DIY NAS Build vs Pre Build

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by robertgd, May 18, 2016.

  1. robertgd

    robertgd Member

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    So I'm using a Mac Mini (USB3 and Thunderbolt 2 model) as my server, with a single 5TB USB 3 hard drive storing my media. This was a short term solution, replacing my trusty N54L Microserver.

    Now I'm in the position to implement something long term (well, as long term as hardware lasts these days). Caveats being:

    • The Mac Mini is staying as it's my iTunes server (I use Apple TV's and almost exclusively Apple, with only a single PC in the household)
    • Reliable AFP is highly preferential over SMB
    • Should be rack mounted (2U preferable)
    • Four hot swap drive bays minimum, and don't foresee more than eight required
    • Fit and finish is really important to me (hence leaning towards prebuilt)
    • Around $1000 without drives

    My budget of under $1000 is preferential, as I'd otherwise just take the easy option and buy a Synology RS815 or 1515+ but I like to tinker, and obviously DIY is always going to be more "bang for buck" but the Synology units are well built, well supported, and have warranty etc. Hassle free, right?

    So, with the above in mind, what I'm after are good rack mount chassis options with hot swappable drives, PSU, CPU, Motherboard, and RAM. If I go DIY, I'll likely stick with FreeNAS or Ubuntu. If using ZFS, obviously plenty of ECC RAM is important.

    Should I bother with ZFS for a home setup? I won't be storing anything that I can't afford to lose (well, things like Photos will be backed up to Cloud as well) and I'm not sure if the hardware requirements are worth it.

    Should I go for a 4U chassis to reduce noise and open options? Noise itself isn't a huge concern as the rack will likely be stored downstairs in my garage. I much prefer the look and real estate of a 2U, and won't require more than 8 drive bays.

    If I have 8 drives, will the Motherboard need 8 SATA ports? How does that all work (I've never built a NAS before)?

    Should I just buy a Synology? I enjoy building computers, and like the flexibility, but if it's going to add up to cost way more, then for a simple file server I may as well keep it simple. The NAS doesn't need to do anything special besides hold data, but I may use it for CouchPotato, Sonarr, SABnzbd etc - but otherwise the Mac Mini will be handling all of that.

    Any other recommendations? Thunderbolt enclosure hooked up to the Mac Mini instead? (I've looked at these and they're all pretty damn over priced for a "dumb" hard drive rack)

    Thanks :)
     
  2. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    Personally for me I like to experiment a lot with what I'm doing.

    I like to run game servers, host websites, run plex, security cameras, the list goes on.

    For that reason a prebuilt NAS would never work for me, they are too slow and very limited in terms of options.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    robertgd

    robertgd Member

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    I am in the same boat, I like to tinker and try new things. While I don't plan on running game servers, I will be hooking up some IP cameras. But that all being said, I have the Mac Mini for all of this, so the NAS is just for storage.
     
  4. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    If you only require single disk or mirroring (i.e.: not RAID5/6/Z), then BtrFS is much more lightweight, production-ready, and gives you equivalent bitrot protection.

    FWIW I frequently set up BtrFS based Netatalk (AFP) servers for Macs (mostly for Time Machine), and they work very well.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    robertgd

    robertgd Member

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    I'll likely be going with RAID 5 to be honest.
     
  6. th3_hawk

    th3_hawk Member

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    I've done both and now have a QNAP unit (and a Mac Mini ;)).

    When I first started this journey I was in a Windows world with a dedicated "server" PC with a bunch of individual internal drives. Then my library got bigger it wouldn't fit on a single drive anymore so RAID came into it so I was running software RAID as the cheap solution.

    The setup seems to chew quite a bit of power and over time I would tinker with the think, break it (or think I had) so would have to rebuild the Windows install which took time and effort (I got good at this using a base image which reduced downtime, but it was still a pain).

    The last go around with a PC I tried out using VM's the idea being that I could seperate the services I wanted to have, one VM was the storage controller that did user access control and basic stuff, another VM provided other things like a media server, yet another VM provided other tools. The whole idea was that the storage side of things could be completely left alone to run doing it's basic job then I could tinker with the other VM's and when they broke the storage VM was still available to everyone on the network and I could sit down and watch TV even if I didn't want to fix that other VM that got all flakey thanks to my half arsed tinkering...

    While it sort of worked, it was overkill as I started doing less and less tinkering. It was also reasonably power hungry for what it was doing.

    At some point I decided that if I was going to keep using RAID that I wanted to go hardware RAID... and the cost of a good card made a NAS look attractive, power consumption was also a nice to have.

    So I got a 4 drive NAS. This was a few years back, but the issues still remain. RAID 5 is CPU intensive and cheaper smaller NAS units can't supply the throughput you might like. In my case I was limited to about 12MB/s running a 4 drive RAID 5 setup. I lived with that until I outgrew the array and then upgraded to an 8 drive unit with a better CPU which could saturate a gigabit link. Nice.

    I should add that I also dedicated an old laptop to running those few extra services (like the media server) plugged into the network. Low power and met all my requirements. Again, if I broke anything the NAS was still there to provide files without downtime.


    Fast forward again and I've upgraded the NAS to the newer version of the same thing I used to have. Now it's capable of running many of those services natively with packaged apps. It's even capable of running VM's on the NAS thanks to an i3 CPU and a bucket of RAM so I've done away with the laptop and kept all the functionality I used to have as well as the redundancy.

    Yes you can build your own and yes you can probably do it cheaper. But for ease of use and simplicity, off the shelf works for me.


    Remember that none of this has talked to backup of data, which RAID and NAS do not supply by themselves.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    robertgd

    robertgd Member

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    Great response, and sounds like we have very similar thinking. Now, as far as running VMs and other services, the Mac Mini will be doing all of this. The NAS will just be the best and fastest file storage it can be.

    QNAP and Synology are both on my radar. I would prefer a proper rack mount solution, but could settle with the desktop units and just sit them on a shelf in the rack. The RS815+ has a quad core CPU (Intel Atom C2538) and I'd like to think would be up to the task of saturating a GB link. Otherwise, there's the QNAP TS-863U which is an 8 bay, but is also $2000.

    That is why the pre-build NAS are so attractive, minimal messing around, fully supported, just throw in your disks and configure it.

    Backup of my Mac's are handled by a Time Capsule, and important information is in the Cloud.

    What unit are you using out of interest?
     
  8. m0n4g3

    m0n4g3 Member

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    Linux + mdadm + lvm + network protocol of your liking + sabnzbd + CP + sonarr + headphones + deluge + plex.

    Use any hardware that you want, and have it running.

    My original server i setup approximately 6 years ago now is still running my latest storage needs. It's seen 1tb drives, 2tb drives, and now 4tb drives all running some form of raid array, hell it's even gone from an Antec p180 to a norco 4224.

    Hardware wise, gigabyte MA790FX-DQ6 board, with an amd 235e dual core, 4gb of ram, and 3 dell perc 300's easily does whatever you need for home use and uses around 50-120w under load, and idles @ 40w.

    I very RARELY touch it unless i absolutely have to... and it just works, but also gives me the flexibility to fire up a game server (minecraft, terraria, cs i have setup and if i need to can fire them up), along with voice comms (teamspeak 3).

    It's only as complicated as YOU make it out to be :)
     
  9. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    ZFS might be worth your time then.

    Both the latest stable versions of Ubuntu and Debian support it easily. No need to fight with various Solaris or BSD derivatives and their poor hardware support.

    Just be aware that ZFS can be a bit more RAM hungry. Even for a low-end NAS, you'll want at least 8GB of RAM (you can get away with substantially less for a low-end BtrFS NAS - my home file server runs with room to spare on 4GB).

    I would agree, as long as drive sizes aren't too big. 2TB is my upper limit of tolerance now for filesystems that don't support block level checksums.
     
  10. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    Fully supported? Hah. I have a Synology 413j - major issues - looking at the sinology forum there are a LOT of people who've had problems.

    Lots of talk of submitting service tickets which are not responded to, or if they are taking weeks and then supplying irrelevant information, or asking for information which has already been provided to them.

    I have to try to sort it out, because as its a proprietary system I cant just plug the disks in to something else to access the data.

    If I were to do it again I'd build my own and run FreeNAS - open source and an apparently good and effective user community.


    Can't comment on QNAP - neve used one/them.

    Al I know is I will NEVER buy another sinology product.

    Ever.
     
  11. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    legitimately have no idea what you're talking about.

    Synology is just mdadm w/ ext4 or (now/newer) btrfs.

    I've Mounted them with zero issues from Ubuntu live cd's. I've also had Synology offer live support, dialing into my pc and then repairing issues where a mdadm array wouldn't auto-mount due to ext4 superblock corruption.

    I have probably ~150 of them out there across a massive range of clients with no problems whatsoerver
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  12. FarQ

    FarQ Member

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    I have also been down the ready built and DIY... DIY wins all the time for me. If a part breaks, its a standard PC part, readily replaced. Pre-built out of warranty motherboard or other issue, massive dollars and long lead times to fix...
     
  13. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    There's an upper limit to that statement. When you've got 16+ drives, proprietary systems that offer quick drive identification are a godsend.

    When you've got 4 drives or so, it's not nearly as hard to figure out which one blew up.
     
  14. FarQ

    FarQ Member

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    get a proper diy nas chassis then.. but with 8tb+ sized hdds, you don't need as many drives anymore.. unless u r "backing up the internet"... :lol:
     
  15. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    ever tried to rebuild an 8TB member parity array?

    see you in a few weeks
     
  16. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Heh.

    At work, we have three ZFS "NAS" devices:

    * 128x 8TB spindles
    * 128x 8TB spindles
    * 64x 8TB spindles

    And no, we don't "back up the Internet". But we do create a shitload of data. :)
     
  17. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    I'm genuinely happy to hear that. Unfortunately a quick search of relevant forums will demonstrate that - at least with the 413 product - I am far from alone. Synology has not yet responded and I have submitted two service tickets regarding the issue.

    As my issue is in respect to the system not working at all, there could be nothing gained from any live support / dial in option solution.

    Seeing as you have so many clients I am wondering whether the live support you mention is a premium product for commercial users, or people who pay a subscription or some such. I've not come across this as an option in any of my reading of the various of rums.

    Based on my experience I would not recommend a synology product to anyone.

    I'm not kidding though when I say that I am genuinely happy that you haven't had such an experience... I wouldn't wish it on anyone. :)
     
  18. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    redtube? :lol:
     
  19. passivekid

    passivekid Member

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    Just out of curiosity what kind of pool config is it running? 3-way mirrors?
     
  20. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Pool per unit, all in active use (mutliple vdevs within the pool, all RAIDZ2). ~2PB of main production storage in use today.

    We've got another ~1PB of adhoc storage (gluster, freenas/ZFS, linux-mdraid/xfs, and other stuff) floating about too.

    Multimedia/post/vfx company. We eat disk like crazy.
     

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