The Enclosure Thread


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5 minutes ago, AgentXXL said:

 

The JBOD enclosure you choose will determine how it's connected to the system that runs unRAID. Assuming your JBOD enclosure has a SAS/SATA backplane, it likely has at least 1 external miniSAS connection. The most common controllers these days are a LSI SAS/SATA HBA with external SFF-8088 ports, like the 9207-8e flashed with IT firmware. These can be easily found on eBay, both in OEM and retail boxed units, some pre-flashed with the IT firmware. It's not overly difficult to flash the HBA, but buying one with it already done for you makes things easier. Otherwise, there are LOTS of sites/YouTube vids covering how to flash the HBA.

 

The HBA will  be installed in your system that runs unRAID, preferably in a x8 PCIe slot (PCIe 3.0 or better recommended). You'll then use a SFF-8088 to SFF-8088 cable to connect your system running unRAID to the JBOD enclosure. Here's a pic showing a standard dual port miniSAS adapter that converts the internal SFF-8087 (or sometimes SFF-8643) cabling to SFF-8088, along with a SFF-8088 cable. The one shown accepts the SFF-8087 miniSAS connectors that are used internally in the JBOD  and converts to external SFF-8088 ports. On the system end, your SFF-8088 cable will plug into one of the ports on the LSI HBA.

 

sff-8088-dual.thumb.jpg.8ca44e4e8eaea65f2cf1a987cf202b69.jpg

 

As for the system to use as your unRAID host, it can be run on almost any x86/x64 platform. My media unRAID is currently running on a 10 year old dual Xeon motherboard with 48GB of RAM. I'm also planning to convert my enclosure (36 bay Supermicro CSE-847) to JBOD and build a new outboard system. If you're wanting to also use unRAID for VMs and Docker containers, you'll want to try and get a fairly recent system like a 9th gen or later Intel or AMD Ryzen 3000/5000 series.

 

If you're planning to use your unRAID system to host Plex, get a fairly modern motherboard that has at least 2 M.2 NVME slots so you can do a dual cache drive mirror set in unRAID. Also make sure the M.2 SSDs are large enough to handle your Plex metadata and video thumbnails (if you use them). You may want to look into motherboards with 3 M.2 NVME slots if you also think you would like to setup a 'bare metal' VM running on it's own M.2 SSD.

 

If you have more questions about this, reply with the model of the JBOD enclosure and I or someone else can elaborate on what you specifically require. Hope this info helps!

 

 

Thank you for such an elaborate answer. I admit I didn't understand a thing almost and will have to research many terms.
I will probably purchase the following JBOD
https://www.datoptic.com/ec/15-drive-port-multiplier-enclosure-sbox-xv-html.html
But I would be wise to order every single additional item necessary to be up and running in the least amount of time.
Otherwise it will be very difficult for me to get these kind of material where I live.
Seeing your pics I guess a minipc is out of the question to run Unraid since they don't have any PCI slots. Unless there is an external interface I could connect in between a minipc and the JBOD......
And my Unraid is used solely for 2 things: 1) nzb and torrent downloads 2) files accessed by multimedia streamers of computers.
So no Plex or any use for special requirements on the Unraid side.

I would appreciate more of your help.

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32 minutes ago, xtrips said:

Thank you for such an elaborate answer. I admit I didn't understand a thing almost and will have to research many terms.
I will probably purchase the following JBOD
https://www.datoptic.com/ec/15-drive-port-multiplier-enclosure-sbox-xv-html.html
But I would be wise to order every single additional item necessary to be up and running in the least amount of time.
Otherwise it will be very difficult for me to get these kind of material where I live.
Seeing your pics I guess a minipc is out of the question to run Unraid since they don't have any PCI slots. Unless there is an external interface I could connect in between a minipc and the JBOD......
And my Unraid is used solely for 2 things: 1) nzb and torrent downloads 2) files accessed by multimedia streamers of computers.
So no Plex or any use for special requirements on the Unraid side.

I would appreciate more of your help.

 

I would not recommend that enclosure for your JBOD device... it appears to only offer eSATA or USB connections. unRAID can be finicky with  port multiplier based systems like the one you linked. You mentioned your existing system is a tower PC 'stuffed full of hard drives'. I would spend some time on eBay or checking with local computer surplus shops to see if you can find a used but reasonably priced multi-bay enclosure. I picked up my 36 bay Supermicro CSE-847 locally for $600 CAD, which included the motherboard, dual Xeon CPUs and RAM. Supermicro also has a 24 bay (CSE-846), a 12 bay (CSE-836) or if you really want to go big, there are 45 and 60 drive bay options. Alas these storage chassis produce a lot of heat and can be noisy.

 

Or, because your use case is pretty similar to my backup unRAID system, you could go with a Fractal Design Define 7XL case. The Define 7XL supports up to 18 3.5" drives and can accept motherboards from ITX all the way to e-ATX form factor. I picked up one myself with all the extra drive trays and mounting brackets for about $450 CAD from a local retailer. I'm currently using another 10 year old motherboard with 12GB of RAM with 2 LSI HBAs - one 9201-16i and one 9207-8i. Going this route would provide for up to 24 SATA devices between the 2 LSI HBAs (host bus adapters). If going this route you will require some miniSAS to 4 SATA forward breakout cables like these: https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Internal-SFF-8087-Breakout/dp/B018YHS8BS

 

The only big concern with using the Define 7XL fully loaded with drives is ensuring you get a power supply that has enough capacity and SATA power connections. Alas all the cabling for both power and SATA makes it difficult to do a really clean build, but it is every bit as functional as my Supermicro CSE-847. As you're not familiar with these systems, feel free to ask any specific questions and I'll try to answer.

 

 

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1 hour ago, xtrips said:

Definitely a bad choice for Unraid. Ideally parity operations happen in parallel. Any write to the parity array will read and write both parity and the data disk to be written, or read all disks then write parity and the data disk depending on how you have it set. And rebuilds, parity checks will read all disks.

 

If each disk has a separate connection, all this can happen with all disks at the same time. If all of the disks are trying to use a single connection to the computer, then things are going to go very slowly since it has to work with each disk separately.

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14 hours ago, trurl said:

Definitely a bad choice for Unraid. Ideally parity operations happen in parallel. Any write to the parity array will read and write both parity and the data disk to be written, or read all disks then write parity and the data disk depending on how you have it set. And rebuilds, parity checks will read all disks.

 

If each disk has a separate connection, all this can happen with all disks at the same time. If all of the disks are trying to use a single connection to the computer, then things are going to go very slowly since it has to work with each disk separately.

I didn't understand most of it but your word is gold. I am definitely not going the JBOD route thanks to you.

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15 hours ago, AgentXXL said:

 

I would not recommend that enclosure for your JBOD device... it appears to only offer eSATA or USB connections. unRAID can be finicky with  port multiplier based systems like the one you linked. You mentioned your existing system is a tower PC 'stuffed full of hard drives'. I would spend some time on eBay or checking with local computer surplus shops to see if you can find a used but reasonably priced multi-bay enclosure. I picked up my 36 bay Supermicro CSE-847 locally for $600 CAD, which included the motherboard, dual Xeon CPUs and RAM. Supermicro also has a 24 bay (CSE-846), a 12 bay (CSE-836) or if you really want to go big, there are 45 and 60 drive bay options. Alas these storage chassis produce a lot of heat and can be noisy.

 

Or, because your use case is pretty similar to my backup unRAID system, you could go with a Fractal Design Define 7XL case. The Define 7XL supports up to 18 3.5" drives and can accept motherboards from ITX all the way to e-ATX form factor. I picked up one myself with all the extra drive trays and mounting brackets for about $450 CAD from a local retailer. I'm currently using another 10 year old motherboard with 12GB of RAM with 2 LSI HBAs - one 9201-16i and one 9207-8i. Going this route would provide for up to 24 SATA devices between the 2 LSI HBAs (host bus adapters). If going this route you will require some miniSAS to 4 SATA forward breakout cables like these: https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Internal-SFF-8087-Breakout/dp/B018YHS8BS

 

The only big concern with using the Define 7XL fully loaded with drives is ensuring you get a power supply that has enough capacity and SATA power connections. Alas all the cabling for both power and SATA makes it difficult to do a really clean build, but it is every bit as functional as my Supermicro CSE-847. As you're not familiar with these systems, feel free to ask any specific questions and I'll try to answer.

 

 

You probably saved me from an unfortunate internet overseas purchase that would have cost me money, time and nerves.
I will try to make sense of all that you wrote. I am not exactly proficient in that field.
What you are telling me is basically to keep the architecture I am used to, just improve on it by choosing a better case that can hold all the HDDs I got and add more, ventilate them better than I do (very easy task unfortunately), and serve the HDDs well when it comes to power and management, right?

Let's delve into that. At the moment I have a 9 HDDs + 1 SSD Unraid that uses 6 SATA ports on my old motherboard + 4 SATA extensions from a PCI adapter. My motherboard is a Gygabyte H55M-D2H with an i5 CPU and 4Gb RAM. I guess I used one of the 2 PCI slots available.
I have another NAS with 6 HDDs and my main goal is to get rid of it and consolidate everything under Unraid so 15 HDDs + 1 SSD in the end.

The way I see it finding a new case that can hold everything will be a challenge I can deal with.
The problem for me is to understand how to connect all these HDDs and be able to scale up a bit maybe in the future even though I think that will be enough for me.
Will my motherboard suffice? I don't understand how this miniSAS technology works. Is that what will allow me to multiply the number of HDD connections available and accommodate the future needs? Can you please elaborate exactly on that point?

And one last thing. How is the RAM used for my regular uses? As I said no processing is done on Unraid. Only downloads and file reads from computers or media streamers. So, will I need more RAM as I multiply the number of HDDs ?

Thank you very much 

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6 hours ago, xtrips said:

You probably saved me from an unfortunate internet overseas purchase that would have cost me money, time and nerves.
I will try to make sense of all that you wrote. I am not exactly proficient in that field.
What you are telling me is basically to keep the architecture I am used to, just improve on it by choosing a better case that can hold all the HDDs I got and add more, ventilate them better than I do (very easy task unfortunately), and serve the HDDs well when it comes to power and management, right?

Let's delve into that. At the moment I have a 9 HDDs + 1 SSD Unraid that uses 6 SATA ports on my old motherboard + 4 SATA extensions from a PCI adapter. My motherboard is a Gygabyte H55M-D2H with an i5 CPU and 4Gb RAM. I guess I used one of the 2 PCI slots available.
I have another NAS with 6 HDDs and my main goal is to get rid of it and consolidate everything under Unraid so 15 HDDs + 1 SSD in the end.

The way I see it finding a new case that can hold everything will be a challenge I can deal with.
The problem for me is to understand how to connect all these HDDs and be able to scale up a bit maybe in the future even though I think that will be enough for me.
Will my motherboard suffice? I don't understand how this miniSAS technology works. Is that what will allow me to multiply the number of HDD connections available and accommodate the future needs? Can you please elaborate exactly on that point?

And one last thing. How is the RAM used for my regular uses? As I said no processing is done on Unraid. Only downloads and file reads from computers or media streamers. So, will I need more RAM as I multiply the number of HDDs ?

Thank you very much 

 

Ok, this post will be a little long, but take your time and read through it. Planning a migration like this is often a time and money consuming task. Based on the info you provided, you would easily be able to transfer all of your current unRAID drives and the SSD into a case like the Fractal Design Define 7XL. There are other cases that are a lot cheaper like the $150US Rosewill RSV-L4500, as long as you can live with a rackmount style case.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rosewill-Rackmount-Computer-Pre-Installed-RSV-L4500/dp/B0091IZ1ZG

 

As for how miniSAS works, each miniSAS port on a LSI HBA is able to provide 4 SATA ports. That's what you use the SFF-8087 to 4 SATA forward breakout cables for. For a HBA like the LSI 9201-16i, there are 4 x SFF-8087 miniSAS ports. Using 4 of the breakout cables will give you 16 SATA connections. unRAID doesn't care about drives being connected to a different SATA port so you'll likely have no issues with migrating your existing unRAID build to a new case. Drives can be connected to your motherboard SATA ports or via the LSI HBA ports, or a combination of both. Personally I like to keep all my unRAID array and cache drives on the LSI cards and only use the motherboard SATA if I need more SATA connections.

 

Unfortunately your motherboard is only capable of PCIe 2.0 speeds so you'll not get the full speed that a PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 motherboard can achieve. Your current CPU and RAM may be usable if you were to upgrade your motherboard, but I suspect you'll be happier going with a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. As for your RAM question, it depends on how many Docker containers and/or VMs you intend to use. If your current unRAID is working well, you probably don't need to add any RAM. Personally though, I would go with a minimum of 16GB just to give yourself a little breathing room for adding future Docker containers or VMs.

 

One issue that you might have is when adding the drives from your existing NAS to your unRAID system. unRAID will require them to be cleared and re-formatted if you want them protected by the unRAID array. Whether the drives on your other NAS are full or not, you'll have to figure out a way to move any required data off the NAS so you can relocate the drives to your unRAID system.  If your old NAS used say 4 x 4TB drives, you could buy one 16TB drive and use it to temporarily store your old NAS data.

 

Once you have your required NAS data backed up, you can then move the old NAS drives to unRAID and then let it zero and add them to the array. You can then add the backed up data that was stored on your old NAS to your unRAID array. You could then use the temporary storage location (in the example above, the 16TB drive) for offline backups of your important data. If you have enough free space on your current unRAID build, you could pre-transfer the data from your NAS to unRAID over a network. Definitely something you want to take your time with and plan a way to migrate your existing data and drives from the NAS to unRAID.

 

This isn't as difficult as it sounds, but it is time consuming. I had to do a similar shuffle when moving my data from my old FreeNAS build to my current unRAID build. To simplify it, you might want to add one or more new drives to your unRAID build to give you space to transfer the old NAS data to. That's what I did - I bought 2 new 10TB drives and added them to my unRAID. This gave me enough free space to relocate the files from my old FreeNAS setup. Once the data had been relocated to the unRAID system, I then took the drives out of my FreeNAS and added them to unRAID. UnRAID then cleared/zeroed and formatted them as XFS volumes that were now part of the unRAID protected array, giving me a decent amount of free space for future growth.

 

One other thing to be aware of: if your parity drive(s) on your current unRAID are smaller in capacity than the drives from the NAS, you'll want to do the parity drive upgrade/swap procedure first. I'm sure this is all pretty confusing to you so take your time and plan your new unRAID build and data migration. Here's a basic plan to start you off:

 

1. Decide on a new enclosure and purchase it.

2. Purchase a power supply that can supply the required SATA power connections, as well as the standard motherboard/GPU power.

3. Procure your new motherboard, CPU and RAM if desired.

4. Purchase your LSI HBA(s) and forward breakout cables. As mentioned above, a single LSI 9201-16i will provide you with 16 SATA connections.

5. Build the new unRAID system and move your unRAID USB drive and array/cache drives to the new system.

6. Purchase or find some storage space to migrate any required data off your old NAS.

7. Once your old NAS data is backed up, move the drives from the old NAS to your unRAID build and let it zero/clear and format them as part of the protected array.

8. If your old NAS data is on an external USB drive or other system, transfer it to your unRAID.

 

Let us know if you have other questions... it's a big undertaking but it's been done by myself and many others successfully.

 

Edited by AgentXXL
formatting text so it's more readable
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  • 4 weeks later...

So I just heard this case should be ready by summer, they said they would know more in March.  What do you guys think, I have been looking at this case since it was announced.  12Gb/s backplane, 16 Trayless bays and takes standard ATX power supply.  I'm looking to upgrade my old Norrco case that is about 10 years old.  My only concern is if it will fit a P2000 video card.

 

Case M-4160HD-ATX

Edited by squirrellydw
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I was doing crazy research ... then I figured that the P2000 looks way shorter than a standard ATX board.

 

And since the case can fit an ATX board before the fan wall, it should be fine.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

 

I'm hoping this is a good place to post my question.  I'm relatively new to unraid and am somewhat technical.  I've been running an unraid/plex server for about 1.5yrs now and would like to upgrade from my current server and add a couple drives for a total of 6 drives.

 

Basically I want to add HDDs and utilize a much newer processor/motherboard I already own for my unraid/plex server.  The current server has a 10+ year old processor and motherboard and the internal HDD controller is maxed out at 4 drives.  The current enclosure isn't made to host 4x3.5" drives, but it is doing OK.  Heat levels on my drives are hanging around 100 degrees give or take 5 degrees.

 

My question is which option should I pursue?

 

Current Config:

Unraid 6.9.1

Dell Studio D340

Intel® Core™2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz

4x4TB WD SATA HDDs

Built-in HDD Controller that can host 4 drives

 

New Option 1: (new enclosure)

Re-purpose my Alien X51 R3 Mini-ITX Motherbooard

Purchase Fractal Design Node 804

Purchase 2 additional 4TB WD SATA HDDs

Purchase LSI 8-port capable controller

 

New Option 2: (utilize Alien Enclosure)

Re-purpose my Alien X51 R3 machine as-is

Purchase 2 Additional 4TB WD SATA HDDs

Purchase LSI 8-port capable controller for use with external enclosure

Purchase external HDD enclosure that can hold up to 8 drives

 

Which option would you all pursue?  And if you have a preference on Option 2, which LSI controller and external HDD enclosures should I look at?  I'm not even sure if I should go with USB connection to the external enclosure or go with SAS ports.

 

Any guidance is much appreciated.

 

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On 1/1/2021 at 5:51 PM, AgentXXL said:

 

Ok, this post will be a little long, but take your time and read through it. Planning a migration like this is often a time and money consuming task. Based on the info you provided, you would easily be able to transfer all of your current unRAID drives and the SSD into a case like the Fractal Design Define 7XL. There are other cases that are a lot cheaper like the $150US Rosewill RSV-L4500, as long as you can live with a rackmount style case.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rosewill-Rackmount-Computer-Pre-Installed-RSV-L4500/dp/B0091IZ1ZG

 

As for how miniSAS works, each miniSAS port on a LSI HBA is able to provide 4 SATA ports. That's what you use the SFF-8087 to 4 SATA forward breakout cables for. For a HBA like the LSI 9201-16i, there are 4 x SFF-8087 miniSAS ports. Using 4 of the breakout cables will give you 16 SATA connections. unRAID doesn't care about drives being connected to a different SATA port so you'll likely have no issues with migrating your existing unRAID build to a new case. Drives can be connected to your motherboard SATA ports or via the LSI HBA ports, or a combination of both. Personally I like to keep all my unRAID array and cache drives on the LSI cards and only use the motherboard SATA if I need more SATA connections.

 

Unfortunately your motherboard is only capable of PCIe 2.0 speeds so you'll not get the full speed that a PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 motherboard can achieve. Your current CPU and RAM may be usable if you were to upgrade your motherboard, but I suspect you'll be happier going with a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. As for your RAM question, it depends on how many Docker containers and/or VMs you intend to use. If your current unRAID is working well, you probably don't need to add any RAM. Personally though, I would go with a minimum of 16GB just to give yourself a little breathing room for adding future Docker containers or VMs.

 

One issue that you might have is when adding the drives from your existing NAS to your unRAID system. unRAID will require them to be cleared and re-formatted if you want them protected by the unRAID array. Whether the drives on your other NAS are full or not, you'll have to figure out a way to move any required data off the NAS so you can relocate the drives to your unRAID system.  If your old NAS used say 4 x 4TB drives, you could buy one 16TB drive and use it to temporarily store your old NAS data.

 

Once you have your required NAS data backed up, you can then move the old NAS drives to unRAID and then let it zero and add them to the array. You can then add the backed up data that was stored on your old NAS to your unRAID array. You could then use the temporary storage location (in the example above, the 16TB drive) for offline backups of your important data. If you have enough free space on your current unRAID build, you could pre-transfer the data from your NAS to unRAID over a network. Definitely something you want to take your time with and plan a way to migrate your existing data and drives from the NAS to unRAID.

 

This isn't as difficult as it sounds, but it is time consuming. I had to do a similar shuffle when moving my data from my old FreeNAS build to my current unRAID build. To simplify it, you might want to add one or more new drives to your unRAID build to give you space to transfer the old NAS data to. That's what I did - I bought 2 new 10TB drives and added them to my unRAID. This gave me enough free space to relocate the files from my old FreeNAS setup. Once the data had been relocated to the unRAID system, I then took the drives out of my FreeNAS and added them to unRAID. UnRAID then cleared/zeroed and formatted them as XFS volumes that were now part of the unRAID protected array, giving me a decent amount of free space for future growth.

 

One other thing to be aware of: if your parity drive(s) on your current unRAID are smaller in capacity than the drives from the NAS, you'll want to do the parity drive upgrade/swap procedure first. I'm sure this is all pretty confusing to you so take your time and plan your new unRAID build and data migration. Here's a basic plan to start you off:

 

1. Decide on a new enclosure and purchase it.

2. Purchase a power supply that can supply the required SATA power connections, as well as the standard motherboard/GPU power.

3. Procure your new motherboard, CPU and RAM if desired.

4. Purchase your LSI HBA(s) and forward breakout cables. As mentioned above, a single LSI 9201-16i will provide you with 16 SATA connections.

5. Build the new unRAID system and move your unRAID USB drive and array/cache drives to the new system.

6. Purchase or find some storage space to migrate any required data off your old NAS.

7. Once your old NAS data is backed up, move the drives from the old NAS to your unRAID build and let it zero/clear and format them as part of the protected array.

8. If your old NAS data is on an external USB drive or other system, transfer it to your unRAID.

 

Let us know if you have other questions... it's a big undertaking but it's been done by myself and many others successfully.

 

It took me some time to assemble everything but eventually I did it. Thanks to your advice I have now 15 HDDs + NVMe loaded into a Fractal Design Define 7 XL and I have plenty of room to grow. You were of great help.

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Just to help anyone else looking to do a Fractal Design Define 7XL build, here's the build info I used to fully equip it for maximum storage:

 

Solid black model with 6 HDD/SSD trays + 2 SSD brackets + 2 Multibrackets included

5 x 2-pack HDD trays (10 additional trays)

2 x 2-pack multibrackets (4 additional multibrackets)

 

https://www.fractal-design.com/products/cases/define/define-7-xl/Black/

 

https://www.fractal-design.com/products/accessories/mounting/hdd-kit-type-b-2-pack/black/

 

https://www.fractal-design.com/products/accessories/mounting/universal-multibracket-type-a-2-pack/black/

 

I bought from a local Canadian reseller - Memory Express. Total came to $420 CAD before taxes when I purchased but prices do fluctuate.

 

Main Case (solid black model): https://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX81096

 

Extra trays: https://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX00113324

 

Extra multibrackets: https://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX00113330

 

You can see in the attached pic that you can mount 15 x 3.5" drives in trays (1 spare tray left over). 3 x 3.5" are mounted at the top upside down with multibrackets. I added 2 more 3.5" drives on multibrackets with stick on legs at the bottom of the motherboard compartment where they show 3 x 2.5". I used my last spare multibracket to mount another SSD upside down above the column of 11 x 3.5" drives - there's just enough space, but not if you want to do a water cooling radiator setup as shown in the manual.

 

 

FD-Define7XL-Storage.jpg

Edited by AgentXXL
spelling + grammar
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