My FreeNAS HW build (comments welcomed)

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HolyK

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Hello all,

it's a couple of months since i started thinking about a little home data server. I buried that idea very quickly, because prebuilded systems like QNap, Synology, etc were not enough. Then a found FreeNAS and i'm glad for it :)

Now, i would like to ask you for your comments (if any) to my build. I did not order anything yet and there is no rush, so at the end, it can be totally different ;)


Platform?
First of all, i was thinking about build based on Zecate, like many of the people here, but then, after a small research, i realized, that the i3 build will be more powerfully for a little more money.
Zacate is cool, low power, low cost and powerfully thing for making a NAS. There is nothing wrong on it, but somehow, i don't like all of the limits what i get. I'd like to have a space to "expand" in all ways, so i based my build on SandyBridge.

Usage?
BOX will be occupied by 4 people with slightly different needs. Totally, there will be 4 desktop PC, 3 laptops, 3 WiFi cellphones (i don't think they will use BOX at all, but who knows :D). All 3 OS platform in the house (Win, Linux, MAC).
The most important things will be:
- Data storage with resistance to disk failure.
- TimeMashine for scheduled data backup.
- iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, AFS
- Direct HD media stream - I know this is not exactly the "NAS" thing, but i don't want to invest another money for another machine, since this baby will have enough horsepower to do all of this stuff.
- In the future, maybe some another things like torrent box and thigs like this, but it's not needed at all.

Network?
Home network is managed by Routerboard RB493G. NAS BOX and 3 of the 4 clients will be on one HW switch chip, so 1GBiT speed guaranteed without performance impact on the router.

My NAS configuration?
Ok, here it is. I hope i did not miss something important.

MoBo - Gigabyte GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 - Pretty cool mobo, 4 memory slots (up to 32GB), 6xSATA, plenty of PCIe slots, ... and more. I think best one for that cost. Funny thing is, this Z68 is cheaper than the H67 model (GA-H67MA-UD2H-B3). (eSATA is not needed)

CPU - Intel Core i3-2100 - First, i wanted to buy that LowTDP model - 2100T (35W), but after reading some reviews and tests, i realized that i can easily downgrade this model to the "T" version. At the end, the power consumption will be similar and it is also cheaper than "real T model".

RAM - Kingston HyperX Blu XMP 8GB (kit 2x 4GB) 1600MHz - Downrated to 1300MHz@1,5V. No need to say more.

DISKS - WD Caviar Green WD20EARX 3.5" 2TB - RAIDZ1 => 8TB total. Another 5 disks + SATA controller in the future, if needed.

PSU - Seasonic S12II-430 430W Bronze - I think/hope 430W is enough.

LAN - EXPI9301CTBLK - Do i need say anything here?

Case - Fractal Design Arc Mini - simply cool case !!


PROS: (compared to Zecate build)
- More "horsepower" even in "downclocked" setup!
- Memory "limit" at 32GB
- Lot of PCIe slots for expand cards (LAN, SATA controller, remote WoL card, etc...)

CONS: (compared to Zecate build)
- Slightly more power consume, but not THAT big...
- A bit more expensive (70$ diff compared to the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe)

I think the "PROS" are more than "OK", if i'm not missing something important :]


So, i will appreciate any usefully comments, warnings, replies ...

Thanks a lot :]

Holy
 

ProtoSD

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Hi Holy,

I think overall it sounds like a really nice system.

DISKS - WD Caviar Green WD20EARX 3.5" 2TB - RAIDZ1 => 8TB total. Another 5 disks + SATA controller in the future, if needed.

PSU - Seasonic S12II-430 430W Bronze - I think/hope 430W is enough.

Given other peoples situations here in the forum and my own choice, I would build with RaidZ2. I started with z1, then changed my mind and it just gets more difficult when you start filling it up with more data. Also, I have already seen here in the forum people that have had 2 disks fail at the same time or one right after the other. With so many people sharing your NAS, don't take any risks or the others may not be happy with you if the worst happens!

Also, the 430w PS should be fine. If you look at my system below, I don't have a core i3, but even with 6 drives at peak it only consumes about 60w.

Another thing, you should be sure to order your disks in different batches, even get 3 of one type and 3 of another. If there's a bad batch from a particular manufacturer or type of drive, you don't risk them failing at the same time. Two of my Hitachi's started clicking just after the first month, but now the replacements are fine.
 

HolyK

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I don't know how big is the chance for loosing 2 disks in a row, but you right and i don't want loose all of my data, so probably i will take 6 disks for RAIDZ2. As i know, 5 disks setup is not recommanded (5 disks => 128KiB/3 = ~43KiB; 6 disks => 128KiB/4 = 32KiB).

About the different disks brands... I don't know, mixing up more brands in one pool? Anyway, i will buy each disk from the different (e)shops to get disks from 6 different series. I think this will lower the chance of failing 2(or more) disks at one time because of some series problem.

Thanks for the reply!
 

jgreco

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About the different disks brands... I don't know, mixing up more brands in one pool? Anyway, i will buy each disk from the different (e)shops to get disks from 6 different series. I think this will lower the chance of failing 2(or more) disks at one time because of some series problem.

If you value your data and don't have a backup, this is really the best thing to do.

I routinely see servers where a matched set of drives were purchased, a dozen or two dozen or whatever, and some will fail during burn-in, and then you'll get several more failing at some odd interval like fifteen months out, and they'll fail within days of each other. Yet you can have drives that work essentially forever as well.

The basic problem is that a design or systemic manufacturing flaw in a drive will appear as random to the guy who buys a lone drive, but when you're buying a dozen drives and you put them in the same environment with similar usage patterns, the failures sometimes do appear in the most annoyingly inconvenient manner, because the underlying assumption behind RAID is that you will encounter failures, just not all at once.

Mixing and matching used to be anathema to those of us who did work with SCSI busses, due to firmware issues, but in this modern age of one-drive-per-port SATA/SAS busses, there's really no reason to avoid buying a heterogeneous mix of drives.
 

HolyK

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Ok, thanks. I was worried about differences between brands/models (rpm, seek, access, r/w time, ... etc.), but if there is no problem with this (like a few years ago), i don't have problem to get 3+3 disks, or 2+2+2 of each brand.

What are you suggesting? Hitachi? Samsung? Seagate?
 

ProtoSD

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What are you suggesting? Hitachi? Samsung? Seagate?

Thats a really tough choice because if you do any research, you'll find that all of them have almost the same risk of failure. It also depends on how much you'll have to pay to send it back if a drive fails, and how long it will take to get it back. There's also a very good chance that no matter which drive you choose, if you need to send it back you won't get a new drive in exchange but a refurbished one.

Obviously in my situation I chose Hitachi & Samsung. I think the Samsungs have a marginally better reputation, but since replacing my Hitachi under warranty I got lucky and got new drives in return and haven't had any problems since. You can read reviews on drives for days and still not find any one that doesn't have as many problems as another, so it's really personal choice I suppose.
 

HolyK

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Well, i read lot of articles/tests/comments before and it is like you said.

BTW: There is no SATAIII from another brand for the similar price like that WD (i mean, here in CZ). Any another brand is more expensive. Anyway, that mobo have only two SATAIII ports, so probably i'll take 3xWD, and 3x Samsung SpinPoint F4 EcoGreen 3.5" 2TB HD204UI, which is for the same price as the WD one. There is no need to have all disks SATAIII.
 

jgreco

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protosd: Put differently, "ask me in three years and I'll be happy to tell you which is best."

I've been doing this stuff for years. I've seen everything: a Quantum ProDrive 105S (100MB!) that was launched off a shop bench, running, onto a hard floor, which developed a bunch of bad blocks, but proceeded to run problem-free for the next 19(! yes! 1992-2010) years. Quite possibly the best hard drive I've ever owned. :smile: Got it for free from the company that dropped it...

Anyways, it's perfectly possible for drives to run 10, 15 years - got a bunch - but failure rates go up with time, of course. Expect a 5 year lifespan on a drive to be safe.

But the interesting observation is that reliability of a manufacturer's past drives has ZERO to do with their future offerings. Hard drive manufacturers are under intense(!) pressure to compete on price, capacity, and speed - so reliability is a corner that gets cut. New designs and new technologies can have significant impact on the latest models as well; we've actually had good luck recently with Western Digital drives and poor luck with Seagates, which is exactly opposite historical experience. It isn't clear why.

So, there's only a little value to be had reading the reviews of current drives. Sure, you can avoid things that appear to be having high failure rates, but we've actually had zero failures on a dozen WD EARS drives, a situation I didn't expect based on the online reports. Where's that wood... ;-)
 
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