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What is the cheapest way to get a large capacity server case?


miogpsrocks

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What is the cheapest way to get a large capacity server case? 

Can you weld together some standard computer cases with some adapters, 3D print one, repurpose something another type of server case, Chinese knockoff, etc..? 
 

Any ideas? I have a lot of crazy assortment of drives over the years and I hear that unraid is a good way to use them in a somewhat protected way. 

 

Thanks. 

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With costs of 8T drives under $200, it is hard to consider it economic to build a server to hold a fleet of aging eyedroppers. My advice would be to ditch anything smaller than 3 or even 4T is you are looking for a big or even medium sized build.

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While I agree that larger drives are an option I have yet to see any 8TB drives for free to match the free cost of your current drives that you already own. So short of spending a bunch of money on new drives that you probably don't want or need, I'll try to answer you actual question.

You can stuff 12-20 drives in most mid to full towers these days using drive cages, hot swap or not is up to you. As an example, using case labs drive cages I can put 12 drives in the front of my Fractal Define S, and another 8 up top for a total of 20 drives in a mid tower case.

For rack mount, the sky is the limit. 24 bay chassis like the Supermicro 846 are very common on eBay and built like tanks. Supermicro also offers 36 and 45 bay version of that chassis called the 847 I believe? Don't quote me on that one as I don't own any.

Once you go larger your looking into the disk shelf or JBOD arena which will get you into the 60-90 bay range.

Unfortunately once you hit 28 data drives your at the max array limit for unRAID where you will have to start adding unassigned devices via plugin or cache only shares. So I was only able to use half of my 60 bay chassis for unRAID as I didn't want a giant cache only share nor did I want to have a bunch of unassigned devices scattered throughout the GUI.


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3 hours ago, miogpsrocks said:

I have a lot of crazy assortment of drives over the years and I hear that unraid is a good way to use them in a somewhat protected way. 

If any drive is not 100% good, it will jeopardize the protection for the other drives. So, no, don't just put any old drive in unraid, unless you don't really care if you lose data. Unraid uses the entire disk area of all the remaining array drives to recover a single failed drive, regardless of how full the drives are of data. Any drive you use must be completely healthy if you expect protection.

 

Somewhat protected only applies to drives that are good, as unraid will allow you to read all remaining drives individually, unlike traditional RAID that fails the entire array when it exceeds fault tolerance.

 

Unraid allows either single or dual parity, with dual you can lose 2 spindles and still recover everything, but if a 3rd drive starts hiccuping during recovery, you will lose all 3.

 

TL;DR Test all drives for faults before using them in unraid.

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8T drives are not free, but neither is the cost of putting together a 30 drive server. The cost of a few 8T drives would offset against the need to buy a case, PSU, drive cages, pay electricity, etc. for so many drives and give the desired space in a more reliable and simpler configuration, yielding a much higher probability of a happy user and safe data.

 

My words were influenced by a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to resurrect a bunch of old drives into a backup server a couple years ago. Putting all my old 1T and 2T drives in there was a huge headache and I had a lot of trouble getting it stable. They have been replaced with newer / larger drives and its a much happier server.

 

Although I love and support throwing 4 or 5 existing drives into an old case and giving unRaid a whirl as a first server, I am worried about the size of this one.

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Another economic way to build a big server, is to use 2 towers , especially if you already have them, it's how I built my 30 disk server, one tower with 18 disks and another with 12, connected by 2 external SAS cables, so it's very easy disconnect one when I need to work on it.

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3 hours ago, johnnie.black said:

Another economic way to build a big server, is to use 2 towers , especially if you already have them, it's how I built my 30 disk server, one tower with 18 disks and another with 12, connected by 2 external SAS cables, so it's very easy disconnect one when I need to work on it.

 
 

 

Where can I get more information on your build? I have a lot of old computer cases from my company sitting in the closet, some are high towers. Do you have any pictures or list of parts, etc..? 

Do you just only have them connected with the SAS cable or did you like to cut and weld pieces together? 

 

30 disk is the limit of the unraid software so this would be the most beneficial setup. I have so many odd size drives from over the years that I want to use. 

 

Please tell me more

 

Thanks. 

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It's not easy for me to take a good photo without disturbing the server, but the image below shows how I connect from the main tower to the extra one with 12 disks.

 

Note however that there are cheaper ways of doing it, like getting a controller with 16 external ports (e.g., LSI 9201-16e) and using 3 or 4 SFF-8088 to SATA cables, with that you wouldn't need all these cables, adapters and the SAS expander, but I had most of these parts available already from previous projects.

 

 

sas2.png

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54 minutes ago, miogpsrocks said:

Where can I get more information on your build? I have a lot of old computer cases from my company sitting in the closet, some are high towers. Do you have any pictures or list of parts, etc..? 

Do you just only have them connected with the SAS cable or did you like to cut and weld pieces together? 

 

30 disk is the limit of the unraid software so this would be the most beneficial setup. I have so many odd size drives from over the years that I want to use. 

 

Please tell me more

i think, you can look at JBOD Chassis, here for example..

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I also have a bunch of older drives, most of them are <2TB, and a few newer ones (mostly 3-4TB externals) that I purchased as I see good deals and run out of space. 

 

I went the 'big server' way and got a SC846 off ebay. It is still the best value for money IMO for what you get, e.g. compared to a Norco, but bjp999 is right, you have to balance the need for expansion with the cost. 

 

A few years ago people had a bunch of 250-500GB drives and a 10-20TB server was a big deal. You can do that today trivially. Buying newer hdd's doesn't mean the old ones go to waste. They can still be used for backups. Which everyone should have, regardless of parity. And keeping backups on drives that are offline is really the best way.

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1 hour ago, johnnie.black said:

It's not easy for me to take a good photo without disturbing the server, but the image below shows how I connect from the main tower to the extra one with 12 disks.

 

Note however that there are cheaper ways of doing it, like getting a controller with 16 external ports (e.g., LSI 9201-16e) and using 3 or 4 SFF-8088 to SATA cables, with that you wouldn't need all these cables, adapters and the SAS expander, but I had most of these parts available already from previous projects.

 

 

sas2.png

 

 

 

Ok, in the cheaper example you mention, you would h have 3 computer cases? 

 

1 average/to small PC to run the Unraid software with maybe some solid state drives for the cache and parity drive and the 2 X LSI 9201-16e(16 external ports each, 32 ports total), they would connect to like 8 X SFF-8088 which would branch out between 2 high tower computer cases with the 3X5 adapters with possible 30 hard drives between the 2 cases.  

 

Would there be some kind of special power supply that could adapt to 30 hard drives? Do these external Sata have like a 1-meter maximum length limit?  I was reading something like that but not sure if it for normal SATA or if it would apply to this type of thing. 

 

I think you have put me on the right track since I have so many computer cases that I was going to throw out. 

 

Thanks. 

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8T drives are not free, but neither is the cost of putting together a 30 drive server. The cost of a few 8T drives would offset against the need to buy a case, PSU, drive cages, pay electricity, etc. for so many drives and give the desired space in a more reliable and simpler configuration, yielding a much higher probability of a happy user and safe data.
 
My words were influenced by a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to resurrect a bunch of old drives into a backup server a couple years ago. Putting all my old 1T and 2T drives in there was a huge headache and I had a lot of trouble getting it stable. They have been replaced with newer / larger drives and its a much happier server.
 
Although I love and support throwing 4 or 5 existing drives into an old case and giving unRaid a whirl as a first server, I am worried about the size of this one.

Everyone has their own comfort level. I ran (4) 28 drive arrays and never had to worry about any of it. I just let unRAID do its thing.

I now run (2) 112TB/EA (14x8TB) arrays. All my 2TB drives will be sold. But with 24 bay SM 846 chassis being dirt cheap, you can build a running chassis for the cost of a 8TB drive if like in the case of the OP, you already own the drives.


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15 minutes ago, miogpsrocks said:

Ok, in the cheaper example you mention, you would h have 3 computer cases? 

 

No, just 2 cases also, SAS cables can be up to 10 meters, I'm using 2 meter (6 feet) external cables between the 2 towers, SATA is 1 meter max, but as long as the cases are side by side you could use a controller with 4 external ports to connect 3 or 4 one meter SFF-8088 to sata cables, 1 meter is enough to connect from the back of one case, enter through the back of another and connect to the disks.

 

Each cables connects to 4 disks:

 

 

$_1.jpg

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52 minutes ago, MrCrispy said:

Buying newer hdd's doesn't mean the old ones go to waste. They can still be used for backups. Which everyone should have, regardless of parity. And keeping backups on drives that are offline is really the best way.

This is what I use my older, smaller drives for. Not only offline, but offsite in 2 locations.

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9 hours ago, bjp999 said:

With costs of 8T drives under $200, it is hard to consider it economic to build a server to hold a fleet of aging eyedroppers. My advice would be to ditch anything smaller than 3 or even 4T is you are looking for a big or even medium sized build.

 

 

4TB X 29 drives = 116TB of protected space. 

 

That is not too bad. 

 

I have purchased many raid system and USB attached drives over the years of various sizes. My plan would be to start out with these frankenstein mixed assortment of drives( probably minimum size 1TB, then eventually put in 8TB as expansion and if I run out of space, I will replace the smallest drive first with an 8TB drive. 

 

Here is the thing, I have so many 4 Drive Readynas and I'm sick and tired of losing 1 Drive on each device to parity. If I have a 30 Drive system, I am using 29 drives or 96.666% of the data is useable vs only 75% of the readynas. Seems like a good deal especially if I get some bargin basement server case or use existing towers to hold the drives. 

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1 hour ago, ashman70 said:

My precious....

 

 

IMG_1344.jpg

 

 

Do you have this in some dedicated server room at your house/company? How loud is this? My understanding is these have crazy loud mini fans on the power supply? Do you have some kind of custom setup or do you use the motherboard included with this case?  Your signature page said supermicro 36Bay, but I only count 24 bays. Are there more in the back? This has a very nice look to it. 

 

Thanks for sharing Gollum 

 

 

 

Thanks. 

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Nope it sits in a half rack under a desk in my office. I've attached a photo and a sound clip, the sound clip was taken on my iPhone with my in my chair about a two and a bit feet away from the rack, its pretty loud. If I have to use the phone, I close the door to the rack which makes it quite a bit quieter.

 

Yes there are 12 more bays on the rear of the server. I am still using the older dual socket 1366 Intel motherboard that came with the server although I recently upgraded the original CPU's that were quad core to hex (6) core.

 

IMG_1438.jpg

New Recording 2.m4a

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44 minutes ago, ashman70 said:

Nope it sits in a half rack under a desk in my office. I've attached a photo and a sound clip, the sound clip was taken on my iPhone with my in my chair about a two and a bit feet away from the rack, its pretty loud. If I have to use the phone, I close the door to the rack which makes it quite a bit quieter.

 

Yes there are 12 more bays on the rear of the server. I am still using the older dual socket 1366 Intel motherboard that came with the server although I recently upgraded the original CPU's that were quad core to hex (6) core.

 

IMG_1438.jpg

New Recording 2.m4a

 
 

 

That sound exactly like my server room at my old company which had racks full of various equipment. 

 

I would not mind having a professional looking rack based system however since I have no room in my house for a dedicated server room, it would have to be directly behind me. This is one of the reasons I am leaning towards some kind of multiple tower solution with off the shelf computer parts. I can get power supplies with large quiet fans and case fans.  I'm not sure if there is  a way to basically take one of these cases and add standard PC equipment to it in order to make it quiet. 

 

My existing readynas and buffalo terrastation all seem to use very quiet fans so I can't even hear them. I did get a DVR for my security cameras and the thing is so loud that I have to turn it off like 99% of the time. So a trespasser is on my yard, something gets stolen, etc.. I never have them on recorded. 

 

Building a DVR for the security cameras is another project I'm working on unless there is a way to add the software on some kind of VM running on this Unraid server however that might make things too complicated. 

 

Thanks for the great information in the pictures and audio file. I appreciate it. 

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You can change out the power supplies to something either very quiet or damn near silent with Supermicro SQ power supplies.

If your using active CPU coolers you could also turn your mid plane fans way way down.

When I was running (6) 846 chassis full of 2TB drives I used them as a file servers and only filer servers. Full of drives but spun down they idled at 60 Watts. Also has the fans running of the motherboard fan controller so they were extremely quiet, no hacking the crap out of the chassis required.


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18 minutes ago, ashman70 said:

Yeah I am going to be ordering an SQ power supply probably tomorrow, hopefully they are much quieter then what I have  now. The CPU coolers are fanless.

Do you have the original fans or did you replace them?

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I guess I should start a new thread for SC846 owners? I have the original motherboard X8DTE-F and an LSI flashed to 9211 IT mode. Does everything in unRaid work out of the box - spindown, s3 sleep, IPMI etc? Do you guys use the server layout plugin? 

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