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Aderalia

Best Way to use external drive enclosures

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Hey,

 

I am currently in a bit of a bad place regarding my unRaid Setup. My onboard Sata Controller (which used to give me 8 SATA Port sharing 2 PCIe Lanes connected via the Chipset), seems to be on its way out (certain drive Models just don't work anymore...)

So i have to come up with a new way of connecting my ever growing pile of Data drives (my two cache SSDs are connected directly to the chipset).

 

I don't want to buy a new board since getting one with the features i need would be 300+ Euro and also wouldn't solve my growing drive count issue.

 

I have heard a lot of good stuff about USB Drive enclosures, especially with USB Attached SCSI support. My personal experience with these things however wasnt that great. I had a lot of connection and performance Problems and the drives died very early because the enclosure took control over the drives Power state and caused about 100 Power Cycles per Day... And since it didn't pass SMART info i didn't notice what was going on until the first drive died. This however was when USB 3.0 (i refuse to use the new USB naming schemes) first came around.

 

What kind of keeps my from trying it again is mostly the lack of information on SMART support and power state, as well as the fact that USB uses a shared Bus, meaning all of my drives would share one 5 GBit serial Bus with poor random optimisation. I could solve this by just adding some cheap USB Controllers via PCIe, but the information about UASP support on controller cards is pretty sparse.

 

Someone here on the Forum uses SATA Port multipliers with success, not sure if that is a better solution than USB.

 

I would love to hear some thoughts on that, has anybody used USB Enclosures in unraid systems (especially regarding a drives power management)?

 

 

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Aderalia said:

the enclosure took control over the drives Power state and caused about 100 Power Cycles per Day...

Some yrs ago, I use 5 bay UASP enclosure for yr+, you must disable sleep on those disk and Unraid won't support UASP.

 

I don't think eSATA would much better then USB, those were best budget solution but easy got trouble and at the end just waste your investment. Pls go to LSI SAS solution.

Edited by Benson

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Practically anything else that works is better than USB. Having USB-based disks in an array is a guarantee something will go wrong soon, most likely disk dropping offline during heavy use (or sometimes while idling).

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4 minutes ago, Benson said:

Some yrs ago, I use 5 bay UASP enclosure for yr+, you must disable sleep on those disk and Unraid won't support UASP.

 

I don't think eSATA would much better then USB, those were best budget solution but easy got trouble and at the end just waste your investment. Pls go to LSI SAS solution.

I am using an 8 Port SAS HBA i got cheap from a used server part dealer, but the once that can deal with more drives are getting super expensive, even used 16 Port cards are usually out of Consumer or even Prosumer reach :( Most of the server we use at work only run 8 drives max and that seems to be the trend, so those cards are cheap, but i dont have enough PCIe Lanes for more than one.

 

I dont really need UASP for the speed, but was hoping it might help with stuff like SMART and other SCSI features... Bummer...

 

5 minutes ago, testdasi said:

Practically anything else that works is better than USB. Having USB-based disks in an array is a guarantee something will go wrong soon, most likely disk dropping offline during heavy use (or sometimes while idling).

This is something ive been reading a lot about, but have never encountered it myself, but i also never used USB drives under server load scenarios :)

 

 

I guess that means i have to go with something eSATA based then, or try to get a used 1155 Board with onBoard 10G LAN to free up PCIe Slots...

 

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Posted (edited)

I use SAS expander with LSI, then can connect many disk.

 

My previous budget build was use two plastic to mount 12 disk in a tower case.

 

 

Edited by Benson

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1 minute ago, Aderalia said:

This is something ive been reading a lot about, but have never encountered it myself, but i also never used USB drives under server load scenarios :)

You can mount USB disks as Unassigned Devices. Just don't put them in the array.

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Im not using unRaids parity feature anyway (at least not right now, might be useful in the future tho)

Can Unassigned Devices be used for user shares?

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8 minutes ago, Aderalia said:

Can Unassigned Devices be used for user shares?

No. UD isn't part of user shares (that's why it's unassigned)

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Benson said:

I use SAS expander with LSI, then can connect many disk.

 

 

Yeah i thought about that too. Sometimes the Expanders Pop up on ebay for ~100 Euro for the 16-Port ones, but i could not find one right now :(

 

45 minutes ago, testdasi said:

You can mount USB disks as Unassigned Devices. Just don't put them in the array.

I was also looking into eSATA Port Multipliers, but im finding fairly conflicting information on them.

Some say the Controller needs to support Multipliers, others say no. Some say its part of the sSATA standard, others say not meeting its own standards is one of the biggest problems with eSATA... I assumed something like this works like a Port Multiplier

Do they work? Sata HBAs are a lot cheaper then SAS HBAs, even with a lower Device Limit...

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Aderalia

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Little Plot twist: Turns out my old HP Proliant Tower Server has a pretty darn big SAS Raid Controller in it (24-Port) that can handle up to 512 Devices. I never realised what it was because it does not have internal Port at all.

Im going to bite the Bullet and just get an SAS Expander from ebay thats a bit more expensive and use that monster. I hope i dont have to flash it tho.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Any photos or model about a such RAID card have 24ports but not internal.

 

BTW, well planning how many disk need and source suitable HW.

Edited by Benson

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@Aderalia You might want to make sure that the HP SAS RAid controller can work in true JBOD mode (or the RAID controller can be set/flashed to IT mode)

Not an expert but RAID controllers can give you issues down the line when they die, as the JBOD/array might not be accessible with out the same RAID controller/family

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2 hours ago, Benson said:

Any photos or model about a such RAID card have 24ports but not internal. 

 

BTW, well planning how many disk need and source suitable HW.

The Sticker with the Model Number is missing :( But its an PCIe 8x Card with 1 GB of (i think) DDR2 Cache from ~2009. It has space for an internal Connector, but its not populated. Hope that helps :) I might be able to add a picture later if i can kidnap someones phone for a while.

 

My Hardware was planned out when i started with my 4 drives + 1 SSD, but since this is my privat system with no commercial use whatsoever it just kept growing over years and has kind of outgrown its possibilities, its just not worth it to my to through out working components and buy expensive new ones if there is a way around it :) Same with Drives, sure could i replace my 3TB drives with 6 or 8 TB once, but as long as the old ones still work im trying to spend as little as possible on this system (more money for my Workstation :):)

 

24 minutes ago, ken-ji said:

@Aderalia You might want to make sure that the HP SAS RAid controller can work in true JBOD mode (or the RAID controller can be set/flashed to IT mode)

Not an expert but RAID controllers can give you issues down the line when they die, as the JBOD/array might not be accessible with out the same RAID controller/family

Thats kind of what im afraid of o.O I know it has a JBOD mode, i just dont know how basic it is. But since i dont have the proper Cables here ill have to test it once they've arrived and hope for the best :)

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