Our company is looking for an inexpensive RAID solution, preferably EIDE, for storing log data. We've been backing up these logs to tape, but this process is too time-consuming. We'd rather set up a fault-tolerant drive system for storage and not back up these logs. Do you have any suggestions?

I've accepted the EIDE RAID concept only recently. Having worked for years with SCSI-based RAID options, I couldn't fathom the use of an EIDE solution. I understand the price appeal of EIDE but am still somewhat concerned about the slow performance. Whichever EIDE RAID option you choose, keep in mind that fault tolerance is not a substitute for backup. A RAID 5 solution means that if more than one drive (two or more if you establish hot standby drives) goes offline, you'll lose data or go offline.

If your system has a few available drive bays, you can look into a PCI RAID controller. Promise Technology is probably the market leader in EIDE RAID solutions. The FastTrak66 Pro and SuperTrak SX6000 Pro support RAID 5, as well as RAID 0, RAID 0+1, RAID 3, and RAID Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD). The FastTrak66 supports as many as four Ultra ATA/66 drives with capacities of as much as 128GB each. The SuperTrak SX6000 supports as many as six Ultra ATA/100 drives with capacities exceeding 137GB each. You'll pay about $125 for the FastTrak66 and about $450 for the SuperTrak SX6000. Promise also has controllers that support RAID 0 and RAID 0+1, or RAID 0+1 only.

If your system doesn't have any available drive bays, look at Promise's UltraTrak external RAID solutions. The two UltraTrak 8000 models support as many as eight Ultra ATA/100 drives; the two UltraTrak 4000 models support as many as four. All four models support hot standby drive designation and the hot swapping of drives. The UltraTrak 8000 models also provide redundant, hot-swappable power supplies. All four external RAID systems attach to a PC through an Ultra 2 SCSI interface. Expect to pay about $2250 for the UltraTrak 8000 models and $1200 to $1400 for the UltraTrak 4000 models. These prices don't include the SCSI host adapter or hard disks.

Another option is to look at one of the less expensive Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers that use EIDE drives. NAS servers are readily available from Snap Appliance, Maxtor, and other manufacturers and come in a variety of capacities and price ranges.