Flexraid now costs $... any alternative?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by iakovl, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. iakovl

    iakovl [H]Lite

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    i was going to run FlexRaid on my HTPC/NAS to make snapshot raid (no need for live raid...) but now i see the programmer changed it from free to $$$... not cheap

    so, i'm looking for another way to do 2 things
    1. create data pool from several hdds
    2. create a snapshot raid (most likely i'll go with snapraid)

    any other ideas or options?
     
  2. stevebaynet

    stevebaynet Limp Gawd

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    yeah, seems a bit on the sketchy side. they take payments via paypal with what seems to be a manual registration process on their end that takes 48hrs+ to finish. and then, it seems, people who are currently using flexraid beta will have to fork over the cash once their version expires to purchase or be forced to pull/mount each drive in the pool manually to get the data off. Seems kinda like extortion, lol.

    I like the idea of flexraid but it doesnt seem like they pulled off the switch from freeware to purchased software particularly well.

    i use ZFS for most things but sounds like that might be overkill for your needs. although snapshotting in ZFS is sweet since its copy-on-write
     
  3. FrostBite

    FrostBite [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yup, and I've been touting them on these forums too. Looks like Windows 8 will be where some of us will be moving, and I hope it's the death to FlexRAID after they pulled something like this.
     
  4. mwroobel

    mwroobel [H]ardness Supreme

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    Well, quite honestly it is not an open-source project, so the author(s) have every right to try and monetize their efforts and do what they wish with the source.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  5. iakovl

    iakovl [H]Lite

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    i don't say he doesn't have the right, i'm just saying that even if was going to pay some money for a good software (i do pay for good stuff) it wouldn't be that much that he asked

    anyway, to this issue (mine)
    while snapraid solves the raid issue, i still want to use data pool (3*2TB hdd + 1*2TB for snapshot)
    any ideas for solving pool except waiting for win8?
     
  6. Drawmonster

    Drawmonster 2[H]4U

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    I don't know of anything free. But Stablebit Drivepool is said to be the best drive pooling addon for WHS 2011, and it's only $19.95. It also has a 30 day trial. It's what I'll be using if my Norco case ever get's here...
     
  7. Franko

    Franko [H]Lite

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    I'm using drive bender for my WHS 2011. Its been working well so far. I do think flexraid or a zfs based solution is going to be my next move tho.
     
  8. ghostdunks

    ghostdunks n00b

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    Not sure why you're likening it to extortion. The way it works is a RAID layer over your existing drives. If you were on the beta and choose not to upgrade to the paid final version, all you have to do is uninstall Flexraid, and your data is still on the drives, in the original filesystem, fully accessible. No one is keeping the data hostage or anything. In fact, this "feature" was one of the main reasons why I decided to go with Flexraid in the first place, in that I could dump it at a moment's notice if I needed to.

    Also, with regards to price, its $50(or was anyway) which is comparable to Unraid(a similar product), not extremely expensive in my book. Its the cost of a retail game or less.. to each his own.
     
  9. dustNbone

    dustNbone [H]ard|Gawd

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    I've never used FlexRAID but $50 seems like a pretty good deal to me for what it does. It's funny how the price/value of software has declined so rapidly in recent years. In the 90s software like that would have cost at least 10x this much.
     
  10. LilGator

    LilGator Limp Gawd

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  11. Billy_nnn

    Billy_nnn Limp Gawd

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    Not sure about anything free on Windows, but on Linux there is the free mhddfs, which combines several directories into one mountpoint.

    It's fairly crude/simple, but that could be viewed either way TBH!

    You run individual filesystem on your data drives - then protect them with snapraid to a seperate parity drive, and then pool the data drives using mhddfs!
     
  12. Tiporaro

    Tiporaro [H]ard|Gawd

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    I could've sworn disparity wasn't really under development anymore? In fact, wasn't flexraid an offshoot (or a similar situation) from disparity?
     
  13. haileris

    haileris Limp Gawd

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    I do agree with almost everything you said. However, I believe that ideally you have to be real upfront that the plan is to turn it commercial from the start - not when you "feel like it" since this can cause a degree of alienation. Unfair probably but that is life. Now I have no idea whether the FlexRAID author has done that so I'm not certain that this is true in this case. But if I had used it for a while and contributed in terms of test results / forum posts it could be a little annoying to me (depending how much I contributed).

    It is also not quite true that you can dump it at a moments notice from a practical point of view - well its true if you want to leave your data unprotected. Even with a snapshot program you need to plan ahead if you want move to retain any desired redundancy and availability - those parity files don't exactly grow in seconds :)

    I use SnapRAID, so far it has worked for me so see no reason to change.
     
  14. stevebaynet

    stevebaynet Limp Gawd

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    That makes more sense, i stand corrected. However, i do agree with haileris in that they have alienated a good portion of there users with the sudden change. And even tho, as you said, you can simply un-install flexraid and still have access to your files, it still leaves you in a quandary of what solution to switch to moving forward. Price seems ok to me but given the sudden changes and the single developer nature of the project I would be wary to purchase a license myself. YMMV
     
  15. Forceman

    Forceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I've been using FlexRAID for a while now, and I never really liked the whole expiring beta thing in the first place. This may be the straw that pushes me off on something else - never heard of SnapRAID before, but it sounds like it might be a good fit for my needs.
     
  16. Hop-Scotch

    Hop-Scotch Gawd

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    I did purchase FlexRAID, for the price and the lack of expiring licenses now, it was well worth it. If you donated to the project, or were on of the developer's beta testers you got a free license. Basically it's only limiting to new comers at this point I guess. Worth it in my opinion, and I still recommend it for a Windows solution.
     
  17. McTurkey

    McTurkey Limp Gawd

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    I have been looking for the right solution for my needs, and had been thinking that FlexRAID was probably what I wanted to go with. The price isn't really an issue for me, but the way in which that licensing is being handled and the way it was pushed out makes me uncomfortable about sending them my money. Feels more like a quick money grab than a legitimate move to commercialization.
     
  18. cbutters

    cbutters Gawd

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    This sounds like ZFS to me... after getting over the intial shock of using a non-familiar OS, I am quite liking my openindiana install. with virtualization you can have a windows or linux machine on the same box no problem to handle the rest of your server needs.
     
  19. pitne

    pitne [H]Lite

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    whats the difference between snapshot raid and live raid?

    edit: looked it up

    Real-time RAID is a RAID mechanism whereby the parity information is updated as soon as you make any changes to your data. This means that the Array is always up to date and all data can be re-constructed from parity if required.

    Snapshot RAID is a RAID mechanism whereby any changes you make to your data are not reflected in parity until you manually force a re-synch. Until such time as the array has been re-synched then any changed data is at risk since it cannot be re-constructed from parity. Once the Array has been re-synced then all data in the Array is once again protected.

    (src: http://www.havetheknowhow.com/Configure-the-server/Install-FlexRAID-v2.x.html )
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  20. iakovl

    iakovl [H]Lite

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    OK so SnapRaid it is... any solution for data pool?
     
  21. dscline

    dscline n00b

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    disparity was created by someone who was originally a FlexRAID user. IIRC, he wasn't happy with the lack of updates, or an extended absense of the FlexRAID author, or something like that, so he went off and made an alternative.

    That is true. I have over 30TB of data, and it takes over 24hrs to create a dual parity set. But that's still substantially less time than there was from the initial announcement that FlexRAID was going commercial, to one month later when the last free beta expired. I do agree that it would have been nice if more time had been given, and if the transition wouldn't have happened until the order process was in a more finished state. And while I don't feel that the current pricing is bad, it is supposedly an "introductory" price that is about to expire, and it's about to double. That might be a tough sale, IMO.

    But ultimately, it's the author's software, and it's his choice to do with it as he will (for better, or for worse). It's not like he completely pulled the rug out from under everyone. He did give a months notice. Maybe not a lot of time for those who don't stay tuned in to the forums, but he gave notice. He provided useful software for many people, for free, for several years. I can see how some people might choose to go elsewhere, if they don't feel it's worth the $$, but I don't understand how anyone can feel cheated.
     
  22. Aesma

    Aesma [H]ard|Gawd

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    Personally I was annoyed with FlexRAID even before the guy (yeah, it's just one guy) went commercial : the beta that expired were really a pain, for what I did an old version from 6 months ago worked fine, but no, I had to upgrade several times, each time it wasn't straightforward, and the last time it didn't work at all.

    I only used drive pooling, and I found a free alternative, I don't have its name in mind, I'll post it later.
     
  23. iakovl

    iakovl [H]Lite

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    :eek: I NEED IT... thats the only part that lacks in SnapRaid
     
  24. Aesma

    Aesma [H]ard|Gawd

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  25. haileris

    haileris Limp Gawd

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    Damn that liquesce looks good! I just want virtual views though, when I read about moving stuff around can delete your data, it makes me wince. I remember FlexRAID having a data corruption issue with the virtual view implementation at one time (not the main product).
     
  26. haileris

    haileris Limp Gawd

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    I agree for the most part. As others have said, part of the alienation factor was the constant need to upgrade as builds expired. The developer never managed to get a v1.0 out before going to the next iteration either - although again to be fair to him he has got a final release out this time - pity it is paid! :) Personally, I don't think it the overall handled very well (1 month is nothing, especially when I understand last the beta version was soon to expire) but as you say I wouldn't feel cheated and it is an excellent product.

    Btw the other thing that has put me off personally is the tie in to the machine (so I understand). If EA can shut off authentication servers and leave me without a supported product there is also a danger that the single man operation can do the same. I'm sure that is a minor risk though.
     
  27. dscline

    dscline n00b

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    1.3 was a "final" version that didn't expire. You won't get any support on it, but you wouldn't have paid for it either. No one HAD to upgrade from it, but of course, people did, because they wanted the newer/better version.
     
  28. Tiporaro

    Tiporaro [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yea, when I was looking at Flexraid a while back I ultimately passed on it for a few reasons. Not to mention what you stated, I also found that the developer seemed to go out of touch (apparently not even responding to e-mails/pm's) for long durations, had a very defensive nature when discussing with others on his boards about suggestions, and there wasn't much in documentation or a community that was supportive. It came off more as a small~ish side project that really was ran solely by one individual.

    A close parallel to flexraid seems to be unraid, which has similar features and similar developmental roots. However, the community over there tends to be much larger and more supportive, with several users being active, fully knowledgeable, and responsive, so that even when the single developer isn't directly answering the boards, questions still tend to get answered in the same day. It was a real contrast looking at that compared to flexraid, as flexraid left me with the feeling that anytime someone had a question on those boards, they were left waiting until the one developer got around to them. Maybe that's changed in recent time, but its what turned me off back then.
     
  29. benogil

    benogil Limp Gawd

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    I agree with most of what has been said, I guess my view is that with Flex going commercial that it's glaring weaknesses in the form of one person development/support/documentation/UI will be addressed. Maybe, Brahim can hire a babysitter, and someone else to support the forum.
     
  30. Hop-Scotch

    Hop-Scotch Gawd

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    To be fair to developers of all sorts, if your licenses expire you can just ignore all questions about issues on the previous versions. Don't get me wrong, that annoyed the hell out of me too, I just see the upside to it.
     
  31. MarkL

    MarkL Limp Gawd

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    Ok.. seriously. How is $50 expensive? It's less than half the price of a single drive, and it could be running over 24 drives...

    If it's a good product, then $50 is more than worth it for what you get.
     
  32. dscline

    dscline n00b

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    Honestly, I see both sides of the argument. Historically, FlexRAID support has been what you would expect from something being done by a single guy in his spare time. One of Brahim's major stated reasons for going commercial is because that is what is needed to take it to the next level: for him to commit the time/money to the project that is needed to make it what it needs to be, he needs financial support to do that. But from a potential customer's point of view, historically he hasn't consistently provided the kind of support and product maturity many would expect for a $50 product, much less $100. It's a chicken/egg problem.

    I will say that so far, he has appeared to be more active in resolving issues since it's gone commercial. Proper support, refinement of the software, and no more expiring betas is definitely worth $50 to me. :)
     
  33. haileris

    haileris Limp Gawd

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    Would be an interesting concept to consider if it were commercial at that time :) Even MS aren't that quick to expire their previous versions!! They probably had to if they had an issue though. Nevertheless, never knew that so thanks for the update.
     
  34. Drawmonster

    Drawmonster 2[H]4U

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    Well my new server is up and running with WHS 2011 and Drivepool. Drivepool is very nice. Well made, seamless integration with the Dashboard, and does exactly what it's supposed to do. For $19.95, I don't see their being any other competitors for drive pooling on WHS 2011.

    I considered trying Flexraid, but I read a lot of horror stories about bugs, as well as the author disappearing for long periods of time. Now that it costs, and doesn't appear to be any better than when it was free, it's really a no brainer. I'm always leary of purchasing something that is run by a single person. He could pack it in out of the blue, and you're just screwed.

    On a different note, I'm really loving having a home server. Should have built one ages ago. Took me a few weeks to get the hardware and software researched enough for purchase, but I'm very pleased. My current setup will be expandable to 100Tb+, so now it's all gravy. WHS 2011 is a great option if you don't want to mess with Linux or any of the other non-Windows based options.
     
  35. bleomycin

    bleomycin Limp Gawd

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    I'm quite interested in flexraid myself, specifically for the data security features it offers (checksum) and i keep seeing comments like this pop up, but without any further details. Every solution has plenty of horror stories and me being completely ignorant about flexraid in particular i'm curious why these horror stories are worse than others? On paper just looking here: http://snapraid.sourceforge.net/compare.html SnapRAID would appear to have stronger checksum features for data integrity, so wouldn't it be the wiser choice? Or are there similar horror stories?
     
  36. Drawmonster

    Drawmonster 2[H]4U

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    Go to the Flexraid or Wegotserved forums for horror stories a'plenty. I don't know anything about Snapraid, so can't comment. Since I'm not interested in any file protection, as my important files are backed up off site, I also can't comment on data integrity for any of the DE addins. I can tell you that I read LESS horror stories about Drivepool, which is why I'm using it. Flexraid was on the top of my list until I kept running across threads reporting issues and complaining on the new pricing scheme. I can't see paying for what's essentially alpha or maybe beta software.
     
  37. Tiporaro

    Tiporaro [H]ard|Gawd

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    Good to hear - its definitely a little bit of effort to get everything lined up the first time, but once you have a separate file server it just makes life so much easier. As a side note, I'm always trying to figure out how people legitimately fill up 100tb+, unless you're doing a lot of video work - although its never a bad thing to have the expandability for the future.
     
  38. Drawmonster

    Drawmonster 2[H]4U

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    I always wanted a centralized server, but just never got around to it. I ended up building the new one just as a project, not out of need. Currently got 6Tb of storage on it, with only 1Tb used. I spent more up front to ensure I'd pretty much never have to upgrade it again. I have no idea how'd I'd ever fill up 100Tb+, lol. I do plan on vastly expanding my movie library from "Must Have's" to "Decent Movies". So I can see my 200 or so movies growing quite a bit. Plus I plan on replacing any non-1080P movies with the 1080P version. So I might actually use some of the servers capabilities some day. :D
     
  39. dscline

    dscline n00b

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    Let us know how that works out. ;)
     
  40. Tiporaro

    Tiporaro [H]ard|Gawd

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    hahaha, so true. At least though file server duties are pretty underwhelming as far as requirements go, so if there's one area you can stretch it for, this would probably be it.