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Yes, another, "New Build" topic, but for a poor college student.

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Hi everyone.


Well I lurked for a few days, and decided to register to get some information and advice.


Some past info: This past summer, I went out on a limb and built myself a NAS file server, because I was just out of space and really needed something, other than 4,000 external hard drives, to keep my media. After some research (apparently not enough since I found this place  ;D ) I built a FreeNAS box. The problem with my current setup, it has no room for expansion, which now, I am about 40gb short of filling my 2TB of space.


Current setup information:

I was going to save up and spend money on building a server (similar to the situation I'm in now) but I literally found a computer that was being trashed at my work, and decided to build one out of that.



Compaq Presario SR1000z (Small case for starters)

AMD Sempron 2000 (I believe)

512mb RAM


This PC is pretty old, so I had to buy a PCI SATA interface card, that gave me 4 SATA ports. I also bought an Intel Gigabit Ethernet card, to complement the gigabit switch and router I bought.


The only benefit of that old PC, is that it somehow booted from USB. (I tried this on my old PC, and I couldn't get it to work.


The problems:

1. No space. This case is cramped, I'm pretty sure it's Micro-ATX. There's barely enough room for 4 drives, yet the case is so cheap I had a hard time getting the drives to fit.

2. SATA card is bottlenecked, and only allows 2 active connections.

3. Ease of use. I recently had a HD failure, and it is just a pain in the arse to disassemble the case and work in this cramped PC.

4. No sufficient airflow. I worry about my drives failing.

5. Not sure if the PSU can take me adding more drives, cards, etc.


So now I'm looking to upgrade my server. The overall goal here is to save as much money as possible, but allowing for future upgrades.


I was looking at those "hot-swappable" 5x3 drive bays, but they're pretty expensive, so I figured i'd base my build off these:

Coolermaster 4in3 Racks



Ideally I'd like two of them, as I read in another thread, you can keep upgrading hard drives over the years, instead of needing 16 drives, and keep adding space. This gives me plenty of room to upgrade.


Any help or information to go from there would be great.

Cases, motherboards, the whole works. I've read through so many threads, I figured it'd be best to ask for your own personal recommendations given my circumstances.


The purpose of this is to switch over to unRAID server, have a well cooled system, easy repairs, easy upgrades, and CHEAP (but not to hinder reliability.)





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If you want to minimize cost, just look around for any old mobo and ram, that you already have, or can "borrow" to test.  If it boots unRAID from the USB stick, you are 99.99% likely to have a mobo that will work OK with unRAID.  No need for speed... anything from a 300Mhz P4 up will work fine for you.

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Well, I came up with this a little while ago;



LOL, yup, everyone has a favorite.


Try this for parts for a small, cheap build.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128342 - $50

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103188 - $40

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811164004 - $37

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134635 - $23

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820326005 - $4


Boy was I high balling the price. $154 for the hardware to support 6 drives. Of course, you may not trust the power supply to your server and the case may need more fans but the rest is very usable. The 740G based chipset motherboards are very popular here and work well for a budget build.


Hard drives are 1.5T = $130 today, 4 drives = $520

OS = $120


So, $794 for a 4T server with the capability to add 2 more drives in the future (and even more expansion possible with more hardware).





Here are a couple of threads to look at;





You may want to consider something like this case;




According to what Russel posted later, the cage you listed can have that fancy front plastic piece removed. Look at the pics in the link. I believe he bought this case and 2 more cages and removed the plastic pieces and fit them all inside the case giving him places for 12 hard drives. Also, this case has filtered front 5.25" slot covers so the fan and cage behind the front slot covers of the case works perfectly for cooling. I have this case, and although the 4 into 3 adapter supplied is different than the one you linked it's functionally equivalent and about the same size once that plastic face is removed.


The 120mm fans on those adapters will keep the drives cool too and be much better than finding a case with lots of 3.5" internal slots that aren't fan cooled.


Pair it up with a decent quality single 12V rail power supply of about 650W or so.


So, dump the case in the list I gave, add the Coolermaster case and a decent supply and you will be at about $250-$275 for a system that holds 4 drives. +$22 for another adapter and +$20 for a 2-port PCIe to SATA2 card and you can support 8 drives.




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Well thanks for the replies everyone.


Funny you recommended the Centurion 590 case, I was looking at that one right before I wrote this topic.


Anyway, this is what I've got so far, any changes/criticism/recommendations please feel free to comment.


Case (Centurion 590): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119152 ($70)

MoBo (Gigabyte AM2: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128342 ($55)

Memory (2gb DDR2 Crucial): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146526 ($17)

PSU (650W): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817152035 ($50 after rebate)

Cages: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817993002 ($42)

Puts me at about $234 after rebates, not including ripoff shipping.


Ok so now a few questions:


1) I checked my FreeNAS server, I was mistaken about my AMD Sempron processor. It's not a Sempron 2000+, but a "AMD Sempron 2800+ running at 1999 MHz" so it is much more powerful than I originally imagined. To save myself $40, is this processor compatible with that motherboard? I mean it lists Semprons, but not sure if it changed at all. If it's wrong, any other MoBos to recommend?


2) My hard drives in my current FreeNAS server are formatted as UFS. Will there be any sort of problems changing the drives from one server to another without losing data? Even if that means moving one, formatting it, moving the data to the other then adding the rest, etc.


3) I'm kind of confused on the situation of a parity drive. So basically I need to have one drive set as parity, say, 1.5TB, and then the rest of my drives are used as data drives, but have to be the same size or less than the parity?


Thanks again for all the help.



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The parts sound good. That case is pretty popular based on it's size and price and the quality is decent enough too.


One thing to note, the case comes with a 4 drive cage in it. You list 2 more which will give you a total number of slots to fit 12 drives in that case. But, you only have 6 sata ports (the onboard ones) in your parts list (unless you are re-using that SATA card). Best option would be to use a 4-SATA PCIe x4 card (~$100) and a 2-SATA PCIe x1 card (~$20) to get to 12 drives. Cheapest would be to reuse that 4-port PCI to SATA card you have. But, consider adding a 2-port SATA card to the order for an extra $20 then you have everything for 12 ports.


1. I don't see any reason why that processor would not work.


2. The FreeNAS drives are all individual file systems, correct? The stock unRAID will only support ReiserFS so the drives need to be formatted. If you can start with one new drive then you can transfer over data from a drive, install that drive to expand the server and use it as storage space to transfer more data and so on and so on. Ideally, you may want to start with 2 drives to get parity protection before you format an existing drive.


Drives can be mounted without being in the array. There is an add-on called Unmenu that allows you to do this with the interface. But, it can be done over a telnet session. I'm not sure about the UFS filesystem support though.


3. unMENU basically reads the data across all drives and then does an XOR of that data and writes that to the parity drive. When it reaches the point where a drive has no data space left (the small drive) then it ignores that drive and uses the ones that still have data space. So, unRAID can use this parity drive to re-create any single failed drive. But you are correct, parity is a drive that is as large or larger than all the data drives, which can be a mix of sizes up to the size of the parity.




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modprobe ufs


But I don't think the ufs module is in the stock unRAID distro... I can't check till tomorrow.


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FATAL: module ufs not found.


So, it appears you can not mount those drives with a stock version of unRAID. It's probably not worth the work to run a full linux distribution or recompile a kernel just to mount the drives. But then, maybe you're OK doing that?




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1. I don't see any reason why that processor would not work.


It wouldn't fit the socket (he has a Socket A CPU). I think that's one big reason. Don't go looking for a new motherboard that supports your old processor. That would just be an exercise in futility.


The AMD Athlon 64 LE-1640 is $36 and has free shipping. If you wait a while, I've often seen the really low-end AMD processors on clearance for $20.

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I was afraid the processor was too old to fit. I'll probably end up getting that Athlon you linked for $36 unless something else happens to come on sale from now until I make the purchase.


I see the case has room for 8 120mm fans: 2 on top, 2 on one side, 1 on another, 3 in front.


I'll already have 2 in the front cooling hard drives, and the one in the rear. Is it recommended to fill the other slots? What'd be sufficient cooling? I never really worried about cooling a few years ago when I last built my own PC, and it still runs fine with 2 side fans and one in the rear, so I'm not too sure what really has changed.


Hmmm... if I can think of anything else, I'll let you know. Thanks again everyone for the quick and helpful responses.

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Cooling is very different for a desktop machine with 1 or 2 hard drives that is usually out in the open, and typically shut down on a fairly regular basis. A lot of the hardcore users here have more than 10 drives, and run the machine in a closet or some other out of the way location 24/7/365. It's sometimes difficult to cool the hard drives so that when fully loaded they stay below 40 celcius without careful thought as to airflow.


The processor, chipset and memory are quite easy to keep cool, as they are out in the open, the drives are typically stacked with little space for airflow.

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Well I've got some Arctic Silver 5 to put on the CPU, and since this case has room for a bunch of fans, including the hard drive cage fans, I'll probably fill it. I guess it just takes some playing with.


I'm probably going to jump and make the order within the next week. Hopefully I've got all the kinks worked out by then.

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Putting fans in every location isn't as important as thinking out the airflow carefully. My first attempt I tried to pull air in the entire front, and exhaust it out out the back. The interior temperature was ambient, but the drives still got hot. Reversing the front non drive bay fans to force a partial vacuum for the drive fans to fill solved the problem. Use enough fans that a single failure won't really be an issue, and seal the rest of the air leaks with tape on the inside of the case. Ideally all input air should have to travel over your drives.

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Well I put in the order today.


Build list:

AMD Sempron 2.2GHZ Single Core 45W

Gigabyte Board (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128342)

Centurion 590 Case

Corsair 650W PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139005)


4 x 120mm Coolermaster Fans

Fan Controller

1TB WD10EADS Green Drive


It'd be nice to have it before the weekend, but I'm figuring beginning of next week.




My plan, as of right now, is to first transfer my files on my current file server to the 1TB drive, then build the new setup using my 2 existing 640gb drives, using one as a parity, and then I copy over the files back onto the unRAID 640gb drive. Then I can add the 1TB drive into the server as my new parity. How exactly is that going to work... adding a new drive in a current setup and configuring it as parity without losing data? A bit confusing.



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The parity drive does not contain any data. It can be changed or removed without affecting the data drives.


You would basically do this.


Copy the data from a 640G drive to the 1T.

Put that 640G in the server and assign it as disk1 and format

Copy the data back to this drive


Repeat the above for the second 640G


Install the 1T into the server and assign it to the parity


The server does not require a parity drive to operate. You just lose the ability to recover from a drive failure without parity.




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Good to know!


I plan to do a write up on my build and progress.


Thanks again for the help everyone.

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Server is all together!


Just waiting for the files to transfer over from my other file server so I can add the hard drives!

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