I have a couple of Thecus N2100 NAS boxes (Network Attached Storage), which I use for bulk data storage and backup purposes. They are basically just hard drive enclosures with a built in computer to handle file serving requirements – not much larger than two 3.5″ hard drives. They have two drives so you can either run them as one large drive (or just a bunch of drives), or you can run them in RAID mode which mirrors the two drives – if one drive fails, you have a duplicate of the data and can recover (naturally, if both drives fail at the same time, you still lose everything – which is why backups are still important). They also have gigabit ethernet, so it’s very fast to transfer large files around – but only if you have a gigabit switch to connect all your devices!
I have two of these drives – and one of them (my backup drive) has now been running for over 450 days non-stop.
I only mention this because I plan on shutting them down while we’re away – no point running automated backups when there’s nothing to back up. I would normally leave the drives and my backup server running (the backup server also controls my digital set top box PVR), but I figure it’s a bit too long to leave them unattended – and I don’t want to risk electrical problems causing a fire (not that would I expect this to happen).
The fact that I’m also taking my backup server with me when we go away isn’t actually all that relevant … in reality my backup server is a “virtual” server. I have my T41 ThinkPad running VMware Server – with the VMware image stored on network backup drive. I could easily install the VMware Server software on one of my other machines and then just fire up the VMware image across the network and my backup server would be running again … but I don’t want to leave any of my other machines running either – so I’ll just shut them all down.
It’s a pity I won’t get to see how long I can leave the drive running without requiring a reboot!