Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

NAS / file server build

Last response: in Storage
Share
July 11, 2010 4:37:17 AM

I'm converting a PC into a NAS / file server to handle storage of all media on my home network.

However, I'm having difficulty deciding on what OS to run. I need it to work with both Mac and Windows clients. FreeNAS seems like an obvious choice, but I'm concerned about filesystems. Right now I have 3 disks spanning 4TB all formatted in NTFS. It seems like FreeNAS prefers UFS, which poses a great challenge for me to back up all the existing data and reformat the drives. Is there a relatively painless work around to this problem?

Would using a more fully featured (but user friendly) distribution of linux, like Ubuntu, help me to get around the filesystem issue? I was initially attracted to FreeNAS because it can be run from a USB stick and easily administered via WebGUI.

Also, I'm not particularly familiar with RAIDs and not very interested in setting one up. Am I crazy for using a plain JBOD instead?

Finally, I'm curious about Time Machine backups of OSX onto the NAS. Does anyone have any experience with this? I think my wife would much rather do wireless backups of her MacBook Pro to the NAS rather than carry around a portable external hard drive.

Any input / advice would be great!

More about : nas file server build

Best solution

a b G Storage
July 11, 2010 4:54:24 PM

bcos said:
However, I'm having difficulty deciding on what OS to run. I need it to work with both Mac and Windows clients. FreeNAS seems like an obvious choice, but I'm concerned about filesystems. Right now I have 3 disks spanning 4TB all formatted in NTFS. It seems like FreeNAS prefers UFS, which poses a great challenge for me to back up all the existing data and reformat the drives. Is there a relatively painless work around to this problem? Would using a more fully featured (but user friendly) distribution of linux, like Ubuntu, help me to get around the filesystem issue? I was initially attracted to FreeNAS because it can be run from a USB stick and easily administered via WebGUI.


Linux recognizes NTFS, and I'm fairly certain that it can be reognized in BSD as well. You can use Webmin in either OS. Both can also be run via a USB drive. It's really up to you; either *nix or BSD will do what you want it to.

bcos said:
Also, I'm not particularly familiar with RAIDs and not very interested in setting one up. Am I crazy for using a plain JBOD instead?


Nothing wrong with JBOD, but you should note that it doesn't yield any increase in performance, and does not offer any redundancy. A disk failure will result in the loss of the data on said drive. While RAID isn't backup, it does give you time to rebuild the array and prevent data loss. So it's really down to what you want. If you're wanting to back up your existing computers to this rig, I'd consider something with redundancy.
Share
July 11, 2010 6:01:49 PM

Thanks for the input. I've been hearing only good things about FreeNAS so I think I will give it a shot.

As for RAID - I'm inclined to try a RAID5 setup, if anything. However, I've been reading mixed reports on RAID5 performance. Apparently read speeds are enhanced but write speeds degraded due to the parity calculations needed? My rig is an AMD Athlon II X2 3Ghz with 2GB RAM. I would hope it's more than powerful enough to do a reasonable job in a RAID5 configuration.

Another reason I am hesitant to setup a RAID is that my drives are mismatched in size (2x 1TB + 1x 2TB). If I were to go the route of RAID5 I'd effectively cut my capacity in half, which isn't an option right now. Looks like I'll be buying a couple more 2TB drives sooner than expected :) 
m
0
l
Related resources
a b G Storage
July 11, 2010 6:05:19 PM

FreeNAS is BSD based, and has high usage, and is quite proven. Good choice.

RAID5 should be just fine for what you need. www.smallnetbuilder.com has charts that compare performances of different RAID arrays; maybe check that out.

If you used RAID5 with the three disks you have, you'd only have 2TB of storage with failure protection of 1 disk.

Good luck :) 
m
0
l
July 11, 2010 6:18:59 PM

Thanks again, Pyroflea!
m
0
l
a b G Storage
July 11, 2010 6:20:36 PM

No worries, glad I could be of assistance :)  If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

Good luck :) 
m
0
l
July 15, 2010 3:01:44 AM

After an entire evening of banging my head against the wall, I've given up on FreeNAS.

No matter what I tried, I couldn't get it to even boot to the installer. Whether using the LiveCD or USB stick, it failed to load each time. The output was beyond my understanding, but I fear perhaps some of my hardware is just not compatible yet (fairly new equipment).

I've resigned myself to trying Ubuntu Linux instead. It's capable of all the things I'm looking to accomplish with the server, though it may not be as simple to administer as FreeNAS. Such is life - at least hardware compatibility won't be an issue.
m
0
l
a b G Storage
July 15, 2010 3:03:38 AM

That's too bad to hear that you couldn't get FreeNAS working. I don't know squat about BSD, so I can't be of much help :D 

I think you'll be happy with Ubuntu Server. It should be more than capable of handling whatever you need, and more.
m
0
l
July 15, 2010 4:03:07 AM

Yeah, I know Linux will get the job done just the same. I'll have another crack at FreeNAS when they release 0.8.x. I'm hoping that the issue I'm facing is resolved in FreeBSD 8.x

Despite the headache I'm definitely learning a lot!
m
0
l
July 21, 2010 7:22:46 PM

Best answer selected by bcos.
m
0
l
July 21, 2010 7:32:30 PM

Update: I shuffle some hardware around and managed to get FreeNAS running on an older box I had. I ran into some problems:

1) When trying to wake up the server from standby it would just crash on me
2) UFS reserved 8% of my storage capacity for the root user (or so I understand) and I couldn't figure out how to free it up. This resulted in almost 500GB of wasted storage.

I've got my file server running on Ubuntu now and I'm quite pleased with it. FreeNAS is a great project and I may play with it again at a future time, but for now I'm satisfied :) 

Cheers
m
0
l
!