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by Scott Fairbairn on Fri Nov 24, 2023 9:23 am
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Hi,
I have a boatload of external HDs in capacities from 4-16 TB. I've been reading about NAS units, and I'd like to know if the Hard drives can be removed from the enclosures and installed into a NAS bay. 
The number of externals I have has become ridiculous, and it would be helpful to consolidate everything into a NAS, although I will still need to keep a copy of the data off-site.
thank you
Scott
 

by Mark L on Fri Nov 24, 2023 12:05 pm
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The answer is "it depends".  If your external hard drives contain either 3.5" or 2.5" SATA disk drives (either SSD or spinning hard disk) the answer is probably yes.  However, the drives in pre-packaged external enclosures are of varied types and are most likely not they type of drive that you would ideally choose for use in a NAS enclosure.  NAS drives are generally rated for high use rates and long lives to support lots of activity supporting network storage.  I have always used either Western Digital Red/Red Pro drives or Ultrastar NAS drives.  Seagate also makes high quality NAS drives.

Probably not the answer that you wanted; but you probably can use the drives although it may not be optimal.  Depending on how you want to configure the NAS array you may also need to be concerned about both the speed of the drives and also the sizes (if you mix sizes and want to configure the NAS as a RAID for redundancy you can run into issues where the smallest drive constrains the RAID capacity).  

Good luck
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Nov 24, 2023 2:27 pm
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I would have responded exactly the same way Mark has. Yes in most cases it will work but those drives are usually the cheapest consumer grade drives that a manufacturer makes where you are best off with enterprise class drives in the NAS. You can certainly probably make it work though. You most definitely will not want a RAID 0 configuration.
 

by Scott Fairbairn on Sat Nov 25, 2023 8:51 am
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Ok, thanks, everyone. So it's definitely not an ideal setup to consider, too bad.
 

by Mark L on Sat Nov 25, 2023 10:16 am
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Scott - if you want to save some money and just get started with a NAS you could use the drives that you have.  In a 4 bay NAS setup as RAID 5 you will have coverage if 1 disk dies.  All of the NAS boxes that I have used can swap single disks with no problem; you just remove the disk that you want to replace or is bad and the NAS rebuilds onto a new disk.  You could replace the "old" drives as you liked after getting going.  The only hassle is the time it takes to format the new disk and rebuild, but you don't have to intervene at all after you start the process.

Personally I would try to get new NAS level drives for the box and start off fresh and top level.
 

by Scott Fairbairn on Sun Nov 26, 2023 9:47 am
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Mark L wrote: Scott - if you want to save some money and just get started with a NAS you could use the drives that you have.  In a 4 bay NAS setup as RAID 5 you will have coverage if 1 disk dies.  All of the NAS boxes that I have used can swap single disks with no problem; you just remove the disk that you want to replace or is bad and the NAS rebuilds onto a new disk.  You could replace the "old" drives as you liked after getting going.  The only hassle is the time it takes to format the new disk and rebuild, but you don't have to intervene at all after you start the process.

Personally I would try to get new NAS level drives for the box and start off fresh and top level.
How many bays would you get? I was thinking 6 or 8. Not that I would fill them all at first, but I would like some future proofing.
 

by Mark L on Sun Nov 26, 2023 10:25 am
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I would get 4-6.  The only reason to get additional bays is to support higher level RAID setups which give you additional redundancy.  If you need additional capacity (for any of us mortals) you can just use larger disks.  Using 4 bays allows you to use RAID 5 which supports recovery if a single disk fails.  If you go to RAID 6 two disks can fail without any loss of data.  Personally my only experience with NAS boxes has been with Synology, which I have loved.  They are not the least expensive.  I know others who use Qnap and I am sure that there are additional vendors that make quality boxes.  
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sun Nov 26, 2023 5:45 pm
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I also use Synology NAS boxes and have the 5 bay ones set up as RAID 5. I have two of these.
 

by Mark L on Sun Nov 26, 2023 6:14 pm
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Not to confuse you, but another aspect of NAS boxes is what options they provide for network connection.  How fast is the ethernet, do they have thunderbolt (if you are using a Mac), etc.  Some of the QNAP boxes have very fast ethernet ports and also a single Thunderbolt port.  With those boxes you can have the NAS on your network via ethernet and also have a single Mac directly connected by Thunderbolt.  Obviously you pay for the higher speed ethernet and also for the Thunderbolt.

Lots of options and considerations.
 

by photoman4343 on Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:55 pm
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Scott, E.J. and Mark are more tech savvy than I am. My windows desktop setup and back up external drives may work for you. I do agree that a NAS backup system like E. J. has may be a better solution.

In my win 10 desktop I have two 16TB NAS spinning drives. Today I would have 18TB or larger. These hold my image files.

My external hard drives are NAS drives too and their size varies from 8TB to 18TB. They are all in separate hard drive enclosure cases, some USB 3 and the latest ones USB 3.1. The newest enclosure case I use for an 18TB NAS is a StarTech StarTech.com USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Enclosure for 3.5" SATA Drives - Supports SATA 6 Gbps.

I have been told that I can swap the external hard drives with the internal hard drives if I ever needed to do that.

I back up manually (my choice) and do not use any RAID. I know it is not ideal, but it works for me.
Joe Smith
 

by Scott Fairbairn on Sun Dec 03, 2023 5:00 pm
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Thank you everyone for your input. I assume that something will fail at some point, and I currently rely on multiple backups (two at home and two offsite). Plus, I "retire" hard drives every couple of years that serve as a "snapshot" of images up until that time(I know they will degrade with time, but I don't ever plan to need them). So, if the hardware in a NAS fails, is it as simple as taking the drives out and putting in a new NAS, or is it more complicated than that?
 

by Mark L on Sun Dec 03, 2023 6:48 pm
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I have never experienced this, so I am making an assumption here - I presume that you could move the drives into a new enclosure from the same manufacturer (running the same version of the NAS system).  I would check with the manufacturer of the NAS you are thinking of purchasing to be sure about how this is handled.  Clearly there much be a way to handle hardware failures of the sort that you describe.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Mon Dec 04, 2023 1:26 pm
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photoman4343 wrote:

I have been told that I can swap the external hard drives with the internal hard drives if I ever needed to do that.
Yes, I've often done that.  The drives inside the enclosure of an external drives are often the exact same models that are installed as internal drives in computers.  they are the same form factor with exactly the same connectors.
 

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