1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hardware How to build a NAS box

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Sifter3000, 23 Jul 2010.

  1. Farting Bob

    Farting Bob New Member

    Joined:
    21 Jan 2009
    Posts:
    469
    Likes Received:
    13
    Out of interest, how easy is it to set up freeNAS to work nicely with windows 7 (my main PC which will be streaming content and browsing drives on the freeNAS server?
     
  2. Phalanx

    Phalanx Needs more dragons and stuff.

    Joined:
    28 Apr 2010
    Posts:
    3,712
    Likes Received:
    156
    I'm wondering if Software RAID in Windows would work better? I'm extremely concerned with the hardware compatibility of FreeNAS. I was going to start a new NAS self-built and was considering simply using Windows and Software RAID.
     
  3. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    6,877
    Likes Received:
    248
    I didn't used it with Ubuntu, but all it needs is the sata_mv module (autoloaded for me).
     
  4. scott_chegg

    scott_chegg Active Member

    Joined:
    16 Feb 2010
    Posts:
    952
    Likes Received:
    83
    My main PC and the wifes Laptop are both Windows 7 x64. No problems accessing CIFS shares on my FreeNAS box.
     
  5. The Bodger

    The Bodger New Member

    Joined:
    26 Dec 2003
    Posts:
    421
    Likes Received:
    4
    Technically not correct; the current drawn at 110V is more than at 240V. If your rig was fitted with a 240V PSU of similar efficiency to your 110V one, and plugged into the UK mains, you would draw less current, but still use the same total power.

    Power (Watts) = Amps * Volts, so the total power used by the PC works out the same regardless of the voltage supplied from the wall socket.

    Note that I am not implying that reducing the core voltage of internal components such as the CPU would have no effect; we all know that supplying a lower voltage to a CPU results in lower power requirements. The reason for this difference is that the CPU is "using" the energy made available to it, whereas the power supply, if 100% efficient, merely shifts / converts the voltage of the supply from one level to another.

    If you could get hold of a power meter, I second Omnituens' request for figures; it would be really interesting to see just how many Watts have been saved by your voltage and clock adjustments, and for that matter, what the total power consumption of the NAS box actually is. I've been planning to make a NAS box for a while, but have been put off using my old 'normal' PC (gathering dust in the closet) for the task by its power consumption.
     
  6. tad2008

    tad2008 New Member

    Joined:
    6 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    332
    Likes Received:
    3
    Sadly, one of your reasons for making your own NAS box is down to cost, yet the case(s) and motherboard alone come to around £240 and a 2 bay NAS box can be found for around £140.

    Doing your own NAS for the feature set and flexibility is most certainly worth considering. A good article that is informative and also points out some of the possible pitfalls and problems to be face.
     
  7. barrkel

    barrkel New Member

    Joined:
    31 Jan 2007
    Posts:
    82
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm using Nexenta (NCP 2.0), which is a Solaris kernel with a Debian-style GNU userland. That means ZFS support is solid, and I use it: I have 4x1.5T and 4x2T, both raidz (like raid-5), pooled together into a single storage pool, the way ZFS works, so file systems dynamically allocate storage as necessary from the unified pool. Those drives work out to a theoretical 14T of storage, but of course that's a decimal T, while raidz uses one drive's worth for parity, so it's more like 3x1.3T + 3x1.8T, for somewhere over 9T of usable storage.

    Nexenta is extremely solid - has never crashed - and I have only rebooted my box once in over a year, and that was to do an OS update. Nexenta uses Debian's apt / etc. system, so apt-get update and upgrade do the business. Using ZFS on the boot drive means you get an extra benefit: Nexenta have integrated ZFS with apt so that the entire upgrade is checkpointed, to the point that you get an extra entry in grub at bootup if something goes wrong and you want to run the pre-upgrade checkpoint of the OS.

    Of course, I'm still running backups. I have a CrashPlan account, which is advertised as unlimited, and I haven't hit its limit yet. CrashPlan's client, being written in Java, runs on both the Solaris kernel and Linux, and hence with only a slight amount of hackery, I was able to get it running on Nexenta OK.

    In terms of other hardware, it's running an E6700 Core 2 Duo, AW9D MAX motherboard, very cheap video card, etc. The AW9D was part of an old gaming system, and it has 7 SATA ports. I'm also using a PCIe SATA card for an extra couple of ports. I'm using a 200G drive for the OS. Nexenta doesn't come with X Windows (certainly not by default, anyway), and I administer the system with ssh and the command-line. It's a proper server system, and I also do things like run a web server, a wiki, etc. on it for testing, documentation etc.

    The way CrashPlan works, it can store its backups not only on CrashPlan's servers, but also on anyone else who also has a CrashPlan client, a kind of P2P backup system. I make use of this on my other PCs by having them back up to both the cloud and to my NAS. Backup to the NAS is faster for retrieval should something go wrong.

    I've written up my travails on my blog:

    My first attempt at Solaris:

    http://blog.barrkel.com/2009/03/opensolaris-zfs-dvorak-and-vi.html

    Nexenta worked much better - I've gotten much happier with it over time than I was immediately after I had the hassle of setting it up:

    http://blog.barrkel.com/2009/03/zfssolaris-as-nas.html

    And CrashPlan:

    http://blog.barrkel.com/2010/03/crashplan-for-backup-on-nexenta.html
     
  8. Wizard Prang

    Wizard Prang Old Skool Geek

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Very nice article. However, it seems to dwell on using new and shiny hardware. When you are spending hundreds of dollars, purchasing a dedicated solution is probably the best way to go.

    I have put together a FreeNAS box using an old AMD K6-II+ 450 MHz computer - yes, that's right, I said 450MHz - and four 20GB drives in software Raid-5, giving 60GB of usable storage. It's not a screamer - but it isn't meant to be - it's a place for backing up data, pictures, libraries of stuff that people don't want to lose..

    One correction: "and the SATA controller set to IDE mode rather than ACHI" - should be AHCI?
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2010
  9. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

    Joined:
    21 Mar 2007
    Posts:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    99
    Great article, well-written and informative!
    I'm really glad to see this kind of article on bit-tech and hopefully we'll get to see more DIY stuff in the future too.
     
  10. CopperCAT

    CopperCAT New Member

    Joined:
    4 Aug 2004
    Posts:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
  11. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    True point.

    785G motherboard is ~£55, Sempron is ~£30, 2GB stick of DDR3 is ~£35 hopefully? That gives you 5-6 SATA ports - more than a 2 port NAS box and far more flexibility for future upgrades. You could run the same two disks you'd put in the £140 box, then later put in another two disks and expand it. ;)

    Thank you though! :D
     
  12. phuzz

    phuzz This is a title

    Joined:
    28 May 2004
    Posts:
    1,701
    Likes Received:
    24
    Not really mentioned in the article is that FreeNAS is designed to be run headless, the only time I need to plug a monitor into mine is for the initial boot (to set the IP address), once it's going you can remove the video card to save power (so you can always just borrow a VGA card from another machine)
     
  13. Iorek

    Iorek New Member

    Joined:
    18 Jul 2006
    Posts:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Assuming your board lets you boot without a graphics card (most I've tried, don't)
     
  14. AlbertW

    AlbertW New Member

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I recently build a Freenas based NAS. A few points:

    I use a atom board that unfortunately has a loud fan on the north bridge. Other then that it works like a charm. The power supply is a 120watt pico PSU. It is more then enough, even though the system has 4 2tb WD green HDs, and makes no sound at all. I measured the power usage and the entire setup never went over 50 watts. The atom is powerfull enough, I stream 1080p mkv files of it without any problems

    For the case I used a Sharkoon Rebel Economy. It is cheap, but good enough and allows for 9 5.25inch devices. I use cooling brackets for the hard disks that make the drive fit into 5.25 inch bays and cool the disks. And all the 5.25 inch bays allow for space between the disks. The drives are now cool without the need for fans.
    The case only uses 1 12cm fan, which is very quiet

    What I like of Freenas:
    - build for running from memory so can be run safely from USB stick
    - excellent power settings for the disks.

    Why would I now choose a Linux distro and create the RAID array using md? Because as a Linux user, I am not familiar with BSD and for instance mounting an external HD gave me difficulties (everything is called different) Not saying one is better then the other, but I am much more used to Linux. And the webinterface of Freenas is not that important to me. But when ZFS becomes stable in Freenas I may prefer Freenas again. Snapshot technology is a cool feature.

    Even more powersavings: The entire setup doesn't use much power. But I usually keep it of nonetheless. The systems listens to wakeonlan. So I can always start it from wherever I am. I use it and then power it down when done. People usually don need 24/7 With Wakeonlan you can get what most people really need: always available, but you may have to wait for it to boot.
     
  15. shoxicwaste

    shoxicwaste Max

    Joined:
    2 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    244
    Likes Received:
    8
    lol, i've never come across a motherboard without on-board graphics that will boot without a GPU
     
  16. Iorek

    Iorek New Member

    Joined:
    18 Jul 2006
    Posts:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've seen ONE board that did boot without graphics (had a serial interface for most things instead)
     
  17. Chimel

    Chimel New Member

    Joined:
    24 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's nice to use fancy terms, but what you describe as NAS or what passes as NAS in some "build your own NAS" YouTube videos is just a standard file server of rather low specs with standard computer components combined in an awkward fashion. It can hardly be called NAS if the file sharing management/replication/backup system is not integrated into a dedicated hardware ASIC and if it is not designed for NAS purpose, with redundant PSUs, a huge disk cache, if you need a monitor and keyboard/mouse on the box to configure FreeNAS, etc. A NAS box should be like an appliance, and inserting/removing hard drives should be as easy as in a tape or CD deck.

    I am genuinely interested into knowing what are the advantages of this type of "NAS" system for a family, compared to a standard file server with a DAS external enclosure. My DAS enclosure has room for 8 drives in hot swappable trays, so it's more scalable and convenient than filling out the computer case with 4 or 6 disks. I am also using RAID 6 because I care for my data. RAID 5 allows only 1 simultaneous drive failure, you lose all your data if another drive fails while the hot spare reconstructs, which I read takes more than a day for a 2TB disk. (citation needed :)

    I think home-made NAS will make more sense when/if you can find dedicated NAS motherboards and cases. Anything else is just a hack to try and imitate the professional solutions for companies. Right now, NAS is a big word that does not have a detailed specification of minimal requirements, so everybody uses it with more or less success.

    I actually have my eSATA DAS enclosure plugged into my main desktop PC, so I saved money on the file server, I just needed to install the Adaptec RAID controller in my PC, no need to install another OS on a stick.

    No thanks to blu-ray, I'll probably end up adding other DAS enclosures in a RAID 60 cluster.
    Or I'll build me one of these 90TB NAS for $10.500 :) :
    http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/

    P.S. There is no such thing as a "4K drive", you should correct to "4KB sector drive" for better comprehension in page 7. Just saying...
     
  18. leexgx

    leexgx CPC hang out zone (i Fix pcs i do )

    Joined:
    28 Jun 2006
    Posts:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    8
    some motherboards have an option to allow it but norm its due to some sort of other output on the motherboard, if the mobo has onboard VGA then just do not plug an monitor into it after setup has finished
     
  19. big F

    big F New Member

    Joined:
    1 Feb 2010
    Posts:
    17
    Likes Received:
    1
    Great article. I played a few years ago with one running on an old PII board, worked ok on the storage side, a little slow on the transfer speed at times but it was never meant to be fast. I have some Athalon hardware sitting there gathering dust with which I may well put my media drives into.
    Old boards do have advantages, i.e lower power needs, cheapness, and the ability to put very low spec PCI and AGP graphics cards into, since they will be switched off most of the time.
     
  20. gcwebbyuk

    gcwebbyuk Dib Dabbler

    Joined:
    16 Feb 2010
    Posts:
    1,260
    Likes Received:
    18
    Just built my first FreeNAS box. Very Easy - was very impressed. It acts as an iSCSI device so I can backup an SBS2k8 to :) It runs a little slow on the current hardware, an old Dell P4 1.9GHz with 1GB RAM but will be replacing it with a faster spare server with gb networking, so hoping for some faster backups!
     
Tags: Add Tags

Share This Page