Build an 180TB storage array for $1,943*

Build an 180TB storage array for $1,943*

Summary: (*plus drives). The guys who gave the world an open source storage array for $7,348 are back with an improved v3.0: higher capacity; better engineering; faster CPU and - when drive prices drop - cheaper too!

TOPICS: Storage, Open Source

Backblaze is offering an improved open source storage array: the Storage Pod 3.0. And just like the last one, you can build it yourself.

What's new? There's a long list of improvements, including:

  • 180TB raw capacity. 45 4TB will do that, but you might save money with 3TB drives today.
  • Better vibration control. Drives are locked down, reducing retries and improving reliability.
  • New mobo. Faster CPU and PCIe raise the performance bar.
  • RAID1 boot drive option. Ensures you can boot the pod.
  • Better cooling. End the heartbreak of data melt.
  • Lower price. The chassis parts - not including drives - cost 1.9% less than the old version.

Lessons learned. The Backblaze blog post goes into great detail about what they've learned from prior versions. Nothing that hardware engineers don't already know, but may be news to to the DIY crowd: watch firmware versions; stick to the design; be careful about +5v power; don't mix components.

Backblaze has over 450 Storage Pods in use, and there are hundreds at other sites. They aren't designed for heavy duty database transaction processing, nor do they have much redundancy, so RAIDing or mirrroring across Pods is important.

Drive prices. The 2011 Thai floods knocked out about a quarter of the industry's production capacity, driving prices sky-high as vendors competed for the available supply. Your best budget bet is often to buy USB drives, toss the case, and use the drive, a strategy Backblaze used during the worst of the drive crisis.

The good news: I'm seeing more evidence of competition for consumer dollars and expect to see significant price drops over the next 2-3 months. On a per GB basis we are already back to where we were in October 2011, but expect to see  3¢/GB soon.

The Storage Bits take. If you need hundreds of TB of bulk storage, the Storage Pod 3.0 is the cheapest game in town. Yes, it won't be as bulletproof as an array costing 10x, but if you know how to configure them you can have highly reliable storage for a fraction of the cost of most large arrays.

Comments welcome, of course. What would you use 180TB for?

Topics: Storage, Open Source

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  • Does RAID Still Work?

    Seems to me, at those capacities, and given standard hard drive I/O error rates, any RAID (re)build scan will be virtually guaranteed to fail with an error.

    At this point, you have to give up on RAID and move to an error-tolerant next-generation filesystem like ZFS or BTRFS.
    • Definetely ZFS

      Looks like a very interesting DIY project this :) With ZFS you also get the advantage of upgrading the HDD later without too much hasle. Well, less hastle than with a RAID anyway :)
      • nicopretorius I think its really great

        Now Loverock Davidson has a place to store all his posts he's made on Zdnet over the last ten years..........
        Over and Out
    • Agreed

      RAID for storage devices with this kind of density would be pretty wasteful and difficult to manage and expand in the future.

      ZFS and Windows Server 2012's Storage Spaces provide far more flexible, manageable and expandable fault-tolerant storage subsystems.
  • Is this an article?

    Or is it an advertisement? Cuz, it's an advertisement.
    • Please don't be a dope

      If you took even one second to view the blog post at Backblaze you would see that it's a DIY project, not a product they're pushing. Go back to visiting meme sites.
    • Yeah, just like all the ads you see for home remedies you see.

      Or like all those ads the drug companies buy encouraging people to eat right and exercise regularly so they won't need lifetime prescriptions for statins, anti-depressants, blood pressure meds and insulin.

      What part of the open source concept don't you get?

      R Harris
  • Uses for 180 TB of storage... hmmmm....

    Never have to delete (or miss) an episode of any TV series that I /might/ show interest in, ever.
    Never have to delete old versions of software I've developed for a new version, /ever/.
    Never have to uninstall a utility application again because I only ever use it once a year.
    Never have to delete old versions of web sites that I have developed again, so that my customers may, if they feel so inclined, review the progress that I, and HTML, have made over /years/ of development.
    And last, but, definitely, not least, be able to have one /humongous/ PC game installed for every day of the year, without having to feel guilt for the waste of drive space!
    • Double it to 360TB

      and you can record a year's worth of every HD channel you have, without worrying about drive space.
    • I work at Backblaze

      You laugh, but we actually have folks that write in to us and tell us that they do just that! Take a look at:
      • Couple of questions:

        What OS does this run? What flexibility does it have for various partitions? Can it provide iSCISI?

        I have a Thecus NAS, bought years ago, the N7700SAS. 7 2TB drives and about 10.5 TB of usable storage after RAID'ing. Basically ran about $3K delivered. It is advertised with lots of options for partitioning, ability to SSH into for up-close-and-personal management, etc....

        So, I am wondering what bells and whistles this sweet system has that weren't even addressed here (which should be stellar selling points)?
        • Yev from Backblaze

          The blog that Robin links to: has all of the information regarding the pod, much more than I know off the top of my head, but I do know it's running Debian 6.
  • What would you use 180TB for?

    Ah, I seem to remember someone once asking, "What would you need more than 256kb for?"

    It doesn't take long to fill a 3tb drive with redundant backups.

    Also, FREENAS ( will do the same thing for the cost of the drives and an old PC. Doesn't need anything fancy, just boot and forget. I have a 8TB NAS backup server with a total investment under $500. Even doubling the storage and you're well under $1,000 which is more than enough for "most" small businesses.
  • "Build an 180TB storage array"

    "[A]n 180TB"? Really? "Build a 180TB", surely...
  • Robin, how would YOU set up RAID on this box?

    My guess is that you'd want to set up several smaller RAID arrays, rather than one (or two or three) huge arrays, but I would be very interested in hearing what you have to say about it.

    I know about your loathing of placing enormous drives into a RAID array at all, so I am also interested in your perspective on that, as it relates to this huge box.

    Maybe this topic deserves its own article?
  • BackBlaze strikes again...

    This is probably the cheapest storage server design out there. And for most people buying the chassis minus drives from Protocase is probably a more reasonable alternative. Protocase does test the chassis with all of the drives installed and removes them prior to shipping the case. Protocase does not sell drives. The drives are the most expensive component and BackBlaze has been fun to watch with their "drive farming" during the shortage. You should know that a fully loaded POD is heavy and you will need a "serverlift" if you are racking these into a cabinet. And when a drive fail, which they do, you will need to extract the POD from the cabinet in order to replace it. While I like the idea and appreciate the "open source" for the design, having hot-swap drives accessible from the front and/or rear of the chassis eliminates moving the chassis every time a drive needs replacement.
  • Sure, it's a way to promote their storage business...

    but it's also a viable DIY project and justifies some press. Win for Backblaze, and win for the people who get to build these. Building a Pod and using their online backup aren't mutually exclusive; if you have that much onsite storage you should also be looking for some kind of offsite backup for it.
  • Data storeage

    And then the IBM AT was released with wait for it 10Meg of storeage, wow, will we ever fill it!