Thank you for taking the time to explain all of that!Everyone is new at this at some point. Frankly, I did not know much about this specific area before quarantine life. But, I had plenty of time to tinker and figure things out.
It is odd that as much info as there is available on Youtube, info in this area is sparse.
If you are looking for an overview of cards, this is a good place to start. This guy also has videos on other topics (including sas cables.) He also sells HBA cards flashed into IT mode on ebay. I find his prices a little high though.
The card I have can handle 8 internal drives. Unfortunately, I don't have any recommendation on a card with an internal and external ports. Don't really even know if that is a thing. For internal cards, you probably want to look for an LSI 9211-8i card. they are the most price effective tat meet your needs. There are three variants that most people get. The Dell H200, Dell H310 and IBM M1015. I personally have the H310. I bought it on ebay for around $50 already flashed into IT mode. There are a couple variants of each card. Those differences are discussed in the video above.
SAS cables really are not complicated. But, you can mess it up if you aren't paying attention. There are different cables for internal and external connections. The external cables are more substantial with heavy duty connectors and wiring. There are also forward breakout and backward breakout cables. If connecting directly to the drives, you need forward breakout cables. My drives are internal and the cables are directly connected to the drives. So, I ordered these
Not sure which case you are using. But, if you have an older case with 5.25" bays, you could consider something like this item. There seem to be some quality issues with some of the low end vendors. This vendor seems to avoid those issues.
Moving onto the recovery of data. In hardware and software RAID, you can recover the data if a drive is lost. However, if you have a system wide failure, the entire array "could" be lost. There are ways to work around this. Those avenues vary depending on the solution you are using. Utilizing something like drivepool or drive bender, the disks can simply be plugged into another system and they will instantly be readable. This does not work with RAID solutions.
I cannot speak to your specific issues with drivepool as I have not used it. I do use Drive Bender. When comparing the two, they seem to be fairly comparable. If you search for people's suggestions on the internet, most point towards drivepool. It seems there was a period of time that Drive Bender was not being developed. This is no longer true. It has been consistently updated for several years now. I chose it mostly because I thought it seemed just a bit easier and I liked the UI much better. It also has a trial version.
Your experience with system manager showing both the physical hard drives and the pooled drive is normal. There are settings to have the physical drives no longer show in explorer if that is your preference. In my case, explorer only shows the pooled drive. Not the 4 other drives that contribute to that pool.
I hope this info helps. Happy to help more along your journey!
That video you linked is actually the last video I was watching on the topic. It's a long video that I was watching while getting ready for work, so I kind of jumped around a little. I need to rewatch it again.
Getting a card with all internal connectors isn't the end of the world. If it came to it, i could rig some way to turn a few of the sata cables into external connections. I have a decent about of space in my case. Its a Phanteks full tower, but I forget the model number at the moment. I intentionally bought a case with 5.25 bays because i wanted to add a 4k BD burner. So one of my 3x 5.25 bays has a 4k friendly BD OD with custom firmware from cloner alliance that enables 4k burning. Other 2 bays are empty. The case also has 6x 3.5 bays and 4x 2.5 mounts for SSDs. At the moment, I have the top tray for 3x 3.5 drives removed and a few wires running through the area lol.
When you say a system wide failure would make raid data unrecoverable, what kind of failure are you talking about? Like if my mobo dies or my CPU craps out or Windows takes a shit and needs a complete rebuild, am I SOL on that data when using software raid? That would be an unacceptable level of protection in my opinion. I need some way to be able to recover data with any type of failed, except of course incidents of physical damage or the highly unlikely multiple drive failure. I now have everything on a UPS with surge protection, but who knows what could happen to components inside the case. Current looking at options for expanding the storage, and I see WD Red Pro and WD Gold apparently have firmware features that help with recovery efforts. Is this all marketing hype, or could these actually help this type of failure scenario?
I guess what i don't get about drivepool showing both the drive and pool is, how does it handle file transfers between the two? They'd have to somehow be locked to the same file structure in order for both to be accessible and useable, no?