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Feedback on DIY NAS design

Discussion in 'DIY' started by Tronmech, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Tronmech

    Tronmech New Around Here

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    I'm looking at building a home NAS for PC and phone backups, and potentially to use as a "home lab" NAS that may run *A* light duty VM, using whatever the final OS decision dictates (KVM/VirtualBox/etc.) It's an ATOM, I'm not expecting barn burning performance, but I need a quiet compact unit because of where I want to put it.

    Yeah, I can likely do this using an Intel-based QNAP box, but given the quality issues being reported in their current mobile apps (most of the reviews in the last month are *really* bad), I don't see the point of paying the price premium when getting my hands dirty for the first time in a while may give me something more versatile. Synology seems OK, but the mobile apps seem to have a similar review profile lately (maybe Oreo support is iffy), and their 2-4 bay NAS devices have limited RAM capacity.

    Excluding disks, this is what I've come up with. I checked the various pre-built servers from SuperMicro using this case, but I didn't like their motherboard/cpu/memory limit mix. The motherboard model is picked from the case's compatibility list, so I think I have that covered.

    I could just install CentOS or Ubuntu on the thing and run with it, but I rather like the idea of using Nas4Free or FreeNAS because of ZFS for files bit rot protection. But honestly, I think it might be overkill.

    The motherboard's 6 SATA ports at least allow me to use a low-storage internal drive for the OS, and the USB3 onboard port gives me the possibility of booting the thing from a USB key. It's nice to have the flexibility, and putting the usb drive internal makes for fewer accidents.

    https://smile.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/dl/invite/hXBtoIy
     
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  3. System Error Message

    System Error Message Part of the Furniture

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    Ah, sounds like you did not read up much. Intel ATOMs suck for virtualisation, they lack the instruction pipelines their full core counterparts have and faster IO which i find to be important.

    As for OS decision, virtualbox is usually not the best idea, KVM gives me so much and im using it to host game servers that are very CPU and RAM heavy. I sometimes run into IO bottlenecks so RAM speeds and internal IO are very important, but in how KVM uses the physical cores are a problem as i see loads being distributed well with the guest seeing the same core CPU usage and the game rubber banding as the physics and sync is inconsistent.

    Virtualbox when you dont need hardware performance that you just want a basic VM (basic application/webserver as example)
    KVM when you want a lot of options (excellent VM drive caching that you get ramdrive speeds to a point)
    VMWare when you want your VM to have physical access. KVM and VMWware pretty much have similar functionality. (Havent used this yet)

    Ubuntu is a big no, they'd expect you to follow their setup guidelines which breaks many uses cases, i made the same mistake only to find that they dont support fakeraid but without fakeraid you cant dual boot using your awesome raid 0 SSD arrays. CentOS is a pretty decent server orientated OS, there are plenty more choices like opensuse openNAS, and many more.

    some motherboards come with 10 sata or other options. New AMD and intel mainstream boards come with at least 6 sata ports but have various other things that make it well worth it. For example a USB based hot swap drive bay that you can connect to your motherboard's onboard USB3 ports, m.2, PCIe. I have made 2 file servers myself, one using various devices in a 2U chassis, and 1 using a setup as simple as possible for 5 8TB drives. Both of them have a SFP+ NIC i got cheap, using SFP+ direct to my SFP+ switch, giving me 10Gb/s networking. Even the SFP+ switch costed me $400.
     
  4. Tronmech

    Tronmech New Around Here

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    Well, I'm not looking for BLAZING performance. I'm looking for "good enough" performance on a sub-$500 budget. If I need an AD DC for a 10 accounts, I can do that as a VM on this setup. Admittedly barely, but it's not like this is a gaming rig.

    A slight benefit of virtualbox is that I can build the vm in one location, and copy it over. But having discovered that their image management is a little farked up, I'll likely use KVM (if I wind up using linux) or learning bhyve if I go with FreeNAS or some other OpenBSD based option.

    The main advantage of these boards is that I don't have to add the expense and trouble of a separate CPU & cooler. Frankly, it's been a while since I've done a DIY build, so I don't want to deal with heatsink compound, etc. Rather not fry my CPU from too little or too much paste. So, integrated CPUs are a good thing. This also gives me a 2-fan build, reducing noise, a bonus for a desktop NAS in a living area. (The plan is to park this thing next to the cable modem in my living room where the A/C is strongest.

    ITX has a lot of tradeoffs. Essentially I can have lots of ports, a powerful CPU, OR RAM. If I didn't need it to be small and unobtrusive, I would use an ATX case and a more adaptable board.

    Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
     
  5. System Error Message

    System Error Message Part of the Furniture

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    My DIY setup for 2U uses a custom copper cooler that lets me cool an older phenom ii x4 overclocked. Also has a bunch of cards too.
    AM just saying, you dont necessarily need an intel atom, even the AMD piledriver makes a good NAS and can do VMs faster than intel atoms as well. Lots of options from the 2nd hand market too.
     
  6. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Sounds like a fun project - just consider though that going off the shelf with QNAP/Synology/Asustor is going to cost about the same, and one still has to roll the OS...

    Since most DIY boxes are going to be x86 based - I'd shy away from certain chips, even though they do perform well, just limits on the system board level.

    ITX form factors - recently, there's been a couple of Ryzen boards released, mostly to support the APU equipped SKU's, and that might be kinda interesting - lot of bang for the buck

    Otherwise - consider the Intel Pentium class chips, or i3 perhaps - NAS work doesn't take huge amounts of horsepower to do Samba serving, going to an i5/i7 class chip is probably overkill.

    Memory - I'd go no more than 8GB, unless one wants to play with ZFS (one of the downsides of ZFS is that to get the best performance there, more memory is generally a good thing).

    BTW - no issues with building a NAS on Ubuntu - 18.04LTS Server is a very good platform to build on, as it's fairly minimal on the first install - and then just add the parts you need.
     
  7. System Error Message

    System Error Message Part of the Furniture

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    Actually its cheaper to build your own NAS than it is to buy from qnap/synology/asustor, reason is that they kill you on the ram and drive pricing :p . Considering that these brands can contract with manufacturers for ram and drives, they should be getting better prices, not worse, hence why i am quite angry about the NAS market because the performance of these companies are very poor in regards to their product.

    With DIY it is far cheaper because you can buy 2nd hand components. There are a few things you must remember though when building your own NAS. 1) never buy 2nd hand drives, buy them new. 2) Never buy power saving/archive HDDs (no WD green or seagate archive HDDs, but their SSDs are ok). 3) While ECC is not needed, make sure to get decent ram. Dont buy generic or value ram, get yourself either standard or better. Crucial standard ram is pretty good and cheaper than kingston value ram for example. 4) use a proper PSU that outputs decently on all 3 voltages (12V, 5.5V, 3.3V) because drives especially on sata may use all 3 voltages and require them, so its important the PSU output and cable have them.
     
  8. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Valid point - I know with QNAP at least, the option is to buy diskless (they offer that), and source one's own drives separately.

    QNAP at least, they're fairly open to user installed RAM upgrades, so for QNAP devices with upgradable memory, buy the small mem configuration and then source the appropriate compatable RAM upgrade and install it oneself - QNAP has online docs on how to do this, and it's pretty much the same as upgrading memory on a desktop PC - some assembly required.

    The upside to going with the Vendors' disks and memory pre-installed, is that the components are covered by the system vendor's warranty, which may be better than the component vendor's warranties (not always, but something to consider)

    Perhaps, but then one is putting a lot of data at risk - depends I suppose on one's level of tolerance...

    Quality parts are always good - see the note above about how a NAS ends up being a huge repository of data, so quality counts here... one tip, never use second hand or refurb drives, and try to buy them from a common batch so they have the same firmware - helps later on after things have been running for a long time, trust me ;)

    One comment on memory - ECC, and a mainboard that supports ECC, is a big recommendation if one decides to play with ZFS, which a couple of the DIY platforms do offer as a feature...

    I mentioned earlier about Ubuntu Server 18.04LTS - it's a good choice if one wants to get deep into the wires and do everything from the ground up... which might not be everyone's best choice, esp. if one does not have a lot of Unix system admin level experience.

    There's a number of really good free and open source packages out there - below are a few - all have strengths and weakness, but something to look at. Most of these have good defaults out of the box, and one can tweak and tune under the hood if needed. Some are based on BSD, some on Linux, and I think at least one of those shares DNA with Solaris...
    • FreeNAS
    • NAS4Free
    • OpenMediaVault (OMV)
    • Openfiler
    • Rockstor
    • Nexenta Community Edition
    • Amahi
    • CryptoNAS
    Alternately - there's always Windows Server, which can be surprisingly effective and not too expensive if one has a limited number of clients - and the upside there is it's a short march up the learning curve for an experienced Windows user...
     
  9. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Forgot to mention OpenCloud and NextCloud - while not specifically built for a NAS, they have NAS functionality that one can install on any debian or redhat based distribution, and definitely worth a look if one doesn't want to go down the pre-package platforms I mentioned earlier.
     
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