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Low cost NAS solution

Last response: in Storage
May 11, 2010 4:45:44 PM

Heya, Sorry if my terminology or understanding is slighty off, im kind of new to storage configurations etc.

I'm looking for a low cost NAS solution to store files for the whole household, including Videos, photos, and just be able to use an app similar to Genie Timeline on the PCs to backup files from each one on a regular basis.

I'm highly interested in Freenas, as it seems to do everything i need with a nice GUI also.

I'm looking for;

- A bit of redundancy, Raid 5 or as it is called in ZFS, RAID - Z is it?
- About 2-4 TB of storage which i can expand as time progresses.
- Quite power efficient
- Reasonable performance on a gigabit network.
- Fairly cheap, something that isn't going to break the bank.

And if you guys reccommend it?

- ZFS filesystem for all of these great advantages i've been reading about. And if so, will i seemlessly be able to upgrade the pool (is it called?) when a version of ZFS version 13 is introduced in a stable freenas release, without having to move my data somewhere else.

I have been looking at an D510 atom based mobo, it seems to be highly power efficient compared to the chipset power hungry older model. However if you think a standard motherboard will be best to suit my needs, feel free to point in the right direction.

Cheers, craig.

More about : low cost nas solution

a c 127 G Storage
May 11, 2010 8:26:58 PM

Yes you can upgrade your ZFS pool from version 6 (FreeNAS) to version 13/14 (FreeBSD8). You cannot downgrade though; so once you upgraded you cannot go back to older FreeNAS releases.

An Atom solution would not have a much lower idle power consumption than a low-power AMD or Intel setup. So if you care about power, look at an efficient PSU instead.

You should use the onboard SATA ports, not any PCI or PCI-X controller cards. You also do not need RAID edition or drives with TLER. If they support TLER, disable it.

I written some FreeBSD+ZFS guides; if you are going to use FreeNAS these steps aren't necessary. Still you might be interested to take a look at the alternative FreeBSD NAS install procedure:
May 11, 2010 8:52:31 PM

Okay thanks for your reply, i'll have a look at your site :)  .

What could i gain from using freebsd?

And also could you reccommend, a few components please?

Sorry for the badgering questions, Craig

EDIT: Your Guides do look good, however im unsure as to whether i'd be capable of maintaining such a command line based system.
Related resources
a c 127 G Storage
May 11, 2010 10:57:29 PM

Benefit of FreeBSD would be the latest versions of ZFS and other advanced stuff, and ability to use the system for other uses besides NAS-functions.

But really, if you feel uncomfortable with learning a UNIX-system (which can be very rewarding i can tell you), then i would advise the FreeNAS option instead.

FreeNAS is really easy, mouseclicks; basically how you do things on Windows. As soon as FreeNAS is updated, you can update your ZFS array to version 13 or 14. FreeNAS may require you to use some command-line interaction for these kind of advanced and uncommon functions, but it should not occur frequently and generally i think you will have few problems with FreeNAS.

FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD, but on a slightly older version, but with a very nice web-GUI that most Windows users will like.
May 12, 2010 2:52:30 PM

Iomega's got a great NAS, 24 tb under 10k. Their network storage ebook ( is a good starting point, good luck.
a c 127 G Storage
May 12, 2010 2:55:28 PM

10.000 dollars is hardly cheap; considering you can built a 24TB NAS yourself for around 1500 euro.

The topicstarter talked about 2 to 4 terabyte; so 24TB seems excessive.
a b G Storage
May 12, 2010 7:14:06 PM

I like the thought of some of these d510 boards for a NAS. I am building a system with an i3 530 and h55 mobo which is overkill but, as sub mesa says, the idle power usage is similar and the power/upgradeability is so much more.

Check my thread as you may get some ideas.

Recently backed up my computers onto jbod and got some promising numbers. With 4 seagate lp 1tb drives in ZFS i should be able to write at 110 MB/s. The next upgrade will be to stripe that pool which will push and pull easily more than the 125MB/s gigabit can handle. Plenty for me. Ready for 10gbe

As Tom always says USE A SMALL, EFFICIENT, POWER SUPPLY. Will post power use numbers when I get some proper psu's.
May 12, 2010 9:39:43 PM

Cheers for all the replies, and yeh i dont need a 10000 pound 24tb nas thanks ><.

Erm, if i used any of the following;


Would the following hardware be suitable, expandable and low idle power?

-150w PicoPSU
-2/3 2TB WD20EARS Drives (I know its more than 4, but if i get set now, the less fiddling there will be later.)
-AMD 4850e CPU maybe?
-With a 690g chipset mobo.

-A cheap generic DVD drive for installation, or can i install from usb :)  ?

Cheers, craig
a c 127 G Storage
May 12, 2010 11:53:43 PM

You cannot use PicoPSU well with 3,5" class harddrives. They can use 30-35W when spinning up, per drive. Four drives mean 140W of 12V DC usage just for the disks. This may lead to shutdowns by overload shortly after pressing the power button.

For PicoPSU, you may want to consider 2,5" drives instead. These use only 4 or 5W when spinning up; much lower than 3,5" drives. 2,5" 500GB drives are most affordable; though they cost much more per GB than 3,5" class drives.

The AMD 4850e is an older chip, try Athlon 240e which is alot newer and also alot faster. DDR3 memory consumes less power than DDR2. 740/760/780/785 AMD chipsets are also low-power. Micro-ATX motherboards without 140W CPU support consume less power than average. 3+1 or 4+1 phase VRM recommended.

As you are going to use EARS drives, you will have 4k sector drives aka Advanced Format, but the drive will tell it has 512 byte sectors to maintain compatibility with XP. So it lies to the OS. You can fix this by running geom_nop on the individual disks and explicitly set the sector size to 4096 bytes or 4 kilobytes. This will make sure there is no mis-alignment possible at all; all I/O will be forced to happen in chunks of 4KiB that are perfectly aligned.

I personally haven't used them with ZFS yet, though. But this is how i would do it. :) 
a b G Storage
May 13, 2010 4:53:28 AM

My mobo and drives support staggered spin up (can't recall the exact term). I think most newer boards do too but check the literature if this is important. You could simply delay the spin up of each disk so the power supply survives boot-up. I'm a big fan of grean/lp/eco drives too. For the price of the pico psu you might just try it... if it works, you're golden! If not, return it and buy something larger.

The general idea for a server is to start it up and let it run. It's an appliance. We don't generally start and stop them regularly and the added few seconds to stagger the drive starts shouldn't bother the average home user.

I'm watching this thing with the EARS drives. I like the idea, but want to KNOW that it works. BTW did anyone see the 2tb ears for $99 at tigerdirect? hard not to pull the trigger.
a b G Storage
May 13, 2010 4:59:13 AM

Oh and the ReadyNas system which advertises 'Speeds up to 25MBps' in the headline? Give me 400 clams and I'll guarantee you 26MBps + Or better yet. Build it and 125MBps may be achieved.
a c 127 G Storage
May 13, 2010 12:34:54 PM

Never saw a motherboard that supports staggered spin-up; i think you're mistaken that your mobo supports this. Only some controllers, and likely you have to make custom power cables; even with staggered spinup the disks will spinup unless you make a special cable with one pin shorted out. That pin controls whether SATA HDDs spin up directly or wait for the controller to tell them to spin-up. Without this working, staggered spinup does not work at all.

But i'm fairly sure your motherboard does not support Staggered Spinup.

Also, its not easy to find a 12V DC converter that goes up to 150W. Usually you can get 80/90/120W max. However, yes, if it works you got yourself a really power efficient NAS. :) 
May 13, 2010 3:22:37 PM

Yeh that CPU looks very promising;

So im looking at;
-240e cpu
-740/760/780/785 mobo (with undervolting capabailities, or not worth it?)
-ddr3 1333mhz (does it need to be any faster?)
-cheap dvd drive
-picopsu (Is this not a genuine picopsu then.)
-Possibly 2/3 EARS drives when i do a bit more research into this sector size thing.

And in terms of the staggered spin up, a DIY solution like this looks promising, and doesn't look like it really poses as a risk to your data.

Cheers, Craig.
a c 127 G Storage
May 13, 2010 5:16:22 PM

Keep in mind the PicoPSU requires a 230/110 AC -> 12V DC adaptor; a black brick-shaped adaptor you likely seen used in other devices. Those usually do not go as far as 150W. Keep this in mind when you want to use 3,5" disks.

DDR3 - the speed is not important; the capacity is.

Will check for some mobos you may like, but there are alot; Micro-ATX and with 6x onboard SATA/300 full bandwidth. Choose SB750 or SB710 southbridge when possible; those are newer than the SB600/700.
May 13, 2010 5:41:07 PM

ahah, thanks :) 

I will have a look see at some mobo's too and in terms of the stagegred spin up, it seems to be an optional part of the sata 2 spec. Manufacturers are seriously lax on specifiying whether their devices are capable of it.

Cheers, craig

EDIT: Been looking around and correct me if im wrong, according to this wiki, staggered spin up is referred to on the mobo as Power-up in standby. I have also read it's called delayed spin.
a b G Storage
May 13, 2010 7:00:16 PM

sub mesa is right.

Looking at my mobo manual it does not seem to support staggered spin up.

Here's the setting I misunderstood.

Delay For HDD (Secs)
Allows you to set a delay time for the BIOS to initialize the hard drive as the system boots up. The adjustable
range is from 0 to 15 seconds. (Default: 0)

I didn't think it was a stretch for the bios to control this staggered spin up function but maybe it is?

Anyway, it would be nice if you did find a mobo that will do this for you as it wouldn't limit your psu choices. The psu efficiency at 50 watts (more or less) is so important to your overall efficiency. But you need that 12v rail to power up your spinners.

Please post power use information when you finish the build.
May 13, 2010 7:15:01 PM

I'm sure this function will be just a 'poor mans' staggered spin, and if this time setting is individual per drive, you could set one at 0, another at 3 seconds, another at 6, 9, 12 and 15.

Obviously this is based on my assumption of it taking 3 seconds to spin up a drive.

And yeah, will do, however i dont think i'll be able to provide you with 'In use' Power info right away, just basic;
-Start up Consumption
-Idle Consumption

As i think it'll take me a little bit of time to get the software bit done, as i have a lot of work on atm.
a c 127 G Storage
May 13, 2010 7:46:37 PM

The issue is with the Serial ATA power connector, not the data connector or anything with the motherboard. To make staggered spin-up work, some pin (15 or 16 out of my head) needs to be shorted. This triggers whether disks spin up instantly or only when requested to.

For that reason, people drill into Serial ATA converter cables to short-out this pin and allow the software to spin-up the drive instead. This might be useful to google on. May not be much information about this, really, as staggered spin up is mostly an enterprise feature where major vendors make sure it works. ;-)
May 13, 2010 7:49:54 PM

Isn't that what, PM2/PUIS is for on drives? Correct me if i'm wrong of course;

Taken from here;

"PM2 Mode – To designate the drive as power-up in standby (power management 2 or PM2)
enabled, install the jumper shunt on pins 3 and 4. The mode enables controlled spinup,
mainly used for server/workstation environments operating in multiple drive configurations."

Essentially it just stops the Hard drive booting immediately when it recieves current from the PSU, instead it boots when it recieves a command from the controller.

Cheers Craig