Building a cheap 2nd unRAID box for offsite backups for large storage


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What's the cheapest way to build a 2nd unRAID box and populate it with storage space?  Any suggestions, options, or other ideas?


This setup would be for backing up my primary box and to keep it at an offsite location.  In other words, it's not going to be running 24/7, would not have a parity drive, does not need brand new server grade disks, no need for processing power to transcode, etc.  After reading some iffy reviews about crashplan and calculating my initial upload of 13 TB to take 16 months, online backups are out.


My preferred option is to have a second unRAID box that I can leave at work and bring it home every couple months to locally sync new data to.  The challenge is building one as cheap as possible.  Luckily there's only two main components: a functional computer that can hold HDDs and the HDDs.


I'm thinking my best bet is to find a used PC (mini-itx or micro-atx for smaller size) or a NAS box that can support 4 or 5+ HDDs.  Think I'll be able to find something used < $150.  Quite a few old servers for around $200, but server rack cases would be a pain to carry to/from work compared to a mini-ITX PC or small NAS box.  As far a populating hard drives, the cheapest I can see to get many TB is: a) look at re certified and/or used drives.  WD RED 10TB Refurbs are readily available for $200 ($20/TB).  or b) wait for a special on external hard drives to gut.  Seagate 8TB external runs $150 with no sale = $18.75/TB.  Sure they aren't "NAS-grade", but they'll only run for maybe 1 day/month to sync new data.

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I use the low capacity castoffs from my main arrays for backup arrays. Since the duty cycle is low on the backup unit, power usage is not a concern. The only issue is the low data density requires a large case, PSU and HBA.


Drives are effectively "free" as I upgrade the capacity on the main arrays. I don't keep 1:1 backup, as there are some things that I honestly wouldn't miss if they were gone, but I'm loath to delete on purpose because reasons.

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That's a good idea and had considered this.  This is likely the cheapest and most reasonable option, however, my OCD of not having a 1:1 copy of everything else is yelling at me haha.


Do you just use an old computer or did you buy a cheap option to house these drives and run an OS for backing up?


EDIT:  Another fairly cheap option.....Costco has sale on Seagate 8TB external for $130.  

Edited by dtbingle
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29 minutes ago, dtbingle said:

Do you just use an old computer or did you buy a cheap option to house these drives and run an OS for backing up?

I use retired unraid servers, they just do backup now. After you have run unraid for as long as some here, you build up an inventory of boxes that still work fine, they just don't have the horsepower for VM's and dockers.


If you buy cheap consumer grade hardware, you are lucky to get 5 years continuous duty as a server. If you buy server grade stuff, you end up scrapping perfectly running hardware after about 15 years. 😁

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  • 3 months later...

Been delaying on getting a better backup solution situated and was thinking piecing together a second unRAID pc might be the best solution.  My spare lower capacity drives that were taken out of my main unRAID box would go into this second box.  Then I'd either use syncback or duplicati to copy the important portion of data from my main box to the second unRIAD box.  These backup drives would then be pulled from the second box and kept at work.  Periodically, they would be brought home to allow for updates.  This would also allow cast-offs to be added to the second box and increase the unRAID "drive" without requiring the backup software to have to completely rebuild.


Thoughts on this?

Edited by dtbingle
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  • 2 weeks later...

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