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Help for building a Storage Server

Joined
Jul 28, 2016
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7
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SuperMicro X9SCL
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Xeon E3 1220
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I used word storage server because I want to avoid being suggested NAS products.
I have yet to see a NAS that is extensible and cost effective enough for my current and future needs.


Problem/Situation/Plea for help
I want to build a extensible storage solution that I can easily upload and manage my files from my primary desktop or laptop. I also would love to be able to easily share files with others (With OneDrive I send link for customer/friend/family/model to download but worse case I can use flickr). I don't see more then 8 users connecting to it at any one time (4 x laptop, desktop, TV?, 2 x phones?) but I can see larger and larger file sizes being stored and loaded from it (Climbing photo and video sizes).

I don't want to be adding a pile of external drives to my computer. I don't have the desk space. I can manage to place a Tower with my router away from my computer and would rather that and like the all in one instead of ten drives floating and wires everywhere.

I need help. I'd prefer to learn and then apply but I could also use some suggestions on what people would suggest for a build.
I don't even know what questions to ask.

Specs/considerations I'm looking for
Cost: 500-600$ CAD
Storage: 2 x 2TB (RAID1 or higher)
Network and I/O:
  • +5 x USB 3.0 or higher ((2 for mouse/Keyboard and 3 to add external drives if need be))
  • 1 x Ethernet LAN (room to more if usage requires)
  • DVI or HDMI for a simple screen (which ever is cheaper)
Graphics and Sound: Minimal/none....I have no intention of doing anything on this other then remotely access the files
Power and Noise: Being this will constantly on I'd like it to quiet and power efficient.
Case: As mentioned above I want to keep all the drives together.

BIG QUESTION: WHERE DO I START?
 

Going Bald

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I used word storage server because I want to avoid being suggested NAS products.
I have yet to see a NAS that is extensible and cost effective enough for my current and future needs.


Problem/Situation/Plea for help
I want to build a extensible storage solution that I can easily upload and manage my files from my primary desktop or laptop. I also would love to be able to easily share files with others (With OneDrive I send link for customer/friend/family/model to download but worse case I can use flickr). I don't see more then 8 users connecting to it at any one time (4 x laptop, desktop, TV?, 2 x phones?) but I can see larger and larger file sizes being stored and loaded from it (Climbing photo and video sizes).

I don't want to be adding a pile of external drives to my computer. I don't have the desk space. I can manage to place a Tower with my router away from my computer and would rather that and like the all in one instead of ten drives floating and wires everywhere.

I need help. I'd prefer to learn and then apply but I could also use some suggestions on what people would suggest for a build.
I don't even know what questions to ask.

Specs/considerations I'm looking for
Cost: 500-600$ CAD
Storage: 2 x 2TB (RAID1 or higher)
Network and I/O:
  • +5 x USB 3.0 or higher ((2 for mouse/Keyboard and 3 to add external drives if need be))
  • 1 x Ethernet LAN (room to more if usage requires)
  • DVI or HDMI for a simple screen (which ever is cheaper)
Graphics and Sound: Minimal/none....I have no intention of doing anything on this other then remotely access the files
Power and Noise: Being this will constantly on I'd like it to quiet and power efficient.
Case: As mentioned above I want to keep all the drives together.

BIG QUESTION: WHERE DO I START?
With a case large enough to hold all of your present/future drives.
The start looking at boards to find one that meets your needs for connectivity.
 

pastrychef

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I have yet to see a NAS that is extensible and cost effective enough for my current and future needs.
Why the negativity towards NAS solutions? It seems to me like it can fit all your needs.

You can buy an Intel SS4200 from Ebay for about $125(US) and set up a NAS that will allow you to:

1. Start your array with the 2x2TB drives. Then replace 2TB drives with larger drives OR add addition drives as your storage needs increase. The NAS will automatically rebuild the array to take advantage of higher capacity drives and/or more drives.
2. Easily set up FTP for your customer/friend/family/model to upload or download files to and from you. No need to even use 3rd party services.
3. Easily accommodate 8 users.
4. Large files are not a problem.
5. The SS4200 can accommodate 4 drives. No external drives needed.
6. You can stick it anywhere there's an ethernet cable and an electrical outlet.
7. No need to attach any monitor or keyboard or mouse.
8. The CPU of the SS4200 only has a TDP of 35W plus a few watts for motherboard, chipset, etc. plus ~7-10W for each drive you have in the NAS and it will still consume well under 100W.
9. As long as the fans are in good condition, you won't hear it.
10. Easily reach about ~100-110MB/s transfers over 1GbE which is the theoretical max of 1GbE.

The installation of the software can be done well under an hour and you are up and running. Management is done through an extremely user friendly GUI that's accessed via web browser.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2013
Messages
24
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Gigabyte H97M-D3H
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Mac
MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Pro
Classic Mac
Mobile Phone
I used word storage server because I want to avoid being suggested NAS products.
I have yet to see a NAS that is extensible and cost effective enough for my current and future needs.


Problem/Situation/Plea for help
I want to build a extensible storage solution that I can easily upload and manage my files from my primary desktop or laptop. I also would love to be able to easily share files with others (With OneDrive I send link for customer/friend/family/model to download but worse case I can use flickr). I don't see more then 8 users connecting to it at any one time (4 x laptop, desktop, TV?, 2 x phones?) but I can see larger and larger file sizes being stored and loaded from it (Climbing photo and video sizes).

I don't want to be adding a pile of external drives to my computer. I don't have the desk space. I can manage to place a Tower with my router away from my computer and would rather that and like the all in one instead of ten drives floating and wires everywhere.

I need help. I'd prefer to learn and then apply but I could also use some suggestions on what people would suggest for a build.
I don't even know what questions to ask.

Specs/considerations I'm looking for
Cost: 500-600$ CAD
Storage: 2 x 2TB (RAID1 or higher)
Network and I/O:
  • +5 x USB 3.0 or higher ((2 for mouse/Keyboard and 3 to add external drives if need be))
  • 1 x Ethernet LAN (room to more if usage requires)
  • DVI or HDMI for a simple screen (which ever is cheaper)
Graphics and Sound: Minimal/none....I have no intention of doing anything on this other then remotely access the files
Power and Noise: Being this will constantly on I'd like it to quiet and power efficient.
Case: As mentioned above I want to keep all the drives together.

BIG QUESTION: WHERE DO I START?
With $500-$600, you can spend that on a decent NAS, I've only had bad experiences with cheap NAS units and never had the chance to shell out for more expensive ones.

Anyways, since I don't have experiences with expensive NAS units I won't be making any suggestions in that topic.

My current setup is this:
1 x Hackintosh (El Capitan & Windows 10)
1 x MacBook Air 13
2 x iPhones
1 x iPad
1 x Apple TV
1 x Mac Mini 2012 (Server, has internal 500GB SSD, 1TB HDD, attached 3 x 2TB HDD)

I use my Mac Mini as the server for media files and also for storage and connect that to my Apple Airport Time Capsule (Time capsule does the backup of the MacBook, Mac Mini etc) via ethernet cable.
I then attached 3 x 2TB external hard drives (via USB 3.0) to the Mac Mini and those external hard drives have all my media contents. My important documents are saved on the Mac Mini's second hard drive so that gets backed up by Time Machine. I backup my Media files by occasionally connecting another 4TB hard drive and just manually copying things over. I do this because it's not a massive drama if I lose my media files.

So as you can imagine, I have cables everywhere... My solution was to screw/mount the Mac Mini and 3 x hard drives under the table.
I actually just started doing this (2 days ago) so I'm still in the process of cleaning it up.
I've successfully mounted the Mac Mini and Hard Drives but my next step is cable management and to clean up the cables under the table.

I'll post photos at the end to show you my progress, for now let me try answer your enquiries:
Cost: 500-600$ CAD
I'm not sure about Canadian secondhand market (I'm in Australia) but in Australia I can easily get a Mac Mini 2012 model for around AU$400 (conversion will probably bring the digits even lower).
Storage: 2 x 2TB (RAID1 or higher)
Is the $500-$600 include the cost of buying these hard drives?
Anyways, if you were to go with my build, you will need to buy 2 x 3.5''/2.5'' hard drives (without casing) and buy hard drive enclosures for them so it's you can swap them out in the future if you upgrade to 2 x 4TB etc... Plus you need the casings for drilling holes in them​
Network and I/O:
  • +5 x USB 3.0 or higher ((2 for mouse/Keyboard and 3 to add external drives if need be))
With the Mac Mini there's only 4 x USB 3.0 ports but there is also a Thunderbolt port which may be handy if you want to use it. But if you are using this as a server and you are conscious about space then I recommend picking up an Apple Magic Mouse (Wireless) and Apple Keyboard (Wireless) just so you can store them away neatly when not using it. Instead of having cables everywhere. (PS: There are other brands that sell wireless mouse and keyboards for Macs, like Logitech)​
  • 1 x Ethernet LAN (room to more if usage requires)
Mac Mini has an Ethernet port.​
  • DVI or HDMI for a simple screen (which ever is cheaper)
Mac Mini has a HDMI port, which makes it easier if you have a monitor that supports AUX out. Another step to reduce cables all around your computer.
Graphics and Sound: Minimal/none....I have no intention of doing anything on this other then remotely access the files
Sound, addressed with the HDMI comment, Mac Mini does have a 3.5mm audio jack too if you want to use that instead. I believe the Mac Mini 2012 version has Intel HD4000 which is good enough for general stuff. I stream 1080p videos and the Mac Mini does all the 'on the fly transcoding' (not sure if I'm using the right terminology) and there have been no lag issues.​
Power and Noise: Being this will constantly on I'd like it to quiet and power efficient.
The Mac Mini itself is quiet, the thing that makes the most noise is probably the hard drives but you'll get that even with another build.​
Case: As mentioned above I want to keep all the drives together.
I guess with my build it's not so much of having a computer case to house it all... but to mount/screw it in places where you can see them.
Please see below for some photos. Bear in mind, I only started this and will be getting some cable ties and cable tie mounts and cleaning it all up.

Mac Mini Mount: H-Squared Mac Mini Omnidirectional Mount Kit (Australian eBay)
Hard Drive enclosures: Orico 3.5 USB3.0 SATA HDD External Enclosure Black, 3588US3-BK (Googled it)

Picture #01:
Mounted the Mac Mini already, the two hard drives were attached via Velcro to test position etc.


Picture #02:
Got the drill out, screws and wood glue and started drilling.
Took the cover of the hard drive enclosure off first, screwed the top bit to the table and then put hard drive back on (like in first picture)
(Note: after testing the position in picture one, I changed the position of the hard drives)
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
10
If it were me (And I've already done it) i would go for a FreeNAS system. You can buy old server hardware on eBay. My system is way over the top but it serves me well:

Supermicro SC846 SAS2 24 bay chassis
Supermicro X8DTI-F motherboard
2 x 2.5GHz Quad Core Xeon's
72GB ECC RAM
12 x 4TB Seagate NAS drives in RAIDZ3

This system is designed as file storage, backup for the computers on the network, Plex server and NextCloud.

For your needs I would recommend the 12 bay Supermicro chassis, the same motherboard with maybe one CPU (You can upgrade later), half the RAM (Again, you can upgrade later) and 4 or 5 drives in RAIDZ2. The other bays are for future expansion. Something like this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2U-Supermicro-12-Bay-Server-X8DTN-Dual-Quad-Core-SAS2-826E1-MegaRAID-9260-6Gbs-/152181277658?hash=item236eb603da:g:6mEAAOSweWVXdriq

You need the SAS2 backplane to support drives larger than 2GB (Note that you can use SATA drives in a SAS backplane). The only addition would be an IBM M1015 HBA card flashed to IT mode to replace the MegaRAID card (You want FreeNAS to control the drives rather than a RAID card).

Why did I go with this type of system? It depends on how much your data is worth. RAID5 (One drive parity) is basically dead. Let's say you have four drives in a RAID5. After four years one drive dies. You replace it and the array resilvers (ie. it starts to rebuild). What is the likelihood that another drive fails during this process? Remarkably high. And, if it does, your data is gone. They say RAID6 (two drive parity) is almost dead. What with the size of drives nowadays (4TB+), the resilvering time is so long that the possibility of two drives failing is too high. That's why RAIDZ3 (three drive parity) is becoming the norm. Next is ECC RAM. With normal RAM if a bit is reversed the computer crashes. If it's writing data at the time then the data is corrupt. With ECC RAM, if the bit is reversed, the RAM will catch that and ask for the data again so there is no crash. I also use a UPS so if power fails the machine shuts down gracefully. Finally, I have a tape library that backs up the data daily.

I value my data highly. I have lost data one too many times not to (Last time was a Drobo RAID5 where two drives failed).

If you (Or anyone else) decides on a FreeNAS system and would like some help, please let me know.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2016
Messages
7
Motherboard
SuperMicro X9SCL
CPU
Xeon E3 1220
Mobile Phone
Android
Why the negativity towards NAS solutions? It seems to me like it can fit all your needs.
It's two parts:
  1. I don't like the limitation to number of bays. I have had my new computer for a year and a half and filled 3TB total, I accept that you can upgrade with bigger drives, however my rate of file size expansion and accumulation is increasing, especially as I dedicate more time to photography and videography.
  2. I'm considering other projects that a computer/server would be better for.

For short term when I was running 4 external WD hard drives I had considered mounting them to an old DVD rack, but before I implemented I had to replace my desktop and decided to get a larger tower and just toss them in it. With my new place I don't have a table that would work for it.
Thanks a lot for the idea I'll keep it in the back of my mind


Firstly I Feel Like an idiot not looking at e-bay....no I am definitely an idiot for not looking at e-bay.
Secondly Thanks.
Thirdly : I looked at the SuperMicro chassis it does provide the my image of extendable. However (maybe its my mind set) but I can't see myself sitting that on the floor, or really a closet. I can only imagine it in a server cage. I guess my question is where have you set it up?
 

pastrychef

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I have one of these sitting in a corner, it's only 8.3"x11.2"x14.2":

Image_16S.jpg
I have all eight bays loaded up with 8TB drives with dual disk redundancy set up. It runs 24/7 and the only noise I ever hear are the noises from the drives when I'm moving a lot of files.

If/when I start to run out of space, I'll just replace some of the 8TB drives with 10TB drive. Considering that you originally wanted to start your array with just 2x2TB drives, a setup like this should suffice your needs.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
10
I looked at the SuperMicro chassis it does provide the my image of extendable. However (maybe its my mind set) but I can't see myself sitting that on the floor, or really a closet. I can only imagine it in a server cage. I guess my question is where have you set it up?
You are right. Mine is in a rack. It used to sit on an end table (For about eight months) until I found a cheap rack on craigs list. Have you ever seen the LackRack?
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2016
Messages
7
Motherboard
SuperMicro X9SCL
CPU
Xeon E3 1220
Mobile Phone
Android
You are right. Mine is in a rack. It used to sit on an end table (For about eight months) until I found a cheap rack on craigs list. Have you ever seen the LackRack?
No but that is perfect idea. I have a similar styled table like that that holds my router and I have the skills to mount it.

Which Xeon are you using. Currently looking at the E5540 which has the same socket and range you suggested.....I just realized you e-bay link was to whole setup and not just the case....I am really doing well today.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Messages
7
Motherboard
SuperMicro X9SCL
CPU
Xeon E3 1220
Mobile Phone
Android
So far with my searching I came up with this:

Motherboard: SuperMicro Motherboard X8DTI-F System Board
CPU: Intel E5620 2.4GHz (2x because I found it for cheapest with two already installed)
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/152173893503
Case: Rosewill RSV-L4500 - 4U Rackmount Server Case or Chassis
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811147164
RAM : 32GB 8x4GB 2Rx4 PC3-10600R DDR3 1333Mhz 240-PIN ECC Registered
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/351690637999
Power Supply : I have a 500W Cooler Max sitting around the house
Drives: For short term, with no raid. WD 2TB drive and WD 1TB, will replace in near future.

As for the SAS2 Backplane my understanding that is for when I expand past the number of bays I can accommodate on the motherboard is this correct or am I way out to lunch (or the cottage being long weekend here in Canada)?
 
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