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Updating my Hardware

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Dabbler
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
44
Hi everyone, I've maintained a truenas (formerly freenas) media server with an Asrock C2550D4I since 2014 (rest of my system specs are in my signature). Recently my motherboard has stopped recognizing hard drives on a few of the sata 3 ports and so this seems like a good opportunity to update my system.


My system primarily functions as a media file server and runs plex and a few other apps for the personal one use of my small family. I'd like to make sure that when I update it, it's capable of transcoding 4K videos. I read the latest version of the hardware guide and would like some additional guidance.

1. I noticed the emphasis on ECC ram and I wonder if that matters in my case. My media server stores large video files and in general what I would not want is a failed hard drive to result in losing everything, but a rare corruption event does not seem very serious. Am I missing something?
2. The recommended CPUs follow quite a wide range and I noticed they are bucketed into basic usage, moderate transcoding and heavy transcoding. Is that referring to transcoding of videos? Would it be fair to say that in my case I'm looking at moderate transcoding.
3. I'm bewildered by the vast array of choices around motherboards and CPUs, so I'm looking for the best recommendation that balances prices but gives me a similarly long runway for the next 5 years or so (which I guess is what I could expect)
4. I have 4 10TB HDDs setup in a mirror VDEV setup and I'm planning to add another two 14 TBs (which I believe can be added to the same pool rather than having to create a separate pool). So I expect to have 6 SATA drives + the boot drive.
5. I've been seeing errors about my boot pool being at 90% utilization, so it seems like that's something I'd need to replace too. Is about 128 GB sufficient. If there is a common recommendation these days, I'm happy to follow that :).
6. I'm planning to replace the case with a fractal design define R5 or similar, though if there are other recommendations, I'm pretty open. I do want one thats easier to operate with.
7. Lastly, I assume my power supply is going to continue to work for me, but if there are some unpleasant surprises there, I would love to know.

thanks a lot, looking forward to hearing some suggestions.
 

Heracles

Wizard
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
1,268
Am I missing something?

Probably : Backups! Know that no single server, TrueNAS or other, can be more than a single point of failure. See my signature for a complete backup strategy.

Would it be fair to say that in my case I'm looking at moderate transcoding.

4K is not moderate. A family usage also involves a few simultaneous access at the same time. As such, I think you are on the heavier size of the load. See on this site for CPU benchmark and compare the performance for different options.

I'm looking for the best recommendation that balances prices but gives me a similarly long runway for the next 5 years or so

The ideal solution would be to transcode your stuff once and only once, for good. For that, use a software like Handbrake and transcode everything you have to H.264 with the proper resolution and size to achieve the quality and sizing you are looking for. Do a few tests with different parameters and once you found whatever fits you, transcode your entire library. Here, my old iMac worked during about 2 months to transcode my entire library that ended up about 1.5TB. Every day, a few titles were done and I moved them to my library (Jellyfin instead of Plex). Now that it is over, no more transcoding and everything is direct play or direct stream. Considering the transcoded size was about 1/4 of the original, that means that I transcoded about 6TB of original blurays / dvds.

to add another two 14 TBs (which I believe can be added to the same pool

You are right. You can add a vDev to an existing pool. Also, to have all your vDev of the same type (here, mirrors) is also a good choice.

errors about my boot pool being at 90% utilization

Indeed, that is too high to be safe. Get yourself some air as soon as possible.

If there is a common recommendation these days, I'm happy to follow that :).

You can never have too much space. The more free space you have, the faster the pool will be. Here, you may not need that much performance, so I would say never go above 80%, be happy if you are at 50%.

but if there are some unpleasant surprises there, I would love to know.

Power supplies are like fuze : they are meant to blow. To help protect them, a UPS is a good protection. Still, after hard drives themselves, PSU failure is the second most common hardware incident.

If you do transcode your content, your overall size should drop enough for you not to need to add storage. Just be sure you do not have snapshots that keep the previous copy on disk once replaced by the transcoded version.

Save that money and put in place your backup plan. Physical incidents are more frequent than logical incidents that would propagate, so the Offsite copy is the most important for you to put in place.

I think this way will give you more for your time, money and effort compared to just upsizing a single point of failure so it can do over and over the same operation every time a single content is accessed by a user.
 

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Dabbler
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
44
Thanks for the really quick and detailed response here. I wanted to respond to a few things inline.

Probably : Backups! Know that no single server, TrueNAS or other, can be more than a single point of failure. See my signature for a complete backup strategy.
Thank you, let me look into this. I've been thinking on and off into backups and I understand that there is no substitute for it, but its of course a lot of money.

That said, the specific context on the question was whether I'm right in asserting that ECC ram probably was not necessary in my case.


4K is not moderate. A family usage also involves a few simultaneous access at the same time. As such, I think you are on the heavier size of the load. See on this site for CPU benchmark and compare the performance for different options.



The ideal solution would be to transcode your stuff once and only once, for good. For that, use a software like Handbrake and transcode everything you have to H.264 with the proper resolution and size to achieve the quality and sizing you are looking for. Do a few tests with different parameters and once you found whatever fits you, transcode your entire library. Here, my old iMac worked during about 2 months to transcode my entire library that ended up about 1.5TB. Every day, a few titles were done and I moved them to my library (Jellyfin instead of Plex). Now that it is over, no more transcoding and everything is direct play or direct stream. Considering the transcoded size was about 1/4 of the original, that means that I transcoded about 6TB of original blurays / dvds.

I should clarify this a bit more. My family here is a family of 3 and very often there is only one user at a time, we might very rarely grow into 2. I have a computer that plugs into my projector and usually directly reads files and does not need transcoding. As such, I havent wanted to transcode because I can experience the media in high quality. There is an older computer that we use occasionally and when using that, I can see that it sometimes struggles. Hence I think the transcoding would have to happen a few times (also taking into account future needs). As such, does that paint a reasonable picture for "moderate" transcoding or am I still on the high side simply because the content is 4k?

There is a dizzying array of CPUs here and especially when taking into account the xeons, I can not really understand the numbering scheme. Whats a good way to actually land on the right combination of CPU/ Motherboard here?


You are right. You can add a vDev to an existing pool. Also, to have all your vDev of the same type (here, mirrors) is also a good choice.

Awesome!


Indeed, that is too high to be safe. Get yourself some air as soon as possible.



You can never have too much space. The more free space you have, the faster the pool will be. Here, you may not need that much performance, so I would say never go above 80%, be happy if you are at 50%.

Makes sense. Is there a common recommendation these days for a boot drive? Size and make?


Power supplies are like fuze : they are meant to blow. To help protect them, a UPS is a good protection. Still, after hard drives themselves, PSU failure is the second most common hardware incident.

Makes sense. Thats reasonable. I think the only question I have is if this power supply is outdated in some sense and can not be used with the motherboard/CPU that I land on. I realize thats difficult to answer without actually figuring out what the CPU/Mobo should be.


If you do transcode your content, your overall size should drop enough for you not to need to add storage. Just be sure you do not have snapshots that keep the previous copy on disk once replaced by the transcoded version.

Save that money and put in place your backup plan. Physical incidents are more frequent than logical incidents that would propagate, so the Offsite copy is the most important for you to put in place.

I think this way will give you more for your time, money and effort compared to just upsizing a single point of failure so it can do over and over the same operation every time a single content is accessed by a user.

Good advice :)
 

Heracles

Wizard
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
1,268
whether I'm right in asserting that ECC ram probably was not necessary in my case

Yes and No.... ZFS double checks and triple checks everything to ensure data integrity. Everything BUT what is in RAM. As such, an error in RAM may well go undetected, so may corrupt the data and the pool. Integrity in RAM is ZFS weak point, so to compensate for it with ECC is important.

But to have backups is even more important. Also, a complete backup will help you recover from whatever went wrong in the original. As such, it is more important to put your backups in place compared to ECC.

I havent wanted to transcode because I can experience the media in high quality

Here, I transcoded my blurays with a first set of options and my dvds with another. The options I chose for my blurays are very high quality, so much that transcoding took in average 10 hours per bluray. The result is very high quality. But it is also much smaller. I do not have many raw blurays less than 25G and many are over 35. As opposed, once transcoded, most are below 10G. As such, I saved the quality I was looking for while saving well over 50% of my space / bandwidth requirement.

Is there a common recommendation these days for a boot drive? Size and make?

SSD is the recommended boot drive as USB have a tendency to wear and die. As for the size, any SSD today is way beyond the few gigs that are required for a boot device.

if this power supply is outdated in some sense and can not be used with the motherboard/CPU that I land on.

Indeed, you would not be the first to be forced to change everything because of a failed PSU... You may wish to buy a spare right now to avoid that, so when your first one will die, you will be able to replace it without buying a brand new server.

So again, I would transcode once and for all to save size and keep the actual server as is. I would use the money to put a backup plan in place, an offsite server with ZFS replication being my first choice. I think you will be better served and protected that way compared to a more powerful single point of failure hosting more data and re-processing the content over and over again.
 
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