NAS Strategy

aps

Occasional Visitor
We’ve got an aging DS412+ NAS that over the past decade has been used to back-up files from various computers, store music & video files that are accessed via Roon & Plex running on a separate server. It seems overdue to make a plan and I’m after some advice on both how to think about the best strategy going forward. Some questions:

  1. Current situation is that a number of the above use cases are irrelevant or, at best, less important - the documents on our computers are now managed via OneDrive while music and video are largely sourced via streaming services. That said, we still need a local back-up for personal media (photos, video) and I’m thinking that a NAS is a better option than an external (USB3 or T4) external drive on the basis that it’s accessible over the local network and provide RAID. Is this the right interpretation?
  2. Assuming a NAS is required, then it’s not clear to me whether to get a basic unit and continue to run services (e.g., Roon, Plex) on a separate machine or (b) get a NAS with sufficient processing power to run Roon and Plex. I’m tempted with the later as it would allow for depreciating an old DIY W10 machine, and provide a simple platform on which to tinker with various appliances such as Home-Assistant. What is the community wisdom in terms of consolidating or separating application and data storage requirements?
  3. Final concern is about selection of a NAS. My default answer has been to purchase another Synology unit not the basis that I’ve had a good experience with DS412+ and specifically the DSM software. That said, in exploring options of a NAS with sufficient processing power to run Roon and Plex it looks as if Qnap has a big lead on hardware. It’d be good to get a take the Qnap software platform. Are there, for example, pre-existing packages for appliances such as Home-Assistant? Is it simple to navigate etc?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
1. Yes.

2. This is your call. Comparing prices for NAS' with/without extra processing power may make this call easier (it may be a surprisingly small difference when all the HDDs and the base unit are considered - and, it may also be a backup for your OneDrive files too).

3. QNAP is my first/only choice for a NAS. The software is easily navigated. Much more hardware for the money vs. other brands (and btw, the only other brand would be Synology).


A few additional notes. I would look for a unit with as many HDD bays as possible, with a minimum of 4. Even if you only populate 4 today. Look for units with upgradable RAM and upgrade the RAM immediately (will save you headaches trying to upgrade obsolete/special RAM in a few years' time. When you set the unit up initially, do so with just a single SSD (1TB or 2TB) before you load any other HDDs. This should give you an extra level of protection against HDD faults. When you're satisfied with the performance and stability of the upgraded RAM and the SSD, add another 4 or more HDDs and create your data array there. Don't be too afraid to spend a little more on Drive Bays, or other extra functionality (2.5GbE and/or 10GbE Ports, for example) when you know you'll be using this well into 2030.

Edit: A very important point I forgot to mention initially; is do not take down the running NAS (or any other backups you may have). Continue using it as a backup as long as it continues to work. Only time will tell if the new setup is stable and reliable. A year from now, we can possibly assess that aspect then. ;)
 
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Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
You could get more bang for the buck building your own with a PC. More room for expansion when you decide you want to add more storage not bound by the fixed bays in a NAS enclosure. If you have media that needs to be transcoded the CPU will do it faster. If you want to roll in router functionality you can exceed most consumer speeds with cheaper NIC upgrades vs buying a $600 router that does only one thing.

I roll a DIY setup with those and more functions and get 400MB/s from the disks, 1.5gbps over wifi using an AP for the wireless side, whole network VPN, 5GE over Ethernet when needed, and overall more secure because I manage the firewall rules and don't deal with buggy OEM firmware.
 

elorimer

Very Senior Member
TrueNAS, all the way, with ECC and ZFS.

A starting point is to think about how you are backing up your server data, then to what the server looks like.

A second starting point is to think about power. Starting next year Connecticut will be at 35 cents/KW. One old server I have draws 75 watts with four drives, and that is sick, so I fire it up only as a backup to my backup. The active server draws 20 watts with two 14TB drives in a mirror. I let it run Plex but except for transcoding it doesn't use much processing power.
 

eightiescalling

Regular Contributor
#1 RAID is not backup, just resilient storage. If these photos truly matter make sure you have some form of offsite backup as part of your strategy (including restore testing - unless you are comfortable with schrodinger's backup).

#2 Depends on your Plex use case. If you're just streaming as is it would probably be fine to consolidate. If you're transcoding and depending on things like hardware acceleration than you'll probably need to keep it separate.


In terms of DIY vs branded, while I'm one of the DIY oddballs you need to be comfortable with your limits and knowledge - particularly when it comes to security and adding other things on top. If you're not heavily in to IT and security basics then I would stick with a recognised, branded off the shelf solution as they will (probably) do a better job with the security basics. (There is also the element that you are tech support when the family is screaming that the NAS isn't working ;).)
 

eightiescalling

Regular Contributor
Except for those pesky remote wipe bugs in the firmware of some of them.
I did only say probably ;). Western Digital in particular came to mind as a bad example with things like giving away root access or exposing a hard coded user/login.

That doesn't detract from the risk someone that doesn't understand the security side can inadvertently expose themselves to by following random web tutorials on how to build a NAS and make it cloud accessible though.
 

elorimer

Very Senior Member
I mention zfs because a copy-on-write filesystem with snapshotting is surely the best way to protect against ransomware.
 

aps

Occasional Visitor
A few additional notes. I would look for a unit with as many HDD bays as possible, with a minimum of 4. Even if you only populate 4 today. Look for units with upgradable RAM and upgrade the RAM immediately (will save you headaches trying to upgrade obsolete/special RAM in a few years' time. When you set the unit up initially, do so with just a single SSD (1TB or 2TB) before you load any other HDDs. This should give you an extra level of protection against HDD faults. When you're satisfied with the performance and stability of the upgraded RAM and the SSD, add another 4 or more HDDs and create your data array there. Don't be too afraid to spend a little more on Drive Bays, or other extra functionality (2.5GbE and/or 10GbE Ports, for example) when you know you'll be using this well into 2030.

Agree. The bit that I'm struggling with is whether to purchase a well-specified NAS that is just focused on storage duties or go for a full-blooded machine such as TVS-h674 that can act as a server for PLEX as well as various appliances such as Home-Assistant. This latter option is expensive and has drawbacks over building a home-lab server but seems more manageable for someone with my IT skills and reduces box count.


#1 RAID is not backup, just resilient storage. If these photos truly matter make sure you have some form of offsite backup as part of your strategy (including restore testing - unless you are comfortable with schrodinger's backup).

Yes. I plan on backing up to cloud as well as using old NAS as a second, local, backup.

TrueNAS, all the way, with ECC and ZFS.

A starting point is to think about how you are backing up your server data, then to what the server looks like.

A second starting point is to think about power. Starting next year Connecticut will be at 35 cents/KW. One old server I have draws 75 watts with four drives, and that is sick, so I fire it up only as a backup to my backup. The active server draws 20 watts with two 14TB drives in a mirror. I let it run Plex but except for transcoding it doesn't use much processing power.

Good point. I'd not thought about power but the email prompted me to consider as power costs are becoming a major issue. I'm running a machine for Untangle and then 3 or 4 other machines that are on 24x7x365 with various appliances. The biggest leverage seems to be to consolidate these into a single machine whether it be a NAS or homelab server.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
TVS-h674 that can act as a server for PLEX as well as various appliances such as Home-Assistant.
You'll be disappointed by the CPU on these boxes once you try to do anything remotely taxing on them. Been there, done that and not wasting money on NAS in a box.

There's plenty of misinformation and marketing out there though touting how good x/y/z NAS is at doing 1/2/3 tasks. It's just like using a router as a NAS with a drive hanging off the USB port. First and foremost it's either a Router or a NAS and either switches packets or moves / stores data. Anything else is just a perk.

Now, looking at this specific model it's basically a SFF PC with an I5 inside and 6 SATA bays. @ $1700 though it's a ripoff.

There are tons of guides to setup a DIY NAS using different flavors of Linux. The only thing you really miss out on is the polished GUI and that's the stupid tax you're paying for with any off the shelf solution. This isn't rocket science or magic it's data with a NIC.

The basics are :
Linux
Samba - this gives you network access to the drives
Raid - not necessary but can make it run faster if you choose the right options

Disks - you can put them in an enclosure and hook it up to another device to share on the network or you can put them into a PC case. The price you pay for an enclosure for 4-8 disks though is much more than a PC case holding the same number of drives.

The point here is... a little homework on your part and asking some questions of google can save you enough money to buy you a couple of 20TB disks.
 

aps

Occasional Visitor
So I've (more or less) finalized on an approach of getting a basic NAS for back-up and file sharing with appliances running on a separate dedicated server. One remaining question relates to the number of drives. My understanding is that a 4-bay NAS can support RAID 6 with 2-drive failure and therefore the benefit of moving to a 6-bay NAS is the ability to increase storage. Is this correct? Also, I'm guessing that a single unit is better than a NAS + expansion unit (e.g., e-sata based Synology expansion units) but not sure if this is correct.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
Well, Raid is a method to either expand the storage across disks and/or increase the speed of the same number of disks.

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I use a R10 which gives double the speed and 2 mirrors of the disks in use. I could have 2 fail and still have usable data while waiting on replacements. The drawback is 1/2 of the available space is used to mirror the data. The perk though is it's not calculating parity bits on each data transaction. For me speed and redundancy makes the most sense w/o needing to deal with a parity drive and the overhead it introduces. In some cases depending on the CPU / MOBO being used this might be a big impact but, the pro of using R5 or R6 is reduced costs of drives.

1670884391695.png


My understanding is that a 4-bay NAS can support RAID 6 with 2-drive failure and therefore the benefit of moving to a 6-bay NAS is the ability to increase storage. Is this correct?
It's personal preference.

2 - basic
4 - advanced
6+ - room for expansion

Now, the issue that I see with these is each "tier" you move up the price increases to the point where it makes more sense to just build your own. 2 bay options typically hit around $200, 4 bay options bump up from there, 6+ bays tend to breach $1000.

a single unit is better than a NAS + expansion unit (e.g., e-sata based Synology expansion units) but not sure if this is correct.
Again, if you're looking for performance the least amount of "hops" needed will provide faster data access. If you're putting out $500 for a NAS and then later decide to add more disks and have to pay another $200+ for a 4 bay expansion unit it adds up. When you sit down with an idea and make a proper plan it will make more sense to use a PC case or appliance like setup that allows for changing things out.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09QKMQ1B1/?tag=snbforums-20 $170 for 8 bays
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAELTAI/?tag=snbforums-20 - $200

You just then add your own MOBO / CPU / RAM / etc. as you would a PC in a traditional case / use. You can do the build cheap for those components if you just want data and don't need any transcoding for videos or you can pony up some more cash for more performance if you decide you want to add other functions to the box since it doesn't have to be just a NAS when you stray away from the NAS only devices.
 
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avtella

Very Senior Member
I would tell the average user asking for help to get a prebuilt and isolate it from the internet.

A DIY can actually be better in many instances if you know what you’re doing and get the right hardware (no not a PI) especially compared to these $1k and below consumer NASes, TrueNas/FreeNAS is probably more secure than the likes of QNAP which is notorious in the security side but setup and configuration is probably not worth it for the average person.

Additionally you aren’t limited to proprietary implementations in regards to RAID with a DIY so as long as disks are intact you can load up FreeBSD or Linux and get you data back on a different machine, if the other parts of hardware fail depending on the NAS software.

Having said all that the average user understandably probably just wants something that works out of the box and they don’t need to self troubleshoot should something go wrong and just be able to get a warranty replacement for the whole unit, rather than mail in some sub components and have to reassemble.
 
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aps

Occasional Visitor
Well, Raid is a method to either expand the storage across disks and/or increase the speed of the same number of disks.

View attachment 46264
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I use a R10 which gives double the speed and 2 mirrors of the disks in use. I could have 2 fail and still have usable data while waiting on replacements. The drawback is 1/2 of the available space is used to mirror the data. The perk though is it's not calculating parity bits on each data transaction. For me speed and redundancy makes the most sense w/o needing to deal with a parity drive and the overhead it introduces. In some cases depending on the CPU / MOBO being used this might be a big impact but, the pro of using R5 or R6 is reduced costs of drives.

View attachment 46267


It's personal preference.

2 - basic
4 - advanced
6+ - room for expansion

Now, the issue that I see with these is each "tier" you move up the price increases to the point where it makes more sense to just build your own. 2 bay options typically hit around $200, 4 bay options bump up from there, 6+ bays tend to breach $1000.


Again, if you're looking for performance the least amount of "hops" needed will provide faster data access. If you're putting out $500 for a NAS and then later decide to add more disks and have to pay another $200+ for a 4 bay expansion unit it adds up. When you sit down with an idea and make a proper plan it will make more sense to use a PC case or appliance like setup that allows for changing things out.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09QKMQ1B1/?tag=snbforums-20 $170 for 8 bays
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAELTAI/?tag=snbforums-20 - $200

You just then add your own MOBO / CPU / RAM / etc. as you would a PC in a traditional case / use. You can do the build cheap for those components if you just want data and don't need any transcoding for videos or you can pony up some more cash for more performance if you decide you want to add other functions to the box since it doesn't have to be just a NAS when you stray away from the NAS only devices.

Ok. What motherboard would you recommend if the until is for the machine to be a pure storage & file server (so appliances would run on separate machine). MOBO must be mITX and ideally have embedded (passively cooled) CPU, mITX, 10GBe, 6 drives plus m2.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
PCPartPicker.com is your starting point. Going itx though will limit the number of SATA ports and probably require a HBA.
 

eightiescalling

Regular Contributor
Ok. What motherboard would you recommend if the until is for the machine to be a pure storage & file server (so appliances would run on separate machine). MOBO must be mITX and ideally have embedded (passively cooled) CPU, mITX, 10GBe, 6 drives plus m2.
That's a pretty demanding setup but have you tried https://www.mini-itx.com/

Not sure where you're based (I've used them a couple of times here in the UK) but if nothing else they have a reasonable filter to search.

Funnily enough I had a nose earlier today - Christmas spending and all that. They have some pricier boards with 6 or more sata ports but you get more choice if you can work with 4 sata and 2 m2.

What are you thinking for storage disks? Could you work with 4? Would 2.5 gig work for the ethernet?
 

aps

Occasional Visitor
That's a pretty demanding setup but have you tried https://www.mini-itx.com/

Not sure where you're based (I've used them a couple of times here in the UK) but if nothing else they have a reasonable filter to search.

Funnily enough I had a nose earlier today - Christmas spending and all that. They have some pricier boards with 6 or more sata ports but you get more choice if you can work with 4 sata and 2 m2.

What are you thinking for storage disks? Could you work with 4? Would 2.5 gig work for the ethernet?

I'm thinking 6 x storage disks. It'd be ideal (assuming that there are no performance implications) to avoid an HPA card given cost, heat, airflow restriction .... . Yes, in practice, 2.5GBE would work.
 

eightiescalling

Regular Contributor
I'm thinking 6 x storage disks. It'd be ideal (assuming that there are no performance implications) to avoid an HPA card given cost, heat, airflow restriction .... . Yes, in practice, 2.5GBE would work.
Sorry, let me put the sata question another way.

What storage target are you aiming to achieve? What raid config are you thinking after the earlier posts?

24TB can be achieved with 6 6tb disks in raid6 or 4 12tb disks in raid10.

Not trying to push down your requirements just questioning whether you really need the 6 sata and 10 GBe given the extra demands it places.

What's pushing the mITX ask by the way? As @Tech Junky mentioned that will limit your options. In my case space was a constraint but it also introduces challenges with heat and (potentially) noise.
 

aps

Occasional Visitor
Sorry, let me put the sata question another way.

What storage target are you aiming to achieve? What raid config are you thinking after the earlier posts?

24TB can be achieved with 6 6tb disks in raid6 or 4 12tb disks in raid10.

Not trying to push down your requirements just questioning whether you really need the 6 sata and 10 GBe given the extra demands it places.

What's pushing the mITX ask by the way? As @Tech Junky mentioned that will limit your options. In my case space was a constraint but it also introduces challenges with heat and (potentially) noise.

The (simplistic) thinking is that even if all I need, right now, is 4 x disks then having h/w that supports addition of another 2 x disks as requirements grow in the future. The alternative seems to be replacing all the drives in the future (with units that have greater capacity) but this seems like a less cost effective approach. Happy to be wrong. Practically speaking, I was thinking of 4 x 10TB in Raid 10.

What's pushing the mITX ask by the way? As @Tech Junky mentioned that will limit your options. In my case space was a constraint but it also introduces challenges with heat and (potentially) noise.

Good point. A bit of 'googling' got me to the Silverstone DS308 case as a good option given hot-swappable drive bays and small footprint. This case, along with most others that I've seen recommended for a NAS, are also mini-ITX but I'm open to suggestions and get the benefit of being able to use bigger motherboards.
 

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