A few weeks back, I polled the LazyWeb about home office-scale network-attached storage (NAS) options. At that point in time, all the media (video, audio, photos…) at Chez Genehack was living on an external 1TB USB drive attached to my desktop machine, which was backed up by a simple rsync cronjob to a 1TB drive in the house server. Space was starting to get a little tight and I was pondering what my options were.

The Drobo, in particular, looked quite nice, particularly the ability to scale up the available storage on the fly by hot swapping disks around. When I asked on a local sysadmin mailing list, an experienced regular pointed me to this tale of woe (and I’ve since seen other negative feedback on the Drobo) — so that put the kibosh on that option.

None of the other NAS solutions looked very competitive on a price/options level — I don’t need super high reliability, and I sure don’t want something that I have to “manage” — so in the end, I ended up going with the simplest thing that could work: new 2TB external USB drive attached to my desktop, with a matching new 2TB internal installed in the house server. A couple hundred bucks at CompUSA MicroCenter followed by a few days worth of copying and re-syncing, and everything was back in place, humming along just like before (only twice as big…)

(Edit: thanks to @fedward for pointing out the CompUSA thinko…)


Darn, I was hoping by the beginning of this you were going to do one of these:

Which I'm tempted to do myself, but wanted someone with more experience (and whom I knew so I could ask questions of) to do it before me.

In the past, I used mhddfs to help this. It is a fuse fs that takes two directories and combines them. Edit an existing file and it will edit it wherever it already is. write new file and it will put it on the drive with the most free space. This is a file-level union, so each drive works perfectly without the other, but only has some of the files.

Then I mirror this to another. So in your case, I would probably have purchased a new 2TB drive, backed up to it, then combined the existing 1TB drives using mhddfs.

But... a pair of 2TB drives is pretty cheap :)

Only thing I always wanted it to do better was to balance our the storage a bit (though there is a hacky way). But it worked great.

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