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Old 22nd May 2016, 3:19 PM   #46
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Ok, couple more questions.
.... using a cheap $120 cherry trail mini PCs with a couple of cheap 2TB external drives in some sort of mirror configuration. From a bit of reading it doesn't seem I'm unsure if it's worth the effort as performance statistics aren't massively promising.
I have heard of people using Intel NUCs, with a m.2 to PCIe ribbon and then running LSI HBAs on it at x2 bandwidth.

Here is the write up of a second NIC.
http://www.virten.net/2015/09/adding...er-pcie-cards/
This one is a HBA addon.
https://forums.servethehome.com/inde...e-server.6846/
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Old 22nd May 2016, 3:41 PM   #47
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Ok, couple more questions.

1. You mention you have an old AMD box at home. Have you considered running ECC RAM on it? AMD chipsets happily accept ECC RAM.
According to Google, my ancient Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 doesn't support ECC.

But if it ever gives up the ghost, I'll be getting an ECC capable system and RAM for its replacement.

I think with die shrinks and multi-core going the way it is, PCI-E storage and RAM scaling into the terabyte ranges, ECC RAM is soon going to be mandatory (like next-gen filesystems are mandatory as we approach petabyte scale storage).

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What are some of the considerations for using something like Btrfs over an interface like USB3.0? Does it retain its benefits?
As long as the OS can see each drive individually (i.e.: not hidden behind some sort of RAID/JBOD system hidden by firmware), then the transport mechanism to the drive doesn't matter.

FWIW, I've formatted all of the USB backup drives in my house to BtrFS. My wife's business laptop uses 2 of these in backup rotation, and it's been going well.

Last edited by elvis; 22nd May 2016 at 3:50 PM.
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Old 27th May 2016, 12:00 AM   #48
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If you want an easy to use NAS with BtrFS, look at RockStor instead (community edition download is open source and dollar-free).
Elvis, Thank you RockStor looks very interesting. I can't find any comparisons to Unraid. Are you saying that RockStor provides this bare metal access that unraid is missing ?

I guess I will have a go with this over the next year or so. I'm keen to understand if I can through any larger or smaller HDD in the same way as unraid.

Rockstor seems new , guess once it develops a bit more in regards to Dockers and VM's it will be great. at about $100 cheaper than unraid and with potentially superior foundations it will steal unraids customer base.
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Old 27th May 2016, 6:59 AM   #49
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Elvis, Thank you RockStor looks very interesting. I can't find any comparisons to Unraid. Are you saying that RockStor provides this bare metal access that unraid is missing ?
Unraid is a software layer that inserts itself between the filesystem and direct access to the drives.

Without direct access you're relying on Unraid to report faults and fault predictions to BTRFS - when BTRFS is more than capable of handling all of that - and particularly more anally retentive about it (as is ZFS) - to report drive failures and the like.

The end result is a inconsistent and unpredictable experience - but certainly when ZFS was the only major filesystem pioneering this, everything from healthy drives reporting failures through to failed drives reporting as healthy was seen. Excessive scrub repairs, resilvering that didn't need to happen, etc.

I personally don't understand how/why unraid became popular. Its a solution to problems that have already been solved - be it in Hardware or Software. But whatever.
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Old 27th May 2016, 7:29 AM   #50
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thanx, I think the attraction to unraid, particularly to me, is the ability to through any size drive at it. and also remove any size drive.

Is this something that RockStor is capable of. The doc's don;t seem too clear , at least to me.

If the answer is Yes, then I'm pretty sure there will be a big swing from unraid to Rockstor over the next few years.
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Old 27th May 2016, 8:27 AM   #51
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Rockstor seems new , guess once it develops a bit more in regards to Dockers and VM's it will be great. at about $100 cheaper than unraid and with potentially superior foundations it will steal unraids customer base.
BtrFS is a great file server right now for NAS type needs. As a backing store for VMs, it still has some work to do.

ZFS is certainly a much better option for that right now. If you're hosting VMs on any platform, I recommend ZFS over BtrFS right now.

BtrFS devs are working on the features that will make exporting block devices and large VM images better. ZFS's "zvol" features are largely missing from BtrFS right now, and that's what makes it a better choice in that specific regard. (Worth noting that this is the same reason why swap-on-BtrFS doesn't work very well at the moment).

There are project plan ideas in the BtrFS wiki about this, but it's not something we'll see quickly I don't think.

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I personally don't understand how/why unraid became popular. Its a solution to problems that have already been solved - be it in Hardware or Software. But whatever.
Me either. FreeNAS is $0, and quite honestly craps all over Unraid for features, performance, and data reliability.

If I had to guess, I think it would be the fact that Unraid allows people to utilised lower end hardware and upgrade in an ad-hoc fashion, compared to ZFS which requires additional disks to be added in larger numbers, and doesn't like mixing and matching odd disk sizes/speeds as much. If anything, that makes it more appealing to really low end users (SOHO type setups, where even a few hundred bucks on extra disks is hard to scrape together).
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Old 27th May 2016, 5:35 PM   #52
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Me either. FreeNAS is $0, and quite honestly craps all over Unraid for features, performance, and data reliability.

If I had to guess, I think it would be the fact that Unraid allows people to utilised lower end hardware and upgrade in an ad-hoc fashion, compared to ZFS which requires additional disks to be added in larger numbers, and doesn't like mixing and matching odd disk sizes/speeds as much. If anything, that makes it more appealing to really low end users (SOHO type setups, where even a few hundred bucks on extra disks is hard to scrape together).
The thing that attracted me to unraid was the fact that i could convert my mis-match of drives that i had collected data on over the years (and my collection was ever expanding) and with the addition of 1 parity drive give it some form of protection and also easily expand the size of the array into the future without initially buying alot more space than you currently need to potentially plan for the future.

I always found that there was SO MUCH information to digest around freenas and in some ways that made it confusing. I'm still not sure what people using freenas do when they need more storage space?
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Old 27th May 2016, 5:41 PM   #53
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I always found that there was SO MUCH information to digest around freenas and in some ways that made it confusing. I'm still not sure what people using freenas do when they need more storage space?
Spawn more vdev.
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Old 27th May 2016, 5:42 PM   #54
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Spawn more vdev.
But do you then have to make new shares that connect to the new vdev?
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Old 27th May 2016, 5:58 PM   #55
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But do you then have to make new shares that connect to the new vdev?
Nope. The pool will expand.

If you want to replace all your say... 2TB drives with 4TB drives - follow this guide https://jsosic.wordpress.com/2013/01...fs-zpool-raid/
If you just want to add a disk to your pool - follow this guide http://www.unixarena.com/2013/07/zfs...re-layout.html

Last edited by NSanity; 27th May 2016 at 6:01 PM.
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Old 27th May 2016, 6:01 PM   #56
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But do you then have to make new shares that connect to the new vdev?
Comparing it to legacy technologies:
* Have 4 disks, make them a RAID5 set (first vdev)
* Buy 4 more disks, make them another RAID5 set (second vdev)
* Extend file system over both RAID5 sets transparently.

The downside is that you have a minimum number of disks you need to buy in order to get effective use of your new space. Again, mostly aimed at larger companies, where buying disks in bunches is easy enough to do.

BtrFS is improved in this regard. If you want to add a single disk to a RAID5/6 set, you can. Just add the disk and run a "rebalance" on the file system, and it will spread over to the new disk. The downside is that the disk must be the same size or larger than the existing drives, and if it's larger you won't utilised the extra space.

BtrFS's "single" and "raid1" profiles will use all existing space on mis-matched drives, but the "raid1" system obviously means you get N/2 space out of your disks (less efficient than stripe+parity models).

In that respect, Unraid is superior for when it comes to utilising the maximum amount of space from a bunch of mismatched disks. However, it doesn't have the realtime disk checksum/verify/scrub options that ZFS and BtrFS have, which puts your data at risk (particularly on new multi-TB drives).
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Old 27th May 2016, 6:07 PM   #57
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However, it doesn't have the realtime disk checksum/verify/scrub options that ZFS and BtrFS have, which puts your data at risk (particularly on new multi-TB drives).
Does all that stuff matter if you don't have ECC memory?

Im sitting on the fence atm whether i should continue down the unraid path or head over to freenas.

Last edited by Alfred14; 27th May 2016 at 6:12 PM.
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Old 27th May 2016, 6:16 PM   #58
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Does all that stuff matter if you don't have ECC memory?
Yes.

Because the actual drives themselves will silently corrupt your data overtime. ZFS Scrubs and BTRFS's equivalent will confirm your data is as it was written and repair data that fails that check.
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Old 27th May 2016, 7:10 PM   #59
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In short, my data trustworthiness scale goes:

Single disk < legacy RAID < next-gen FS without ECC < next-gen FS with ECC
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Old 29th May 2016, 12:09 PM   #60
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The problem with FreeNAS is that it's a bitch if you have to fiddle around with VMs all the time. Yeah, you could get another machine to do the virtual machine stuff, but unless you have 10GBe you'd be sucking up valuable network bandwidth just spinning up a handful of VMs.

Hence why I'm tempted to go for the Ubuntu route for ZFS once I get my act together and ditch Win10 for storage (storage spaces is just too slow unless I go for server 2012 r2 with SSD tiering). Otherwise I might just save my time and just grab a couple of 1TB SSDs in a JBOD.
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