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New Guy Here: Is This Setup For Me?

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December 13, 2010 5:44:01 PM

Alright. I've been doing a ton of research the last 2 days about this topic but I think I need some direct opinions before I get started here.. I want a Drobo but I don't want to buy one and from what I'm seeing I can pretty much build one for much much cheaper.. What my impressions were is that I can just use the AMD motherboard I have laying around (has 6 SATA ports) with a single core chip in it.. Throw on 2GB of RAM.. I have 2 1TB hard drives I was going to use.. and install FreeNAS.. and use ZFS and be able to have redundancy across the drives.. so that if one fails.. I can yank it and replace it and my data will be re-written and I won't lose anything..

Is that basically correct? Or am I missing something here..

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a b G Storage
December 14, 2010 2:11:43 AM

I'm sure you can use zfs to create a mirror setup but I've not seen it done.

However, you are not replacing a drobo. You are making a NAS. The drobo is a shiny box which you plug in and slam random drives into. There is a network drobo now (fs? version) but most are usb based.

It's like the difference between buying a toyota and building a dune buggy. One is shiny and works every time. The other needs work. I recommend the dune buggy but it's not for everyone.
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December 14, 2010 10:01:18 AM

adampower said:
I'm sure you can use zfs to create a mirror setup but I've not seen it done.

However, you are not replacing a drobo. You are making a NAS. The drobo is a shiny box which you plug in and slam random drives into. There is a network drobo now (fs? version) but most are usb based.

It's like the difference between buying a toyota and building a dune buggy. One is shiny and works every time. The other needs work. I recommend the dune buggy but it's not for everyone.


Hm. Alright. So which route would you recommend I go if I would like to go this route of setting up a NAS with hot swappable drives?

Yeah the Drobo FS is the network version. It's the one I wanted but it's DEFINITELY not worth $700 in my mind.. I truly believe you can build the same thing for under $300.
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a b G Storage
December 14, 2010 11:24:29 PM

$300 is pushing it. But you can be close.

Okay, imho you should go with FreeNAS. Keep a good backup and watch for a stable release from sub mesa. You can upgrade later and use your backup to build new zpools with zfs v14 or whatever the stable release supports. I don't think you will be able to upgrade without a rebuild. However, you may be happy with FreeNAS... if it ain't broke. Why fix it?

Now... hardware.
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December 14, 2010 11:27:40 PM

adampower said:
$300 is pushing it. But you can be close.

Okay, imho you should go with FreeNAS. Keep a good backup and watch for a stable release from sub mesa. You can upgrade later and use your backup to build new zpools with zfs v14 or whatever the stable release supports. I don't think you will be able to upgrade without a rebuild. However, you may be happy with FreeNAS... if it ain't broke. Why fix it?

Now... hardware.


Well.. I've got http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... this chip laying around which I think is pretty good for this application being reasonably powerful and low power consumption.. I had an AM3 motherboard laying around but when I tested it out just now it wasn't working.. so I'll have to find another one of those.. I don't imagine I'd need a RAID card?
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a b G Storage
December 16, 2010 2:16:57 AM

You don't need a raid card. Unless you require more sata ports.

I think your amd sempron processor would be a good candidate for a nas. You can upgrade later if you feel the need. The nice thing about amd is that you can use ECC memory as well (if you wish). Error checking memory is a nice boost to data safety (although it is somewhat redundant with the zfs file system). zfs is more or less like ecc for your drives.

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December 16, 2010 3:27:11 AM

Alright I have it mostly setup with FreeNas.. It's running and I have..

2 1TB Drive.
1 500GB Drive.
1 2TB Drive (coming on Friday).

The goal is to have them all in a raidz but from my experience this evening I don't think that is possible since apparently they need to be even.. so what I'm going to try to do is partition them all evenly which would be in sets of 492GB or so.. and then add them all to a pool.. which in theory should work..

My issue right now is that when I try to run fdisk I keep getting the error invalid partition map or something like that.. so I need to figure that out.. I found somewhere to run super fdisk but the cd drive has been removed so I'd like to find another solution..

Anyone have one?
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a b G Storage
December 18, 2010 8:54:23 PM

Great! This can be done but why not just pool them for now? Ultimately you would like to have 5 disks in a raid z. Wait until the time is right and buy 3 more 1tb drives. In the mean time use the other two in jbod fashion. This is where the drobo/nas difference comes in. I do not believe you can add to a pool without rebuilding it. Especially in v7 or earlier.

To tell the truth I'm not an expert. Only played a little before disconnecting my server rig. Now I'm homeless (ok renting), everything is in storage, and we are building a house. I hope to play much more soon.

I have an external cd drive which cost maybe $22. This is the thing to use. Or, just 'borrow' one for the application.
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December 26, 2010 5:32:29 AM

adampower said:
Great! This can be done but why not just pool them for now? Ultimately you would like to have 5 disks in a raid z. Wait until the time is right and buy 3 more 1tb drives. In the mean time use the other two in jbod fashion. This is where the drobo/nas difference comes in. I do not believe you can add to a pool without rebuilding it. Especially in v7 or earlier.

To tell the truth I'm not an expert. Only played a little before disconnecting my server rig. Now I'm homeless (ok renting), everything is in storage, and we are building a house. I hope to play much more soon.

I have an external cd drive which cost maybe $22. This is the thing to use. Or, just 'borrow' one for the application.


Yeah. I actually went ahead and paid for unRAID a couple weeks ago.. Haven't been happier.. There's a few quirks here and there that I'm trying to figure out just feature wise but so far it's serving it's purpose.. It's a little slow but it's been able to provide streaming HD movies which was the ultimate purpose so I'm happy with it so far.
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a b G Storage
December 29, 2010 2:28:13 AM

Great. That's the thing with storage. Or with anything. One should buy for their needs and not buy for the biggest and best. Streaming HD does not require full gigabit bandwidth. If it works, we're done. When it doesn't, we'll start again.
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