Free/paid alternative NAS solutions to drobo and others? (flexraid vs freenas etc) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-08-2013, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I have 3, 4TB drives, which i was originally going to raid5 (or beyondraid with drobo) into a ~8TB array for serving up blurays at home.

I have now decided to build my own small box and have the ability to grow beyond 5 disks eventually.

Here were my requirements:

1. I'd like to have 1 or 2 drive failure ability (raid 5 or 6 later on)
2. Be able to grow the array later on
3. Be able to stream at least 2 blurays at once (though really this is only ever going to be 1 at a time for now I think) to my Home Theater PC over gigabit
4. Have a web gui for managing and have alerts on failure

*it may also be nice to host gui apps for HTPC needs as well, ones supported in linux, but not a requirement, hence FreeNAS becomes one option since i may or may not need this, i think.

That said I ran into the following options:

FlexRaid
FreeNas
MDADM (linux)
SnapRaid
UnRaid

to name a few.

FlexRaid is payware these days, but appeared to support my requirements, particularly the ability to add a drive later and grow, whereas FreeNas cant grow if you add a drive?

Any thoughts on these options and which one would be a good one to go with.. I'm primarily a windows server/os person, though i've used the gui versions of linux a few times.. Right now i'm thinking flexraid makes the most sense.. I just want to be sure I pick the right solution so I dont loose a ton of data in the long run.

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 5 Old 03-09-2013, 09:19 AM
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You're right about Freenas - you cannot add a drive to the array. You add "sets" of drives. IE to add 3GB you would need 2 - 3GB drives. It also needs more hardware capability that unraid/flexraid/mdadm. IIRC, they recommend 8GB of RAM as a minimum.

What is best for you really depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to use it as a server (run other apps as well as nas function) then something like flexraid is a good option. If you're going to use it as a nas only system then unraid is a good option.
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post #3 of 5 Old 03-09-2013, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BizarroTerl View Post

You're right about Freenas - you cannot add a drive to the array. You add "sets" of drives. IE to add 3GB you would need 2 - 3GB drives. It also needs more hardware capability that unraid/flexraid/mdadm. IIRC, they recommend 8GB of RAM as a minimum.

If you are using FreeNAS' version of ZFS, then yes, you need to add drives in sets (called vdevs)... but there is a good reason to do so. If you are using mirroring, then you'd obviously want to add disks in pairs. If you want to use RAIDz, then you need to add disks in sets of three at a minimum. With only 3 drives like the OP posted... don't bother with ZFS. You can use UDF in FreeNAS instead. It will do up to RAID 3 in UDF, which is fine for media storage. RAID 3 is similar to how FlexRAID works.

Now as for memory, the recommended minimum is 4GB. But the more memory you throw at ZFS, the better it will cache your data transfers. It's just that if you want to use ZFS, then it will use all the memory you have to cache... so more is better. Like I said above though, don't use ZFS with only 3 drives. It shines with big data and good hardware.

Quote:
What is best for you really depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to use it as a server (run other apps as well as nas function) then something like flexraid is a good option. If you're going to use it as a nas only system then unraid is a good option.

FreeNAS has tons of functionality. I don't see the advantage here. If you plan on using FlexRAID, then you will need to purchase a Windows license... otherwise, you are using Linux, which takes you back to BSD functionality (FreeNAS is based on BSD.) There is a large userbase with FreeNAS and there are plenty of plugins for NAS/Server functionality.


All that being said... FlexRAID is a good choice for the OP, with his small hard drive total. I just don't think knocking FreeNAS is the right approach here. It's free, expandable, very functional, and has a large userbase to help out with issues.
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-12-2013, 12:55 AM
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I see lots of comments on the ease-of-use, expandability, performance, security, reliability and such, but very little on wear-and-tear of individual disks in these setups.

It seems to me that systems such as unRAID and FlexRAID, which designate a single volume as parity-unit, put a lot of strain on that parity-drive, increasing the likelihood that it will be the first drive to fail exponentially. Does anybody have any experience with degrading disks in FlexRAID/UnRAID?
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-12-2013, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gralgrathor View Post

I see lots of comments on the ease-of-use, expandability, performance, security, reliability and such, but very little on wear-and-tear of individual disks in these setups.

It seems to me that systems such as unRAID and FlexRAID, which designate a single volume as parity-unit, put a lot of strain on that parity-drive, increasing the likelihood that it will be the first drive to fail exponentially. Does anybody have any experience with degrading disks in FlexRAID/UnRAID?

Extra strain, how so? If you only run a snapshot then the parity drive is only being accessed and having data written to it when you update the parity and the rest of the time its just sitting there undisturbed.

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