Flex Raid or Unraid. What is best for pooling? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Flex Raid or Unraid. What is best for pooling?

I'm sick of my current setup. I'm running non raid win8 and have like 4 internal drivers ranging from 3tb to 4tb and I'm looking to combine all the drives into one large drive (pooling?) I've been reading that flex raid is the best for pooling?

I just want one enormous drive where I can just dump all my ripped movies and not worry about which drive is filling up or having to move entire folders because of a particular genre has filled up that one drive. Right now I have 1 drive for scifi, 1 drive for action, 1 drive for docs, etc. Now when my drive fills up with too much scifi for example, I have to move the entire folder to a larger drive and then move other stuff, and the cycle continues.

Unraid "seems" to pool but I gather it's more like a shortcuts and flexraid is more like raid 5 for ease of dumping files.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 02:22 PM
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You can read more on their respective websites/forums. In brief, both implement a form of pooling where storage space is combined, and a parity drive is used to calculate parity of all data in order to reconstruct lost data if needed. The size of the parity drive has to match the biggest data drive.

FlexRaid also does a form of realtime Raid called T-Raid.

earlier thread - UnRaid vs FlexRaid, Which is right for me

unRaid is a custom Linux build that runs from a thumb drive, so you don't need a dedicated drive or slot. There are versions of popular programs like SickBeard, downloaders etc to run on unRaid. FlexRaid runs on Windows, so you can run any Windows program giving you more flexibility.
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post #3 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 04:08 PM
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Probably the most significant difference from a user perspective is that FlexRAID allows you to use drives with data while unRAID requires the use of fresh/empty drives. That's a major consideration unless you're starting from scratch.
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post #4 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 06:26 PM
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I have been using
https://stablebit.com/

to do exactly what you want.
It is not RAID, more like JBOD.

What I like is that if one disk dies all your data is still instantly accessible,
and you can pull a drive out and access the data stored on it on any machine.
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post #5 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRace View Post
I have been using
https://stablebit.com/

to do exactly what you want.
It is not RAID, more like JBOD.

What I like is that if one disk dies all your data is still instantly accessible,
and you can pull a drive out and access the data stored on it on any machine.
I use UnRaid for many years now, after give up on WMS. For me, the most important benefit of UnRaid is that it's really reliable, set and forget appliance: In all those years I never had any trouble. No corruption, no lost files, no downtime due to problems with the OS. It's easy to forget it's running day and night like a clock.
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post #6 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbez View Post
I use UnRaid for many years now, after give up on WMS. For me, the most important benefit of UnRaid is that it's really reliable, set and forget appliance: In all those years I never had any trouble. No corruption, no lost files, no downtime due to problems with the OS. It's easy to forget it's running day and night like a clock.
This is so true. My server had an uptime of 1 year and 4 months before the UPS died and had to be replaced.
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post #7 of 37 Old 08-13-2014, 11:46 PM
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Is there any free software that will do this? All I want to do is have 2 or 3 drives appear as 1, I don't need automatic backup or anything.
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post #8 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post
Is there any free software that will do this? All I want to do is have 2 or 3 drives appear as 1, I don't need automatic backup or anything.
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post #9 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
Probably the most significant difference from a user perspective is that FlexRAID allows you to use drives with data while unRAID requires the use of fresh/empty drives. That's a major consideration unless you're starting from scratch.
I don't believe that's entirely true. If you have drives that had been previously set up in unRAID that contain data I'm pretty sure you can add them back into the array. UnRAID uses the reiserfs file system so it's not as convenient as FlexRAID since it can use any drive configured for use in Windows.

I've been using unRAID for at least 6 or 7 years now and it just plain works. It's easy to set up and use. No hassles dealing with installing Windows and constantly dealing with upgrades, anti-virus programs, etc. Just copy the software onto an approved flash drive and boot from it. To upgrade you just replace a couple of files and reboot.

UnRAID uses shares so you can configure the system any way you like. You basically specify a shared folder and how you want each drive to be populated (i.e., fill one drive first and then move on to the next or fill them all up equally). You can set up multiple shares that span all drives or specify which drives to include or exclude in tthe share. The share appears as a single folder that can be mapped from any PC. You can also map the flash drive for easy access from your PC.
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post #10 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 05:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post
Is there any free software that will do this? All I want to do is have 2 or 3 drives appear as 1, I don't need automatic backup or anything.
You can just use Spanned Disks in Windows 7. It an out of the box feature of Windows. Note that it has NO fault tolerance. See the link below.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l...spx#BKMK_WINUI
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post #11 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRace View Post
I have been using
https://stablebit.com/

to do exactly what you want.
It is not RAID, more like JBOD.

What I like is that if one disk dies all your data is still instantly accessible,
and you can pull a drive out and access the data stored on it on any machine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by danbez View Post
I use UnRaid for many years now, after give up on WMS. For me, the most important benefit of UnRaid is that it's really reliable, set and forget appliance: In all those years I never had any trouble. No corruption, no lost files, no downtime due to problems with the OS. It's easy to forget it's running day and night like a clock.
Nothing against Unraid, but Drivepool is rock solid stable as well. And so is the underlying Windows OS....if you stop mucking with it. Set and forget, and Windows is rock solid stable as well.
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post #12 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 06:00 AM
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And so is the underlying Windows OS....if you stop mucking with it. Set and forget, and Windows is rock solid stable as well.
I know you know your stuff, but I really disagree with you on those statements
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post #13 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 06:08 AM
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I know you know your stuff, but I really disagree with you on those statements
I'm serious. Once I setup my servers or HTPCs, they seriously go down, maybe once a year for updates and what not. No reason to let Windows do all the crap that it does, in terms of updates and what not.

But it does take a fair amount of effort to set it up that way.
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post #14 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by kapone View Post
I'm serious. Once I setup my servers or HTPCs, they seriously go down, maybe once a year for updates and what not. No reason to let Windows do all the crap that it does, in terms of updates and what not.

But it does take a fair amount of effort to set it up that way.
Yeah, I had uptime on my HTPC (Win7) of over a year at one point, and in the three since my file server was built it was only ever down due to extended power outages.

You can make Windows appliance-like, but it takes a little skill to get it there and a lot of will power not to screw with it.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #15 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post
Is there any free software that will do this? All I want to do is have 2 or 3 drives appear as 1, I don't need automatic backup or anything.
I believe that UnRaid still offers a free version thats good for up to 3 Hard Drives.

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post #16 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
I don't believe that's entirely true. If you have drives that had been previously set up in unRAID that contain data I'm pretty sure you can add them back into the array. UnRAID uses the reiserfs file system so it's not as convenient as FlexRAID since it can use any drive configured for use in Windows.
This is true. However, what are the chances the OP was using unRAID or even ReiserFS prior to posting this question? For the most part, folks are likely using NTFS. Even had I been on Linux, I'd probably use ext3 or ext4.

Mind, I do use and like unRAID a lot. It's very stable and appliance-like. Heck, my current server is a LimeTech AVS-10/4 (which was pre-ordered). That said, I don't think unRAID is what the OP wants (although not for the perceived downsides he has mentioned in the first post).
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post #17 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 10:53 AM
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IMO Windows is just as stable as any other OS, the days of Windows instability and BSOD are long gone (pre-NT). The reason Windows pc's can seem unstable is its so damn easy to tinker and install stuff, and people tend to use a Windows machine for more things. A Linux person will configure their needed services and leave it alone. On Windows there are more frequent updates to program versions, new thing to try, driver updates, Windows updates etc.
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post #18 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kapone View Post
Nothing against Unraid, but Drivepool is rock solid stable as well. And so is the underlying Windows OS....if you stop mucking with it. Set and forget, and Windows is rock solid stable as well.
THanks for saying this. I felt the same way. I've never messed around with my server or had troubles with in the last two years. Not software related anyways. It just works. Always. I like that. This is rare for someone like me too.

WHS is inherently quite stable. Windows too. The trick is to set your automatic updates to "never" or "ask me first" and not install too much crap on it, or go messing around with it. Set it up, and leave it alone. It will continue to work indefinitely.

I am a tinkerer, and I like to play around and experiment. I probably clean install my OS to my workstation 10 times a year, I even dual boot or have multiple OS installs to boot from. But I never mess around with my server. Never. Just leave it alone.

Comments like the "unraid is more stable stuff" always made me feel like you do. Windows isn't unstable, nor is WHS. Just don't use it as a daily driver and go surfing the net or installing software on it. The more you muck around with it, the higher the chance of a problem. I have plenty of stuff installed on my server too, including browsers, email clients, MCM, PLEX and MB... but I try to limit it to basic and reasonable stuff I need for something and minimize what I need to install if possible.

LESS IS MORE !

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #19 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
IMO Windows is just as stable as any other OS, the days of Windows instability and BSOD are long gone (pre-NT). The reason Windows pc's can seem unstable is its so damn easy to tinker and install stuff, and people tend to use a Windows machine for more things. A Linux person will configure their needed services and leave it alone. On Windows there are more frequent updates to program versions, new thing to try, driver updates, Windows updates etc.
I don't think anyone is disputing the stability of Windows. It sounds like the OP is looking for some method of creating pooled drives on his Win 8 PC and not so much in building a dedicated server. If that's the case, the chances are pretty good that there will be more than a bit of mucking about with the OS just from daily use and taking updates. If it was set up on a dedicated server then getting updates wouldn't be as important. UnRAID also would not work for the OP in this situation. A lot of motherboards have RAID features built in so it could just be a simple matter of setting up the drives in a JBOD configuration.
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post #20 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
You can make Windows appliance-like, but it takes a little skill to get it there and a lot of will power not to screw with it.
Lol, and this is the reason I have 2 HTPCs connected to the living room TV. One a Mini-ITX Clarkdale build that just chugs along. The other, a microATX Ivy Bridge that I can mess around with (even had SLI at one point). Guess which one the family uses?

The HTPC in my bedroom (more PC than HTPC really), I can and do mess around with as often as I want. Also have a number of SFF builds for playing that can be quickly used as replacement in case one of the HTPCs go down.

Definitely agree on being able to make Windows appliance-like part. I practically never touch the HTPC in my parents' bedroom. I think longest uptime on that one was 2 years (and yes, that meant 2 years with no Windows updates, even SP1).
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post #21 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 01:51 PM
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You guys saying Windows is set and forget, stable, uptime > a year, etc, are you not installing Windows updates? I agree with your assessments for the most part, and my current server is Win7 and I don't have any issues with stability, but I do need to restart it every couple of weeks for Windows updates. I'm in the process of building a new Ubuntu based server and have been surprised at how frequently I need to install updates on that one, though it is only maybe every 6-7 rounds of updates that needs a restart, whereas it was probably 80% of the time on Windows.
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post #22 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
I don't think anyone is disputing the stability of Windows. It sounds like the OP is looking for some method of creating pooled drives on his Win 8 PC and not so much in building a dedicated server. If that's the case, the chances are pretty good that there will be more than a bit of mucking about with the OS just from daily use and taking updates. If it was set up on a dedicated server then getting updates wouldn't be as important. UnRAID also would not work for the OP in this situation. A lot of motherboards have RAID features built in so it could just be a simple matter of setting up the drives in a JBOD configuration.
er...Drivepool doesn't necessarily need WHS or Server 2012 etc. It runs the same on Windows 7/8/8.1

Edit: Never mind, now I got what you were saying.
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post #23 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by AaronMilwaukee View Post
You guys saying Windows is set and forget, stable, uptime > a year, etc, are you not installing Windows updates? I agree with your assessments for the most part, and my current server is Win7 and I don't have any issues with stability, but I do need to restart it every couple of weeks for Windows updates. I'm in the process of building a new Ubuntu based server and have been surprised at how frequently I need to install updates on that one, though it is only maybe every 6-7 rounds of updates that needs a restart, whereas it was probably 80% of the time on Windows.
Nope. No updates. And a minimal install with everything not needed, removed, no extraneous software, and no anti virus etc either. Hey, it's an HTPC, all it does is get guide data from Microsoft, and streams from various plugins. None of those streams are executables, so the chances of a virus are extremely low.
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Nope. No updates. And a minimal install with everything not needed, removed, no extraneous software, and no anti virus etc either. Hey, it's an HTPC, all it does is get guide data from Microsoft, and streams from various plugins. None of those streams are executables, so the chances of a virus are extremely low.
Hmm, I was always under the impression that any internet accessible Windows machine should install all security updates, firewall and safe behavior notwithstanding. I've always wanted a lighter Windows install that was barebones and way lighter on resources with only the things I need for my server, but didn't know how to go about it. That's part of the reason I was looking to move to an Ubuntu based media server
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post #25 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 02:26 PM
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Hmm, I was always under the impression that any internet accessible Windows machine should install all security updates, firewall and safe behavior notwithstanding. I've always wanted a lighter Windows install that was barebones and way lighter on resources with only the things I need for my server, but didn't know how to go about it. That's part of the reason I was looking to move to an Ubuntu based media server
I should qualify that statement, that I do run pfSense as my router/firewall with a number of IDS packages to prevent network intrusions and that sort of thing. But even with a consumer grade router/firewall, the HTPC should be fine. And if it gets hosed, you just restore it from the System restore disk.

You do create a system restore disk, after you have everything working the way you want it to...don't you?
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LESS IS MORE !
Okay, who are you and what have you done with Mfusick?
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post #27 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
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I should qualify that statement, that I do run pfSense as my router/firewall with a number of IDS packages to prevent network intrusions and that sort of thing. But even with a consumer grade router/firewall, the HTPC should be fine. And if it gets hosed, you just restore it from the System restore disk.

You do create a system restore disk, after you have everything working the way you want it to...don't you?
Yep, I have a restore disk from when I got the server fully operational. Though the plan on the new server was actually Ubuntu Server on bare metal, and then a couple of Win8 VMs, one that is the "live" server and one for tinkering. Backing up/imaging the live version is really easy that way.
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post #28 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by AaronMilwaukee View Post
You guys saying Windows is set and forget, stable, uptime > a year, etc, are you not installing Windows updates? I agree with your assessments for the most part, and my current server is Win7 and I don't have any issues with stability, but I do need to restart it every couple of weeks for Windows updates.
Same as kapone, I've got a fairly minimal Windows 7 install on the HTPCs. The only internet access the HTPC does is downloading guide data and streaming from Netflix. They boot directly to WMC and all daily operation is done via MCE IR remote controller. I have a Logitech K400 keyboard that only gets connected whenever I feel like doing some maintenance. I just have firewall enabled on my Tomato router.

To be honest, without the user element browsing sketchy websites, downloading email attachment from unknown senders and downloading malicious files, Windows 7 can be pretty stable and secure.
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post #29 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 07:51 PM
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I always thought Win7 was secure, I just didn't realize people were forgoing the Windows security updates.
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post #30 of 37 Old 08-14-2014, 09:02 PM
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I always thought Win7 was secure, I just didn't realize people were forgoing the Windows security updates.
I would never suggest someone disable updates for a general use PC.

But I think it can be made reasonably safe on an appliance-like device. Surfing/downloading/installing web stuff is the biggest issue in my opinion. I might even suggest turning Internet Explorer off, and not installing any other browsers to prevent the temptation to browse the interwebz.

If you try to surf with IE, that opens a can of worms because you end up having to install, flash or Java, or some other plugins to make it work, and inevitably all that crap installs autostart updaters that will start nagging you. Not to mention half of them want to install some crappy free version of McAfee or Norton. If you decide to forego IE and use chrome, it's getting a little sketchy these days too. It wants to autorun in the background, and I'm starting to get leery of it too. You're better of not surfing. Anything you need can be downloaded on another PC (with appropriate virus scan software) and transferred via network or thumb drive.

On my server, I just configured it without a default gateway so it can't access the internet. No bugging me for updates, not even aware of any updates. That worked on mine because it was a simple file server and isn't running anything that needs to access the outside network like metadata scrapers or transcoders.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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