you can now buy a RAID setup off the shelf from Dell (I'm splurging and getting the 0+1 -- striping (for performance) plus mirroring). That makes losing data far less likely, as two drives would have to fail, the likelihood of which is the reciprocal of the product of their individual reliabilities -- a very small number; such a double failure should happen maybe once in a million years. (Note that the RAID wiki calculation, which is something like .05 * .05 = .0025 is not really an accurate representation of reality; to actually lose data, you would have to lose a drive, then lose its mirror before the first drive is replaced, which should happen within a week or so. So if the chances of a drive failure is about 1% over 2 years, then the odds of an unmirrored failure happening in that week is about 1/100 of that, or .01% -- and the odds of experiencing both events in a given year would be .0001 * .01 = .000001 or about 1 in 1,000,000).

Dell's website is a bit coy about whether the Aurora has two PCIE x16 slots, though -- and it better, because I want to salvage my relatively recently installed Radeon 5770 and Crossfire it with the one shipping in my new computer. Presumably it does, as they offer dual cards as an option -- let's hope these guys were right.

posted by Dave on 07.14.10 at 12:02 PM


Careful about proprietary raid controllers, though. If your raid controller fails and you can't obtain an exact replacement, you might have difficulty retrieving your data.

It's a trap!   ·  July 15, 2010 5:04 PM

Good point -- as it turns out it's in the Intel chipset (administered in the BIOS), so apparently it's handled by the CPU (i.e. it's firmware RAID or "fakeRAID"). But CPUs have so much spare capacity now, it's probably actually superior to a cheap proprietary controller for home applications.

TallDave   ·  July 15, 2010 5:12 PM

I believe mine is the ICH10R, specifically.

I stupidly ordered a sound card, not realizing I probably need the slot for spillover from the other video card (I checked yesterday and when you order the system with dual video cards, it doesn't allow you to order a sound card). I asked Dell to take it off the order but I'm not optimistic. I'm hoping that's trivial to remove, but at best it's a wasted $40.

TallDave   ·  July 15, 2010 5:15 PM

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