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post #1 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I have enjoyed using FlexRaid, but due to the fact it is going commercial and every few months I am forced to update I am looking in to other options. Everytime I have to reinstall it is a PITA to get the storage pool working again which is one of the main reasons I use FlexRaid.

For those of you using Unraid, how do you like it? How hard was it to setup (drivers, file sharing, etc.). I am a little hesitant to change my operating system. I have dabbled a little in linux and didnt like it too much. Also prior to having to update everything was working perfectly. I use Sick Beard to manage my tv shows, VNC, Air Play, and Ember Media Manager. I would really hate to have to find and test out all new programs to find which works best to manage my media.

I'm more interested in something that provides Snapshot Raid and a storage pool, even if I had to use two separate programs for each.
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post #2 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 04:47 AM
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I've got a similar thread going on here http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1397922

So far SnapRAID has been the only snapshot RAID alternative, but I was asking for WHS 2011 solutions.

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post #3 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 07:01 AM
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post #4 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 07:01 AM
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If you are considering unraid then why not just buy flexraid as they both cost. Don't quote me on this but I'm 99% sure you won't need to keep reinstalling once you buy the full version.
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post #5 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

I've got a similar thread going on here http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1397922

So far SnapRAID has been the only snapshot RAID alternative, but I was asking for WHS 2011 solutions.

I looked in to snapraid a little bit. From what I have read it doesn't have drive pooling and also no GUI. While I have no problems learning new things, right now I just want to keep it simple.

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Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post

If you are considering unraid then why not just buy flexraid as they both cost. Don't quote me on this but I'm 99% sure you won't need to keep reinstalling once you buy the full version.

I was unaware unraid was paid. I just downloaded it to test it out. Maybe it was a trial version? I was going to donate to FlexRaid once a stable non beta version was released so I might end up buying it. It was a great program.
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post #6 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 01:30 PM
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You can download unraid but I think that version has a limit of like 2? disks. Felxraid is cheaper then unraid as well. I'm in the same boat. Don't really have 50 bucks right now to pay to flexraid though.

Considering just running duplicates of stuff I care about for a while.
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post #7 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 02:12 PM
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I've been running unRAID for over four years and I think it's great. It's ridiculously simple to set up and use. Setting up shares is simple as well. I like that it has a parity drive that allows you to restore any drive and recover any data. Upgrading or swapping out drives is easy and you can mix and match drive sizes and types (i.e., IDE and SATA). The only thing you need as a boot drive is a USB flash drive. UnRAID has a huge support forum and it works with a huge variety of motherboards. You don't need a powerful CPU or a lot of RAM to run it. You also don't need to be a Linux expert to use it either.
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post #8 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been running unRAID for over four years and I think it's great. It's ridiculously simple to set up and use. Setting up shares is simple as well. I like that it has a parity drive that allows you to restore any drive and recover any data. Upgrading or swapping out drives is easy and you can mix and match drive sizes and types (i.e., IDE and SATA). The only thing you need as a boot drive is a USB flash drive. UnRAID has a huge support forum and it works with a huge variety of motherboards. You don't need a powerful CPU or a lot of RAM to run it. You also don't need to be a Linux expert to use it either.

It sounds great. But for me I run a few apps on my server as it does other things like handles my downloads. So its much easier to run windows.
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post #9 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 03:38 PM
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Depending on what you're trying to do... you can do the same with unRaid. Torrents, Usenet, blah blah blah there's options for downloading.

I too have been using unRaid for 4 years or more and have no problems paying out for it. Great community that stands behind a great product. Easy to setup and it isn't confined by many hardware requirements. Scrounge up $150 and you can have 2 Pro keys for $75 a pop. That means either 1 backup key or 2 servers at your disposal (1 backup server if you'd like).
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post #10 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by drealit View Post

Depending on what you're trying to do... you can do the same with unRaid. Torrents, Usenet, blah blah blah there's options for downloading.

I too have been using unRaid for 4 years or more and have no problems paying out for it. Great community that stands behind a great product. Easy to setup and it isn't confined by many hardware requirements. Scrounge up $150 and you can have 2 Pro keys for $75 a pop. That means either 1 backup key or 2 servers at your disposal (1 backup server if you'd like).

Does unRAID do drive pooling?

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post #11 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 04:59 PM
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I'm curious what people are doing that drive pooling is important.

My usage doesn't require drive pooling. I just rip movies to my HDDs, select them for playback with MediaBrowser, and use snapraid to create parity and checksum data on the files. No need for drive pooling.

My non-movie files are on a different volume, since they tend to be smaller files that change often, and are not good for snapshot RAID. But they are much smaller, so they all fit on one HDD (two, technically, a conventional RAID 1 volume that is also backed up online).
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post #12 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 05:04 PM
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Yes you have the ability to create shares with it. Research for yourself on lime-technology.com, there's a lot more information there than what I'm willing to type out here haha.

It calculates parity in real time (unlike storage software like FlexRAID/SnapRAID which use a snapshot system) and has redundancy for a single drive failure. Simultaneous failures could lead to data loss but the chances of more than 1 drive failing at once are fairly slim. If more than one do fail, only the data on the drives that have failed are at risk. There's no single point of failure with unRaid; the motherboard, controller card, cpu, ram, psu (unless it's catastrophic and takes drives with it somehow), usb drive... any or all of it can fail and your data should be safe on the hard drives until you replace the failed components.

Like I said I've been using unRaid for at least 4 years now without issue. Some people get scared because Tom (the dev) tends to "seemingly" go inactive for periods of time during the year but he always comes back and updates the software a few times a year regardless. He still responds to emails and takes orders etc. but the cream of the crop is in the community that backs the software... they're a wonderful group and a few of them are bouncing around here. My current setup is on top of ESXi which is not supported but as I said, I have had absolutely no issues.

You can test most features with the basic free license which allows 2 drives + 1 parity drive.

edit: Another key thing about unRaid... drives that are not being used spin down until they're being accessed. Take it a step further and use Joe L's cache_dirs script and the drive that the content is stored on will only spin up when something is actually being initiated (starting music or a film for instance). Essentially his script caches into memory so there's no need to spin up the drives.
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post #13 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim2100 View Post

I'm curious what people are doing that drive pooling is important.

My usage doesn't require drive pooling. I just rip movies to my HDDs, select them for playback with MediaBrowser, and use snapraid to create parity and checksum data on the files. No need for drive pooling.

My non-movie files are on a different volume, since they tend to be smaller files that change often, and are not good for snapshot RAID. But they are much smaller, so they all fit on one HDD (two, technically, a conventional RAID 1 volume that is also backed up online).

If you have 10 100GB drives would you rather have 10 different drives or one single 1TB drive? Drive pooling gives you the single drive. The tipping point for me was when I started adding 3D Blu-ray images I needed to find space on my non-movie drives to have enough room. I have three 2TB drives pooled into a single 6TB drive. I no longer have to manage what data to put on what disk.

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post #14 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

If you have 10 100GB drives would you rather have 10 different drives or one single 1TB drive? Drive pooling gives you the single drive. The tipping point for me was when I started adding 3D Blu-ray images I needed to find space on my non-movie drives to have enough room. I have three 2TB drives pooled into a single 6TB drive. I no longer have to manage what data to put on what disk.

I would rather have the same number of volumes as I have movie HDDs. And that is, in fact, what I do have (12). With my setup, I don't see the need for the added overhead of pooling -- as I said, I just rip movies to whichever drive(s) have free space, and MediaBrowser indexes all the drives so I don't have to worry about drives during browsing and playback. And snapraid generates parity and checksum data. But I don't mix my movies with my other files, which is a bad idea anyway with snapshot RAID.
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post #15 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

I looked in to snapraid a little bit. From what I have read it doesn't have drive pooling and also no GUI. While I have no problems learning new things, right now I just want to keep it simple.



I was unaware unraid was paid. I just downloaded it to test it out. Maybe it was a trial version? I was going to donate to FlexRaid once a stable non beta version was released so I might end up buying it. It was a great program.

http://snapraid.sourceforge.net/compare.html

Snapraid does have a GUI plugin.
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post #16 of 133 Old 03-12-2012, 10:56 PM
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I simply set up a RAID 5 (striping with parity) array in hardware and in case of disk failure keep on trucking.

Disk pooling JBOD. Striping is RAID 0. Mirroring is RAID 1.
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post #17 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 01:40 AM - Thread Starter
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The main deal breaker for me is no drive pooling in unRaid. For me it is much easier to point XBMC to a single shared pool folder than point it to multiple shares for lets say all my TV shows which are on multiple drives. Unless there is some way to have multiple folders show up as one over the network that I do not know about.

From my understanding now, unRaid seems almost identical to FlexRaid without drive pooling. Having a single parity drive (instead of hardware RAID having the parity span all drives), I am assuming just like FlexRaid I could pull a drive, put it in a different computer, and still be able to read the data?

I have a spare 2tb laying around in case a drive fails, so I think for a learning experience I'm going to partition it up and test out unRaid in VMware and see how things go.
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post #18 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 03:27 AM
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Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

Unless there is some way to have multiple folders show up as one over the network that I do not know about.

Yes, there is. It's called junctions and they are recognized by any device that can read NTFS. It is not pooling, but I've been using it for many years to share out everything on my server on a single share point.
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post #19 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

The main deal breaker for me is no drive pooling in unRaid. For me it is much easier to point XBMC to a single shared pool folder than point it to multiple shares for lets say all my TV shows which are on multiple drives. Unless there is some way to have multiple folders show up as one over the network that I do not know about.

From my understanding now, unRaid seems almost identical to FlexRaid without drive pooling. Having a single parity drive (instead of hardware RAID having the parity span all drives), I am assuming just like FlexRaid I could pull a drive, put it in a different computer, and still be able to read the data?

I have a spare 2tb laying around in case a drive fails, so I think for a learning experience I'm going to partition it up and test out unRaid in VMware and see how things go.

A shared folder in unRAID can be on whichever drives you specify or they can span over all drives. XBMC just sees the single folder. Same goes for Media Browser and any PCs that have the share folder mapped. I have fourteen 1.5TB data drives and one 2TB parity drive in my unRAID server. I've got basically four shares setup - HD.DVDs, DVDs, Videos, and Misc. XBMC sees whatever is located in any of the four folders, regardless of where they're physically located.

UnRAID distributes the data to spread the data evenly across all drives, although it doesn't split up files between drives. If I copy a ripped Blu-Ray movie to the server it keeps all of the files for the movie on the same drive. UnRAID uses the ReiserFS file system so I don't believe you can read it directly on a Windows PC if you moved the drive from the server to a Windows PC.
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post #20 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

The main deal breaker for me is no drive pooling in unRaid.

It's had drive pooling before Flexraid even existed. 1 network location can be 20 drives of data.
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post #21 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

The main deal breaker for me is no drive pooling in unRaid. For me it is much easier to point XBMC to a single shared pool folder than point it to multiple shares for lets say all my TV shows which are on multiple drives. Unless there is some way to have multiple folders show up as one over the network that I do not know about.

I'm not an XBMC user, but can't XBMC be configured to point to multiple locations for your media files? MediaBrowser can do that quite easily, and I'd be surprised if XBMC cannot do it, also.
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post #22 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

The main deal breaker for me is no drive pooling in unRaid. For me it is much easier to point XBMC to a single shared pool folder than point it to multiple shares for lets say all my TV shows which are on multiple drives. Unless there is some way to have multiple folders show up as one over the network that I do not know about.

From my understanding now, unRaid seems almost identical to FlexRaid without drive pooling. Having a single parity drive (instead of hardware RAID having the parity span all drives), I am assuming just like FlexRaid I could pull a drive, put it in a different computer, and still be able to read the data?

I have a spare 2tb laying around in case a drive fails, so I think for a learning experience I'm going to partition it up and test out unRaid in VMware and see how things go.

Unraid lets you create views (User Shares) that essentially map your data to whatever single path you want (or multiple). So it can do what you need.

For example I may have movie1 on disk1 and movie2 on disk2 but I created a movie share, so both are accessible by going to \\\ ower\\\\movies instead of \\\ ower\\disk1 and \\\ ower\\disk2
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post #23 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jim2100 View Post

I'm not an XBMC user, but can't XBMC be configured to point to multiple locations for your media files? MediaBrowser can do that quite easily, and I'd be surprised if XBMC cannot do it, also.

XBMC can do it, but it is easier to point to one folder, than multiple shares.
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post #24 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

XBMC can do it, but it is easier to point to one folder, than multiple shares.

False (implied) comparison.

It is easier to not set up drive pooling (compared to setting up drive pooling).

The choice is between the downside of setting up multiple volumes and the downside of setting up and running drive pooling. Either choice has downsides.

But setting up multiple volumes only takes a few minutes, and there is no overhead involved to reduce performance (or cause intermittent compatibility problems). In other words, the downside of having multiple volumes is a one-time thing (a few minutes to set it up), while the downside of drive pooling keeps going and going...
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post #25 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by JoshDorhyke View Post

It's had drive pooling before Flexraid even existed. 1 network location can be 20 drives of data.

I an a broadcast engineer working in high end post production. We have over a Petabyte of FC and SATA storage, which I helped engineer. So in my world RAID is the only answer.

However due to cost I tried Unraid at home and I gotta tell you, for a home media server this is the answer. You don't need RAID in a home media application. IMO of course. The parity disk is sufficient IMO, especially if you mainlt rip disks. The worst case of having to re-rip a disks worth if the parity fails.

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However due to cost I tried Unraid at home and I gotta tell you, for a home media server this is the answer. You don't need RAID in a home media application. IMO of course. The parity disk is sufficient IMO, especially if you mainlt rip disks. The worst case of having to re-rip a disks worth if the parity fails.

Unraid is okay, but it is restrictive. If you can, you should try snapraid. It is much less restrictive than unraid, it is free and open-source, and it also supports dual parity drives.
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post #27 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jim2100 View Post

Unraid is okay, but it is restrictive. If you can, you should try snapraid. It is much less restrictive than unraid, it is free and open-source, and it also supports dual parity drives.

What is restrictive in your case?

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post #28 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by djdcm0722 View Post

I have enjoyed using FlexRaid, but due to the fact it is going commercial and every few months I am forced to update I am looking in to other options.

Going commercial is the answer to the betas which expire. I think this is a case of not being able to have your cake and eat it too.

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It calculates parity in real time (unlike storage software like FlexRAID/SnapRAID which use a snapshot system)

FlexRAID has a real time mode as well. Although IMHO, real time is not necessarily better. If you aren't dealing with data that changes frequently (i.e. movie rips), there's no significant advantage to real time. With snapshot, you can either invoke an update after you change data or rip a new movie, or you can schedule updates to happen often, or you can just live with delayed protection until your nightly update (or however often you have it scheduled). I generally do the latter. If I rip something, and a drive dies between that time and midnight, and it just so happens that it's the drive that movie ended up on, it's not a big deal. I know what I've ripped in the past 24hrs, so it's not a big deal to figure out what I've lost and re-rip just that one thing. If I rip a lot of stuff, or delete/change a bunch of stuff, then I may choose to manually invoke an update (though I very rarely change that data). But snapshot has the advantage of being somewhat like a back-up. If you or something inadvertently deletes/changes data, you can always restore the original as long as you catch it and do it before the next update. Sometimes immediate updates aren't always best.
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Simultaneous failures could lead to data loss but the chances of more than 1 drive failing at once are fairly slim.

That's entirely dependent on how many drives you have. I have over 20, and I HAVE had two drives fail before getting the data from the first recovered. Once a drive fails, you have to simultaneously read essentially the entire contents off of every disk in the array (depending on the size of the failed drive). If you have a bunch of drives, and perhaps even some that are "sister" drives where you bought a couple of the same kind at the same time, your chances of another one failing during recovery are greater than you might think. Recovering data from large arrays comprised of large drives can be a very lengthy process, and can tax other drives that may also be on the verge of failure. The more drives you have, the greater your chances of multiple failures within a given time frame. I'm currently running two parity drives, and will probably expand to three before I add many more drives. At 21 data drives to two parity drives, I'm already beyond what most consider best practice for RAID fault tolerance.
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If more than one do fail, only the data on the drives that have failed are at risk.

Indeed, so maybe parity isn't even needed.
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Some people get scared because Tom (the dev) tends to "seemingly" go inactive for periods of time during the year

Heh, sounds like FlexRAID. Hopefully that will get better once it goes commercial. I've always been fairly patient with any issues, considering it's free. I'm apt to be less forgiving once I've paid for it.

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post #29 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

What is restrictive in your case?

unraid requires that your data drives use ReiserFS, unraid requires that you run Slackware (maybe not requires, but it would probably be a HUGE job to get unraid going on another distro), and unraid must be booted from a device with a fixed GUID (usually a flash drive) so that the license check works. Also, parts of unraid are closed source

snapraid will work on data drives with any filesystem, any linux distro, any OS (Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, BSD). If you have an existing server with lots of drives and data, you can install and configure snapraid and be ready to run a sync (i.e., generate parity and checksum data) in just a few minutes. You could even run BOTH snapraid and flexraid in parallel (except you would have to devote a separate parity drive or two to each). snapraid will work with whatever filesystem, OS, and software you are already using, and it is open source so if the author disappeared tomorrow, it would still be possible for someone to fix bugs or add features in the future, and of course, there is no license to expire.
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post #30 of 133 Old 03-13-2012, 02:27 PM
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Ha d alook at snapraid but it looks harder to set up than flexraid. Anyone know if the GUI can be used for setup? Seems like this needs to be done with command line.
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