Building my own NAS/storage server

Hey all!

I've been thinking of building my own server for quite a while now but I'm simple lacking the knowledge on the hardware part.

Here what I've come up with.

Software requirements:
SqueezeBox Center
SMB share
rTorrent 0.8.2 (libtorrent 0.12.2)/µtorrent 1.8.3
iTunes share

Hardware requirements:
PC enclosure: Lian Li CLASSICAL SILENT PC-201A
Hard drives: WD Caviar Green WD20EADS 2 TB
Dvd/blu-ray burner: PioneerBDR-202
1 gigabit Ethernet
Silent fans

Do I need the OS on a fast hard drive of its own?
Software/hardware RAID what’s the best?
There is a total of 12 3,5” spaces in the PC enclosure. Do I need several RAID controllers then?

I want to start with 3x 2TB drives in RAID5 and expand as I go.

So essentially I need your help choosing the following hardware:

RAID controller
Graphics card
Just add it if I forgot something. 
11 answers Last reply
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  1. I would say software RAID has the best cards; it has all the potential to beat Hardware RAID and give you a RAID system completely independent from any particular hardware like a RAID controller, disks, chipset, etc. With software RAID you could replace every single piece of hardware with a different type, even the harddisks, and it would still work.

    But the biggest question will be: what OS will you run. If its windows, forget about software RAID and focus on a good hardware RAID controller. If its Linux/BSD or any derivative, you do not need a hardware RAID controller since the software RAID will beat the hardware RAID config (even Areca) with a proper setup. So you save cost when you pick software RAID; for example when you choose FreeNAS to store your files. Expansion support is still something not standard though. If you want to use ZFS, you can use expansion but not in RAID-Z configuration.
  2. mindless728:

    First of all: I unfortunately can't order from NewEgg because I'm from Denmark and I don't think they ship overhere. I looked at de RAID controllers you linked to and I see that the Areca ARC-1230 is pretty popular but I can't seem to find it in any of the online shops that ship to Denmark. Is this the ultimate RAID controller or is there some other alternatives?

    sub mesa:
    My plan was to use Windows Server so i guess I'll be going for hardware RAID.

    Do you guys have some suggestions for all the other hardware and maybe a full system setup? As I startet out saying. I really have no clue as to what to buy :D

    Thank you both so far
  3. Areca will suit your needs; it has expansion support so you can add disks, it had good performance with RAID5 and it allows staggered spinup control to save your power supply from overloading with 8 or more HDDs spinning up at once (each HDD = 35W peak power usage).
  4. Super. So i guess I have to get that RAID controller somehow :-) .. If I can't get that RAID controller is there some alternatives? Areca isn't as widespread in Denmark apparently.

    Suggestions as to the other things? As I see it I only need motherboard, CPU and RAM now. Am I forgetting something?
  5. Any hardware RAID card with Intel IOP processor will be comparable - although the support and expertise from Areca is probably much better than its competitors. Areca products are very famous in the hardware RAID market, so they really should be able to get in denmark. Have you tried some webshops?

    motherboard could be any simple Socket AM2+ micro-ATX board with onboard video, paired with a Athlon X2 250 cpu that would be great and very energy efficient. DDR2 memory also is alot cheaper than DDR3 (and sometimes even faster).
  6. Ok. So I completely changed my mind as i thought that my setup was way too expensive. I would like for you guys to look at my new setup and tell my if it all works together. The new motherboard in this setup supports RAID5 and 6 disks.

    These are the prices I can get the stuff for in danish onlineshops and some of the prices are with shipping.

    I hope you'll help me again and also help me find the right PSU.

    Thank you

    Extra question:
    I want the Blu-ray burner in there. Will that take up a SATA port or can i connect that onto something else?
  7. I would avoid RAID5 on windows without hardware RAID; only the intel drivers (if you have ICH9R/ICH10R) at least show modest write performance at the level of a single disk. There may also be reliability issues, such as disks dropping out of the RAID and the user may corrupt his data by trying to fix this the wrong way.

    Since you can't have intel drivers on AMD motherboards, this complicates things a little. I would recommend:
    - you stick to your original Windows + hardware RAID setup
    - you build a dedicated box for your RAID5 running Linux/FreeNAS and access via the network (a true self-built NAS) you may also choose ZFS for this, which offers RAID-Z which is comparable to RAID5. ZFS would provide additional reliability by checksumming and, if needed, self healing your files.
    - you do not choose RAID5 but instead RAID0+1 or just two RAID0 arrays where one acts as backup of the other.

    And yes, any Blu-ray drive will use SATA.
  8. Oh, a fourth option would be changing your setup to use an intel motherboard and cpu, so you can use the ICH9R/ICH10R RAID drivers and use RAID5 on windows.
  9. Ok, so I guess I'll be switching over to a Intel setup. I also just saw that the motherboard and AMD CPU I had in the last setup didn't work together.

    So what Intel motherboard and CPU would you recommend? I would like 7 SATA's on the motherboard then so that I have the space for 1x Blu-ray burner, 1x system HDD and 5x 2tb HDDs. And RAID5 is still the goal.

    Thank you so much once again. Look at all the mistakes I've made this far :D

    -- Update --

    I've been looking at quite a few Socket 775 boards now but can't seem to find any with onboard graphics .. Should I par it with some kind of crappy graphicscard then?

    I'm thinking a socket 775 board and a E5200 CPU? What do you think about that?

    Hmm. Just thinking. What about a 7-8 SATA RAID controller instead .. That must be cheaper then a 12 SATA RAID controller :-)
    Any suggestions in that area? Looked at the ARC-1220 but then I should just buy the ARC-1230 instead looking at the price.

    I think I'm back at my first setup with the hardware RAID controller. That's where I get the best performance and the best setup.

    I just still need to figure out what motherboard, CPU and PSU to use. I guess I can just connect the Blu-ray burner and the system HDD to the motherboards SATAs.
    Must there be a PCI Express x8 in the motherboard for the RAID controller?
  10. I built my server like 6 month ago and had the same questions as you.

    I went with a hardware Raid 1 solution because I read that when raid 5 do go bad, you can lose the entire array. It's not often that the array can go bad but my data is worth the price of doubling the hard drives since I have too much info to backup. I can even take one drive in the array and plug it into my home computer and have access to all that data. That is the beauty of Raid 1.

    My research found that Supermicro do motherboards with a raid arrays for 6 drives with an IBM chip set. The model I decided is Supermicro x7sbi-LN4 with an Dual core Intel 2Gz CPU. It has an onboard GPU with 4 NIC cards. I also use USB drives and I use a software to mirror files onto another USB drive. It's my poor man replicating way of making sure the data is on 2 drives.

    I use an old 160gig IDE hard drive for the Windows OS with 2 partitions. I use one for the OS and the other one for data. I then do an image of the OS partition that I keep on the data partition. When something goes bad, I simply restore the image.

    Hope this helps.
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