Forum Thread

New computer used exclusively for Quick Books-hard drive question.

robintrade 1,130 887 March 22, 2016 at 07:09 PM
I work for a small office of about 6 employees.
They want to replace an old computer that hosts the QB company file.

We are looking at possibly an i5 with 8GB ram on Win 7.
If the hard drive crashes, the whole office can't work until it is corrected.

So we are thinking RAID 1. Here's the question: What is the best way to go about this?
What they preferred is that if a drive fails, business is not interrupted.

I read the following tutorial and was wondering if this would work in our situation: (we really don't want to start fresh and reinstall windows to create the raid)
_______________________________________________________________________

Add two identical drives to be used as your new RAID volume that you want to boot from. Leave the original boot volume intact for now. Set up the 2 added volumes as a single mirrored raid volume and format them. I would suggest a low level format; this is a very slow process prior to the actual formatting that writes zero's to the entire drive.
(You can typically get by without doing this on a Mirrored volume but on a raid 5 or 10 etc it's pretty much a must do or you'll have disk errors down the road.)

Then "clone" (freeware clone software is available for both Macs & PC's) the boot drive to that new mirrored volume. In doing it this way the boot sector etc are copied to the new volume.

Now remove the original boot volume and you'll be able to boot from the new mirrored volume. This works great on both Macs and PC's.
________________________________________________________________
If we were to set up the computer in the above way, with only 2 drives in raid 1, what happens if one drive fails? It just falls out of the array but we can still boot Windows and run QB?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

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#2
Links to what your finding there is always helpful.

If your looking to get a new PC the easiest way is to order it that way. Since it's a business I am assuming your buying a PC from the manufacturer.

You can go with a software or hardware raid. What your describing sounds more like a software raid which is ok but most prefer hardware. Will this PC be a server for serving just quickbooks or will it be someones desktop that also hosts the quickbook files? How big of drives/how much stroage are you looking at? Raid 1 is falling out of favor here as drives get bigger since the rebuild takes a while and this can be a stress point for the "working drive"

What do you currently do for backup? Raid is not backup Smilie

As far as what happens in Raid1 in theory what you said is correct. The really important thing is to teach your users about what to expect in a raid failure situation. The last thing you want is to have a drive fail, and a user just click through the warnings until the second drive fails...
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Last edited by LiquidRetro March 23, 2016 at 05:54 AM
Vague questions receive vague answers . . . . . .
#3
Quote :
What do you currently do for backup? Raid is not backup
This. Raid is great for systems that you never want down or to duplicate data in case of a hdd failure. That tutorial looks fine, it requires 3 hard drives to do though.

With that being said it is not a backup solution, If something happens to that data, corruption, accidental deletion, encrypting virus, you are not getting it back because the HDD's are mirrored. I would be a little worried about that considering its the whole companies only QB file.
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#4
In this scenario your setup will work but here are my recommendations.

1) You said you don't want to install Windows fresh, but I would do so. Because this comptuer is critical to the ongoing work, it should be a dedicated computer that is not commonly used (when people get on computers they tend to cause issues or just shut the thing down while everyone else is working on shared files). This computer should be dedicated to serving the files needed for work. It's basically going to be setup as an economical server.

2) RAID 1 is a good idea and will allow the computer to continue operating in the event of a single drive failure. Make sure you are monitoring the drives and are alerted when a drive fails. It is very common for a drive to fail, no one to notice, and then a long while later the other drive fails resulting in total failure. Likely to your scenario, these drives will not be hot-swappable so if a drive fails, that evening the machine will need to be shut down and the failed drive replaced.

3) A backup solution is obviously key to this whole process. As mentioned, RAID is not a backup. It just provides a redundant set of disks to allow a single failure in this instance. I typically recommend more than one backup location. You could easily sync the files to another workstation in this office on an interval as well as purchase a cloud backup system. You should absolutely have an off-site backup with up-to-date data though. In any case, you should consider the scenario of your entire building burning to the ground and having your data available in that scenario. Crash plan is a good option as well as many others.
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#5
Quote from eekthecat View Post :
In this scenario your setup will work but here are my recommendations.

1) You said you don't waaving your data available in that scenario. Crash plan is a good option as well as many others.
Quote from eekthecat View Post :
In this scenario your setup will work but here are my recommendations.

1) You said you don't want to install Windows fresh, but I would do so. Because this comptuer is critical to the ongoing work, it should be a dedicated computer that is not commonly used (when people get on computers they tend to cause issues or just shut the thing down while everyone else is working on shared files). This computer should be dedicated to serving the files needed for work. It's basically going to be setup as an economical server.

2) RAID 1 is a good idea and will allow the computer to continue operating in the event of a single drive failure. Make sure you are monitoring the drives and are alerted when a drive fails. It is very common for a drive to fail, no one to notice, and then a long while later the other drive fails resulting in total failure. Likely to your scenario, these drives will not be hot-swappable so if a drive fails, that evening the machine will need to be shut down and the failed drive replaced.

3) A backup solution is obviously key to this whole process. As mentioned, RAID is not a backup. It just provides a redundant set of disks to allow a single failure in this instance. I typically recommend more than one backup location. You could easily sync the files to another workstation in this office on an interval as well as purchase a cloud backup system. You should absolutely have an off-site backup with up-to-date data though. In any case, you should consider the scenario of your entire building burning to the ground and having your data available in that scenario. Crash plan is a good option as well as many others.
The current computer that hosts the QB file is backed up daily to the Quick Books cloud. We also back it up nightly to an external drive on the network.

Is it possible for raid 1 disks to be hot swapable? I'm guessing NO, because you would have to recreate the mirror if one drive fails?
If a drive does fail, what is the process to correct? Remove failed drive, and recreate the mirror, or just clone the good disk to the new disk?
The current QB file is about 200GB, so I 'm thinking 2 X 1TB drives would be good.
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#6
Every response is 1st class. Not much for me to add. I could recommend that someone at the office, a very reliable person that is almost never out sick could carry a USB drive with an additional backup home with them every night.

Also remember that a backup not tested is a backup not working. Whatever can fail, will fail eventually.
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#7
Quote from dale_101798 View Post :
Every response is 1st class. Not much for me to add. I could recommend that someone at the office, a very reliable person that is almost never out sick could carry a USB drive with an additional backup home with them every night.

Also remember that a backup not tested is a backup not working. Whatever can fail, will fail eventually.
QuickBooks gives 3 options for your backups
Complete verification
Quicker verification
No verification
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#8
Quote from robintrade View Post :
The current computer that hosts the QB file is backed up daily to the Quick Books cloud. We also back it up nightly to an external drive on the network.

Is it possible for raid 1 disks to be hot swapable? I'm guessing NO, because you would have to recreate the mirror if one drive fails?
If a drive does fail, what is the process to correct? Remove failed drive, and recreate the mirror, or just clone the good disk to the new disk?
The current QB file is about 200GB, so I 'm thinking 2 X 1TB drives would be good.
You can get hot-swappable drives in case one fails. I'd be weary of the cheap consumer grade stuff -- a lot of it is pure junk.

In your situation I think you have a fork-in-the-road type of situation here.

If you have a drive failure:
1) You shutdown the computer after business hours and replace the drive, boot up the computer, and make sure the array is rebuilding.

2) You purchase a server designed for this capability. They are built for reliability and better components and designed for 24/7 run times and hot-swap drives.

You keep talking more and more like you are transitioning to #2. At this point, with your backups as you describe, I would opt for you guys to do #1. If your needs escalate at all or this service is critical, then you really need to look at a small business server. Ideally you wouldn't leave a failed drive in for any period of time so you really need to consider whether or not #2 makes sense. I can't tell from my side how important this service is or if a hour of downtime is a big deal or not. I always tend to lean towards servers unless it's something you can work around.

Also stufine brings up a good reminder. If you have not tested your backup sources throughout the year, you don't really know if you can count on them.

As a side note, if your QB file is 200GB, I wonder if you have outgrown the QB platform and should be on another one? Just food for thought.
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