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NAS Newbie. Be gentle. Let me think out loud here before I purchase.

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azmanam

New Around Here
I'm getting ready to purchase the hardware for setting up NAS at home. My question is about configuring the hard drives and chassis.

Personally, I'm more of a software/programming guy than a hardware guy. Hardware doesn't come as naturally to me as software and programming languages. I've been frustrated in my research so far, in that all of the tutorials and walkthroughs, even the "idiots guide to buying a NAS" all seem to be geared toward hardware people who already "get it."

I have three spheres-of-influence for which I desire the NAS.

1) Home. My spouse and I currently have files scattered all over various free cloud storage platforms and remembering which file is where and sharing and collaborating is getting tedious. Plus, we have 3 kids who will soon be needing "cloud" storage, so this will be places for them. 2) Media. I currently have >3TB of movies, plus music and photos fragmented on different physical hard drives and cloud space. I have an old tower running MythTV that I plan to point to the NAS as the place where the video files are stored. 3) YouTube. I'm planning on launching a YouTube channel in the near-ish future, and I'll have a lot of videos for that.

I'm thinking a 4 bay RAID 5 with four 6TB drives. Probably Synology, as that seems to be the industry standard (no offense, Qnap friends).

Is that how this works? Is that how any of this works? (anybody else remember that commercial?!?) Am I conceptualizing this all wrong, and should I be thinking about the hierarchy and architecture differently?
 
Welcome to the forums @azmanam.

Both QNAP and Synology are the industry standards. However, QNAP is superior with its more generous hardware for the price points. Yes, it is my standard. ;)

Buy as much NAS hardware as you can afford. That means the most capable CPU, most RAM capacity, and most drive bays. The latter is very important in the long run.

I would populate two drive bays for 'system' use, in RAID1. Then I would populate the remaining bays and create an array (I recommend a six-bay minimum) for the actual data, in RAID5 or better.

Buy the biggest HDDs you can afford too. You will quickly outgrow ~18TB with a family feeding it.

Don't forget that you're not buying this NAS for today and next week. You'll most likely have this hardware for the next decade or more (fully working).

Last, but no less important; have a backup solution to whatever you decide to set up on the NAS.

A NAS is not backup - ever. Unless, you do 2x or more, the above suggestions. :)

When you're consolidating the data, do NOT move it. Copy, and test for the next month or more the new hardware you're going to be trusting until somewhere north of 2035.
 
1) what files can you not afford to lose eg. critical to business, taxes, not replaceable and your life would not go on, etc. ?

2) What files if lost, would cause upset and anguish but not really affect your family’s fortunes ?

3) what files if lost, would cause a “ oh well, too bad” response ?

Right now with files on cloud storage providers you are dependent on their backup strategy and resources. They should be very good at this and have automated backup and restore resources. Unless you want to invest the time and funds to implement a similar capability after concentrating your files in one device across multiple disks, i would not use a NAS for anything but 2) and 3) above. Anything that falls under 1) should warrant defense in depth. This can include cloud backup, multiple physical backup disks ( usually over USB3 ) keeping one copy somewhere other than your house ( in case of fire, flood, theft, etc), using different backup media ( tape or dvd disks for example), etc.

i know of pro photographers that implement cloud, 3 separate copies on disk - one in bank secure box, one at friends house, one at home. They use the NAS as a convenience, but do full backups weekly to disk and daily incremental to cloud and current backup disk. Mostly automated. The disks are rotated weekly. Their livelihood and business depends on not loosing the image files.

if your files are in the 2) and 3) groups, then either a duplicate NAS to rsync to plus a couple backup disks to do separate images of the files at some frequency or just routine, automatic backup to external disks that you rotate.

i would suggest keeping the kids activities on a separate VLAN isolated from you and your partner’s internet activity and files. May give you a fighting chance if they mistakenly click on a bad link some time.
 
@degrub makes some excellent points, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with his 'group 1' recommendation.

That is exactly where you want to use your own hardware to safeguard your most important files.

Sure, use the NAS and a cloud service for group 1 files, but trusting just the cloud is pure folly.
 
Thanks, all, for your suggestions. I'm learning and picking things up as I go. I didn't even know what RAID 5 was until like a week and a half ago! :)

No one seems to be saying I'm totally off base and don't deserve to pick up a drive bay, so I'll take that as a win. (I've had some bad experiences on other 'community help' sites.)

@L&LD, by 'system' use, I suspect you mean partitioning off the drives running the NAS's OS and any downloaded apps? Keeping those on separate physical disks than my data? Those should be able to be smaller drives, then, right? I don't think I'd need 6TB or more for system use.

@degrub, your comments are noted. I'm learning about the 3-2-1 rule. Obviously, buying a 2nd whole NAS would limit the 'buy as much hardware as you can afford' suggestion from @L&LD. But your points are still well taken.
 
I don't buy different-sized drives. If I set up an array with 12/14/16TB drives, I'll have 2 additional (identical) sized drives for the system's exclusive use. And I don't partition any drives on a NAS.

The additional space for those 2x RAID1 arrays is useful when you want to copy/move data within the NAS and has even been useful when I nuked the data partition and recreated it for additional features.

Again, I'm not looking at the needs 'today', I'm looking at what may be needed in 2035+...
 
Number of disks and RAID type is an important consideration. The move to bigger disks has increased the risk of a double failure - the second happening during recovery from the first (the recovery process is particularly disk intensive for RAID5 and RAID6). For RAID5 that's game over.

While I'm running an old RAID5 setup, that's being moving to (most likely) Raid10 at the first sign a of disk issues.

If performance is important Raid10 is your friend. If you're running a 4 bay solution go raid10 - when above 4 disks you can get more usable storage but with 4 disks it's the same.

Also avoid mixing disk sizes unless it's a transition to all disks being bigger. You'll either have a more complex multi array setup or not be using the bigger disks fully.

If funds don't allow I'd probably get 2 bigger disks now then add 2 more and convert to raid10 later.
 
@degrub makes some excellent points, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with his 'group 1' recommendation.

That is exactly where you want to use your own hardware to safeguard your most important files.

Sure, use the NAS and a cloud service for group 1 files, but trusting just the cloud is pure folly.
we don't disagree.
 
Both QNAP and Synology are the industry standards. However, QNAP is superior with its more generous hardware for the price points. Yes, it is my standard. ;)

Buy as much NAS hardware as you can afford. That means the most capable CPU, most RAM capacity, and most drive bays. The latter is very important in the long run.

I agree - QNAP does a decent value on the HW side, and the SW is capable... QTS is very functional, but it does make some assumptions about the user experience that assumes prior knowledge.

Synology, IMHO, might be a better fit for some on the UI side, esp for folks over on the Mac/iOS side - similar functionality, but the UI flow is better there for Mac folks...

In any case - both QNAP and Synology have very good backup apps so that the NAS itself can be backed up to either local USB disks, other NAS boxes, or to the cloud...

Backup for NAS is a critical item because they do tend to collect data that might be irreplaceable...
 
Thanks, all. @L&LD, your example of using the disks to move files internally makes sense. As does @eightiescalling with not mixing drive sizes.

@sfx2000 I have heard that Synology is more mac-like, and Qnap may be better for native Windows users (like me). Is that accurate? If so, second look at Qnap?

The info about 2nd drive failure is well taken, but wouldn't RAID10 have a similar issue? If I'm recovering multiple TB from a mirrored drive, that mirrored drive is going to be working hard to copy the data to the new drive, no? Or is it more that the likelihood of one drive failing is low, but when recovering from 3 other drives with RAID5, you have 3x the low probability of a 2nd drive failing?
 
It's more the latter but also think about the array after that rebuild.

Raid5 recovery involves all disks rather than just 1. The first raid5 recovery will probably be OK but it gets progressively riskier to replace a disk as the others are more and more worn. Simply replacing another disk later becomes a risk as at least 1 disk in the array has been subjected to multiple rebuild processes.

In a Linux environment (DIY NASl I suspect you could get creative - manually fail a disk out of the array, dd to copy it and bring it back in telling mdadm to just trust you rather than rebuild. That's more complex and I wouldn't want to say it will definitely work...
 
I'm not going to comment on NAS hardware since I use completely different equipment for home and business, but this:

and I'll have a lot of videos for that

...is going to eat up quickly multiple TB space and a lot more equipment is needed for quality HD/UHD YouTube content.
 
@sfx2000 I have heard that Synology is more mac-like, and Qnap may be better for native Windows users (like me). Is that accurate? If so, second look at Qnap?

They are both very capable... seriously they are - and whether mac or windows - the setup isn't that much different...

I own both - and once set up, let them run and do their tasks...
 
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