Storage is one of those ever-expanding needs – who would have guessed that anybody would need a terabyte of storage ten years ago? At the time, a gigabyte was considered excessive. Now terabyte storage systems are almost commonplace: the StorePac SP40 is the latest terabyte offering.
The largest hard disk currently available is 300GB, and that isn’t likely to increase until new manufacturing methods come online in a year or two. The SP40 is a RAID system that takes four 250GB drives, and orchestrates their synchronized disks to create a terabyte of extremely safe and secure storage. It uses RAID 5, which means that because the data is stored over four drives, including parity information, any of the drives can fail without losing any data.
This requires some redundancy, so the theoretical capacity of one terabyte shrinks to just 750GB of usable space. It’s a bit disappointing, but still capable of swallowing four or five years’ worth of MP3s. Not that MP3 storage is the aim of this monster – it’s suited to more-mundane tasks such as backing up your server.
The main rival for the SP40 is the Xserve RAID. By comparison, the Xserve RAID is rather more robust, designed specifically to work with the Xserve, and looks the business. Unfortunately it costs a whopping £4,799 – almost two grand more than the SP40. The StorePac has fewer professional features such as an extra power supply and a rack-mountable design. But the data is safe because RAID 5 is so bullet proof.
The FireWire 800 interface makes this as fast as the Xserve (unless you go for the FibreChannel option). It is almost as safe as the Xserve RAID, though without a redundant power supply it could spend more time offline than would be ideal. If your storage needs aren’t mission critical, the SP40 could save you a lot of money. Used for backup rather than live storage, it would be perfect – it even comes with Retrospect backup software.