Help with NAS/RAID/Backup setup

This is my goal for a client:

1. Provide a NAS for general back up of their personal Laptop and desktop computers in their home.

2. They have Dell desktop that doesn't get used. I would like to run iTunes on this desktop and direct it to the NAS Media folder that ALL the families computers are backing up to. For serving their media out to an AppleTV.

3. If possible have the iTune regularly rescan the NAS folder for new content.


Is RAID necessary, or can I set up a 3rd back-up of the NAS drive to another drive via USB, offsite storage, or even just a drive on the NAS?

And what do you suggest for NAS units?

I have been looking at the Netgear Ready NAS products and the Buffalo Terastations. Rackmountable is preferred.

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  1. Quote:
    Is RAID necessary, or can I set up a 3rd back-up of the NAS drive to another drive via USB, offsite storage, or even just a drive on the NAS?

    When using RAID with NAS you'll want it for its redundancy e.g. RAID 1, 5, 6...etc.
    RAID with redundancy is used to protect against drive failures only, it does not protect against stuff like virus and accidental deletes. For that you'll still require regular backups.

    And what do you suggest for NAS units?

    How much do you plan to spend? (price excl. drives)
    If you're familiar with PC building you can construct a NAS as reliable, fast, power efficient and much cheaper than commercial offerings.
  2. I was hoping to do something around $1k, hence the buffalo terastation. However, I like the idea of a NAS and a NAS backup, which could even be just a USB drive off of the NAS.

    What would you recommend. I built my current desktop PC without any problems yet, been running strong for 7 or 8 months now.
  3. Keeping it under $1k even with 5x1TB should be pretty easy.
    Something along the line of:
    -mATX or mini-ITX motherboard based on G45 e.g. Intel DG45FC or Foxconn G45 mATX (both have ICH10-R for RAID) Going with mATX will give you more expansion slots if needed
    -Not familiar with rackmountable cases. I'm guessing minimum is 2U.
    -Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU 80Plus ($45 on NewEgg)
    -Pentium E6300 (or whatever is cheap and has EIST to save power)
    -2x2GB or 2x1GB DDR2-800 5-5-5 (dirt cheap)
    -Throw in a few 1.5TB or 1TBs (put them in RAID5 or RAID1)
    -An eSATA enclosure for backup
    The onboard GbE NIC should be enough. Should you want another NIC you can always use the PCIe 1x slot.

    For installing the OS you could use a fancy 4GB CF-IDE card like some commercial ones use (linux) or just a cheap 160GB HDD.

    I run a different setup, but very similar concept for my HTPC+NAS combined.
  4. @wuzy just to clear things in my mind...I have seen lately ATOM based NAS...are they good ?? and can we build them???
  5. Atom really isn't that power efficient if you consider the old chipset being used. Its easy to see which is the power hog if you look at the picture of the motherboard, its chipset has a much bigger heatsink and also a fan! Not really recommended, also because these tiny fans break easily, especially if the case has no dust filters where air comes in.

    Instead, if you are going to build a NAS yourself, i would focus on a cheap AMD platform:

    EUR 75,-
    Mobo: Micro-ATX Socket AM2+/AM3 motherboard with onboard video & 6x SATA ports so you can connect one system disk to PATA port and have 6 available ports for data disks, used for software RAID. Chipsets to consider are: AMD 740G/760G/780G paired with SB700 or SB750 southbridge, and nVidia GeForce 8200/8300 MCP chipsets. Both have similar features and low power consumption.

    EUR 85,-
    CPU: AMD Athlon X2 250 3.0GHz (45nm) would be a good pick, because its efficient when idling and is the latest generation 45nm chips from AMD. Dualcore is definately recommended if you plan using ZFS or software RAID5/6.

    EUR 50
    Mem: 2x2GB if you can afford, since that would come in handy if you plan using ZFS. DDR2/1066 or DDR2/800 recommended, don't pick expensive memory but watch the latencies and voltage (1.8/1.9V recommended)

    Subtotal: 210,- Euro

    Then you need a casing, power supply, SATA data and power cables, fans maybe (pick the 12cm ones they are better than 8cm) and ofcourse the disks. Good data storage disks are WD Green 1TB-2TB although the 2TB still has higher cost per GB.

    This platform would consume about 50W without the disks when idling, but would also have the power to run advanced filesystems and RAID configurations and can upgrade to 10 Gigabit ethernet in the future (PCI-express x16 port) or more disks using a PCIe x1 addon controller.

    Operating systems to watch for are FreeNAS (allows for ZFS in the latest 0.7RC, access to advanced storage technology), FreeBSD (access to most latest technologies), OpenSolaris (ZFS homebase) and Linux (offers a wide range of filesystems).

    If you have no knowledge beyond Windows, FreeNAS might be the easiest to start with. Once you boot from the CDROM you burn from .iso file, you can configure everything via web-interface from your windows computers, over the LAN network. You can also play with FreeNAS inside a VM product, like Virtualbox which is free and easy to use.

    Good luck with your project!
  6. gkay09 said:
    @wuzy just to clear things in my mind...I have seen lately ATOM based NAS...are they good ?? and can we build them???

    Have a look in (formerly part of THG). Just remember if you see any RAID5 write performance >40MB/s over NIC or has support for RAID6 then the box is probably using hardware RAID.
    Ones based on Celeron M will be a bit faster than Atom, then of course you've now got boxes based on Core2Duo like QNAP TS-809 Pro ($1700...) which are more power efficient in the higher up builds.
    [EDITED]Just took a quick look at this Atom box. They do fine for 1-2drives without RAID5. But going with AMD will still be more power efficient for those simple NAS box.

    Which reminded why the extra price of those commercial NAS box. Besides profit they've got to sort out the software and support for you.
    But if you're computer literate like most here are then it just takes a few days of reading and asking around to customise your own setup. And you've got support the box yourself.
    This is my goal for a client:

    Might have to reconsider.... :(

    @sub mesa; I have generally stayed away from ATi graphics for Linux due to incompatibility issues in the past, but if that situation has changed I'll take a look at it again. Or use 8x00 nV chipset as you suggested. Oh and I should've suggested an AMD box like you listed, definitely much more cost effective than an Intel box.
  7. ATi might not be the best onboard chipset-integrated video chip for Linux Gamers no, because the ATi 3D driver still isn't on par with the nVidia linux driver, although i can play wow on ubuntu with ATi card just fine, some people may have issues.

    But hey this is a NAS, you do not need any 3D? So you don't need the binary/proprietary drivers. And if you pick FreeNAS/FreeBSD you don't really need a video card at all, although onboard video is still useful should it ever need maintenance not possible with Web/SSH login. But even then it would run in text-mode. ;-)

    To the OP: The exciting thing of building yourself is that you can have a solution that provides for higher performance, higher reliability, higher flexibility and lower cost. The drawbacks usually are time/effort required and problems you might face. Should you any require help with setting up your system, i'd gladly walk you through it.
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