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Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 2, 2009 0:13 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313)
In reply to: Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers? by Richard_J_Neill
Parent article: Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

actually, in many cases the batteries for the raid cards can last for several weeks.


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Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 4, 2009 10:32 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Yes indeed. My Areca RAID card claims a month's battery life. Thankfully I've never had cause to check this, but I guess residents of Auckland in the 1998 power-generation fiasco would have liked it. :)

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 5, 2009 0:01 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

The battery in RAID adapter card only barely addresses the issue, I don't care how long it lives.

But the comment also addressed "RAID enclosures," which I take to mean storage servers that use RAID technology. Those, if they are at all serious, have batteries that power the disk drives as well, and only for a few seconds -- long enough to finish the write. It's not about backup power, it's about a system in which data is always consistent and persistent, even if someone pulled a power cord at some point.

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 5, 2009 0:31 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

actually, there are a LOT of enclosures that don't provide battery backup for the drives at all, just for the cache.

it's possible that they have heavy duty power supplies that keep power up for a fraction of a second after the power fail signal goes out to the drives, but they defiantly do not keep the drives spinning long enough to flush their caches

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 7, 2009 22:47 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Ah, I see, the point is that even if you turn off the power *and pull the
disk* halfway through a write, the disk state is still consistent? Yeah,
battery-backed cache alone obviously can't ensure that.

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 7, 2009 23:18 UTC (Mon) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Ah, I see, the point is that even if you turn off the power *and pull the disk* halfway through a write, the disk state is still consistent? Yeah, battery-backed cache alone obviously can't ensure that.

No one said anything about pulling a disk. I did mention pulling a power cord. I meant the power cord that supplies the RAID enclosure (storage server).

A RAID enclosure with a battery inside that powers only the memory can keep the data consistent in the face of a power cord pull, but fails the persistence test, because the battery eventually dies. I think when people think persistent, they think indefinite. High end storage servers do in fact let you pull the power cord and not plug it in again for years and still be able to read back all the data that was completely written to the server before the pull. Some do it by powering disk drives (not necessarily the ones that normally hold the data) for a few seconds on battery.

Also, I think some people expect of persistence that you can take the machine, once powered down, apart and put it back together and the data will still be there. Battery backed memory probably fails that test.

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 8, 2009 4:56 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

I don't know what 'high end storage servers' you are talking about, the even the multi-million dollar arrays from EMC and IBM do not have the characteristics that you are claiming.

Ext3 and RAID: silent data killers?

Posted Sep 8, 2009 6:25 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

I don't know what 'high end storage servers' you are talking about, the even the multi-million dollar arrays from EMC and IBM do not have the characteristics that you are claiming.

Now that you mention it, I do remember that earlier IBM Sharks had nonvolatile storage based on a battery. Current ones don't, though. The battery's only job is to allow the machine to dump critical memory contents to disk drives after a loss of external power. I think that's the trend, but I haven't kept up on what EMC, Hitachi, etc. are doing. IBM's other high end storage server, the former XIV Nextra, is the same.


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