ozone614

First unRAID build. Need advice.

13 posts in this topic

Hi Everyone, I've been reading a lot about unRAID over the last couple of weeks. I think I'm finally ready to take the plunge and build a NAS using unRAID. I could really use some help picking out the parts. Sorry if this gets a little long-winded but I want to give as much info as possible. Any way onto the info...
 
To start, I don't have much experience with servers or home networking. At my previous apartment, both my main PC and HTPC were hard wired into the router. I shared a few folders over the network and that was about it. I'm currently staying at my mother in laws for the next 6-12 months as we house shop. I'm using my HTPC (running W7 & Mediabrowser 2) to watch all of my media on the TV. I have roughly 7TB (9.5TB total usable) on the HTPC. I also have my main PC with another 2TB (3TB total usable) of random assorted data.
 
My goal is to build a NAS using unRAID and play my media from a raspberry Pi 3 running KODI. I want the NAS to be low on power consumption and quiet. It will be on 24/7 but be idle most of the day. WiFi is spotty in the room at my in laws and I don't have the ability to run Ethernet. I will need to use a powerline adapter for the unRAID machine. I will also need a switch to connect all of the PCs for file transfers and the Pi3 for viewing from the server. I also need a UPS for this to make sure everything is shut down properly in case of a power outage.
 
  • What is your budget? 

Overall I would say my budget is around $2000 for everything. It's not a strict budget but I would love to stay around there or under.

 

  • How many drives do you want your server to be able to support and how much capacity do you need?

I'm thinking of using the define R5 case so eventually about 9 total drives (6 data, 1 SSD for cache & 2 parity). As far as capacity, I would like to start with 12TB at least and expand from there. I haven't decided on going with 4TB or 8TB drives yet. Even with 4TB I would be fine for the next couple of years.

 

  • Is expandability important to you?  If so, what's your long term goal?

Expandabilty is somewhat important. I will probably start with 3 or 4 drives (depending on size) and expand out to 8 (maybe 10). Long term, once I get myself into my own house, I could see myself going to a rackmount server. For now, I need something smaller and quieter.

 

  • Are you interested in running any unRAID Add Ons (see here)?  If so, which ones?  Be specific.

I do not plan on doing any VM's. I do plan on playing with a few dockers though. I think I'm going to finally start my automation of downloads and try out sonarr & radarr with SABnzdb or NZBGet. Some sort of database for KODI (mysql?). I could also see myself trying out a few more in the future (beets, Rutorrent). There is a slight chance I might try out PLEX in the future. Most likely to stream my music collection to my phone and maybe on rare occasions one 1080P stream.

 

  • Do you want to run green/low power drives or faster 7200 rpm drives?  If you don't have a specific need for 7200 rpm drives, then choose green drives.

Right now my plan is to either use 4TB WD Reds or all 8TB Seagate Archives. I actually was pretty set on the Reds until I started to read the success people were having with the Archive drives. My use for the most part would be WORM (write once, read many). Some of my media might eventually be upgraded but that would be sporadic. My only real concerns with the archive drives are A) Seagates rep with drive failure (although I personally have never had a drive from Seagate fail. I haven't seen much on that issue in the last few years either.) and B) The slowdown on writing smaller files. I have roughly 1TB of smaller files (pics, music files, video clips, ect) that I would need to write to the array. Although I could always start that at night and forget about it.

 

  • Do you have any spare parts laying around that you would like to apply towards your build?  This includes drives.

I will not being using any old parts. Looking for a complete new build. I might take some of my older drives and make a backup NAS later.

 

  • If you already have parts in mind, please oh pretty please post links to them so that we don't have to look them up.
Here is a list of parts I was looking at.

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/sFpCkT
 
Also considering the g4560. Only problem could be updating mobo firmware to kabylake support if i go with the supermicro board.
 
Need a board with IPMI and ECC support.
 
Not sure if i need more than 8GB or not. Could change to 16GB if needed.
 
Seems to have good reviews. Not sure if i need 250gb though. Will just store dockers and the little bit I d/l daily (Wouldn't be more than 25GB on the heaviest days).
 
Really starting to lean towards the archives because of price per TB. Also would mean fewer drives before I would need to buy a SATA expansion card.
 
Really like the design and cable management of the case.
 
80+ gold with 9 sata power connections and good reviews. Not sure if I would need more than the 550W Power supply though.
 
  • OS: unRAID Plus $89.00
Support up to 12 drives. Wont need more than that for the next few years at least.
 
Have no clue what to go with here. Same fans as provided with the case.
 
One of the ones recommended.
 
Had good reviews and not super expensive. Still not sure if if it would the best to go with or if i should be looking at another one.
 
Same with the powerline adapter, good reviews and not expensive.
 
  • UPS: Unsure right now, would like to stay under $200
Completely unsure of this. Need something to be able to shut down the NAS clean if the power goes out. Will have the NAS, switch and Pi plugged into it.
 
  • Other: Pi3, power adapter, case & SD card $75.00
CanaKit with power supply, Flirc case, 32gb evo+ sd card. Maybe a Flirc usb remote receiver if i cant get any of my remotes playing nice.
 

Linked to the Cat6 cables and SATA cables I was looking at. Any thoughts? Also if I go with the Define R5 I will need either a SATA extension cable or a molex to SATA (always heard these could be dangerous and lead to fires.) for the SSD. The SSD would be mounted behind the MOBO. The power supply I'm looking at has 3x3 SATA power connectors which would be fine for the 8 drives lined up in the HD bays. I still would need a way to get the SSD powered via either a SATA power extension or molex to SATA. Any cable recommendations?

 

Rough estimate with Reds $1748 (12TB total, 1 parity & $200 on UPS)

Rough estimate with Archives $1857 (16TB total, 1 parity & $200 UPS)

 

I plan on doing this build in the next month or two. So in no big rush and will probably shop around for deals if I can. Just looking to get some feedback on all of my parts so I can get a game plan together.

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Looks like a good build to me.  It sounds like you won't need transcoding so the Core i3 or G4560 will be fine.  I'd go with 16GB, but I don't have a good reason - 8GB is fine.  That looks like the right RAM to me but I'd check the MB compatibility list to be sure.  If I were building new I'd use a WD Red 8TB for parity and Seagate archive drives for data - just to give you another idea to consider.  The case is well regarded and you've picked a PS with a single 12v rail, which is good.  APC is the gold standard in UPS's but I've had luck with my cheaper CyberPower.  Powerline adaptors can be tricky business, so I hope that works out Ok.  Pick a high quality power extension / adapter and you'll be fine - I think I used StarTech.

 

Sounds like fun!

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Try not to source all the drives from the same vendor, or at least separate the purchase dates. Most of the genuine drive failures can be chalked up to mishandling somewhere between the factory floor and your case, so the last thing you want is for all your drives to have been drop kicked by the UPS guy.

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In my own situation what i thought was good to start with just kept getting bigger over the years, so when I see you can get yourself another 4TB of space using one fewer drive for only $100 more, I'd +1 that idea all day!  I suspect 3.5-inch HDDs won't get much larger than 10TB in future so starting with larger drives means you won't run out of physical space in your case sooner than you thought. It's amazing how many years pass by after you start relying on unRAID and it just keeps on working like it was new.

 

To that point, I like the Samsung 850 Pro SSD over the EVO because they have greater longevity (and a 10-year warranty).  My ten-year unRAID milestone is not far off and I wish I could say any of my drives lasted that long.

 

One more thing to consider is that as your number of physical drives grows, you need bandwidth to perform parity checks. Something like the Supermicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 8-port controller card https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101792 needs 8 PCIe lanes to offer full read & write bandwidth to all connected drives. The motherboard you have listed should have plenty with its two x8 slots (the third only looks like an x8 but is actually an x4) as you go forward for up to 22 physical drives (using the built-in SATA ports and two of the above cards), but this is something to note if you are looking at other motherboards with perhaps fewer lanes available.

 

 

I'd say your list in general is perfect for a start. I suspect the really cheap networking gear may cause issues after a couple years but the price is compelling. You just need to be ready to test with newer or better pieces if/when you start experiencing connectivity troubles.

 

Best of luck with your build.

 

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I have the define R5 and it's a lovely case and building a clean build (I have the windowed version) is very easy.  Remember it can hold 10 HDDs and 2 SSDs on the rear, so you have up to 12 drive capacity.

 

I'd agree and get the largest drive you can for parity to make future expansion easy.

 

I'd recommend getting two SSDs and building a cache pool e.g. start with 2x250GBs so you have protection if one of the drives die.

 

Personally, I would steer clear of powerline - maybe you'd be better off investing in your own AP/router that you take with you when you move?  I'd even consider buying two unifi APs and running them in wireless uplink mode at your in-laws and wire them up when you move.  I know it's more cost, but you'll have an excellent wi-fi network you can keep (unRAID has an excellent unifi controller AP) rather than crappy powerline you'll have to ditch in the future.  I tried powerline (TP-Link TL-PA9020P) when we were renting for a while, and gave up and got 2 unifi APs and personally I think it was a much better investment as I got an amazing wi-fi network for my other devices as well.

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I would advise you to consider using drive cages (4in3, 5in3, or case with native "hotswap" cages built.in). Doesn't look like your case supports them. I like the SuperMicro 5in3s in something like an Antec 900 or 1200 case. They cool well, have replaceable fans, and rock solid latching mechanism.

 

By far the biggest problem people have with their servers relate to bad drive connections, very often caused by nudging other drives' cables when opening the server to add or replace a drive. People spend frustrating hours to days trying to get things sorted after a slight nudge. The cages allow drive replacements without any risk to the sensitive cabling. With over 10 years of unRaid experience, I can say this is the most needed server feature in an array over 3 or 4 drives. Otherwise every drive drive replacement can turn into a wasted afternoon troubleshooting (and that's if you know what you're doing - often users make mistakes that can easily lead to data loss). Being able to swap out a disk in 5 minutes and know it will work first time every time - mandatory for me.

 

Locking cables also help, but not universally supported. Use them where you can.

 

Best of luck with your build! 

 

(minor edits applied)

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Posted (edited)

First off, just wanted to thank everyone for their reply's. When I originally started researching builds I was looking at ZFS and unRAID. unRAID seemed to fit my current goals and my future plans better. Also everything I had read before diving into the forums here was just how helpful the community was. After spending some time lurking around here I was more than sold. This community is awesome and so helpful. So again, thank you to everyone for the feedback.

 

Also on another note, my WiFi issues seem to be fixed. The cable company came out yesterday to replace a DVR and also replaced the router/modem (all in one combo) and I now have no issues with WiFi upstairs. Using a cheap TP-Link wireless adapter I was able to max out the internet connection. Not sure if this changes anything about how I might connect this server to the internet but thought I would pass it along.

 

On 4/19/2017 at 5:10 PM, tdallen said:

Looks like a good build to me.  It sounds like you won't need transcoding so the Core i3 or G4560 will be fine.  I'd go with 16GB, but I don't have a good reason - 8GB is fine.  That looks like the right RAM to me but I'd check the MB compatibility list to be sure.  If I were building new I'd use a WD Red 8TB for parity and Seagate archive drives for data - just to give you another idea to consider.  The case is well regarded and you've picked a PS with a single 12v rail, which is good.  APC is the gold standard in UPS's but I've had luck with my cheaper CyberPower.  Powerline adaptors can be tricky business, so I hope that works out Ok.  Pick a high quality power extension / adapter and you'll be fine - I think I used StarTech.

 

Sounds like fun!

I thought about going with 16gb and still might. The RAM is not listed as tested on the supermicro website as tested memory but Kingston does list it as compatible on theirs. If I remember correctly I only found a couple of sticks that supermicro lists as tested. I couldn't seem to find a reliable source for any of the RAM that was listed. I think I might have come across one single 8GB stick for around $140. I will try and do some more research this weekend and see what I can find.

 

As far as the WD Red 8TB, I have considered those. Originally I was only looking at 4TB & 8TB Reds. Then I started to consider just what you suggested on the archives and reds for parity. After reading through one of the threads here though, I saw people were getting just as good of performance on the archives as parity and data as they were with a mix of reds and archives. I will go back when I get a little more free time and double check that.

 

Had a few minutes earlier to check out both APC & CyberPower UPS units. Looked at the CyberPower CP1000PFCLCD and the APC SMC1000. I will need to do some more research into both units and others. The CyberPower is $150 currently and it's $241 for the APC. Both are Pure Sine Wave which I believe is a must for any newer power supply with active PFC.

 

Also I think I have used a couple of the StarTech adapters in the past so I will check those out. I believe I used one in my parents PC I built and also in a friends.

 

On 4/19/2017 at 5:19 PM, jonathanm said:

Try not to source all the drives from the same vendor, or at least separate the purchase dates. Most of the genuine drive failures can be chalked up to mishandling somewhere between the factory floor and your case, so the last thing you want is for all your drives to have been drop kicked by the UPS guy.

Thanks for the advice. As I will be looking around at deals I will probably source the parts from several vendors. I will keep that in mind when buying my drives.

 

On 4/19/2017 at 9:22 PM, bman said:

In my own situation what i thought was good to start with just kept getting bigger over the years, so when I see you can get yourself another 4TB of space using one fewer drive for only $100 more, I'd +1 that idea all day!  I suspect 3.5-inch HDDs won't get much larger than 10TB in future so starting with larger drives means you won't run out of physical space in your case sooner than you thought. It's amazing how many years pass by after you start relying on unRAID and it just keeps on working like it was new.

 

To that point, I like the Samsung 850 Pro SSD over the EVO because they have greater longevity (and a 10-year warranty).  My ten-year unRAID milestone is not far off and I wish I could say any of my drives lasted that long.

 

One more thing to consider is that as your number of physical drives grows, you need bandwidth to perform parity checks. Something like the Supermicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 8-port controller card https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101792 needs 8 PCIe lanes to offer full read & write bandwidth to all connected drives. The motherboard you have listed should have plenty with its two x8 slots (the third only looks like an x8 but is actually an x4) as you go forward for up to 22 physical drives (using the built-in SATA ports and two of the above cards), but this is something to note if you are looking at other motherboards with perhaps fewer lanes available.

 

 

I'd say your list in general is perfect for a start. I suspect the really cheap networking gear may cause issues after a couple years but the price is compelling. You just need to be ready to test with newer or better pieces if/when you start experiencing connectivity troubles.

 

Best of luck with your build.

 

I will keep the 850 Pro in mind when I do some more research. I remember the benchmarks being close when doing research. Extra 5 years of warranty is nice but I could also see myself upgrading before either warranty would be an issue.

 

As far as the network gear, I was mostly looking for something to get me through until I get into a house. At that point I will be wiring the place with Cat6 (if it isn't wired already) and will reassess my needs for gear. I figured simply and cheap would be good enough for now. Also thanks for the heads up about the PCIe lanes. I have not considered that but that gives me something to keep in mind should I change my mind about the MOBO.

 

On 4/20/2017 at 7:33 AM, DZMM said:

I have the define R5 and it's a lovely case and building a clean build (I have the windowed version) is very easy.  Remember it can hold 10 HDDs and 2 SSDs on the rear, so you have up to 12 drive capacity.

 

I'd agree and get the largest drive you can for parity to make future expansion easy.

 

I'd recommend getting two SSDs and building a cache pool e.g. start with 2x250GBs so you have protection if one of the drives die.

 

Personally, I would steer clear of powerline - maybe you'd be better off investing in your own AP/router that you take with you when you move?  I'd even consider buying two unifi APs and running them in wireless uplink mode at your in-laws and wire them up when you move.  I know it's more cost, but you'll have an excellent wi-fi network you can keep (unRAID has an excellent unifi controller AP) rather than crappy powerline you'll have to ditch in the future.  I tried powerline (TP-Link TL-PA9020P) when we were renting for a while, and gave up and got 2 unifi APs and personally I think it was a much better investment as I got an amazing wi-fi network for my other devices as well.

How was your performance on the TP-Link powerline adapter? I wonder if it would be fine for my needs until we move. My main goal until I find a house is to get my unRAID system set up and play around with some dockers. I will try out sonarr and a few others to see how automation of my downloads will work. If I could get decent speeds (half or better) and ease of install/use I would be happy.

 

Also I will look in the unifi APs. Since my WiFi issues seemed to be fixed would you still recommend the unifi AP's and a router? Or would you suggest just buying a router and using it as some sort of WiFi "bridge"? Like I said, I don't have a lot of experience with networking. That will be one of the things I plan on researching once I get unRAID setup.

 

 

Edited by ozone614
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I also agree with bjp999 about the drive cages. I gravitate toward the Supermicro 5-in-3, and have plenty of them in service, but for me they are not the ultimate in value. This is because I have built my unRAID systems out to have more than 15 drives each, which is the maximum of most tower style cases. The extra money I spent on the drive cages could have been spent towards a server chassis that houses 24 drives to begin with. 

 

Now when I do a build I go straight for the 24-bay hot swap server chassis, usually used from eBay. It leaves lots of room to expand and ends up being a bit cheaper, and a lot nicer than cobbling together an external 5-in-3 bay or two just to add more drives to a server.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, bman said:

I also agree with bjp999 about the drive cages. I gravitate toward the Supermicro 5-in-3, and have plenty of them in service, but for me they are not the ultimate in value. This is because I have built my unRAID systems out to have more than 15 drives each, which is the maximum of most tower style cases. The extra money I spent on the drive cages could have been spent towards a server chassis that houses 24 drives to begin with. 

 

Now when I do a build I go straight for the 24-bay hot swap server chassis, usually used from eBay. It leaves lots of room to expand and ends up being a bit cheaper, and a lot nicer than cobbling together an external 5-in-3 bay or two just to add more drives to a server.

 

 

 

 

 

I just prefer the footprint of a tall tower (mine is 12 bays tall, meaning 4x cages = 20 drives). The cages can be had for ~$60 a piece or $12 / drive. And they last forever - so they are a one time investment. The big rack jobs aren't for me. But I appreciate others use them and they are more economical.

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On 4/20/2017 at 8:17 AM, bjp999 said:

I would advise you to consider using drive cages (4in3, 5in3, or case with native "hotswap" cages built.in). Doesn't look like your case supports them. I like the SuperMicro 5in3s in something like an Antec 900 or 1200 case. They cool well, have replaceable fans, and rock solid latching mechanism.

 

By far the biggest problem people have with their servers relate to bad drive connections, very often caused by nudging other drives' cables when opening the server to add or replace a drive. People spend frustrating hours to days trying to get things sorted after a slight nudge. The cages allow drive replacements without any risk to the sensitive cabling. With over 10 years of unRaid experience, I can say this is the most needed server feature in an array over 3 or 4 drives. Otherwise every drive drive replacement can turn into a wasted afternoon troubleshooting (and that's if you know what you're doing - often users make mistakes that can easily lead to data loss). Being able to swap out a disk in 5 minutes and know it will work first time every time - mandatory for me.

 

Locking cables also help, but not universally supported. Use them where you can.

 

Best of luck with your build! 

 

(minor edits applied)

 

18 hours ago, bman said:

I also agree with bjp999 about the drive cages. I gravitate toward the Supermicro 5-in-3, and have plenty of them in service, but for me they are not the ultimate in value. This is because I have built my unRAID systems out to have more than 15 drives each, which is the maximum of most tower style cases. The extra money I spent on the drive cages could have been spent towards a server chassis that houses 24 drives to begin with. 

 

Now when I do a build I go straight for the 24-bay hot swap server chassis, usually used from eBay. It leaves lots of room to expand and ends up being a bit cheaper, and a lot nicer than cobbling together an external 5-in-3 bay or two just to add more drives to a server.

 

 

 

 

 

15 hours ago, bjp999 said:

 

I just prefer the footprint of a tall tower (mine is 12 bays tall, meaning 4x cages = 20 drives). The cages can be had for ~$60 a piece or $12 / drive. And they last forever - so they are a one time investment. The big rack jobs aren't for me. But I appreciate others use them and they are more economical.

 

I did look into going with an Antec or similar case and throwing a bunch of hot swap bays into it at first. One of the reasons I have mainly decided against it is the upfront cost vs my current needs. Just about every hotswap drive cage I found was around $90-$100 and I just don't think I can justify the extra cost at the moment. I think by the time I get to the point that the Define R5 would be full that I will just move to 24 bay server chassis like bman suggested. The only reason I'm not starting there now is I need something I can keep in a room with a desktop style footprint. I can see this build I'm doing now either becoming a backup server or an offsite backup.

I do plan on using locking cables if the board will except them. Making sure everything has a good connection is always one of the first things I check when I try and trouble shoot anything.

 

 

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2 hours ago, ozone614 said:

I do plan on using locking cables if the board will except them. Making sure everything has a good connection is always one of the first things I check when I try and trouble shoot anything.

 

There were some for sale in the unRAID forum recently for $55 I think. And they can usually be found on eBay in the $60-$70 range.

 

Good luck with your build!

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Posted (edited)

Fwiw, I have the G4560 which is pretty much identical to the i3's performance. But be sure to check if you have HW support first.

 

 

Edited by _jonte
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