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FlexRAID 2.0 Opinions? Thinking of going with it over UnRAID/SnapRAID

post #1 of 252
Thread Starter 
I have about 4TB of media stored on USB hard drives right now and it will only get bigger, so I want to start protecting my collection now using some sort of software based RAID parity protection like UnRAID/FlexRAID/SnapRAID. I have 2 WDTV Live Streamers that I use to stream to, our house is wired for gigabit network so no issues there. I've never messed with Linux/RAID/Server OS's so this is all new territory. I've built all my desktop computers and always install the latest Windows OS's, so I'm somewhat computer savvy.

I've read some good things about FlexRAID. Some of the benefits posted on another forum:
Quote:
1. FlexRAID works with Windows (WHS, Win7, etc). It's a driver on top of Windows.
2. Can start with full disks! I know unRAID needs empty disks.
3. Multiple parity drives, to help recover from multiple drive failures.
4. Works with any disks on your machine, even directories (parts of disks) and networks shares. Meaning, you can create parity to protect physical drives on your media server, as well as other drives on other machines, like that USB drive you have connected to your router.

The main things I like is being able to use Windows still and not be restricted to the Reiser FS that Unraid uses. If I go with FlexRAID, what OS would you guys recommend installing it over, WHS 2011?

I've also looked into the free open source SnapRAID and it looks interesting, the compare page was informative (http://snapraid.sourceforge.net/compare.html) and it has a GUI you can download for it. Just not sure how reliable/easy it is to setup compared to FlexRAID. Looks like SnapRAID came out last year so I'm guessing it isn't as mature as Flex and Unraid. I'd hate to find out later on that it corrupted my data or something because of some bug.

So what are your guys recommendations?
post #2 of 252
I use Flexraid on a normal Windows 7 install. Works great. The other advantage is that if you lose one more than your number of parity drives, you only lose the data on those drives. The drives are all just in NTFS format, so they're readable from other computers.

I haven't heard of any major bugs or people having corruption, although raid/uRaid/Flexraid/etc. are no substitutes for a true off-site backup solution.

I haven't tried snapraid, although that's nice there's a gui available. I could be wrong, but I don't think snapraid does pooling.
post #3 of 252
I tried FlexRAID and just ended up using StableBit DrivePool instead. I didn't care to dedicate an entire drive to parity and with SB DrivePool I can just duplicate the couple of important folders (picture and home videos). I have four 2TB drives pooled into a single 8TB drive on WHS 2011.

Works well for me. Anything important also gets backup up offsite using Crashplan. Movies and TV shows aren't important enough for me to backup and/or waste a parity drive.
post #4 of 252
I use SnapRAID because it is free and always will be free.
post #5 of 252
Flexraid.

I have no issues with paying for someone's hard work. I think that supporting something or someone gives the person creating it the incentive to keep working on it.

Everyone wants free. But creating, maintaining and improving things for the HTPC and PC community takes time, energy and money.

Edit: Here is what the creator of FlexRaid had to say on this subject...

Quote:


Keeping FlexRAID free was keeping me from providing a better product to the user base since there is only so much that can be done with no funding.

I have participated in a number of open source projects and know far too well the fallacies associated with them. Heck, many of you own me thanks for all the free work I have done on Linux.

But, I digress...
Listen, open source or not, a project isn't going to make it far without funding. Period.

Improving FlexRAID goes beyond what it does in its core and goes more into better integration and ultimately a complete system that will cocoon your precious data. Every time someone mentions an alternative to FlexRAID, it is followed with "then you need this other tool and then you need that other tool". And even then, you still don't have the full power of FlexRAID.

The good news is, most people get that and hence why FlexRAID is selling very well.
In fact, I am totally shocked and pleased by the positive response and sales.
This tells me that most people are not worried about a few bucks and will gladly pay for a quality product.

So, from where I am setting, everything is going perfectly according to plans.
post #6 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Flexraid.

I have no issues with paying for someone's hard work. I think that supporting something or someone gives the person creating it the incentive to keep working on it.

Everyone wants free. But creating, maintaining and improving things for the HTPC and PC community takes time, energy and money.

Edit: Here is what the creator of FlexRaid had to say on this subject...

Nothing wrong with a paid program but having the end-users provide constant beta testing is just wrong. FlexRAID is not stable enough to be a full-fledge commercial product since it still relies on its end-users to beta test pretty much everything.
post #7 of 252
Free or not you have to evaluate what works best for you. I tried FlexRAID, StableBit DrivePool, and Drive Bender. I ended up liking StableBit DrivePool the best and bought a license.
post #8 of 252
I used flex raid for quite a while and just recently switched over to snapraid. They do pretty much the same thing. I'll list the differences I've seen.

Snapraid does not drive pool. However you can use the free software called Liquesce

Snapraid seems to take longer on updating (I had flexraid do it nightly and it took a couple of hours, snapraid I have it do weekly because it would take around 8 hours) However this is done at night when I sleep so it doesn't really matter.

Aside from that I had issues with flexraid's drive pooling not copying data to the correct drives, or trying to copy to one almost full and failing then try to copy it to the same drive repeatedly in a loop, sometimes the flexraid config wouldn't load without a reboot.


In closing I like that flexraid has it all in one package but I agree with the above poster that it wasn't quite ready for a pay model. I'm sure they will get things fixed shortly but for now snapraid does what I want, haven't had any problems, and it's free.
post #9 of 252
I'm using FlexRaid.

No issues at all. No idea what you guys expected the developer to do. Its a fantastic piece of software --- especially for HTPC --- and one I would gladly pay to use.
post #10 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I'm using FlexRaid.

No issues at all. No idea what you guys expected the developer to do. Its a fantastic piece of software --- especially for HTPC --- and one I would gladly pay to use.

When he charges up to $100 for a single license then he needs to have dedicated beta testers that work in-house and only release stable versions. Version 2.0 has been out less than 6-weeks and he is already on update 6 due to all the bugs....and there are still new ones every day.
post #11 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killroyâ„¢ View Post

When he charges up to $100 for a single license then he needs to have dedicated beta testers that work in-house and only release stable versions. Version 2.0 has been out less than 6-weeks and he is already on update 6 due to all the bugs....and there are still new ones every day.

I paid $40.

Some of the competitors pooling options alone are $20.

I haven't noticed any real bugs and find it pretty easy to use for what I need it to do.

How many updates does Windows send out a week/month/year to correct bugs? Same with ATI/AMD, Intel, Samsung, etc.

I am still not getting the argument here. I think a lot of people are just pissed because an amazing piece of software that 1 person created used to be free and now has to be purchased. I can only imagine how much time and effort he puts into maintaining and improving it. And I, for one, am in favor of giving him a few dollars to keep him motivated and honest in continuing to improve it as I don't think there is anything that matches it for the average HTPC user.
post #12 of 252
The Windows analogy does not work in this case... the end-user does not have to do anything to get those security fixes implemented. Microsoft finds them via their own testing (and sometimes via power users) and then distributes them. Microsoft does not rely on end-users to find all the bugs and report back to them before they dispatch a new update...not only that...Windows is pretty much stable as it is and it is very much worth the price they pay since there is no other alternative for their product (Linux & OS X does not count). FlexRAID is based on applications that are easily and readily available for a lot less or even free. Slapping a GUI and adding a few buggy features does not make a commercial product.
post #13 of 252
Thread Starter 
Quote:


I used flex raid for quite a while and just recently switched over to snapraid. They do pretty much the same thing. I'll list the differences I've seen.

Snapraid does not drive pool. However you can use the free software called Liquesce

Snapraid seems to take longer on updating (I had flexraid do it nightly and it took a couple of hours, snapraid I have it do weekly because it would take around 8 hours) However this is done at night when I sleep so it doesn't really matter.

Aside from that I had issues with flexraid's drive pooling not copying data to the correct drives, or trying to copy to one almost full and failing then try to copy it to the same drive repeatedly in a loop, sometimes the flexraid config wouldn't load without a reboot.


In closing I like that flexraid has it all in one package but I agree with the above poster that it wasn't quite ready for a pay model. I'm sure they will get things fixed shortly but for now snapraid does what I want, haven't had any problems, and it's free.



Thanks to those who have posted so far, gonna have to look into SnapRAID more maybe. My big concern is ease of use, SnapRAID was built as a command line program and then 3rd party programs came out to give it a GUI and drive pooling. How involved is it to setup these 3rd party programs to work right and how well do they work?

FlexRAID is an all in one solution, but of course it's not free like SnapRAID. I need something reliable, I don't want to lose TB's of media because I chose a crappy solution. I guess I'll have to play around with both and decide soon before the May 5th deadline for FlexRAID, where it looks like the price will go from $60 to $100 Is the software really worth $100? Seems like he would get alot more buyers if it was lower. $40 or so seems more reasonable.
post #14 of 252
I think comparing any of the options out there to Microsoft in that manner then is largely not applicable. How many have companies have the bankroll that M$ does ($5.11 billion in Q3 2012 alone) to do internal testing? Lots of smaller companies have lots of bugs. I haven't found anything buggy at all with FlexRaid. When is the last time you used it personally?

Still not agreeing with your stance. But I can certainly see your argument.
post #15 of 252
I don't mind paying the price of FlexRaid to have everything managed by a single product, intuitive interface, and a good support forum.

Another option I've read about is NZFS, but know nothing about.

Reading through the technologies is confounding, and rather read through features. All I want to know is what a product is going to do for me, and what the other ones will do. I think most of us want features to increase our media storage by using multiple drives, error detection, error recovery, drive pooling, network sharing, easy to manage. If FlexRaid is the top choice, I'll pay what they are asking to save me time and a headache.

Jake
post #16 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigahertz21 View Post

Thanks to those who have posted so far, gonna have to look into SnapRAID more maybe. My big concern is ease of use, SnapRAID was built as a command line program and then 3rd party programs came out to give it a GUI and drive pooling. How involved is it to setup these 3rd party programs to work right and how well do they work?

FlexRAID is an all in one solution, but of course it's not free like SnapRAID. I need something reliable, I don't want to lose TB's of media because I chose a crappy solution. I guess I'll have to play around with both and decide soon before the May 5th deadline for FlexRAID, where it looks like the price will go from $60 to $100 Is the software really worth $100? Seems like he would get alot more buyers if it was lower. $40 or so seems more reasonable.

I think for HTPC pooling is a must have if you are going to go the server route.

Just some things to keep in mind (from the Snapraid website):
Quote:


Does SnapRAID provide encryption, virtual views/storage pooling, SMART monitoring and Power control?

No. SnapRAID provides only a backup/redundancy functionality. All these other services are better provided by other tools.
post #17 of 252
I don't really see what all the fuss is about. Flexraid is offering a product that some people (like myself) are willing to pay money for. There's really nothing more to it than that. Moreover, if it were extremely buggy, few would be implementing it for their home servers, which doesn't seem to be the case. I personally haven't encountered a signal problem; Flexraid has done exactly what I bought it for.
post #18 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

I don't really see what all the fuss is about. Flexraid is offering a product that some people (like myself) are willing to pay money for. There's really nothing more to it than that. Moreover, if it were extremely buggy, few would be implementing it for their home servers, which doesn't seem to be the case. I personally haven't encountered a signal problem; Flexraid has done exactly what I bought it for.

+1. I stand by my stance that many (most?) of the bashers are just people that love getting stuff for free and are whining about paying for this product.

If you haven't tried it in a while try it again. There also is a free trial now with the latest release.
post #19 of 252
My point is this... what is redundancy worth to me.

Both FlexRAID and SnapRAID provide +1 or +2 drive recovery. Both will save my ass from hours of work re-ripping all my stuff to a lost drive. They both do that exactly the same way.

One has a pretty GUI that requires a single button while the other one requires me to type a total of 12 characters in command line for it to work. Is the former really worth $70 over the latter that is free? No way in hell!!!!
post #20 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killroy View Post

My point is this... what is redundancy worth to me.

Both FlexRAID and SnapRAID provide +1 or +2 drive recovery. Both will save my ass from hours of work re-ripping all my stuff to a lost drive. They both do that exactly the same way.

One has a pretty GUI that requires a single button while the other one requires me to type a total of 12 characters in command line for it to work. Is the former really worth $70 over the latter that is free? No way in hell!!!!

Does it do pooling as well? What about automatic notification on failures via email or text? SMART diagnostics? What about a report of the peak temps of all your drives? Etc, etc.

Assuming you have your server 5 or more years we are talking about $8-$10 per year. Or about $0.80 per month.

So is it free? No, its not. But the cost is extremely affordable for more options that are easier to use.
post #21 of 252
People spend way more on other types of products that make it easier to do things universal remotes!
post #22 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Does it do pooling as well? What about automatic notification on failures via email or text? SMART diagnostics? What about a report of the peak temps of all your drives? Etc, etc.

Assuming you have your server 5 or more years we are talking about $8-$10 per year. Or about $0.80 per month.

So is it free? No, its not. But the cost is extremely affordable for more options that are easier to use.

I don't use pooling, even with 65+ drives.

SMART diagnostic & temp reports are already done via other software.

I never used or saw the need for the email/text notifications since I would look at the final result anyways via RDP.

Like I said... redundancy and peace of mind is all I am after and both offer this exactly the same way. BTW, one is $70 per machine and I have 5 machines...so $350 is a lot. I rather buy a new box for that much or 3 new drives.
post #23 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

+1. I stand by my stance that many (most?) of the bashers are just people that love getting stuff for free and are whining about paying for this product.

If you haven't tried it in a while try it again. There also is a free trial now with the latest release.

I was one of the biggest FlexRAID cheerleaders on here right up to the point that he went commercial....simply for the fact that I do not believe that the application is ready or mature enough to be offered at such a high price point.

I don't mind paying for software if its worth paying for. I have over $1500 worth of apps on my iOS devices and they are more than worth it to me.
post #24 of 252
I bought Flexraid when it was on sale for $50. I never even used it before, and don't even have system ready... I have a synology DS411+ but looking to build a more powerful NAS for Plex Server transcoding.
post #25 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killroy View Post

I was one of the biggest FlexRAID cheerleaders on here right up to the point that he went commercial....simply for the fact that I do not believe that the application is ready or mature enough to be offered at such a high price point.

I don't mind paying for software if its worth paying for. I have over $1500 worth of apps on my iOS devices and they are more than worth it to me.

$40 or $50? Really? That's too much for what this software does?

Now in your case with 5 machines I can see your point. But the average AVS HTPC users doesn't have 5 servers.

When is the last time you used FlexRaid?
post #26 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killroy View Post

I was one of the biggest FlexRAID cheerleaders on here right up to the point that he went commercial....simply for the fact that I do not believe that the application is ready or mature enough to be offered at such a high price point.

I don't mind paying for software if its worth paying for. I have over $1500 worth of apps on my iOS devices and they are more than worth it to me.

What, specifically, do you feel the application does not do or does so poorly to reflect this?
post #27 of 252
I wish I'd purchased FlexRaid when it was on sale. I think it is the best solution right now but $99 is definitely too high (at least for me).
post #28 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Defcon View Post

I wish I'd purchased FlexRaid when it was on sale. I think it is the best solution right now but $99 is definitely too high (at least for me).

Well then good news for you! Apparently the sale has been extended to May 5th.
post #29 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

$40 or $50? Really? That's too much for what this software does?

Now in your case with 5 machines I can see your point. But the average AVS HTPC users doesn't have 5 servers.

When is the last time you used FlexRaid?

I think the last version was 2.0 PR12 or whatever it was right before he went commercial. Used it on 4 boxes with over 100TB protected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars99 View Post

What, specifically, do you feel the application does not do or does so poorly to reflect this?

I have never said that it did anything poorly. I just don't believe that this software is priced at the right price point compared to what it does compared to other solutions.

I have extensively used disParity, FlexRAID, and now SnapRAID. Do I think he should charge money for FlexRAID? Absolutely!!! But no way in hell is this application worth $70 (for each machine). What would I pay? I guess that's not an option at this point since his price is set.

But when you have an alternative application that does the same function I need for free you can imagine that it would not be that much.
post #30 of 252
When has it ever been $70?
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