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Is unraid suitable as a Hypervisor with just 2 drives?

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Hey, I've been using unraid on a tower PC/Server successfully that functions as perfectly well as a Hypervisor and a NAS for work purposes.


I have a parity drive on it, a data drive and an SSD cache pool that host my VMs.


My employer recently paid for an ASRock Intel DeskMini to act as a Hypervisor. Since it's a small form factor PC which only has 2 drives (1 X 2TB SSD and 1 X 2 TB normal HDD) my question is really is unraid suitable for this PC setup?


I'd like to use it for more VMs for work, and I love the unraid experience, just not sure how I would set the drives up. I assume the non-SSD drive could act as parity? And the SSD as the only drive in the array?


To be clear I understand having only 2 drives leaves me with hardware failure risks. I'm fine with that and can backup the VM disks etc to either my other unraid server or another NAS I have.


I have seen Proxmox too but was interested if anyone has suggestions on using unraid with only 2 drives and any tips?

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Problem with putting vdisks onto a parity protected array is that performance will be limited to the write speed of the HDD.  If you set up the drives as a cache pool and a single data drive instead then while you would lose redundancy (you'd have to do backups like any other system) you would gain the full speed of the SSD.


Alternative would be to use 2x 2TB SSD set up in a redundant cache pool and then use something like a small flash drive as a data drive (every Unraid system requires at least one data drive regardless of how small).  Then you would still remain redundant but gain all of the speed.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/27/2021 at 10:35 AM, harrisonmeister said:

I have seen Proxmox too but was interested if anyone has suggestions on using unraid with only 2 drives and any tips?


i think proxmox would be good for what you're doing. i would recommend a separate install drive from the 2 though. unraid is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to server OS boot methods. Typically you'd install proxmox on a dedicated hdd. maybe a cheap ssd? a 500gb should be sufficient. you would need to re-partition and everything on the drive would be lost.


possibly a more appropriate solution, given your circumstances, would be OpenMediaVault 5. there is a community KVM plugin that installs libvirt for hypervising. you can manage or create the vm's via the webui plugin or by enabling cockpit webui (it's a general server ui). you can also do virt-manager in a vm, if you're knowledgeable enough. there's also a plugin that lets you create shares on the root filesystem (root partition). so you could easily create a share for kvm on the root drive and store your vm's there, and use the 2nd drive as a storage pool, and grant access as needed, to your vm's. OMV5 is also a NAS/Media Server OS, so it has shares, smb, nfs, dlna, ftp, ssh, and a good webui. there are community addons as well. it uses portainer to manage docker containers and once you install the omvextras plugin, which is a community plugin, you can install docker and portainer and load up portainer directly from the webui.


honestly, i love OMV5, i really do. the reason i decided to give unRAID a try is due to the way they handle arrays. ZFS is annoying and standard RAID has a limitation of stepping down all drives to the used capacity of the smallest drive. i have 3x 4TB, 1x 3TB, and 1x 1TB (was my root drive). with unRAID, i have 1 4TB drive as parity and 2x 4TB + 3TB as storage arrays. the 1TB drive is running as an unassigned device with BTRFS on it. my array is also using BTRFS. my appdata dir for docker and libvirt is symlinked from my array to my 1TB. the primary purpose of the array is for storing bare metal and incremental backups of my main system (1TB and 2TB nvme drives), my laptop (1TB + 500GB), my backups of my Unity projects, and other important stuff thats been sitting on small 320GB, 250GB, 120GB drives from years ago. i opted not to go with a caching drive, though i may move my 3TB to be a caching drive. 


sorry, got a bit off topic, but yah, check out OMV5 or ProxMox VE. or you could even go with a good Centos 8 or RHEL 8 hypervisor with GUI desktop and libvirt, add docker-ce and portainer, if you're looking for a hypervisor OS. in my experience, EL-based (Fedora, RHEL, CentOS) distros are much more stable than debian-based, and handle resources a bit more efficiently after long uptimes. hope this helps you out a bit....




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