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DIY NAS build advice needed!

Last response: in Systems
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January 13, 2010 8:37:55 PM


I'm looking into a ~$500 - 700, 4-drive NAS with 4TB of storage (to start with) but am bogged down in the "Buy an off-the-shelf NAS" or "Build a NAS box" dilemma so I need some perspective:

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 2/1/2010 BUDGET RANGE: USD$500 - 700

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: *See below*

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: N/A

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Amazon, etc. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: N/A

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: N/A

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: *See below*

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The main purpose of my NAS is:

* To consolidate all of my professional and personal data which is currently scattered on multiple drives, into a central place that can be accessed by all my machines at home

* To be able to continue to put more and more data there and know it is safe

My feature requests, in order of importance:

* Ease-of-use (I'm no sysadmin and don't want to have to play one)

* Redundancy / "safety" (I'm looking to back up and store multiple TB's of professional and personal data that I would like to have around forever)

* Expandability / upgradability (This set-up will be my centralized storage "depot" for the foreseeable future)

* Size (needs to be compact)

I'm in no need of a BitTorrent client to be running or having transcoding capabilities on this setup so those and other "gimmick-y" features are not important to me (however, if the capabilities of being to stream video and music files come for "free", then great)...

I thought I had settled on the HP EX490 but the cost after adding the drives went too high (especially when comparing to the DIY cost)...

I then trudged through all the QNap's, Synology's, Thecus's, SmartStor's, Netgear's, Drobo's etc (just as he did: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/254446-32-choice-hell ) but cost wise, building one and doing the FreeNAS thing may be the better bet (heck, even spending the extra $100 for Home Server keeps the price near or under the off-the-shelf boxes)...

In terms of building one, I'm thinking something like this:

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CASE:
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Rosewill FE-M020 Black SECC Steel MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$30

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MOBO:
--------------------------------

ASUS M4A78LT-M LE AM3 AMD 780L Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65

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CPU:
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AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCGQBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$59.00

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RAM:
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Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT12864BA1339 ***
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55

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POWER SUPPLY:
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Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$50

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HDD:
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SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$90 (x4 = $360)

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MISC:
--------------------------------

Rosewill RFX-120 120mm Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$8 (x1)

Rosewill RFA-80-K 80mm Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$2 (x1)

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= ~$650.00 (with the smaller drives, with shipping, extra SATA cables, etc...)

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In the end, I am still on the fence and am looking for help / advice / info in order to make a decision and commit ASAP...

Thanks...

VENAM1

(PS: Some thoughts / questions I still have:

* I am a PC building n00b so I'm wondering if the "learning curve" of assembling and maintaining a FreeNAS box may actually end up costing me more in terms of time and headache than just ponying up for an off-the-shelf device (I can read and write and use tools though...;))

* Is RAID even necessary in terms of backup / storage? It seems it may be overkill in a NAS, no? I'm not looking for speed (per se) and would be very, angry to watch my data go down the drain after a drive failure or URE (which seems very probable in a RAID 5 config), even though RAID 5 is touted as an "ideal combination of good performance, good fault tolerance and high capacity and storage efficiency"

* I wanted to go the "green" HDD route but kept reading about catastrophic data loss when used in conjunction with any type of RAID configuration so that is why I am eye-balling the Spinpoint F3 (but without RAID, I take it the "eco" drives are a better choice in terms of power savings, yeah?))

January 13, 2010 8:58:35 PM

A couple of comments...I am a sysadmin, but I haven't build any sort of NAS at home.

1) Learning curve - could be problematic, but that depends on how much you value your time.
2) To me (as a sysadmin), the whole point of NAS is data redundancy, either RAID 1 or RAID 5. I wouldn't consider building a NAS appliance if I wasn't going to go with RAID. RAID 0 is the risky one. If you had a RAID 5 setup and lost all of your data, you would have to have lost 2 drives, not just 1. If you're not considering using RAID, and you're all Windows at home, why not just set up a public share on 1 big disk on one of your machines?
3) No idea about the green/eco drives, though I can't think of a reason why they would not work with RAID. Got any links?
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January 13, 2010 9:22:08 PM

Thanks for the response coldsleep...!

I do value my time greatly but figure investing the time up front and doing the config right the first time, I may be okay...;)

Good to know about the RAID thing... Since the redundancy / back-up of my data is of utmost importance, I was looking into RAID 5 but started to get spooked when reading about data loss and the "fragility" of a software-based NAS RAID setup... I am still considering the RAID feature and just wanna make sure I plan that part of the build as best as I can...

In terms of specific links, I started seeing alot of comments in reviews about the WD "green" drives being a disaster in RAID set-ups (can't enable TLER anymore on non-RE drives or something?) and started looking around:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=51...

Saw some of the same issues on the QNap forums... Basically the WD desktop Green drives don't work with RAID configs (or at least it a very risky proposition)...:( 

http://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?f=182&t=14273

I then found more comments / examples with the Eco HDD's too...

Not the best examples listed above but overall I got the impression to stay away from the desktop "green" drives in RAID...

Thanks again, please keep it coming...! ;) 

VENAM1


coldsleep said:
A couple of comments...I am a sysadmin, but I haven't build any sort of NAS at home.

1) Learning curve - could be problematic, but that depends on how much you value your time.
2) To me (as a sysadmin), the whole point of NAS is data redundancy, either RAID 1 or RAID 5. I wouldn't consider building a NAS appliance if I wasn't going to go with RAID. RAID 0 is the risky one. If you had a RAID 5 setup and lost all of your data, you would have to have lost 2 drives, not just 1. If you're not considering using RAID, and you're all Windows at home, why not just set up a public share on 1 big disk on one of your machines?
3) No idea about the green/eco drives, though I can't think of a reason why they would not work with RAID. Got any links?
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Related resources
Anonymous
September 13, 2010 8:51:04 PM

Hi,

I just spend the last 58 hrs of my life (with no sleep) rebuilding a failed RAID 5. the drive that crashed, crashed the os during a rebuild, and because it is a software raid and the os wouldn't boot, i was screwed.

advice is worth as much as you pay for it, but make sure you get an actual RAID CARD! pretty expensive for SATA, but let me tell you, it would have saved me time and work boatloads of OT. A decent RAID card for SATA usually runs 300-400, but being able to rebuild a failed array without the need of a managed os would be awesome. don't cheap out on the soft-raids. You might regret it like we do.

T3CHKOMMIE~
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September 13, 2010 9:01:57 PM

I may be way over my head in bulding a NAS and RAID, including software RAID, but if its THAT critical, why not some form of offline backup, either magnetic tape (Do they even still use that?), Blu-Ray 50 GB disks, or simply external hard drives, and make regular backups at LEAST weekly?

No matter how you do a RAID, a regular backup is still a good idea if that data is that critical.
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September 13, 2010 11:17:02 PM

When it comes to building a NAS, quality and low power is what you want. This thing is going to be on 24x7 and it doesn't need a lot of power to feed your network files. Here's what I'd build for a NAS today:

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08 (6 x 3.5" HDD in mini-itx form)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo:
SUPERMICRO MBD-X7SPA-H-O mini-itx server motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or if limited by budget and you're happy with the limit of 4 SATA ports
GIGABYTE GA-D525TUD mini-itx desktop motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Seasonic 300W or 350W 80Plus BRONZE PSU (whichever is on sale) or the Antec EA-380D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Add 2GB of compatible RAM and either a DVD burner or Blu-Ray burner if you plan to make hard copy backups.

For drives, I would got 1.5TB or 2TB and stick with green drives. I would also get a small drive for the OS (you might even be able to get away with a USB drive for that depending on the OS you choose).

I would NOT run them in hardware RAID but instead install either Windows Home Server or Fedora/Amahi and let the software take care of redundancy/backup. With a NAS you're looking for safety of your documents/files so you want two things: 1) copies of everything on separate drives and 2) a way to recover from both drive crashes AND hardware failures. The latter is often overlooked and with hardware RAID the latter comes into play when your hardware dies. Without having also backed everything up, if the RAID hardware fails you're toast. At least with software redundancy (sometimes called software RAID) you can recover much easier (exception however might be WHS Vail which is in beta right now so maybe not the best choice). WHS and Fedora/Amahi you can mount the drives in a Windows or Linux box and still see the files if the hardware dies!

If you decide not to roll your own you'll find Q-NAP and Synology get the best reviews. It's then just a matter of finding the one that matches your needs and budget. Even here, without offline backups, if the hardware dies it will be hard to recover. Check the forums/website/customer support for these devices to see what people's experience is. Can you buy a new one and plug your drives in and get the data back? What happens 5 years from now when they don't sell that one anymore?

After that, no matter what you get, consider still backing up your files offsite, at least the most important ones either by backing up to a external drive and taking it offsite or using something like Carbonite and backing up to the 'net. None of this helps if your house suffers a disaster.
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September 13, 2010 11:26:06 PM

I wish there was a "BestConfigs" sticky for home servers.
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!