My first NAS - help picking out hardware

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lysbjerg

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Hi forum:

I'm about to build my first NAS. After having considered various models from Synology and QNAP, I finally decided on building one on my own. First, I miss building computers as I did as a teenager and second, I hope that I will obtain more flexibility with FreeNAS than with the Synology/QNAPs.

This is what I ultimately want to do with my NAS:

1. stream music to
a) a non-networked stereo receiver without turning on a computer
b) networked computers
c) maybe also a computer at work
2. stream (possibly HD) movies to an Apple TV 2 and/or a PS3
3. preferrably be able to control the streaming from an iPad
4. keep copies of important data from laptops (both MacBooks~TimeMachine and Windows machines)

FreeNAS question: Is it possible to use the NAS as a "normal" computer and play music and movies through the audio out and HDMI out on the motherboard (preferrably via an iPad)?

Hardware considerations: I am going to install four or six 2TB drives in the NAS and was considering running ZFS/RAID in some way. As I'm a NAS noob any recommendations on how to set up a 4/6 drives array are highly appreciated. (Should it be as 1, 2, or 3 arrays? Does the answer depend on the SATA controller on the motherboard?)

Since I most likely will end up buying 6 hard drives, I've been looking at the following motherboards:

On-board CPUs:
* ASUS E35M1-I (CPU: AMD Fusion E-350)
* ZOTAC M880G-ITX WiFi (CPU: AMD Turion II Neo K625)

Pros: cheap, 6 x SATA-600
Cons: slow CPUs (but enough for my needs?), only support for 8 GB of RAM (enough for ZFS in the long run?)

LGA1155-socket (Core i3 I3-2100 3 MB):
* ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision
* ZOTAC H67-ITX WiFi

Pros: support for 16 GB of RAM
Cons: expensive, 2 x SATA-600, 4 x SATA-300 (is it a problem that the SATA ports aren't identical?)

LGA1156-socket (Core i3 I3-540 4 MB):
* ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi

Pros: 6 x SATA-300 ports
Cons: expensive, only support for 8 GB of RAM

The WiFi option on the ZOTAC boards sounds pretty sweet as the NAS can be more easily stored away but will WiFi (802.11n) be fast enough for streaming movies?

Hard drives: Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB or
Seagate SV35.5 Series ST2000VX002 2 TB. I saw someone recommending the latter as it's an enterprise drive used for 24/7 video surveilance. What do you think? Also, on the Synology forum somewhere, I read that an update was needed in order for the Synology NASs to be able to spin down the green drives. Does FreeNAS support these drives "out-of-the-box"?

RAM: I read somewhere (http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2010/07/23/how-to-build-a-nas-box/4) that using low voltage RAM could save on a system's power use. Is that worth considering when building a NAS?

I know this was a lot of questions but I hope that someone will take their time to answer some of them.
 

ProtoSD

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1 & 2: FreeNAS doesn't support any streaming currently, it's planned for 8.1 next year. FreeNAS .7 might be a better choice for you.

3) This would definitely be possible, if there were streaming.

4) Yes, but the new version of Lion has issues backing up with Time Machine because of changes to NetTalk. There's a thread about a workaround, see the FAQ in my signature.

As for playing music like a 'normal' computer, FreeNAS doesn't support this natively, but it seems possible with a hack.

I can't make a lot of recommendations about your hardware choices, but leave yourself the option of getting 16GB of RAM. Down the road with newer ZFS features it'll come in handy.

Having a lot of SATA ports on your motherboard is nice, I have 6 on mine, but I think performance wise if you are going to have a lot of storage and want to expand, splitting your drives across controllers will be to your benefit.
 

lysbjerg

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Thank you for the quick reply. I wasn't aware that FreeNAS 8 didn't support streaming. Would you know if it's possible to install the relevant servers (UPnP/DAAP/DLNA) from FreeBSD source codes/tarballs. Since FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD, I was thinking that it may be possible to install for example forked-daapd in some way from the source: http://alioth.debian.org/~jblache/forked-daapd/

Otherwise .7 may be the way to go until 8.1 is released. Do you know how well ZFS is working in .7?
 
B

Bohs Hansen

Guest
a couple things i'd like to add.

skip anything you think about with WIFI on a NAS. Just don't do it. You'll regret the effort you put into it.

both the E350 and the NEO II should be more then enough for what you need. I myself run the E350 Zacate cause i could get a passive cooled board there. But the NEO II is slightly better and optimized for storage systems where the E350 is more of a HTPC board. But as said, it runs just fine for me with no problems and good performance (it even runs win2008 r2 "fine").

A thing to consider again though, is the onboard LAN if you want to use that. FreeNAS .7 doesn't support the Realtek 8111E thats on the e350 (atleast not a month ago when i tried)
 

ProtoSD

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lysbjerg - I think @joeschmuck is trying to do exactly what you are thinking. I'm not sure what issues he's having trying to get it done. I believe he is going on vacation, but you might send him a PM and see what his thoughts are.

FreeNAS 8.0 is missing a lot of the bells and whistles of .7 because they made a lot of core changes and need to get the base platform stable before adding all that stuff back. If you want those features on something stable, .7 is probably better to start with. They are also working on a more straight forward way of upgrading from .7 to 8.x, so when the time comes that might be the way to go for now.

Update: No, I'm not sure how well ZFS is working in .7, but you might ask in the .7 forums. The link is at the top of the page in the title bar.
 

lysbjerg

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@Bohs: Thank you for the advise. I had the feeling that WiFi wasn't the way to go but in my hunt for the right motherboard they just kept popping up. Since I'm almost certain to set up a ZFS array, I think I will follow the advise of protosd and go for a board that supports 16 GB. Unfortunately, I haven't found any on-board CPU motherboards with 6 SATA ports that supports 16 GB RAM. Then again, I could go for a motherboard with 4 SATA ports and buy an extra SATA controller which protosd also suggests could be good for the performance. Is that the Fractal Design Array R2 case you have in your avatar? I was considering the exact same enclosure for my NAS, so if you have any advise in that aspect I will be glad to hear it.

@protosd: Thank you for the references to @joeschmuck and the .7 forum. I will definitely drop him a PM and ask him if he has succeeded and see how other people have experienced ZFS in .7.

@all: Would there be any advantage in building a Core i3 based NAS or is it just wasting money? In particular, I'm thinking about streaming HD movies to the Apple TV 2/PS3 and--if a media player for FreeNAS exists--to play the movies via the HDMI out port on the motherboard.
 

joeschmuck

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@lysbjerb

Good thing you PM'd me, I wouldn't have been looking in the threads for a few weeks but since you did I'll get started with my advice and you should listen to everyone and make you're decision.

1. I have similar uses for my FreeNAS box and because you know what you will be using it for it will make it that much easier to buy the correct parts if you are building it from scratch. Last week I saw an update in the builds for version .7 that might allow TimeMachine to work since Apple made it's most recent change. I'm not an apple person so I have no need to build it but if it's not out now, I don't think it will be long before it is out. UPnP needed for streaming video as you already have heard is planned for the future. When I return from vacation I will try to incorporate it myself to see how it goes because I doubt I want to wait until next year for it with FreeNAS 8.1. FreeNAS 8 does support an Apple Sharing of music files. I have never used it but I'm sure there are others in these forums which have used it as I understand it might actually work now.

2. I don't know of anyone that is playing music directly from the FreeNAS box. I'm certain it can be done but the software is not set up to support in that way. If you want a computer to also run as a NAS, run a Virtual Machine copy of FreeNAS on a good computer. You would need probably 12GB or RAM to do it right but at that point and in my opinion it's no longer a NAS, it's just a good computer running a NAS application.

3. Hard drive configuration. Here you will get a ton of advice but I would have to ask you why you need so much space and how important the data is you are putting on the drives. First you should always have a backup (on CD/DVD/ or other media) of the important data. I backup my photos on to DVD twice a year and every week to one other computer in the house. BTW, all my photos are on a NAS, not my FreeNAS box yet but I will put them there once I'm settled I won't be changing the drive formats again and again. I backup all my computers to the NAS. I don't need to create a separate backup because if the NAS fails, well I hope the original computer is still running. Financial data is backed up several times a day to the NAS and a separate USB Flash Drive. I store Movies on my NAS but if those go away, I'm irritated but it's no big deal. And yes, streaming HD content off my old NAS to a PS3. The FreeNAS will be more than capable once we have UPnP.

Getting back to hard drive configuration, if you have 8GB of RAM you should be able to run 6 hard drives without breaking a sweat using ZFS. Speed of accessing data: If you are running 4 drives or more in a single RAIDZ1 or Z2, and you plan to let the hard drive power down when not in use, it will take several seconds to access the data. Several drives will need to spin up and they are done in sequence so it takes some time. If you run a mirrored pair then you only need one drive to spin up to access the data. Tell us what your goals are with respect to data storage and we will give you our best answer. I run a 4 drive RAIDZ1 so if one drive fails, all my data is still in tact.

Speaking of hard drives, you may head different opinions but mine is, don't buy all your drives at one from the same place and the same manufacturer. Buy a few Samsung, Western Digital, and if you have a brand preference, that. Buy from different stores. What you are doing here is trying to mitigate multiple drive failures. Also, if you have a mirrored pair, use one of each drive model, not the same. You will see other posting about timing and latency concerns. There is no concern. The NAS you are building is not a high speed device, if it were you would be sticking with the enterprise level hard drives which are costly.

Components to build with... Sounds like you don't have an older computer to donate which is the cheapest way to go. Maybe your current computer is a little old and you might want a new one, just donate those older parts after you buy that speed demon. But if you want to build a a new NAS from scratch there is work I'm already done for others and you might be able to find it by searching the forums. You don't need to spend a lot of money but you get what you pay for. Don't buy a 1000 Watt power supply for $40.00 unless you want to watch something die. The Hard drives will be your largest investment. The iCore-3 is probably overkill for 6 drives doing ZFS but it comes down to the cost of the overall system. I'm an Intel fan these days, use to be AMD a few years back since they were introduced, both are good. When selecting the motherboard ensure you can install at least 8GB of DDR3 RAM and if it's only 2 RAM slots, buy all you want up front. Do not buy a motherboard with DDR2 RAM, it will cost you twice as much in RAM costs (the reason I only have 4GB vice 8GB). And as you saw some other advice from my friend above, 16GB might be in order. I'm not sure if that would be used for plug-ins later or just more hard drives but if you can afford it why not. Because you are wanting to run 6 drives you will really need at least 8GB. Don't skimp on the power supply. 6 drives and an iCore-3, I'll say 400 Watts and you should spend anywhere from $80 to $130. If you come up with a list of items you want to buy, we will happily agree or disagree and offer alternatives for you.

As Bohs said, No WiFi. You will hate yourself. Hard wire your NAS to you equipment were you desire speed, like for HD Video and backups. If you want to do wifi, do it through an external access point connected to your LAN and use it for a laptop grabbing some music or a file, not anything that needs some serious bandwidth.

As for the SATA ports. If it comes down to money, the SATA-150 ports are as fast as it needs to get. Those 2TB hard drives are slow and will not max out a 150 speed port. SATA-600 sounds cool but save it for your new speedy computer, not a NAS.

CPU: Back here again... Do not buy a 1156 CPU, 1155 is the flavor of the month if you are going Intel.

And back to the hard drives... Do not use a video hard drive for a computer. Video hard drives allow for errors and just skip right through the data in favor of keeping the video running. Odds are the person watching TV will never notice the dozens of read errors while watching a recorded program. BUT an computer will crash, it can't handle bad data so well. Video drives are great for a TiVo or DVR and I use them myself in that capacity.

Drive Spindown, well yes and no. Yes if the hard drive is connected to the motherboard controller (haven't seen a problem yet), but no if you are using certain add-on SAS cards to connect to the hard drives. Stick with the motherboard connectors so that means you will need a MB with 6 SATA connections. Not a big deal.

If you wanted to just get a system operational I'd recommend using FreeNAS .7 right now. Eventually there will be a nice import tool to migrate from .7 to 8 and when that happens you might be so happy with .7 that you won't do anything and stay where you are at.

My last piece of advice... If you are building this from scratch, read the forums to see what hardware is working for people and what isn't. Most of the people here didn't spend too much money on their systems and you can easily ask them what they wished they had done different. Trust me, most of us would have done some things a little different. I would have bought a MB that could use either 4 slots for RAM or DDR3 RAM.

And you didn't say if you wanted an ultra quiet NAS or if it didn't really matter.

Sorry I jumped all over the place, I'm in a hurry and I'll check back in probably Monday. If you have any questions just post them here and one of my buddies here will lend a helping hand.

-Mark
 

lysbjerg

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Thank you for taking the time to reply to my PM in such great detail.

1. I'm not quite an Apple person (yet) but my girlfriend is and she will be using the NAS for music/photos. Support for TimeMachine in .7 sounds good. That coupled with the UPnP and DAAP servers speaks in favor of .7, that is if ZFS is working well in .7 and there will be no problem in upgrading to FreeNAS 8.* when that time comes.

2. In my current flat the NAS will be positioned in the living room close to the home stereo and TV. I had two reasons for wanting to play music/video content through the on-board audio/video out ports. First, if it was possible to simply play music of the NAS through the audio out port it would then be easy to connect it to the stereo receiver. Otherwise I would have to use a computer/squeezebox/sonos or perhaps the Apple TV 2 to stream the music from the NAS to the receiver. Second, I was a bit concerned about how well 1080p HD content could be streamed over the network (via a PS3/Apple TV 2), but if that is not an issue that sounds great!

3. Data storage plans: My hope was to store all of my music, DVD and Blu-ray movies on the NAS and with an ever growing music and movie collection, I guess that eventually will take up a lot of space (especially for the Blu-rays). As mentioned above my girlfriend will use the NAS for her music and photos (in RAW format). Luckily, I don't need to backup the movies and music as I keep the originals in the basement. They are just taking up so much physical space and it would be much easier to organize the database on a NAS. We will also use the NAS to backup data from our laptops but as you I consider the chances of losing data both on the laptop and the NAS to be minimal. The important data that we will need to backup on a regular basis will be the photos. In case 1-2 hard drives fail at the same time it could be nice if the array(s) can be reconstructed as easy as possible.

Hard drive configuration: My knowledge about the various RAID-Z/mirror setups is at best minimal. During the day I had a thought though. Assume that the NAS is build with six drives. How many drives are used to store data for a possible disk failure? Would it be possible to replace/hot-swap these drives and rebuild the "recovery" disks. In that case one could keep the spare set as a backup or is that not possible/recommended?

I don't know why I had the idea in my head that the drives should be identical but it makes perfect sense to diversify across brands and batches. Would you buy two of each (preferrably from different batches) and should they be of the same size or does that depend on the RAID-Z/mirror setup? Speedwise it doesn't matter too much that it takes seconds to spin the drives up as long as they don't do that while playing music/movies. I've seen people recommending 4K drives but do not know exactly what the concern here is.

Unfortunately, I don't have any recyclable components lying around so I will have to build from scratch.

At the moment I'm leaning towards buying:

Case: Fractal Design Array R2 (room for 6 HDD + 1 SSD)
PSU: 300W SFX PSU included in the case
Motherboard: ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision (LGA1155, 2 x SATA-600, 4 x SATA-300)
CPU: Pentium G620, G620T (+11%), G840 (+16%), G850 (+31%),
Core i3 I3-2100 (+64%) or Core i3 I3-2100T (+74%) [percentages are the additional cost compared to the G620)
RAM: 1-2 sticks of 8GB memory
Hard drives: ??

I will see if I can find the time to browse through the forum for hardware advise in the weekend and will probably update the list on Sunday/Monday.

Soundwise it doesn't need to be ultra quiet but the less noise the better. Eventually, it will be stored well away but until then it will be placed in my living room where music/movies usually make more noise than the NAS.

And finally let me just say that I can't wait to start playing with computers again - I guess Christmas time is starting early this year :smile:
 

ProtoSD

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lysbjerg-

Assume that the NAS is build with six drives. How many drives are used to store data for a possible disk failure? Would it be possible to replace/hot-swap these drives and rebuild the "recovery" disks. In that case one could keep the spare set as a backup or is that not possible/recommended?

With ZFS the data is distributed across all 6 of your disks in a way that with raidz1 you can loose any single disk and still access your data, and with raidz2, loose any two disks and still access your data. I would suggest raidz2 for you. It's not possible to to remove and keep a spare set as a backup, but you could add more disks later in a mirror or just as individual UFS formatted disks (which you could remove... the UFS ones).

should they be of the same size or does that depend on the RAID-Z/mirror setup?
The disks 'should be' the same size, but if they are not your maximum space will be based on the size of your smallest disk. It makes things much more complicated than if you just get the same size disks to begin with.
 

joeschmuck

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Protosd answered some of the questions and here are some more answers.

4K (a.k.a. Advanced Format) with respect to the hard drives is the cluster size of data on a drive. This is the smallest recordable size which means if you have 1000 bytes of data to write, the hard drive will use a complete 4096 bytes of space. This is a waste of 3K bytes when you think of it in this way. It's a great way to explain it. Due to the large sizes the hard drives are becoming the cluster size must become larger. Any hard drive produced after January 1 2011 should be a 4K Advanced Format drive internally. Some drives retain backwards compatibility by performing 512 byte emulation. To make it simple for you, don't worry about it. If you are buying 2TB drives, they should be 4K and if they have emulation, still no big deal. You're not running an enterprise machine, the speed difference is not noticeable for what you will be using your NAS for. If you were buying enterprise level hard drives you would be in a different boat but you aren't, you're in the same boat as just about everyone here on this forum. When you format the drives using the GUI, select 4K sectors and that will properly align the data on the drive for maximum performance. If you forget to do that, again, no big deal, I doubt you would notice it.

As for your component selection. I don't have the time to look into it but you should try an locate someone else who has your MB selection and see how they like it. Just do a search of it in the forum, odds are someone has it or similar. The CPU selection will be up to you. I think any of those would be fine. Look at the power requirements, a lower maximum temperature normally means less power draw and lower cooling fan speeds = less noise. Trust me, you don't want to be watching a scary movie and then a silent passage occurs (someone sneaking around) and you hear the whine of a fan. Same with an action flic. It is irritating.

Talking briefly about streaming HD content, first yes it takes a ton of space. I only leave on a copy if I actually plan to watch it a few more times. Like the movie "The Incredibles" that I can watch every 3 months or so. The hard part will be storing the movie in the correct format so your PS3 or other player will actually play it with the proper sound. Avatar took me several days to figure out how to rip that and convert it properly. There are forums for just that kind of thing. If you can, rip DVD's instead. Unless you're on top of the TV, it doesn't make that much of a difference, but I do admit that there is a difference if you have a nice TV. But if I had all the drive space in the world, I would go HD for sure. DVD's just need to be in the VOB format, no conversion at all.

Last bit of advice before I hit the road tomorrow... When you do build your system, play with it. Format the drives, put on some data, stream video and MP3's or MP4's, whatever. Build RAIDZ, RAIDZ1, RAIDZ2, Mirrors. Do everything you can before you settle on a format you want to stick with. I say this because many people jump into it and place all their data on the drives, and I mean 3, 4, 6TB's of data and then find out they would prefer a different configuration. The problems is it's difficult to transfer all that data off to another large enough system so they can reformat those drives and change the way they wanted to use them. My system is still in trial use and there is nothing on it that isn't on my primary NAS.

Well I'm off to Cocoa Beach Florida for about 2 weeks.

Cheers
 

lysbjerg

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Thank you for your detailed advise. Having done a lot of reading and thinking over the weekend my current hardware thoughts/concerns are:

Case: Fractal Design Array R2 Mini ITX NAS Case w/ 300W SFX PSU

Since the case fits 6-7 hard drives, I'm a bit concerned whether a 300W PSU will suffice. Hopefully, the guys at Fractal Design have done their homework but what do you think?

Motherboard: ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision

Basically, this was the only motherboard I could find supporting both 6 SATA ports and 16GB of RAM. The alternative is to go with one supporting 16GB of RAM and 4 SATA ports and then add a stand-alone SATA controller. My only concern with the ASUS motherboard is whether or not the on-board Realtek 8111E LAN chip is supported by FreeNAS .7 as someone on the .7 forums posted problems with that particular chipset. Unfortunately the .7 forums are down at the moment so I cannot link to the thread. I think, however, that the issue was resolved so hopefully the latest .7 version will work fine.

CPU: After reading http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=20523711&postcount=1473 and http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1202-page1.html I have almost excluded the 'T' models of Intels LGA1155 processors. Apparently, there is not much wattage to save on these models, and one could obtain the samme effect by lowering the cpu voltage on the similar non-T model. The difference between the G-line and i3-line is that the latter supports hyper threading and quick sync which is important for video transcoding http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-g850-g840-g620_10.html#sect0. My question then is whether hyper threading and video transcoding will be important on a NAS? Even though the box will be used primarily as a NAS, I do consider from time to time to run, say, Ubuntu on it and use it to play HD video content directly to my TV. In the Avatar example that joeschmuck mentions, I'm thinking that it may be easier to play it directly off an OS like Ubuntu rather than having to find a format that is supported by the PS3 / Apple TV 2?

RAM: 16GB of DDR3 from the list of recommended vendors on the ASUS website

Hard drives: To minimize the probability of simultaneous disk failures, I was thinking of buying the following (diversified) portfolio of drives:
2 x Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2 TB - SATA600
2 x WD Caviar Green WD20EARS 2 TB - SATA300
2 x Samsung Spinpoint F4EG HD204UI 2 TB - SATA300

On QNAP's website [http://www.qnap.com/pro_compatibility.asp], I read, however, that they do not recommend the WD drives. Moreover, for the Samsung drive they suggest to apply a patch to increase data integrity [http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386].

Moreover, I've read several discussions about whether or not to use "green" drives in a RAID setup because of TLER being disabled in those drives but I think that was only an issue for hardware RAID cards. Can anyone confirm this?

Anyway, if anyone has has problem with any of the above drives I would very much like to hear from you as I would prefer to buy 6 reliable drives to begin with.

Again, thank you everybody for taking your time to help me out here :smile:
 

joeschmuck

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Just a quick few notes to feedback to you...

The 300 Watt power supply should be enough if it's a good quality power supply. If it's cheap then it will likely cause problems with either voltage problems or just fail. Unfortunately without a model and manufacture info I can't tell you more.

The CPU doesn't need to have the build in video but it doesn't hurt if you re-purpose this CPU at a later date. Buy what your money can afford. i3 or i5 are both fine. For a NAS I'd lean towards the least expensive i3-2100 (3.1GHz) over the T version. It gives you extra room over the 2.5GHz T version. You won't be running the i3-2100 at full speed probably ever as a NAS.

The RAM, you're all over it.

The Motherboard, sounds like you have done some work finding out what issues might come your way. Did you find out if anyone else on this forum has this unit? Once you are settled on the motherboard I think you're ready to buy.

The hard drives... The Samsung has a firmware update if your drive was manufactured Dec 2010 or earlier. Date is on the drive. The flash is an easy thing to do. It doesn't change the firmware number (stupid IMO). The WD drives, I've heard good and bad. Keep in mind that none of these drives are designed for NAS use thus they are likely to not be recommended. I haven't personally seen anything bad about the Seagate drives but I'm sure they have someone saying something bad about them as well. If you have the drives spindown after a period of time (say 2 hours of non-use) you will typically extend the life of the drives. If you spindown the drives too soon there is the argument that you will kill the drives earlier due to too many spinup events. It's up to you to figure out your balance. I use 2 hours which means for my use the drives will be off from 10PM to 5AM and then 9AM to 4PM during a typical weekday at my house. Some people like the drive running non-stop and the advantage there is the data it available immediately, no delay while waiting for the drives to spin up. You can play with it.

When you do get a system running FreeNAS 8.x, please post your system configuration in the forums (there is a spot for it).

More questions? Ask away. Hopefully someone else will chime in and offer their opinion as mine is not the only one.

-Mark
 

BakCompat

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May 27, 2011
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I'll echo joeshmuck here. The Samsung has a patch available if it's an old one. If it's new, it is probably already patched. The WD drives have a well-known issue with their Load Cycle Count values going to massively high numbers in a short amount of time, due to a default head park value of 8 seconds. This can easily be remedied by using the wdidle3.exe utility and setting it to a higher number. Most *nix users recommend 300 seconds, which is the max value allowed. Multiple sites cover this all over the web.

TLER is generally only an issue on drives with hardware controllers or in the windows world. If you are using software RAID, then TLER should not be a concern for you. If it were hardware, the most common occurrence would be drives dropping out of the array unexpectedly and repeatedly, causing rebuilds frequently.

I'd say your hardware requirements are way overkill, but you seem dedicated to having 16 gigs of ram, so go for it. Report back with your experiences please.
 

Bjur

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Thank you for your detailed advise. Having done a lot of reading and thinking over the weekend my current hardware thoughts/concerns are:

Case: Fractal Design Array R2 Mini ITX NAS Case w/ 300W SFX PSU

Since the case fits 6-7 hard drives, I'm a bit concerned whether a 300W PSU will suffice. Hopefully, the guys at Fractal Design have done their homework but what do you think?

Motherboard: ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision

Basically, this was the only motherboard I could find supporting both 6 SATA ports and 16GB of RAM. The alternative is to go with one supporting 16GB of RAM and 4 SATA ports and then add a stand-alone SATA controller. My only concern with the ASUS motherboard is whether or not the on-board Realtek 8111E LAN chip is supported by FreeNAS .7 as someone on the .7 forums posted problems with that particular chipset. Unfortunately the .7 forums are down at the moment so I cannot link to the thread. I think, however, that the issue was resolved so hopefully the latest .7 version will work fine.

CPU: After reading http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=20523711&postcount=1473 and http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1202-page1.html I have almost excluded the 'T' models of Intels LGA1155 processors. Apparently, there is not much wattage to save on these models, and one could obtain the samme effect by lowering the cpu voltage on the similar non-T model. The difference between the G-line and i3-line is that the latter supports hyper threading and quick sync which is important for video transcoding http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-g850-g840-g620_10.html#sect0. My question then is whether hyper threading and video transcoding will be important on a NAS? Even though the box will be used primarily as a NAS, I do consider from time to time to run, say, Ubuntu on it and use it to play HD video content directly to my TV. In the Avatar example that joeschmuck mentions, I'm thinking that it may be easier to play it directly off an OS like Ubuntu rather than having to find a format that is supported by the PS3 / Apple TV 2?

RAM: 16GB of DDR3 from the list of recommended vendors on the ASUS website

Hard drives: To minimize the probability of simultaneous disk failures, I was thinking of buying the following (diversified) portfolio of drives:
2 x Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2 TB - SATA600
2 x WD Caviar Green WD20EARS 2 TB - SATA300
2 x Samsung Spinpoint F4EG HD204UI 2 TB - SATA300

On QNAP's website [http://www.qnap.com/pro_compatibility.asp], I read, however, that they do not recommend the WD drives. Moreover, for the Samsung drive they suggest to apply a patch to increase data integrity [http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386].

Moreover, I've read several discussions about whether or not to use "green" drives in a RAID setup because of TLER being disabled in those drives but I think that was only an issue for hardware RAID cards. Can anyone confirm this?

Anyway, if anyone has has problem with any of the above drives I would very much like to hear from you as I would prefer to buy 6 reliable drives to begin with.

Again, thank you everybody for taking your time to help me out here :smile:

@Lysbjerg: Did you buy this ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision motherboard, and have you testet the power consumtion on the system?
I'm currently considering this motherboard as well, but have read somewhere that ASUS is bad when it comes to power consumtion:(
 
B

Bohs Hansen

Guest
@Lysbjerg: Did you buy this ASUS P8H67-I B3 Revision motherboard, and have you testet the power consumtion on the system?
I'm currently considering this motherboard as well, but have read somewhere that ASUS is bad when it comes to power consumtion:(

About ASUS and power consumption. That is both right and wrong. Asus has a lot of high-end boards and is usually the preferred brand for overclockers, where there they added the best and most of it. This of course makes the whole thing draw some more wattage in the end. But it should be minimal.

The 2 things that draw most power in your system is your CPU and your GPU - that's the 2 things to worry about if you want a low power consumption system.
 

lysbjerg

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@Bjur: I haven't bought the P8H67-I board yet. I was really keen on trying a setup with 16GB of RAM but when I looked in the Qualified Vendor List on the ASUS web site they had not tested any 8GB modules. Unfortunately it turns out that there are not a whole lot of 8GB unbuffered non-ecc modules out there. One example is Crucial which sells a 16GB kit for $659.99! Actually, the memory advisor tool on the web page suggests a different supposedly compatible kit which costs $799.99 but I'm not so sure that it is compatible with the motherboard. Either way, it is much too expensive. I'm still leaning towards buying the motherboard and equipping it with 8GB of RAM (with a possible future upgrade in mind if the 16GB kits drop in price).

Another thing that worried me a little was the compatibility and performance of the onboard LAN chip (Realtek 8111E). Browsing around the .7 forums (as I need the media servers) it seems that people has had various success with this particular chip. Therefore I considered the Intel DQ67EP board for a while but since the onboard LAN chip (82579LM) is not even supported by FreeBSD 8.2 I find it highly unlikely that anyone will build a FreeNAS .7 version supporting this chip. I guess this is the "curse" of buying new hardware.

Alternatively, I'm considering:
1. the E-350 or the new E-450 motherboards as people seems to have had good experiences with the E-350 boards
2. a larger case such as the Fractal Design Define Mini and a micro ATX motherboard instead as it would then be possible to use 4x4GB of RAM.
 
B

Bohs Hansen

Guest
If you want to go "back to normal cases", a nice one is my old case from my main PC. The Antec P180mini. (I got the white, but both a pretty)
http://store.antec.com/Product/benclosure/mini-p180-white/0-761345-45157-4.aspx

5 hdd bays default, 3 more possible with proper mounts at the bottom and top you could put a 2x2½" if you wanted, ending up with a total of 10 possible hdd slots without much tampering. Its not the cheapest case, but it has some nice features.

It has a relative small size, you can add pretty much any components you want. Good and silent cooling and front panel with esata are bonus imo. And you don't accidentally break of the door cause it open 270degrees :)

just wanted to throw it in the pool, as I've enjoyed the case very much.
 

Bjur

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Thanks for the help guys. I took the plunge and ordered the asus board + i3-2100, but I will consider returning it if the realtek NIC doesn't work with FreeNAS:(
 

joeschmuck

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If this is the board you want and the onboard NIC fails to be supported, you could consider an add-on NIC card, they are probably cheaper than the return cost of the MB.
 

lysbjerg

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