Just a Bunch of Disks


I have a small collection of PATA hard drives: 4.3GB, 15GB, 20GB, 40GB, and 160GB. All still function fine, even the 4.3GB, but I want to use them collectively for backup or as a server.

I use a 500GB hard drive in a single-drive Ximeta Network Direct Attached Storage device as my server (file access for all my networked PCs) and a second single 250GB NDAS for backup of three PCs (three equal partitions).

Do you have any solutions for these small drives? I’m not too familiar with RAID, if that’s an option, but I’m willing to learn about it, or maybe something like FreeNAS. The only conditions are low cost, low noise, and minimal heat output, as whatever is chosen may end up in my bedroom.

—Cassandra M.

Although your drives still work, finding a way to connect five PATA and one SATA drive together in a RAID or NAS is going to be more expensive than the drives are worth. You can get a 250GB SATA drive (with more capacity than all your PATA drives put together) for much less than the price of enough adapter cards to run a five-PATA-disk JBOD array. (JBOD, or Just a Bunch of Disks, is for creating large virtual volumes from a jumble of mismatched disks like you’re describing).

More to the point, an array of five or more hard drives, with the associated hardware, is not going to be low cost, low noise, or minimal heat. That’s five hard drives drawing power, spinning up, and spinning down constantly. You’ll be better off from a cost, noise, and heat perspective going with a single larger “green” drive like WD’s Caviar Green or Seagate’s Barracuda LP, in a one- or two-bay NAS box.

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