file server for HTPC... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-25-2012, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for the repeat topic! Most thread about building file server seems performance oriented. But I need a file server with the least noise and power consumption.

I started a thread few months ago but got no respond:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1358438

My plan didn't work as I found out USB3.0 HDD enclosure simply doesn't support spindown!!! So I'm back to using multiple 4-bay eSATA HDD enclosure on my HTPC (Win7).

Anyway, with around 30 (2TB) HDDs, maybe I really need a dedicated many bays file server.

My concern is the file server software, in term of HTPC usage. I need the file server HDDs be in idle spindown mode when no media file is playing.

My current problems:
- HDDs will spin-up when I just want to browse it's file list
- many normal PC operations will wake up all idled HDDs, such as:
- initial/create partition on a new HDD using Windows Disk Management
- install new software (I guess maybe the installer want to check disk space on all HDDs...)
- delete a file or empty recycle bin
- reboot the PC will of course restart all HDDs
- since all HDDs are on eSATA connection in a few 4-bay eSATA enclosure, sometime when I add/remove (swap) a HDD, all HDDs will wake up!

Can a dedicated file server solve all the above problems? The most useful feature would be to browse HDDs file list without waking up the HDD.

After searching a while, there seems 3 popular file server system, FreeNAS, unRAID, FlexRaid. Which one (or other solution) can solve my problems?

Thanks in advance!

regards,

Li On
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 05:34 AM
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Some of the spin up issues you are having there will not be a solution for. You might want to go with UnRAID as one of it's main advertised features is that it will spin down hard drives not in use. And since it's based on linux, you will get fewer of the "random" drive spin ups for background processes as you have already seen Windows do.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 07:17 AM
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As Puwaha stated, Unraid will do this (browse HDDs file list without waking up the HDD.) through the use of a caching script.

However, Unraid currently only supports a maximum of 22 drives, so if your 30 2TB drives are full, then you'd have to move up to 3TB drives. Also, you can't just put the drives into UnRAID - it uses the ReiserFS file system and so it will format them first. What most people do is bring up the server with 1 or 2 drives (it boots from a thumb drive), migrate the data over from an existing drive, then add that one to UnRaid, migrate another, etc.

I think its a great product, and has a 3 disk free version that you can try out if you have spare hardware lying around (doesn't have to be high power at all). But you would need to do some planning if you went that route.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley View Post

As Puwaha stated, Unraid will do this (browse HDDs file list without waking up the HDD.) through the use of a caching script.

really? now we are talking!

I asked my question on FlexRAID forum and someone said it won't do what I want. And FreeNAS seems command-line driven if advance function is needed...

Will focus my research on UnRaid.

PS: yes, I understand I'll need to migrate my HDDs 1 by 1...
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Did a quick search and found this on the subject of directory caching:
http://lime-technology.com/wiki/inde...entries_cached

But it's at the server Linux filesystem level. I will share the server HDDs in Windows Share (CIFS), and Windows will try to read much more metadata about a file. I have doubt if this Linux FS level directory caching can carry over to Windows usage...
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-28-2012, 12:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I asked the question on FlexRAID forum. Sadly, it seems such "linux" level directory caching won't work on Windows Explorer. Looks like there is no solution...

http://forum.flexraid.com/index.php/board,15.0.html
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-28-2012, 12:30 PM
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eSATA if it is a port multiplier, is problematic for spindown as it multiplexes 1 connection to 3-4 ports.

There is a chance every drive connected to the port multiplier will wake up or worse the disk access will not complete until all drives on the port multiplier are fully spun up. This leads to annoying delays when trying to view content.

FreeNAS uses ZFS and it will only spin up the drives as needed. Unfortunately this has to be configured manually.

ZFS allows you to use SSDs as cache drives. If configured, directory browsing without spinup of the data drive is possible.

2.5" laptop drives are better suited for this spin up/down mode of operation if you are willing to give up some drive capacity (biggest at the moment is 1Tb).

If you are planning to use 30 drives, there will be times when some of the drives will not spin up causing it to fall out of the array, whichever implementation you choose must be able to deal with this.
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