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BIF
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NAS Options for my home

Sun May 14, 2017 10:12 am

Oh sheesh, this post is way too long. My apologies. Here's the TL;DR:

I have an old WD "MyBook" but it's slow and under-capacitized for my needs, so I want to set up a better NAS in my home. I want to "cloud" some things and "simple-synchronize" others. I think I want to set up a Synology device, but I'm not sure where to start.

I currently have two Windows 10 machines (laptop and desktop) and two iOS devices. No Android devices at this time, but anything I implement should be able to accommodate Android too.

I can categorize my "NASable" files into 2 main groups, "documents" and "libraries" (not necessarily like Windows libraries). Documents include anything I might want to edit or read and they'll need to be kept up-to-date across my cloud reasonably quickly. Libraries include plugins and objects that get "loaded" into a project. Libraries are bigger and should be synced, but that can happen over time.

1. "My Documents"
As mentioned above, "documents" refers to any file (or project) that I might want to open for editing or reading. So this would include office documents, pictures, videos, 2D, 3D, or animated art projects, website source files, and music projects, such as for Ableton or Cubase.

I need to be able to access my data documents with any of my devices even when I'm not at home, and they should update on my cloud within moments of having been edited by any of my devices.

Currently I have almost 100 GB worth of documents; most of them being larger picture or video files.

2. Libraries
I have two main types of libraries; "downloads" and "content".

-- Downloads --
My desktop computer has its "Downloads" folder on one of its local drives (not "C" drive; that would make my OS drive way too huge to manage). My laptop computer doesn't currently have room on its local/internal drives, so I use an external USB 3.0 drive for the laptop's downloads folder. I sync the two manually by moving the drive from the laptop to the desktop with a USB 3.0 cable and running a sync tool. This is a bit of a hassle, but the file transfer of only changed files is very fast with USB 3.0, and it allows me to only download stuff once. That's handy for big files like ISOs and music library downloads, etc.

I want to use a NAS to somehow synchronize the download file folders between the two Windows machines. When I finally add a 3rd machine one day in the future, I'd want to set that one up to join the sync family too. I am concerned with the amount of time it would take to launch a large installer file across my network which would be even worse if I'm using the laptop away from home, so I think I still need local access for downloads. I'm thinking that the laptop probably still needs to have an attached hard drive that gets synced with the home cloud, and probably only when I'm within range of my home WIFI.

I usually have 800-900 GB of downloads. Synchronization doesn't have to happen immediately, but I should be able to start it on demand if I want, and it shouldn't get confused if my laptop goes to sleep during a sync session. It should just stop and retry at a later time.

-- Content Libraries --
My content libraries include about 3 TB of VSTi (Virtual Instruments) libraries, and the desktop and laptop have virtually duplicate copies of libraries, so that I don't have to leave the bassoons and hurley-gurleys at home. These libraries are huge and they're on 4 different drive partitions on each machine. For backup, antivirus, and other management purposes, I've limited each partition to around 1TB of capacity. It still takes 4 evenings to take a full backup, but at least they're logically separated by partition, which makes restores reliable. And yes, I did have to restore one when a hard drive went bad about a month ago. God bless the folks at Macrium!

I also have a few hundred GB of other libraries, such as for 3D objects, Photoshop brushes and plugins, and other such stuff. These libraries are scattered across multiple drive partitions and I want to consolidate and organize them better. For all intents and purposes, they can be treated the same as the VSTi libraries above.

Due to load times of large files, I think I need to continue maintaining local copies of these libraries on each machine that needs access to them. I'll still host a central library on my cloud for synchronization or backup purposes (if that's the right way to go), but it would just be too slow to use the central library to load into projects, and even worse for any projects that might need to dynamically read library files while the project is running. Response times would be too slow.

But that's okay. I just need to figure out a workable sync, backup, and antivirus policy that doesn't waste time backing up or scanning libraries that are duplicates of each other.

In the next post, I'll ask some technical questions.
 
BIF
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Sun May 14, 2017 10:21 am

So given all I've typed in the post above, I would like to ask if a Synology device would be a good solution. If so, which models should I consider? I have plenty of available LAN ports on my Netgear switch, which is connected by wire to my LAN and WIFI router.

I'm thinking of a 2-HDD or 4-HDD device, loaded with 7200 RPM drives totaling at least 6-8 TB of space. The NAS I want to build will not host any "backups". It will only hold files that will be part of my "personal cloud" or files needed to maintain a clean and organized sync strategy across my devices. Backups will continue to be saved to separate hard drives.

For "documents", I would like to use any available features for "versioning", but I would like to have features that will help prevent the NAS drives from filling up with too many versions. For my "syncronized libraries", I will want to avoid using versioning.

My price range for the NAS and drives will be around $600 to $800, but I need a sanity check on that.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Sun May 14, 2017 9:46 pm

The Synology units are best if you don't want to spend a lot of time configuring stuff. If you're not going to be using the NAS for video you'll probably be fine resource-wise with one of the Synology units. I'd avoid the 2-bay devices from Synology​ though. They're not really much more than a sata enclosure that knows how to speak ethernet. The DS416 is where I'd start looking if you want something quick and easy. Synology really likes their model number madness, so you'll find variants like DS416j and DS416play. The "play" version I think has transcoding support(meh, you're better off just using DIY PC if this is important), and the j version is more budget oriented. I had 4 WD reds in a DS416 for a while and it was a nice little setup, but I wanted to run Plex from it also so I ended up changing things around a bit.
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Mon May 15, 2017 9:36 am

I've been running a server for about 12 years now at home.
I started with a Acer WHS and updated to self built WHS 2011.
I'm in the process of migrating to a FreeNAS.
I've been testing with an old PC and am debating a build new or reuse my WHS 2011 box.

I have a Mediasonic HF2-SU3S2 Pro Box that I bought last year that I filled with 3TB drives in RAID5.
My issue that has slowed me down is that my UPS that keeps my network and NAS closet safe has started to die.

So the moral of the story... I'm a fan of building one these days.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Mon May 15, 2017 9:52 am

Synology stuff is awesome, but the models you'd need to support your use case are so expensive that you'd be better off building a PC to run FreeNAS.

You'd get hardware support as well, but from personal experience the downtime associated with sending your NAS back can be a problem all on its own.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:04 am

One advantage of the commercial NAS units is that they'll probably be better optimized for low power usage, which you may care more about for a device which will be on 24x7.

I run a DIY home server (old Athlon 7750 dual-core, pile of hard drives, and Ubuntu Server). Rock-solid reliable.
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DragonDaddyBear
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:14 am

Another vote for FreeNas. Version 10 just came out and from what I've read it now uses Docker containers vs their own version of plugins/jails. That means there will probably be much more coming for "plugins" in the future then they ever had.

I'm running it on an ESXi VM on an old PowerEdge server. If you have a place where the noise won't be an issue then it's a great value (under $400 for my setup minus drives). I just use a VPN to get in when I need stuff (another VM on ESXi), though my upload of 4Mbps is pretty craptastic. With the Ryzen X1700, though, that might be the way to roll.

If you are thinking of running FreeNAS you can download it and play with it in a VM on your computer and see if it works for you.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:23 am

HP Microserver and FreenNAS. Cheap for 4 HDDs, just add a RAM stick.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:28 am

TravelMug wrote:
HP Microserver and FreenNAS. Cheap for 4 HDDs, just add a RAM stick.


I bought a HP ML10 v2 which came with a 8 Gig RAM stick for $205 on Newegg just a few months ago.

Bigger than the microserver, sure, but also cheaper, and you can use another 2 drives in the 5.25 bays.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:38 am

Losergamer04 wrote:
I'm running it on an ESXi VM on an old PowerEdge server. If you have a place where the noise won't be an issue then it's a great value (under $400 for my setup minus drives).

Ever measure the power usage of that PowerEdge? :lol:

Noise level of my DIY server isn't too bad, but it lives in the crawlspace anyway. This is as much to get it out of the way as to avoid the noise of the fans. (I could actually quiet it down a bit by swapping the junkbox stock AMD cooler on the CPU now for a spare Cooler Master Hyper TX3 I already have; it just hasn't been a priority and probably won't become one unless the existing fan dies.)
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 9:55 am

Why, yes I have. Not at the outlet but on the server it tells me. I'm around 100W. I made sure to get a 2P 4C8T 40W CPU system. It's consolidated my router, Ubiquity AP controller, and NAS. It's not much of a net gain but it's a lot more stable than the stuff I was running before. The value of those extra Watts is much lower than the now happier wife.

Just a note, FreeNas 10 is now a technology preview? WTF? I guess they are dropping it and focusing on 11. Oh well. 9.X has been really good for me.
 
Waco
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 10:11 am

They dropped 10 entirely, there's no path forward on it. 9.X is the stable train with a path forward.

Shame, though. The UI was significantly better in Corral/10.
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 10:16 am

The UI in 9 isn't great but it's not the worst I've seen. The biggest issue is that the UI cannot do tasks in the background. But I don't get the hatred. I find stuff easily enough.

Oh well. And this is why I never early adopt. But 9.X will be supported for a long time, it's stable, and easy to use.

Back to OP: it seems like there is a lot of FreeNAS suggestions. Can you load it in a VM and try it out on your desktop.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 10:27 am

Losergamer04 wrote:
Another vote for FreeNas. Version 10 just came out and from what I've read it now uses Docker containers vs their own version of plugins/jails. That means there will probably be much more coming for "plugins" in the future then they ever had.

I'm running it on an ESXi VM on an old PowerEdge server. If you have a place where the noise won't be an issue then it's a great value (under $400 for my setup minus drives). I just use a VPN to get in when I need stuff (another VM on ESXi), though my upload of 4Mbps is pretty craptastic. With the Ryzen X1700, though, that might be the way to roll.

If you are thinking of running FreeNAS you can download it and play with it in a VM on your computer and see if it works for you.


FreeNAS needs RAM, and in some cases a fast tiny SSD to run from. I've never seen it care about CPU performance, within reason.

I helped set up a 12-drive system using ZFS and it runs great on a Ivy Bridge Celeron.
 
Waco
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 12:46 pm

Just run FreeNAS off of a USB stick and back up your config occasionally. No need for any SSD unless you're adding a log or cache device for ZFS (which almost nobody needs).

My biggest beef with the older 9.X UI is how inconsistent it is with loading jail/plugin menus. It's only slightly annoying, but it frequently gets out of sync.

You can run FreeNAS with 4 GB of RAM very easily, don't listen to the idiot admins on their forums. Cyberjock in particular is clueless. You'll sacrifice a little performance with less RAM, but it's not the catch-all for every performance or stability pitfall they imply it is.


Disclaimer: I run a 4u 16 drive system + SSD cache at home on FreeNAS. I also manage nearly 100 PiB of ZFS storage at work. The latter experience is helpful building a fast NAS, but nowhere near required. :P
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 1:19 pm

Waco wrote:
You can run FreeNAS with 4 GB of RAM very easily, don't listen to the idiot admins on their forums. Cyberjock in particular is clueless. You'll sacrifice a little performance with less RAM, but it's not the catch-all for every performance or stability pitfall they imply it is.


Thanks for the info, Waco! I'm not a storage person, I just know enough to be dangerous.

On that note, I thought that high-RAM requirement wasn't for FreeNAS in general, but because of using ZFS. Is that incorrect?
 
Waco
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu May 18, 2017 1:29 pm

ZFS itself will run with far less memory than the FreeNAS guys will let on.

I have systems that have the ARC restricted to 1-2 GiB maximum. There's a bit of a performance loss on read for that, and it limits write caching for async writes, but it's not the end of the world. You just degrade to regular disk performance faster on such configurations.

So yes - ZFS loves DRAM...but it absolutely does not require it. For most NAS boxes, it's a luxury that helps cover up the lack of performance that HDDs provide. Wide RAIDZ stripes + a random read workload are pretty brutal since they degrade to the random read performance of essentially a single drive, but most people don't have that on a NAS unless they're an edge case. Having a large ARC (adaptive replacement cache) due to a large DRAM cache can mitigate some of that, but like I said, it's not required.

My system is a pair of 5+3 RAIDZ3 VDEVs with a 32 GB SSD acting as the metadata-only L2ARC. The SSD is only in there because I have no real use for it otherwise and it speeds up scans of my Plex library (since stat'ing files comes right out if it rather than hitting my HDDs directly). I used to run it with 8 GB of RAM, I added another 8 GB last year only for memory bandwidth reasons, not capacity.
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BIF
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Fri May 19, 2017 7:46 pm

Hi everybody and thanks for replying!

So tell me, is the two main choices FreeNAS or ZFS? I'm not sure I like the idea of building a PC just to have a NAS, and that's why I initially mentioned synology; hardware, OS, and admin software all rolled up into a ready-to-go solution; just add drives.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Fri May 19, 2017 9:00 pm

FreeNAS uses ZFS. You can manually do stuff,too, with zfs but I only use the gui. A system you build with FreeNAS will destroy anything of similar price you can buy. You can try it out for free in a VM. I suggest doing that just so you can see if you can be comfortable with it. I think it's pretty intuitive. Not quite wife friendly but I had no problems.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Sun May 21, 2017 2:11 pm

BIF wrote:
Hi everybody and thanks for replying!

So tell me, is the two main choices FreeNAS or ZFS? I'm not sure I like the idea of building a PC just to have a NAS, and that's why I initially mentioned synology; hardware, OS, and admin software all rolled up into a ready-to-go solution; just add drives.

On the flip side, if something breaks you can fix it yourself instead of having to deal with tech support, RMAs, or buying an entire new unit. Depending on the size of your parts collection, you may even have an ample supply of spares on hand.

I use hardware that's at least a couple of generations old for my NAS builds. Other than the drives and drive cages (I went with hot-swap backplanes this time around, but obviously that's a luxury not a "must-have" for a home server) the hardware was stuff I had on hand. Old Socket AM2+ gear still makes a decent NAS platform. (It even has ECC support...)
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BIF
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Mon May 29, 2017 1:20 pm

Okay, since I don't have enough old equipment to build a NAS and don't want to purchase an inventory of parts, what are my options for purpose-built 2 or 4 drive NAS boxes short of building a PC for this? I think I need to support 10 TB to start, and 4-drive might be better so that I can employ mirroring.
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:29 am

Change in plans:

I want to use my WD MyBook Duo (4TB) to set up a sync facility between my workstation (PC), Laptop (PC), iPad, and iPhone. I want it to work just like DropBox, except that it will use the Mybook as an interim storage device.

At first, I want to test it with things like my Office Data and Downloads folders. Sync should happen automatically, just as it does with DropBox, sooner for computing devices connected to my home WIFI, and within "some period of time" if not connected to my WIFI.

The Mybook is kind of old, so I don't know if there's a sync tool that could be installed to it, or if I need to instead set up client sync tools on the computing devices.

Got any suggestions?
 
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:52 am

If you're looking for a personal Dropbox-style application I'd check out "owncloud"

That worked well for me on some old hardware, but the failure of said hardware had me move on to a Synology box.
 
BIF
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Re: NAS Options for my home

Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:32 am

Thank you for that suggestion. I'll investigate.

Synology is probably in my future too. But I just have too many things coming up that will cost a lot of money, so for now I plan to use what I've already got.

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