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Storage Building a server, any advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by thetrashcanman, 19 Apr 2012.

  1. thetrashcanman

    thetrashcanman Angel headed hipsters

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    Right guys, so I've finally had enough of having various hard drives scattered around my room and in my computer, what I want to do is have a server, with something around the 5-6Tb mark of storage available, probably in a raid 5 configuration, so I suspect going for individual 1tb drives would be best for this.

    From this I'll then make a backup of all the date, which will be offsite.

    Only problem I have really is there's so much data to take in with what you could do with a server, as far as I know all I want to do is backup my data and thats really about it, if I could get rid of the mechanical drives I have in my PC and use the server for that instead, that would also be great, but not entirely sure if this is possible.

    So basically what do I need, don't really want to spend to much, maybe £500-600, possibly a bit more but I'd say no more than £750 all in.

    I know hardware wise I could probably get away with a low end AMD dual core, for a case I was thinking a fractal R3, seeing as its pretty good and easy to fill with plenty of drives.

    Now could I use a small SSD for boot drive or is that not really worth it? Also some of the reading I have done as basically shown me that having a raid card is probably better than using software raid, so has anybody got any good RAID card recommendations that aren't about £500 :|

    So guys, any help is much appreciated, because this is actually making my head hurt. :)
     
  2. lp rob1

    lp rob1 New Member

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    Right, so you only want a file server. That makes things simpler. As you said, any old dual core AMD processor will do the trick, but make sure that the motherboard supports Gigabit Ethernet! Else you might need a separate network card, which costs money.

    RAID 5 has some problems, see here. There is a filesystem, called ZFS, which implements a similar RAID level to RAID 5 (called RAID Z) but mitigates most of the problems with RAID 5. Only problem is that it is not in the Linux kernel due to licensing issues, so you would need a BSD variant for this.

    Once you have decided whether to go for BSD and RAID Z, or Linux and RAID 5 (I strongly recommend against Windows in server environments, especially with a job this small) then you need to set it up. Ubuntu Server would be my distro of choice, due to the massive amount of software in the repositories and easy RAID configuration on installation. As for BSD, I have heard good things about FreeNAS, but have not actually used any BSD variants, so you are on your own.

    Going the Linux route, you setup RAID as per this guide. You will want to create a small (maybe 5GB) partition at the beginning of each disk, then RAID 1 them together as a boot disk. Following that put a small partition (4-5GB) on each disk, and RAID 0 them together. This will be the swap partition. The rest of the disks gets a RAID 5 put on it. Ubuntu Server is great by it gives you the option of selecting the job the server will be doing at installation, then installing the necessary software. For example, file serving will need Samba. You can read here for more information.

    As for the hardware itself - RAID 5 allows for one lost disk, and requires a minimum of 3 disks. If you need 5-6TB of storage, you may be best going for 4 2TB disks, or 5 if you want a hot spare now. That will give you 6TB of storage. A RAID card is really not worth it as Linux software RAID is very good now, and ZFS with its RAID Z looks promising. The hard disks will be the expensive part I think, eating up a fair £400 of your budget, due to the raised prices.

    Hope I helped, and didn't confuse you further (I seem to be doing that a lot recently)!
     
    Bede and thetrashcanman like this.
  3. fdbh96

    fdbh96 New Member

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    You probably wont need an ssd as Im guessing that the server will be on constantly and therefore boot wont be affected.
     
  4. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    Hardware wise if you are building a big server with stacks of disks I would suggest you want a case with hot swap drive caddies and sata backplanes, I cannot recommend the Fractal R3 for this purpose as each caddie requires cabling, trouble shooting a failed hard disk would mean getting at least one side off, maybe both, then potentially having to repeatedly plug/unplug the pair of sata cables for each drive, ball ache.

    The big Corsair Obsidian looks good to me as it has hot swap bays and sata backplanes (i think), but it is expensive. Failing this I would go for something with many exterior 5.25 bays and install hot swap backplanes for convenience.
     
  5. thetrashcanman

    thetrashcanman Angel headed hipsters

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    What an awesome reply cheers mate + rep for that (I thought no one was going to reply to this), and no you didn't confuse me too much ;D

    only thing I didn't understand is what's a BSD variant?

    Now would it be better for me to go to something like a RAID 10 or 6 then instead of RAID 5? to get around the problems of RAID5? instead of needing a BSD variant (whatever that is) :S and thank god for not needing a RAID card, I suppose I could always get one at a later date, or is that not a good idea?

    So Ubuntu Server shall be what I use software wise, glad I've got that sorted.

    As for space, yeah maybe 3 x 2tb drives would be better than the alternative 6 x 1tb's, but would you not get slightly better security (of sorts) by having the 6 x 1tb drives?

    and as for buying the drives I was going to try and get as many as I could from the marketplace :)
     
  6. thetrashcanman

    thetrashcanman Angel headed hipsters

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    Hmmm you make a very good point mate, but whats the chance of disk faliure?

    There is always Xigmatek Utgard

    which I cannot seem to find on scan anymore :wallbash: But yeah think I'll probably got with the R3 just because its quiet and nice looking, noise will be an issue for me.
     
  7. happysack

    happysack goodateverthinger

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    get HP microserver with 4x2tb Disks for your 6tb total space. low powered and reliable.
     
  8. thetrashcanman

    thetrashcanman Angel headed hipsters

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    meh, not as upgradeable as something like a full tower case server, good suggestion though, I was thinking about one of those as well :)
     
  9. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Have a look at FreeNAS 8, which does ZFS. Check the component compatibility there.

    Also consider your network bandwidth: a quality Gigabit router and cabling will make the difference, as will a server that has dual NIC for teaming. GigE will typically shift ~100MB/s - 2/3rds as much as a single HDD, so you're already losing performance. I'm not sure if FreeNAS supports teaming though, so you might consider a QNAP or Synology 6-8-port NAS box. Very good software, very high quality.
     
  10. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

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    In actuality, the 3 drive array would be more secure, as the chance of having multiple disks fail is lesser. The larger number of disks, the more chances for multiple disk failure. I have heard of issues with host based arrays like Intel Matrix RAID with only 3 drives and RAID 5, but Intel Matrix isn't supported in Linux anyway. I have never heard of software RAID encountering those issues.

    On the other hand, the more physical spindles (disks) you have in an array, the better performance. That said, your network connection will be the bottleneck at sub 125MB/s (slower than most individual drives), so performance isn't really a concern.

    +1 for FreeNAS. Simple, bulletproof, works. Everything else is just adding easier points of failure for a file server only implementation.
     
  11. lp rob1

    lp rob1 New Member

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    This. FreeNAS is a BSD variant, meaning the core kernel and file system is all BSD, just with the FreeNAS specific things thrown on top. Exactly like Ubuntu is a Linux variant. Also, that gives you the ability to use RAID Z.
    As for RAID 1+0, RAID 5 and RAID 6 - My school has been using RAID 5 on most of the data critical servers (there are more than 10 servers) and has not suffered any data loss so far AFAIK. The one thing to note (as another thread proclaims quite strongly) is that RAID is not backup. RAID was only designed to allow uptime in case of a hardware failure, not to protect data. If you loose another disk during the rebuilding (after a failed disk) then that is is - data lost. RAID 6 would protect against that, but with the loss of the space of 2 drives, is it really worth it? So keep backups on a separate machine, preferably separate household, if you have really important data. If you need to, backup the most important files encrypted to each client machine.
     
  12. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

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    Most of my servers (servers I have around the house and office) run RAID 5 arrays, some on dedicated cards, some in Windows Server, but at $700ish a pop for a server license, it isn't really an economical setup for most people, but I use my servers for more than just file storage. I have only had one issue with RAID, and that was where my HighPoint RocketRAID card would not boot when Intel Matrix RAID was enabled on my primary server board... yet... somehow, if you enable the RAID array in Intel Matrix RAID, then disable RAID in the BIOS, and add the card, the array still works... O.O.

    All of my client's servers run RAID 5 or 6 on hardware cards. , but each server was $5000+, not likely a well spent investment for a home server.

    All of my clients and I all use an external hard drive or drives for backup, RAID is a solution to provide uptime, not to back up data. Most home users would be fine running a JBOD volume across multiple disks with a backup... but... when the free solution includes RAID Z, might as well make use of it.
     
  13. Margo Baggins

    Margo Baggins I'm good at Soldering Super Moderator

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    all my servers out there on sites have raid 1, 5 or 6 arrays, normally 5 or 6 just a few web servers with raid 1. Most of my clients use a tape backup daily and weekly snapshots of their drives. A few of my clients use cloud backups, and one client opted for a really cheap solution so they do daily snapshots of their drives onto 5 dif ex. drives and then rely on windows previous versions to prevent accidentally deleting files - this last solution isnt really very robust but it's what the client chose.
     
  14. leslie

    leslie Just me!

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    Using files over the network works fine for most things really, I run a 256gig SSD in my desktop and everything else is on my server over gigabit.

    Yes, you lose 2/3rds of the drive speed, but that really only impacts large file copying, if you leave the large files on the server this isn't an issue. Besides, the convenience is worth the hassle.


    A bit of warning with Linux based systems if you are using Windows on the desktop, some nics and variations of Linux have a very serious Samba bug that will absolutely kill your bandwidth. The mini server in my sig does 110MB transfer rates while running Windows to Windows, however when running certain Linux/nic variations that rate drops to 30MB which is unacceptable.
     
  15. lp rob1

    lp rob1 New Member

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    Strange, I've never heard about this. Must not affect the mainstream NICs, otherwise I am sure that my school will have experienced these problems. Could you cite an article pertaining to the offending Samba bug? Just to know my enemy :D
     
  16. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Actually OLD FreeNAS is FreeBSD. New, commercial FreeNAS 8 (I know, ironic name) is Linux ported. I've not looked into it since it got bought out though tbh.
     
  17. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

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    Uhm, no.

    http://doc.freenas.org/index.php/Introduction
     
  18. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Oh WOW they must have completely canned the port then! Shame, because Linux has more drivers than FreeBSD. I've hit walls on FreeNAS 7 with hardware quite frequently before, unless FreeBSD 8 has had a miraculous driver update.

    They didn't start charging for it yet? I remember a while ago there was talk about unRAID style licensing.
     
  19. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

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    The only thing i found is that you can buy support from iX, nothing else. And well, if you want Linux, then there is OpenMediaVault :D.
     
  20. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    or unRAID ;)

    I've been using FreeNAS for years on and off though. I have a secret love for it.
     

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