So, today I decided it was time to add a few drives to my EX495, just to see how it easy it was, expand the capacity, and more importantly, ensure that I had some redundancy in the case of a drive failure.
After doing a bit or reading, I came to the realization that the MediaSmart Server does not use RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) for reliability, but instead uses "File Duplication" to ensure that if one drive fails, another contains the data so that nothing important is lost. Of course, the operating system manages the information, so the end-result of a hard drive failure does not require much on the users' part, other than the replacement of the defective drive. In my opinion, RAID is more efficient than "File Duplication" but it is also more expensive to implement, and does have some stricter guidelines when it comes to the configuration of multiple disks in a system.
For the home user, doing it the MediaSmart way certainly makes sense. You can add up to four drives internally (and five more, externally) and the process is very simple; it doesn't require any tools, and you can use practically any SATA drives you may have lying around on and they don't even have to all be the same capacity.
I just happened to have a two 1.5TB Seagate drives and a 2TB Western Digital drive lying on a shelf, so I figured what better place for them than inside my EX495?
Here is a link to the hardware installation instructions which are illustrated and very easy to follow. You do need to be careful when handling the drive trays; they are designed so that the drives are held in by pins, but is necessary to bend the edges of the tray to secure the drive. The benefit of this is that you need no tools (or screws), but the potential downside is that you could accidentally damage the tray if you apply too much force. Just proceed with caution and as long as you are not the 'all thumbs' type, you should not have a problem.
After you install each drive into a tray, you can simply slide each tray back into the unit. You will need to activate each of the drives you want to configure as part of the total storage (in some cases, there are add-ons which require their own dedicated drives, so in that case, you would not add the storage).
Adding each drive is relatively simple to do; just point-and-click and each drive can be added. It only took a few minutes to do each one.
As each drive was added it increased the total storage capacity, significantly. But one important thing to note is that by adding drives, you don't get the redundancy protection automatically. In order to get this, you must ALSO enable "Folder Duplication" for each of the folders you'd like to protect.
To do this, you can go to the SHARED FOLDERS icon on your control panel. Note that the status of each folder is displayed along the right side. Simply select each folder you'd like to protect, click on PROPERTIES, and check the folder duplication check-box. The process may take awhile, but it is done in the background.
And that's it! You've added your drives, enabled them, selected the important stuff to protect, and as you add more files to your server, they will be automatically protected!