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defected's n00bie unRAID build (Termaltake V6 Budget Box - 5 Drives To Start)

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Hey guys! This is my first time getting into a real file/media server.  I had a Dlink NAS 321, which failed a few months back due to a power surge.  I was limited to two bays, and the constant swapping of drives got old very quick.  My main purpose for this server will be serving tv shows/movies to my Popcorn Hour A-110.  I may use the space for my Mac's TimeMachine back ups, and possibly an iTunes server (if possible?), or at least storing my FLAC and iTunes library.  I rarely use virtual machines, but sometimes I need Windows when remoting into work, or to use some applications.  I may move my VMWare Fusion images to this box.  Lastly, I develop, so I may have a Subversion repo, and possibly an application/web/database server running also.  This may be a bit much for the box that I'm going to order--especially with only 1 2 GB of RAM.  If all of these options are possible, and the only bottleneck is RAM--then I'll probably just upgrade that.  The webserver would only be for testing, so I don't think it'd require too much to run if I'm the only one on it.

 

I had been considering unRAID for a while now, without looking much into it, due to their recommended build components.  I finally came into the forums today, and pretty much fell in love with the HP MicroServer due to neit0's Build and Tim's "Tiddler" Build

 

Edit:  After more research and help from others here, I've decided I may need to expand in the future, and better to start off with a larger box now, than have to possibly upgrade down the road.  So the MicroServer is out, and a 5+ Disk Budget Box is in! (Following Raj's prototype for 5 Disk Budget Box w/ a different case)

 

C/N of server's potential needs:

 

  • SMB/AFP/NFS media server for Popcorn Hour A-110 (w/ YAMJ)
  • TimeMachine
  • iTunes Server
  • FTP Server (most likely just the client for downloading from remote sources)
  • LAMP plus Subversion

 

OS at time of building: Undecided, still researching! Offer any suggestions, please, seeing as I mainly use a Mac and AFP may be the best option

CPU: AMD Sepron 140

Motherboard: BIOSTAR A760G

RAM: Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (Expandable to 8GB)

Case: Thermaltake V6

Drive Cage(s): Norco SS-500

Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series 430W

SATA Expansion Card(s): None (Will require if/when I go beyond 5 disk array--may want an external eSATA for convenience though this case has a 3.5"/2.5" dock at the top!)

Cables: Monoprice 18" SATA with latching lock. (x6 for now)

Fans: Oversized 200mm

 

Parity Drive: Not sure yet, maybe the Hitachi 2TB Green, or one of the WD20EARS.

Data Drives: So far, 3 x 1TB WD Green (1 64MB, 2 32MB--64MB still needs to be RMA'd from a power surge in the Dlink NAS I owned.).  1 x 2TB WD20EARS.  1 x 2TB Hitachi 5K3000 (Wanted to try it out, and was $15 cheaper than the WD20EARS, but wondering if I should have been consistent with all WD Green).

Cache Drive: 500GB Hitachi Deskstar 7k RPM drive (used for transferring files locally, as well as remotely)

Total Drive Capacity: So far, 6.5 GB raw--will be 7.5 once I RMA one of the WD Greens and pull the Hitachi out.

OS Drive: Lexar JumpDrive FireFly 4GB About $2 more for the 4GB, so figured a few more gigs wouldn't hurt.

 

Primary Use: Media Server

Likes: TBD

Dislikes: TBD

Add Ons Used: Soon...

Future Plans: 2nd 5-in-3 rack when necessary.

 

Boot (peak): TBD

Idle (avg): TBD

Active (avg): TBD

Light use (avg): TBD

 


 

March 29, 2011: Almost everything arrived yesterday.  Just awaiting SATA/network cables from monoprice, and CompactFlash card/adapter for my PCH.  Decided to use the 500GB Hitachi as a cache drive for transferring files remotely and locally, since I imagine probably not the best idea to transfer files to the data drives--especially when my internet is 3 Mbps currently :(

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So how many drives can this little guy really support? I saw in neit0's thread, he has a cache, a parity, and 4 data drives.  Can I add more eSATA, or SATA ports via the PCI expansion slots, and have some external drives?  I was thinking of the 5 inside, plus a potential 2.5" drive for caching, and then any number of external drives connected via eSATA.  I guess one of the eSATA ports would be required for the 6th drive inside--the 2.5" drive, correct?  How is the top drive (the one in the 5.25" bay) connected to the motherboard?

 

You can add a ton of external drives if you put a SATA HBA card in the PCI-E slot, but I'd suggest if you want more than 5 or 6 drives, you'd be better off using a bigger case. You need to add a SATA cable to connect to the 5.25" bay.

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So how many drives can this little guy really support? I saw in neit0's thread, he has a cache, a parity, and 4 data drives.  Can I add more eSATA, or SATA ports via the PCI expansion slots, and have some external drives?  I was thinking of the 5 inside, plus a potential 2.5" drive for caching, and then any number of external drives connected via eSATA.  I guess one of the eSATA ports would be required for the 6th drive inside--the 2.5" drive, correct?  How is the top drive (the one in the 5.25" bay) connected to the motherboard?

 

You can add a ton of external drives if you put a SATA HBA card in the PCI-E slot, but I'd suggest if you want more than 5 or 6 drives, you'd be better off using a bigger case. You need to add a SATA cable to connect to the 5.25" bay.

 

So this device comes with 4 SATA cables, and I need to purchase a 5th for the ODD drive?

 

I may need more space in the future, but I am looking for lower power consumption.  Maybe I should check out a Raj build instead?

 

And when you use a cache drive for Transmission and Newsbin, that's for current downloads/transfers? So the array isn't being used for "temporary" or "incomplete" storage?

 

I store a lot of HD content, so the TBs could be filled up quickly.  I suppose two of these servers would still consume less power than one that held 10-12 drives?  I understand currently I would need n licenses, n being the number of servers I have.  I wonder if it'd be cheaper utility wise though, but probably annoying to have more than 1 unRAID server to manage.

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So this device comes with 4 SATA cables, and I need to purchase a 5th for the ODD drive?

 

Correct.  Monoprice has the best prices on cables.

 

I may need more space in the future, but I am looking for lower power consumption.  Maybe I should check out a Raj build instead?

 

Can't help but be biased on this one ;)  If you are happy with a 5 drive capacity, then this HP Microserver is both cheaper and smaller than my 5 drive designs (the trade-off being that the drives are somewhat more difficult to swap in and out).  However, the expandability is very limited.  You could potentially add some more drives via an eSATA port multiplier external enclosure such as this (that's just a quick example, there are other options).  While this may work well for you, there's just something about it that I don't like.  It seems...inelegant, I guess.  I don't like the idea of having multiple boxes, but that's ultimately just a matter of personal preference.  If you expect that you'll need more than 5 drives someday in the nearish future, then I suggest building a larger server from the beginning.  And yes, my builds are a good place to start :)

 

And when you use a cache drive for Transmission and Newsbin, that's for current downloads/transfers? So the array isn't being used for "temporary" or "incomplete" storage?

 

Correct.

 

I store a lot of HD content, so the TBs could be filled up quickly.  I suppose two of these servers would still consume less power than one that held 10-12 drives?

 

Possibly...but not necessarily.  It all depends on how you build that 10-12 drive server.  Generally speaking, there's a trade-off between initial investment and long term power savings.  For example, you could build one of my Budget Boxes for much cheaper than a comparable Beast build.  The Budget Boxes will cost hundreds less initially, but use more power.  The Beast builds will cost hundreds more initially, but use less power.  So after many years they will reach some sort of equilibrium.  How many years of use it will be before the larger investment of the Beast build pays for itself in terms of money saved on your power bill depends on many factors, such as your usage patterns of the server and the cost of power in your area.

 

Most people build servers based on my Beast designs because they want to run lots of CPU intensive add-ons (such as video transcoding), not for the power savings.  The power savings are just kind of a fringe benefit.

 

I also have some designs for various 'green' servers floating around in my head, but I haven't yet committed them to paper (er, forum) because of the trade-off situation I described above.  Purchasing components with ultra-green features (such as motherboards with built-in Atom processors) generally means paying a premium over the cheaper components (such as a budget motherboard and a Sempron or Celeron processor).  In most cases, the power savings amounts to less than $20 per year, so again it will take several years before the Atom processor is really a worthwhile investment.  Still, if you are interested in these green designs I'm happy to offer some suggestions.

 

Here's my personal take on the matter.  The computing requirements of my server are very low as I run only minimal add-ons (unMenu & cache_dirs, that's it).  I also know that I love to tinker with hardware, and that as soon as I get a system up and running perfectly I like to break it so that I can mess with it some more.  I change hardware like a 14 year old girl changes clothes.  Given this, I tend towards budget-oriented builds as I know I'll be replacing most if not all of the parts before too long anyway.  In my case, waiting several years for a larger initial investment of say a Beast or Green build to be worthwhile is just not a very attractive option.  Hence, most of my designs are Budget builds meant to last a few years and then be upgraded or replaced.

 

I understand currently I would need n licenses, n being the number of servers I have.  I wonder if it'd be cheaper utility wise though, but probably annoying to have more than 1 unRAID server to manage.

 

Also an important point.  I personally would hate to have more than one server's worth of data to manage.  In fact, that's one of the primary reasons that I started using unRAID in the first place.  Before I built my first unRAID server I had a desktop with six 500 GB drives and several external drives as well.  I was tired of having to remember which drive (external or internal) held the data that I wanted at that moment.  I was also tired of having a drive full of 'Movies A-F' or similar, then running out of room and having to re-arrange all my movies to make them fit on the drives I had available.  unRAID allows you to have one huge repository of all your data.  Multiple servers just kind of defeats the purpose in my opinion, it would be like stepping back into that old undesirable situation of worrying about which drive holds which data.

 

One other bit of advice:  I recommend against shooting for the moon right away.  Many new users come here and see things like the 20 drive builds, get all starry-eyed and build/buy a huge server.  Then after a few months they realize that they'll never need that much space and start wanting something smaller.  I did this same thing.  I started with a rather ghetto 6 - 8 drive server that I built out of spare parts.  Before too long I got tired of having internal drives and wanted something better.  I upgraded to the Norco 4220 (a 20 drive server).  I was elated for about a month before I realized that I simply don't need that much space, and the 4220 takes up too much space (not to mention it is somewhat ugly).  So I sold the 4220 and then built myself a nice 9 drive server (similar to my 9 drive budget box design) that I now use as my personal server.  I currently have 8 of the 9 slots filled with drives ranging from 1 TB to 2 TB.  I figure I can selectively replace the smaller drives with larger ones as I need more space.  By the time I've maxed it out with 2 TB drives, then unRAID should be able to support 3 and 4 TB drives and I can start the process over again.  If I really need more space, I can always upgrade it to a 15 drive server with an investment of a couple hundred dollars.  So it took me nearly a year and working through two different servers to come to the conclusion that 9 drives is the exact capacity that suits my needs.  However, everyone's needs are different.  My storage requirements grow by around 500 GBs per month.  Yours may grow by 1 TB per month, I don't know.  Just make an effort to think about how much storage you'll need 6 months, 1 year, even 2 years from now and build your server with that figure in mind.  You don't necessarily need a large number of drives as drive capacities are always growing, but you also don't want to be stuck with 5 drives when you really need 10...

 

My 2 cents.  Sorry for the wall of text, brevity isn't my strong suit.

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Wow, that was very thorough.  Thanks Raj!

 

I think I've decided to go the route of your 5 drive, miniBox--except with the Rosewill box, (I've commented on your Help me design an unRAID miniBox recommended build!), can also have 2 more on the front, plus 4 more inside--much more flexible than the HP. 

 

Now to have more than 6 drives, I see that I will need a SATA card for up to 5 more drives.  Anything else I'd need?  The PSU is supposed to support up to 12 low power drives.  Only other thing is I'd like to have an eSATA port just in case I want to throw a dock for quick transfers, or pre-clearing.  What do you think?

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One other thing you might want to factor in is the cost of an unRAID license. Assuming you stick with just this one server (for now), you're gonna be ponying up $69 for a Plus key. Once you expand beyond the MicroServer's internal capacity, you're gonna need to purchase another key - assuming it's another Plus key, that's another $69.

 

OTOH, getting a Pro key at $119 would allow you to go all the way up to 20 drives, BUT then you'd be managing all sorts of external boxy add-ons as Raj said. If you anticipate "needing" beyond 5 drives at the outset, it might be worth going with a larger case at the very beginning and getting the Pro license.

 

Just a thought.

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Heck I built my machine to hold 12 drives from the start. I've got 5 and currently I'm looking excuses to fill it up. ;)

 

However I might start shooting HD Home Videos which will start eating up space, but until then.

 

Just think of the Microserver as a D-link 321, but smarter and with extra space. As it sits with the extra dock I think you can get what (4) 2TB drives + Parity for a Total of 8TB. Heck thats way more than I'm currently using and I'm guessing I would do fine with that for a while.

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I don't think the Rosewill case is a good choice for as many drives as you are now talking about...see my comments in the miniBox thread.

 

As for expansion cards, that ultimately depends upon the motherboard you choose.  Assuming you go with my favorite budget board, the Biostar A760G M2+, your options are either one SASLP card and one 2 port PCIe x1 (such as the SIL3132 that I use in my designs) for up to 16 drive capacity, or two 2 port PCIe x1 cards for up to 10 drive capacity.  You could also add another drive or two onto the PCI ports with negligible bottlenecking.  There's other options too (4 port PCIe cards do exist as well), but those are the ones that I consider to be the most cost-effective.

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I've decided upon a Rosewill case, which OOTB supports a 5-in-3 cage--and with modification (thanks to Queeg's innovation) could hold another 5-in-3 cage.  Worst comes to worst, I just use the 4 internal 3.5" drives and not have hot swap-ability.  

 

I think I'll pick up a Hitachi 2TB and WD20EARS--would the Hitachi be better for the parity, or the green? Does it matter? Besides that, I have 2 x 1TB WD Greens (plus one that needs to be RMA'd), and a 500 GB Hitachi 7200 to use in the mean time (but will find a new home in the Popcorn Hour probably).

 

Thanks!

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I don't think the Rosewill case is a good choice for as many drives as you are now talking about...see my comments in the miniBox thread.

 

Even following the same modifications as Queeg? Because of the airflow?

 

Edit: OK! I conceit.  Can I use all the same components in the AZZA Helios 910? Or is there something comparable in size/components, without so much "flash"?

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If you mod the case like Queeg did then you shouldn't have any issues, because the cabling and airflow with two 5-in-3s will be much better.  Each 5-in-3 has its own fan, so heat shouldn't be an issue.  Personally, I think that Queeg's mod is just a bit too much work.  If I wanted a server like that, I would probably just pay Queeg to make one of the modded cases for me, then build the rest of the server myself.  Then again, my case modding skills are, well, modest.

 

There aren't many alternatives to the Azza case at the moment.  I've listed the easily obtainable ones here, though they all have equal amounts if not more flash.  The Thermaltake cases are much cheaper, though, so that's a consideration.

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Indeed it will, though be aware that the top dock effectively blocks the top 5.25" bay for use with external drive cages.  It is still available to be used for an internally mounted drive.  See here for more details.

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Indeed it will, though be aware that the top dock effectively blocks the top 5.25" bay for use with external drive cages.  It is still available to be used for an internally mounted drive.  See here for more details.

 

Thank you for pointing that out.  I think for the time being I'll be ok--starting with 1 cage, and probably go to 2.  I doubt 3 will be needed, but if so, I'll re-think the mount.

 

Again, thanks for your prompt help/assistance.

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Updated OP with new build specs.  90% of parts should be here tomorrow! just waiting on SATA cables from Monoprice later this week.

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Looks good.  Remember that you'll have to flatten the metal tabs that separate each 5.25" bay.  I recommend visiting your local hardware store and picking up the deepest C clamp you can find.  The one I use looks almost identical to this:

 

khQxS.jpg

 

The front bezel on the V6 case can be easily removed as well (just pull on it, it will pop right off), which makes that task a bit easier.

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Thank you.  Is that to fit the Norco rack?

 

Yes, to fit the Norco 5-in-3 cages into the case you will have to bend the tabs inside the case flat.

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Welp, went to the hardware store and picked up the biggest C-clamp they had: 8 inches.

 

Then I realized a 4 inch probably would have done if it was the same depth--didn't look at that.

 

73693391.jpg

 

Maybe not flattened the cleanest, but with a slight struggle, was able to get the Norco in there:

 

7bcd43f5.jpg

 

FYI: don't do these things when it's past your bed time.  I bent down the wrong tab by mistake  :-\

 

Was able to pry it up with a screw driver enough, and since I'm using that upper bay for a fixed cache drive, and the Norco is right beneath it, I think it will be fine.

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Now for the unRAID OS to choose: Should I go with 4.7, or jump onto a 5.0b release?

 

4.7, unless there's some functionality in the 5.0 betas that you absolutely need...

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I've been reading the documentation, and it mentions to use a PS/2 keyboard when setting up unRAID.  I only have a wireless Logitech with a Bluetooth USB dongle.  Will this really be a problem, or is it to keep the hardware as simple as possible when configuring?

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I've been reading the documentation, and it mentions to use a PS/2 keyboard when setting up unRAID.  I only have a wireless Logitech with a Bluetooth USB dongle.  Will this really be a problem, or is it to keep the hardware as simple as possible when configuring?

It will work for setting up unRAID.  Does it work when setting BIOS options?

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I've been reading the documentation, and it mentions to use a PS/2 keyboard when setting up unRAID.  I only have a wireless Logitech with a Bluetooth USB dongle.  Will this really be a problem, or is it to keep the hardware as simple as possible when configuring?

It will work for setting up unRAID.   Does it work when setting BIOS options?

 

Not sure, all goodies finished arriving yesterday.  Actually have that keyboard in storage, so may see if I can borrow a PS/2 locally for the weekend.

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Also, being extremely anal I've thought about my drive set up.  Right now I have 6 ports on the Mobo, a drive cage to support 5 disks, a top mount on the enclosure for my "transfer/pre-clear" disks, and space allocated for a cache drive in the top internal bay.

 

I currently only have enough drives to fill all 6, but when I get another drive to complete the cage, I will need another mobo port if I continue the same drive scheme.

 

I'd like to at least keep the parity and cache drives on the mobo, and I've read your largest/fastest drives should also be on the mobo, and remaining drives to PCI, etc.

 

If I have to swap the drives onto different ports/cards, will that be an issue? Or do I just have to re-configure unRAID (hopefully painlessly) to just use the same mountpoint for the relocated (by port) drive (or will unRAID "know" where to put the drive based on signature/drive serial#/some unique identifier?)

 

Hopefully I was clear, but my thoughts usually aren't  ;D

 

EDIT: Nevermind, I read this post and answered my own question.  It should detect, since it's not based on port, but will know this drive should be mounted as this disk, right?

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