This year I’m considering replacing my desktop machine – it would be really nice to be able to run virtual machines on my desktop for testing, etc.1 When I did a little pricing, I was rather surprised to see the effect upgrading the internal drive configuration had on the overall sticker price: an additional $1000-2000.

So now I’m considering setting up an external storage solution that can survive several machine upgrades. Maybe something simple and cost-effective like a FireWire 800 RAID 5 set-up. I found these options, does anyone have anything good/bad to say about them or alternatives to suggest?

Of course, eventually I’ll also need a way to back up the big external drive (even though it is RAID 5) – perhaps a ReadyNAS for that once my data outgrows my current external drives.

I’ve got a hodge-podge of drives right now, largely because of recent necessity purchases:

  • 2 300GB SATA Seagate drives which are my current internal drives (bought when I had to send my Hitatchi drives out for recovery)
  • 2 250GB SATA Hitatchi drives that I had as my original internal drives
  • 1 250GB SATA Western Digital drive – came with the Mac, not in use
  • 1 300GB Seagate external drive
  • 2 200GB Seagate external drives
  • 1 100GB Seagate external drive

Perhaps I could do something like this:

  • Pull the internal Seagate drives, add a couple more and set them up as the primary external RAID.
  • Use the Hitatchi drives as a RAID 1 internally.
  • Use the external Seagate drives (300GB and 2x200GB) for rotating backups.
  • Keep the 100GB external as an emergency drive – always need an extra.

That leaves the Western Digital, which I intend to put back in the Quad when I sell it.

I’d also need to test that I can make my user directory (/Users/aking) a symbolic link to a directory on the external drives – anyone done that?

  1. My MacBook is my only Intel Mac – it’s pretty dog slow with the virtual machines. [back]