UnRaid vs FlexRaid, Which is right for me - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 64 Old 11-29-2011, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I plan on building a 20-24 file/app server here in the next 4-6 months. It will mostly be storing BD ISO, MKV, JPG and audio files which will be servered to various computers and media players throughout the house. I currently have a 14 drive WHS, that is just getting to be too cumbersome to manage (enclosure comes unplugged or power loss/reboot is a pain), and the drive extender duplication gets expensive.

I have done some research and like the several things about flexraid vs UnRaid.

1. it isnt an OS.. I could run Windows 7 and FlexRaid on same box. If I went UnRaid. I would need a second box to do something backend work like meta files look ups, etc. Maybe even some transcoding in the future.
2. I also like the idea of having two parity drives as a configuration. UnRaid only offers one parity drive.
3. Appears simple to setup and configure.

My main concern is stability and software bugs. The idea of moving to a different platform such as flexraid only to encounter a drive crash and loose all my data is not a pleasant thought.

Can someone shed some light on the stabiluty of FlexRaid or give some good reasons to choose UnRaid over FlexRaid??

thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 64 Old 11-30-2011, 02:18 PM
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When I used FlexRaid at the beginning of the year, the interface felt a bit kludgy. Not that UnRaids is awesome or anything, but it feels more comfortable to me.

If you are using this server for media storage then wouldn't your HTPC be the unit scraping meta data? Also, with Windows as your source OS and then FlexRaid running as a process (plus whatever additional stuff you want on it) your more likely to have a problem than a dedicated OS/application setup. I went from FlexRaid to UnRaid and have a low end Sempron running it no problem and was cheap.

Currently I believe FlexRaid's "Real Time" protection is in beta. I ran the SnapShot raid version when I was trying it and it was fairly stable. I think I only had 3 problems where the service failed in the few months I used it. My UnRaid box has had zero problems in the 9 months I have been running it, even with a couple power outages prior to my getting a good UPS for it. As far as parity drives, I believe LimeTech is already discussing adding more parity drive support after they get the 5 beta stable which may help with that drawback.

They both have there own fan base as well as hiccups and strengths. After trying both I ended up with an UnRaid box because it felt more polished and I was more comfortable with it. If you have some spare parts laying around just try them both out for a little while and see what you feel better with.
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post #3 of 64 Old 11-30-2011, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your feedback. I am really looking for something stable. That is my chief concern. I think you just confirmed what I had read.... Looks like unraid for me.
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post #4 of 64 Old 11-30-2011, 04:56 PM
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Unless something's changed in a while, FlexRAID doesn't present all the drives as one contiguous volume. If you want that, you have to run FlexRAID View, and last time I tried that you couldn't write to the View. Well it was worse than that, it would let you write to it, but the files would go off into lala land (some "random" hidden directory).

I fought the idea of an extra box for unRAID for a while, but then I saw people using the Supermicro X7SPA and the Supermicro 8x SATA card for 14 drive configurations with very low power usage.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #5 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 04:59 AM
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In the latest flex raid the drive pooling works fine. I can read and write to it with no issues. To set it up you select the drive pooling config tab and add the drives to the pool. Piece of cake and really easy to get everything working.
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post #6 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:27 AM
 
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The newest public beta of FlexRAID defaults to drive pooling during setup. Personally, I prefer to control my drives myself (so I know where things are) and I also prefer the Snapshot RAID vs Real Time RAID...but I use mine on my movie storage drives, so they change very little.

I had a drive start to die on me and had it replaced. I was able to recover about 2/3 of the data by copying off the failing drive, but about 1/3 was unrecoverable. FlexRAID restored the rest of those movies without any issues.

The thing I like best about FlexRAID is that if I want to remove it and just use Windows, I can. You just uninstall it and delete its parity info from your parity drive (and the 3 files from the root drive of your system) and it is gone. With UNRAID you are left with LINUX formatted drives...
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post #7 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

The newest public beta of FlexRAID defaults to drive pooling during setup. Personally, I prefer to control my drives myself (so I know where things are) and I also prefer the Snapshot RAID vs Real Time RAID...but I use mine on my movie storage drives, so they change very little.

I had a drive start to die on me and had it replaced. I was able to recover about 2/3 of the data by copying off the failing drive, but about 1/3 was unrecoverable. FlexRAID restored the rest of those movies without any issues.

The thing I like best about FlexRAID is that if I want to remove it and just use Windows, I can. You just uninstall it and delete its parity info from your parity drive (and the 3 files from the root drive of your system) and it is gone. With UNRAID you are left with LINUX formatted drives...


But how stable is FlexRaid? The impression I get from UnRaid users is that many of them have builds that have not been restarted in 6 months and running fine.

This is the type of stability I am looking for. I have a hard time thinking that between a windows OS (Probably Windows 7) and the FlexRaid software I will not be rebooting much more often and encountering "Windows" issues.

I would love hear if my assumptions are accurate or not.
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post #8 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 06:27 AM
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I've been running unRAID almost non-stop for over four years. The only issues I've ever had were hardware related. It's extremely stable and simple to set up and use. I especially like that you load the OS on a flash drive instead of having to dedicate a hard drive for that purpose. It's also very flexible when it comes to adding more storage, whether you're replacing a drive with a smaller one or adding more drives to the array.

I can access the files from any PC on my network as well as my Patriot Box Office media player. I can access shared folders that span across all drives or I can access individual drives if I choose. I use Media Browser on my HTPC and it gathers all the metadata and cover art for the stored movies. I mostly use if for storing ripped Blu-Ray iso's and ripped DVDs in folder format as well as miscellaneous video files in various formats.

All video formats stream across my network with no problems. I did have an issue with a Blu-Ray movie a few weeks back (Captain America), but my parity drive died about a week later so I have a feeling the two are related. After replacing the parity drive, Blu-Ray streaming is now flawless once again.
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post #9 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been running unRAID almost non-stop for over four years. The only issues I've ever had were hardware related. It's extremely stable and simple to set up and use. I especially like that you load the OS on a flash drive instead of having to dedicate a hard drive for that purpose. It's also very flexible when it comes to adding more storage, whether you're replacing a drive with a smaller one or adding more drives to the array.

I can access the files from any PC on my network as well as my Patriot Box Office media player. I can access shared folders that span across all drives or I can access individual drives if I choose. I use Media Browser on my HTPC and it gathers all the metadata and cover art for the stored movies. I mostly use if for storing ripped Blu-Ray iso's and ripped DVDs in folder format as well as miscellaneous video files in various formats.

All video formats stream across my network with no problems. I did have an issue with a Blu-Ray movie a few weeks back (Captain America), but my parity drive died about a week later so I have a feeling the two are related. After replacing the parity drive, Blu-Ray streaming is now flawless once again.

Good to hear. What kind of throughput are you getting when transfering large files to and from your server on your network?
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post #10 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been running unRAID almost non-stop for over four years. The only issues I've ever had were hardware related. It's extremely stable and simple to set up and use. I especially like that you load the OS on a flash drive instead of having to dedicate a hard drive for that purpose. It's also very flexible when it comes to adding more storage, whether you're replacing a drive with a smaller one or adding more drives to the array.

I can access the files from any PC on my network as well as my Patriot Box Office media player. I can access shared folders that span across all drives or I can access individual drives if I choose. I use Media Browser on my HTPC and it gathers all the metadata and cover art for the stored movies. I mostly use if for storing ripped Blu-Ray iso's and ripped DVDs in folder format as well as miscellaneous video files in various formats.

All video formats stream across my network with no problems. I did have an issue with a Blu-Ray movie a few weeks back (Captain America), but my parity drive died about a week later so I have a feeling the two are related. After replacing the parity drive, Blu-Ray streaming is now flawless once again.

I'm in the process of setting up my unRaid server. I looked long and hard at both flexraid (with WHS) and unraid and they both have their benefits. unRaid is very simple to setup and I would say is more stable. I also like the flash-drive support so no main OS hard drive. setting up shares was easy. The initial setup will take some time if you follow the standard "preclear" setup on all drives before first use. On gigabit ethernet, writes are about 30MB/s since it is doing real-time parity updates during writes, but reads would be about 100MB/s, which is plenty fast for streaming playback. I also agree that upgrading your array and repairing it is a pretty simple process, and the plugins are really great for adding things like PS3 Media Server or XMBC to the unraid kernel. Most people who use FlexRaid do so on Windows Home Server. Keep in mind if you use WHS2011, that it will update/overwrite your mp3 metadata. This has pissed off a lot of people.

The latest FlexRaid does offer more "Raid" options, such as various parity options, or "Raid 1" duplication. Unraid really is Raid4 only. Again assuming you are using WHS with FlexRaid, you are looking at more of a media storage only (Pictures, Music, Movies) where unRaid is literally just a NAS so you can throw almost anything on there. A big feature people like with Windows Home Server is the automatic backup of other computers. So if you have it on your network, you can set it up to make periodic backups of your windows laptop, your desktop pc, etc.

All I wanted out of my storage device was a literal NAS with some sort of data redundancy. So unRaid was exactly what I was looking for. I also love the stability of linux for anything "Server" based. The server can also run all day with no disks running if you aren't using it, which is a big plus.


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post #11 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 08:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepmback View Post

But how stable is FlexRaid? The impression I get from UnRaid users is that many of them have builds that have not been restarted in 6 months and running fine.

This is the type of stability I am looking for. I have a hard time thinking that between a windows OS (Probably Windows 7) and the FlexRaid software I will not be rebooting much more often and encountering "Windows" issues.

I would love hear if my assumptions are accurate or not.


I suppose it depends on which version of Windows you are running. I am running Win7 64bit which is very stable. Since my HTPC also runs my flexraid setup, it is a perfect fit.

FlexRAID only need the system to be rebooted if you move from one version to another. Most of my system reboots are either due to upgrading graphics drivers or Windows Updates.

I have FlexRAID setup to auto sync every Sunday in the middle of the night, so I get a weekly snapshot. My data changes to infrequently it is a good amount. I also have the option to manually sync after I add new data if I wish.

So really, the reboots are all due to Windows, and for me have all been due to updating the system. FlexRAID never crashes. It is also free.


All in all, the biggest decider for me to use FlexRAID was that it is Windows based, so the drivers are all NTFS formatted. If I remove FlexRAID, I simply return to the exact condition I was in before I installed it. It also allows me to take a drive to a friend's house and plug it into his PC and have it be readable.
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post #12 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 09:52 AM
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Regarding Flexraid, here's something to consider. Lets assume you set-up Flexraid to parity protect a group of drives with a single parity drive. Call the drives the letters A-F and the parity G. If you modify a bunch of files on disk B and then immediately have a failure on disk E, the rebuild of disk E will not be complete. An example of an operation that would cause major rebuilding problems could be firing up a program like Media Center Master and updating a whole bunch of the metadata.

Just saying, it's not real-time protection.
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post #13 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 10:06 AM
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post #14 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepmback View Post

Good to hear. What kind of throughput are you getting when transfering large files to and from your server on your network?

Good question. I've never measured it so I don't have a definitive answer. I'm currently using the onboard SATA ports as well as an 8-port and 4-port PCI-E SATA expansion card for a total of 16 ports (I'm currently using 15 with one still available). I had been using a PCI expansion card and the throughput was painfully slow. Performing a parity check used to take about 24 hours with all 750GB data drives. Now it's down to about 8 hours or less with 20TB of storage (one 2TB parity drive and fourteen 1.5TB data drives).
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post #15 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 11:09 AM
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I get around 40 MB /sec writing to a 6 disk array using onboard sata (2-2TB drives, 4-1TB drives) on an 5+ year old Asus mb. Write speeds seem to be affected by multiple streams, but since I've only tried multiple concurrent copies from a single client, I can't for certain say that is a UNRaid issue.

Particularly if you have old hardware lying around, I think UNRaid is an excellent solution. As others stated, its stable, its simple, and it works.
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post #16 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 12:47 PM
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What kind of mobo / CPU and hardware do you need to set something like that up ?
How do you install multiple HDDs? RAID card on PCIx ?

Or just plug (4-8) 2TB or 3TB HDD's into the SATA ports on the mobo? Once the SATA ports fill up you can add more with a card?



I am interested in building a machine to function as NAS or a storage drive- so I can copy and place my movie files onto it and store them there. I want access to this from my HTCP, but also my main PC.

Ideally- I would like to use this as my storage drive for the folders in my media collection- and have my HTCP mediabrowser configured to use these folders and storage drive(s)- for the media collection. Off site storage since my collection is growing larger than my installed HDD's are going to be able to handle at some point.

I could move the media files off my current PC ? Place them on the storage drive? Still use the HTCP to play and use them just the same as if the HDD drive was directly connected to the MOBO like now? Does it play as well and as fast? How hard is it to place or store the movie files and folders on this drive from my main PC? Can I do that with the main PC and then have them play back from it on my HTCP?

I am running out of space on my HTCP and the drives I have installed on it.
I would like to build a "storage" machine; I have been researching but seems like too many options to make an easy decision. Hoping someone with experience can recommend something for me.

I want to be able to use this storage machine or drive with all my networked machines- including windows 7 laptops and desktops- for sure. At least my Main PC and the HTCP. Perhaps even Xbox360 as extender or my HDTV Tivo (upgraded to 2TB).

What is my best bet?

Also, what is the ideal and also the minimum specs I should look for? (I have several PC's from a couple socket939's 4800 X2-, a crappy 4ghz P4, a capable E8500 3.16ghz Core2 duo on Asus Formula Maximus OCed to 3.8ghz, and also a stock Core2duo 6600/Intel Board )

I was thinking the 64bit 3800 X2 AMD spare PC that I have would be a good choice because the Mobo is an ASUS A8N-SLI deluxe 939 and it has 10 SATA 3G ports and two on board RAID controllers with 4 ports available to each raid chip (If I activated RAID at all or needed it). I could run 10 HDD's easily on this machine by just plugging into the MOBO.

This pc is too old to do much else with it- wondering if I could make it into a server or NAS or some kind of storage machine- that all other machines could copy/paste or use the drive as storage ? Or should I consider buying something new?

Recommendations?

Anything I should look for? Or avoid?

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post #17 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 01:15 PM
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Well the "OS" you use will directly impact what hardware you need. unRaid requires minimum to no CPU cycles. You can use an old celeron as your processor with no problems. RAM is a little more important but not by much. It will help if you are doing things like running multiple pre-clears (Drive initializations) at the same time or a lot of plugins.

What is most important for any of these are things like onboard NIC speeds and the number of SATA ports. Especially ones that get the maximum throughput in your drives. If you have a ton of SATAIII hard drives, having SATA III ports would be a bonus. If you only have SATA II hard drives, well you dont need as many ports. For additional SATA ports, it doesn't matter if you use a RAID controller or a SATA controller, but you won't use any of the features of the controller, you would just have it in JBOD mode.

If you want to actually use a hardware raid, then programs like unRaid, FlexRaid, etc. (Which is the topic of the thread) aren't necessary. You would just run a simple linux kernel distro with your array shared.

unRaid has a system builder FAQ as well as forums explaining hardware that people have used that has worked for a lot of people. My CPU is way too powerful for my unRaid server but I had it sitting around with MB and Ram so that's what I used.

Say you use unRaid and set up your array. Once you create your Share, you just map the hard drive or go to it from any windows box on your network and write files to it. Playback is just as easy. Map a drive letter to your \\\ ower\\movies or \\\ ower\\mp3s or whatever your share is, and then just add that as one of your media browser sources. If you have gigabit ethernet, you shouldn't have any issues with direct playback (Assuming your client is setup and configured correctly for normal playback of course)

Two of the most popular add-in cards for unRaid servers are both made by Supermicro. Both are like $100 each

PCIe (newer MBs have a lot of these slots, but they require 1-> 4 breakout cables)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816101358

PCIx (Or legacy PCI) (8 onboard SATA ports, fits in legacy PCI slot)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815121009

A lot of people like these NORCO rackmount cases (For 20 sata hot-swap bays)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811219033

But you can easily get a normal full tower with 5-3, 4-3, 3-2 hard drive cages to fit into the front 5.25 bays. With a system like unRaid, which runs on a USB thumb drive, you don't need to waste a bay on an OS hard drive.

In ANY media storage server, make sure you get a power supply with a SINGLE +12V rail, and not a split power rail. Since you will be using almost all of your power for hard drives and not for things like video cards you want to make sure you are able to use all power on any given peripheral cable.


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post #18 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

Most of my system reboots are either due to upgrading graphics drivers or Windows Updates.

I never need to upgrade the graphics drivers or do windows updates on my unraid box...
it just works...

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #19 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Somewhatlost View Post

I never need to upgrade the graphics drivers or do windows updates on my unraid box...
it just works...

One of the primary reasons I went with it. Being in the IT profession myself, When it comes to servers, a good rule of thumb is that anything based off of unix/linux is going to be more stable than something on windows. Just my $0.02


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post #20 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 01:48 PM
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Another good snapshot RAID program to consider is SnapRAID.

http://snapraid.sourceforge.net/

Unlike FlexRAID, SnapRAID is open source and has no expiration date.

SnapRAID does one thing -- snapshot RAID. It does not do real-time parity nor does it do drive pooling. But if you need drive pooling, you can use another program to do that.

I run SnapRAID on linux, but it is also available for Windows. It is very quick to set up (less than 5 minutes) if you are comfortable editing a short plain-text configuration file. There is also a GUI front-end available for those who are uncomfortable with a text and command-line interface.
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post #21 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

What kind of mobo / CPU and hardware do you need to set something like that up ?
How do you install multiple HDDs? RAID card on PCIx ?

Or just plug (4-8) 2TB or 3TB HDD's into the SATA ports on the mobo? Once the SATA ports fill up you can add more with a card?



I am interested in building a machine to function as NAS or a storage drive- so I can copy and place my movie files onto it and store them there. I want access to this from my HTCP, but also my main PC.

Ideally- I would like to use this as my storage drive for the folders in my media collection- and have my HTCP mediabrowser configured to use these folders and storage drive(s)- for the media collection. Off site storage since my collection is growing larger than my installed HDD's are going to be able to handle at some point.

I could move the media files off my current PC ? Place them on the storage drive? Still use the HTCP to play and use them just the same as if the HDD drive was directly connected to the MOBO like now? Does it play as well and as fast? How hard is it to place or store the movie files and folders on this drive from my main PC? Can I do that with the main PC and then have them play back from it on my HTCP?

I am running out of space on my HTCP and the drives I have installed on it.
I would like to build a "storage" machine; I have been researching but seems like too many options to make an easy decision. Hoping someone with experience can recommend something for me.

I want to be able to use this storage machine or drive with all my networked machines- including windows 7 laptops and desktops- for sure. At least my Main PC and the HTCP. Perhaps even Xbox360 as extender or my HDTV Tivo (upgraded to 2TB).

What is my best bet?

Also, what is the ideal and also the minimum specs I should look for? (I have several PC's from a couple socket939's 4800 X2-, a crappy 4ghz P4, a capable E8500 3.16ghz Core2 duo on Asus Formula Maximus OCed to 3.8ghz, and also a stock Core2duo 6600/Intel Board )

I was thinking the 64bit 3800 X2 AMD spare PC that I have would be a good choice because the Mobo is an ASUS A8N-SLI deluxe 939 and it has 10 SATA 3G ports and two on board RAID controllers with 4 ports available to each raid chip (If I activated RAID at all or needed it). I could run 10 HDD's easily on this machine by just plugging into the MOBO.

This pc is too old to do much else with it- wondering if I could make it into a server or NAS or some kind of storage machine- that all other machines could copy/paste or use the drive as storage ? Or should I consider buying something new?

Recommendations?

Anything I should look for? Or avoid?

The AMD X2 4800 is fine, that's what I use. Probably uses more power than a latest gen CPU, but not enough to justify upgrading.

Using the onboard SATA controllers is also fine - may need to check if the onboard NIC shares an IRQ with either of the SATA controllers. I had an issue with my ABIT AT8 32x mb when I enabled the 2nd sata controller - the server would crash during larger file copies. Disabling the onboard realtek nic and using a PCIx Intel card solved the problem.

One of the big advantages with UnRaid is you don't have to add all the drives on day 1 - you can start with the free 3 drive version, giving you 4 TB of parity protected storage if you use 2 TB drives. Then if you like it, purchase either the Plus (6 drives) or Pro (20 drives) version and add additional drives as you need them.

All of your machines can access the data on the UnRAID server, persistent mapped drive letters is the most typical method. Be aware that UnRAID uses the ReiserFS file system so you can't just move your NTFS formatted drives in with the data intact - it will need to format them first. What many people do is free up a drive, add it to Unraid, move data over to it thereby freeing up another drive, add it to Unraid, etc. Then with finished with the initial load, enable parity. Or you can enable it from the beginning - however that will increase your copy times.
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post #22 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 03:48 PM
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My vote is for real hardware RAID. FlexRAID is just not there for easy production use as one volume. UnRAID requires a dedicated server and is generally quite slow.

Hardware RAID cards do cost significant money (but so does a whole PC for unRAID), but you get significant benefits. Not really interested in starting a flame war with all the unRAID fans, but you can't beat HW RAID ease and performance. You can even build an HTPC/server combo if that fits your needs. I have a Norco 4220 in my entertainment center with 120mm fans. Cool and quiet, one less PC to maintain in the house. Fantastic speeds, too.

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post #23 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 04:28 PM
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True, real HW RAID has the benefit of speed. But all of the solutions mentioned have more than enough speed to stream movies which is what the OP is really after. Also with the previous mentioned alternatives, if a piece of the hardware goes bad there is no problem as the drives are all basically JBOD configuration. As I last understood it, should you have a HW RAID and a card fails you need to find that same card type to get things going again. Just something to think about. Also depending on the RAID type you go with HW RAID, you can lose all of your data if you happen to have multiple drive failures unlike the previously mentioned alternatives.
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post #24 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:03 PM
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All of your machines can access the data on the UnRAID server, persistent mapped drive letters is the most typical method. Be aware that UnRAID uses the ReiserFS file system so you can't just move your NTFS formatted drives in with the data intact - it will need to format them first. What many people do is free up a drive, add it to Unraid, move data over to it thereby freeing up another drive, add it to Unraid, etc. Then with finished with the initial load, enable parity. Or you can enable it from the beginning - however that will increase your copy times.

Can you copy and paste a movie folder onto it? I mean if the movie folder is on my pc on a drive formatted NTFS...

How would I move that file on to the Unraid server? Copy and paste from my pc?

I usually rip discs on my main pc... but I play them back on the pc in the theater...

so I am looking for something I can put the movie onto the server from one pc and then play it back from another...

Currently I just have the pc's networked under windows 7 as a simple homegroup and play the movies off the main pc in the office...

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post #25 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:15 PM
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Can you copy and paste a movie folder onto it? I mean if the movie folder is on my pc on a drive formatted NTFS...

How would I move that file on to the Unraid server? Copy and paste from my pc?

I usually rip discs on my main pc... but I play them back on the pc in the theater...

so I am looking for something I can put the movie onto the server from one pc and then play it back from another...

Currently I just have the pc's networked under windows 7 as a simple homegroup and play the movies off the main pc in the office...


theres no problem doing that, me personally i just rip them on my pc with the save spot on the unraid box, but copy and paste or moving works just as well.
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post #26 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:44 PM
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but you can't beat HW RAID ease and performance.

I agree that distributed-parity-block-striped RAID wins on performance. Note that I said "distributed-parity-block-striped RAID", meaning RAID-0, -5, or -6. Software RAID can equal the performance of hardware RAID, for example linux mdadm software RAID can be just as fast as hardware RAID.

But that is getting off topic. I just meant to point out that the relevant comparison is between snapshot RAID (or something like RAID 4) and distributed-parity-block-striped RAID.

And in that comparison, I disagree that distributed-parity-block-striped RAID wins for "ease".

snapshot RAID is much easier to work with in the context of an expanding collection of large write-once read-many files (i.e., movies and media files), because it allows all of the capacity of different sized HDDs to be used, because adding another data drive is easier (only involves rewriting the parity drives, rather than restriping the whole array), you can pull any drive out of the array and use it by itself, and if you lose more drives than you have parity, with snapshot RAID you do not lose all your data (just the data on the failed drives), but with distributed-parity-block-striped RAID you lose everything. Also, with snapshot RAID you can spin down all the HDDs that aren't in use, but with distributed-parity-block-striped RAID you need to have all the HDDs spun up whenever any data is accessed.
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post #27 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:53 PM
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My vote is for real hardware RAID. FlexRAID is just not there for easy production use as one volume. UnRAID requires a dedicated server and is generally quite slow.

Hardware RAID cards do cost significant money (but so does a whole PC for unRAID), but you get significant benefits. Not really interested in starting a flame war with all the unRAID fans, but you can't beat HW RAID ease and performance. You can even build an HTPC/server combo if that fits your needs. I have a Norco 4220 in my entertainment center with 120mm fans. Cool and quiet, one less PC to maintain in the house. Fantastic speeds, too.

I had 'real' Hardware RAID... 15Krpm scsi drives in an 8 drive bay hot swap cage connected by fiber channel to an old Dell Poweredge sever with dual XEON's, crap load of memory, dual redundant everything... top of its line... for its time...
of course those 8 scsi drives all RAID 5'd together only added up to ~200GB (hey it is a bit old... but that was a lot when I started...)

it sucked big time for a home media solution...
but is was cool watching the lights in the house dim as all the HDD's spun up...
and it was blazingly fast... even by today's standards...
unfortunately that speed doesn't matter for the home media use...
and you cant mix & match drive sizes... well I guess you can as long as you don't mind only being able to use the capacity of the smallest drive in the array from each drive...
and if the array goes away, you are done...

still fire that old thing up every once in a while in the winter... helps with the heating bill...

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #28 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 05:59 PM
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still fire that old thing up every once in a while in the winter... helps with the heating bill...

HAHA

my vote goes to FlexRaid really like it and get's it done. My biggest problem with HW Raid is after too many drives fail bye bye DATA.
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post #29 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 09:52 PM
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Just to throw another wrench into things if you're considering something which isn't windows based like unraid; you might want to look into zfs and raidz on solaris 11, openindiana, nexenta or freebsd. On solaris you have a time machine like ability to roll back changes, a self healing filesystem and true proven scalable enterprise grade reliability.

There is a caution about hardware raid solutions, on pretty much anything but mirroring there can propriety coding used by the controller which introduces a separate point of failure for your data. If a controller failure happens and you can't find the same or equivalent controller your data can be in serious trouble.
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post #30 of 64 Old 12-01-2011, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KPlummer View Post

True, real HW RAID has the benefit of speed. But all of the solutions mentioned have more than enough speed to stream movies which is what the OP is really after. Also with the previous mentioned alternatives, if a piece of the hardware goes bad there is no problem as the drives are all basically JBOD configuration. As I last understood it, should you have a HW RAID and a card fails you need to find that same card type to get things going again. Just something to think about. Also depending on the RAID type you go with HW RAID, you can lose all of your data if you happen to have multiple drive failures unlike the previously mentioned alternatives.

Oh really! I'm going to have to look into that as I'm in the market for a RAID setup.
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