Building a NAS

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
jerryk
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2003 5:02 pm
Location: Pleasanton, California

Building a NAS

Post by jerryk » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:13 am

Hi,

I am thinking about building a NAS for my home and need some guidance. My basic requirements are:

Silence - This is key to me (and I am sure everyone here). If I can hear this thing at more than a few feet its a failure.

Cost - I am pretty flexible about this, but don't want to spend a ton of money. I has some DDR modules and an AMD 64 3200+ CPU lying around so it would be great to use those.

Client OS Support - Ideally want to be able to support both Windows and Linux systems. But, 90% of the system as Windows, so if Windows performance suffers the Linux requirement goes away.

RAID - I would like to achieve RAID 5 capability

Performance - I would like to be able to achieve reasonable performance. I have Gigabyte ethernet between my hardwired systems.

So given these issues I figure I need to get a MB, PS, case, OS, and some drives.

PS - I really like Seasonic PS units, so I will probably go with one of those.

MB - I don't know if I would be better with a MB with RAID support or an external card.

Case - whatever will hold up to 4 SATA drives and silence the noise works

Drives - whatever is quick and quiet. I prefer SATA and would like to achieve 1-2 TB.

OS - I can run either Linux or Windows. I have a universal Windows subscription, so the OS is free.:->

Advice on what to get?

Jerry

nutball
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 1304
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 7:16 am
Location: en.gb.uk

Post by nutball » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:32 am

Well, if I were you I'd build a Linux-based system in eg. an Antec Solo or similar (maybe an NSK4xxx). Use 500GB or 750GB drives, eg. Samsung.

Linux can do software RAID which performance-wise is as good or better than anything you'll find from a motherboard RAID controller (which are software RAID anyway, despite what the adverts seem to suggest). If you've got the money for a stand-alone card that's a better solution *if* you get one that's genuinely a hardware RAID (a lot of the cheap ones aren't, and as such are a waste of money. This page is a good guide to what's real hardware RAID and what's software RAID).

You can export your file-system using Samba to both Linux and Windows.

The only thing I'd say though is that you'll be hard pushed to build a PC with four drives which is inaudible at a few feet. You can achieve something which is inoffensive (ie. soft white noise), but inaudible is going to be tough IMO.

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Fri Aug 17, 2007 11:41 am

Agree with nutball about the difficulty of silencing 4 hdds from a few feet. That's tough, because you have both airborne noise as well as a fair amount of vibration.

Bluefront once posted pics of a HDD caddy a long time ago. The basic idea was a box similar to the bottom chamber of a p180 -- but with the whole length of the thing dedicated to HDDs. It was a wood box with the same footprint as the PC case it sat under, with castors. You could suspend all the drives elastically, and have a 120mm fan at the back, with an intake port in the front bottom. The internals could be damped will al manner of acoustic padding. It might get you the noise reduction you need for 4 HDDs. Combine with a modest mATX system and a small case -- like Antec nsk3480 or similar -- and run power/data cables directly through holes cut on the bottom of the case to the HDDs.

KnightRT
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Post by KnightRT » Sat Aug 18, 2007 2:53 pm

I'm doing the same thing, so I'll just give you the spec I came up with.

Antec Solo ($50-$80)

There are better 'sever' cases, but none with disk suspension. It has room to suspend 3 disks in the lower bays, and 2-3 more in the upper with some simple modifications.

BIOSTAR TForce TF7025-M2 ($70)

Cheap, modern, highly-rated AM2 motherboard with integrated nVidia video and gigabit ethernet. I spent about three hours going through motherboards, this really does appear to be the best.

AMD Sempron 3000+ AM2 ($25)

Cheap, very low power CPU with decent performance.

1 GB Corsair DDR2 ($35)

Enough to run Windows.

Samsung Spinpoint 500 GB x 2 ($100 x 2)

One of the highest-rated drives on Newegg, and justifiably so. Suspended, I can't hear mine. I bought it instead of a comparable Western Digital, I'm a Samsung convert.

Finally, software. Lots of people configure their own custom Linux flavor. I'm lazy, I don't have the patience for that. I'm going to install Windows Home Server. The beta testers love it, and it makes Windows Server 2003 idiotproof. The only reason I haven't bought all this stuff is because WHS won't available for another couple weeks.

There's no RAID involved, WHS does a version of software RAID-1 that's a bit more versatile. You can choose what you want mirrored. I'm not sure if it'll let you use RAID 5.

DI

Nick Geraedts
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 8:22 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC

Post by Nick Geraedts » Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:39 am

KnightRT wrote:Finally, software. Lots of people configure their own custom Linux flavor. I'm lazy, I don't have the patience for that. I'm going to install Windows Home Server. The beta testers love it, and it makes Windows Server 2003 idiotproof. The only reason I haven't bought all this stuff is because WHS won't available for another couple weeks.

There's no RAID involved, WHS does a version of software RAID-1 that's a bit more versatile. You can choose what you want mirrored. I'm not sure if it'll let you use RAID 5.

DI
WHS does a type of drive-pooling with some redundancy, but it's nowhere near the security offered by a true RAID solution. I'd say stick with Server 2003 and setup the RAID configuration yourself. You can setup software RAID5 from within Server 2003.

I'll toss in another vote for "near impossible to silence" from a few feet away. Regardless of how you suspend or mount those hard drives, they're going to produce some amount of noise. You'll either need to put the server in another room or deal with the faint hum of the hard drives. :P

Personally - I wouldn't trust my personal data to Biostar. The motherboard is one component you don't want to skimp out on - it's the core of your system afterall. The Foxconn A690GM2MA-8KRS2H is a much better buy IMO, if you want to stick with AM2 for an ultra-low-power system.

KnightRT
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Post by KnightRT » Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:06 pm

I'd be more reluctant to do RAID-5 than having WHS do the equivalent of mirroring. The great advantage of not splitting files is that data can be recovered directly from a drive can pulled from a WHS server in the event of a problem. I personally lack the experience with RAID 5 hardware and software solutions to have any confidence in it for data backup.

http://forums.microsoft.com/WindowsHome ... &SiteID=50

Comments about installing WHS on a RAID-5 array. Interesting.

With the MIR, the Foxconn is tempting. I didn't choose it because it doesn't have an nVidia chipset, and because the BioStar is rated higher. That's not fanboyism, I've just had better luck with nVidia drivers.

I do think this system would be silent, for all intents. If you damp the Samsung's vibration with suspension, it becomes an exceedingly quiet drive. Better than the D620 laptop I'm typing on now.

Per Sever 2003, I don't know how to configure it. That's why WHS is appealing.

DI

Luminair
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:45 am

Post by Luminair » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:01 pm

WHS is just a version of Server 2003 with some new stuff added. So you can log in and go to drive management and set up a software raid 5 array in WHS just like you can in any version of Server 2003.

The default WHS pooling system is good if you don't want to or aren't able to plan out and maintain your disk storage setup for the present and the future. Everything is non-redundant by default, and you can then select which things WHS will mirror on two drives.

That is space efficient if you plan to lean toward having non-redundant data, with mirrored data being the exception. If you want everything redundant, a RAID5 array would be more space efficient. With 4 disks mirrored you'd have 2 disks of space, whereas RAID5 will give you 3 disks of space.

But again, dealing with stuff outside of the WHS console takes more skill and effort and planning which doesn't suit everyone.

jeepescu
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:58 am
Location: montreal

Check this out

Post by jeepescu » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:49 am


Nick Geraedts
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 8:22 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC

Post by Nick Geraedts » Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:19 pm

I actually found something else that's very interesting. If this setup is for JUST a file server, then you could go with a mITX board. VIA systems are pretty expensive for what you get, but this might be a possibility:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813121317

You'd have to replace the heatsink and fan with something better, but for $75, you can't really go wrong.

You'll have to get a PCI-SATA controller, but otherwise, it's another option for you to consider.

Firetech
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 680
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Check this out

Post by Firetech » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:23 pm

Nice software but doesn't officially do RAID disk expansion for future upgrades and RAID5 is flakey in general going by the amount of threads dedicated to the subject on the support forum (they're clogging up my inbox :roll: ).

BTW I have a FreeNAS RAID5 box sitting next to me. It's only for testing because I cannot entrust any valuable data to it.
The more I look at it, the more I reckon WHS is the way to go for non-Linux/BSD experts.

Post Reply