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Does anyone have any advice on setting up a NAS setup?  I am looking to store all of my media on a network that can be accessed by 5 pc's plus wireless devicess.  I also want raid configurable options for Mirroring and multi-striping.   Finally I would like the possibility to add additional storage.

 

Currently I gave about 12tb of media, but I expect this will grow quickly once I have more space available.  

Any suggestions? 

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BTW, I'd also recommend a backup outside the nas. I backup weekly to another Linux box via rsync. 5 yrs ago, I was almost burned by a hard drive failure. Luckily, I salvaged the family photos etc. I built a more robust solution since then, and FreeNAS is part of that.

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Freenas, openmediavault, or just plain 'ol linux are great choices for a NAS OS.

RAID5 all the way, using either ext4 or zfs, both will allow you to grow the array with new drives (technically I think ext4 will just rebuild the array while zfs has some fancy magic).

If you want even more security offsite backups might be for you (but its not free). I use crashplanpro and am very happy with their service and price.

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I started with a version of windows home server, or windows media something or other, then Microsoft canned it. I was then using a synology nas. The cost of the enclosure was ridiculous. I checked out freenas, then openvault media center, then tried to roll my own using windows 7 and a hard drive extender called stablebit. But after trying them all out, I settled on unraid. yes you have to pay and yes you have to read up on what hardware is supported. But at the end of the day Unraid is the clear choice for the following reasons.

1. I do not have to purchase a ridiculous amount of RAM to run unraid, Like with freenas you will be purchasing Error correcting ram and a boat load of it if you want at least 10TB of storage.

2. The setup for freenas and its UI is a pain in the ass. It has convoluted wizards, and there are no help indicators or pop out windows to tell you what each field means. You need another computer next to you while you setup freenas, just to get help on the choices you are making during setup.

3. Unraid just works. You plug your drives into your motherboard or sata extender card. It boots EVERYTIME and you can connect to it on your network and start you setup.

My apologies to the freenas fans, open media vault, etc fans. But I spent waaaay too much time reading forum post's to get a reliable DIY nas up and running.

I bought a motherboard with plenty of PCI express lanes, then a low power quad core cpu. Then purchased three ibm serveraid m1015 cards and flashed them to "IT" mode. Just web search ibm serveraid m1015 IT mode flash and you will find the instructions. I then purchased a Norco RPC-4224 4U Rack mount server case. Popped in my 4TB drives and bingo bango, 50TB of storage son! With the ability to store all my files, run plex, run a minecraft server, a comic server, owncloud, etc, etc, etc.

Since then I have built a second nas server to run 24/7 and it has been running now for 2 years while doing updates to my primary os (unraid) and doing on the fly updates to my running services, Plex, minecraft, etc. All with the ability to not reboot the entire server. Unless I do an update to the underlying OS which is Unraid. Unraid even has the ability the monitor your hard drives to let you know if one of them is going bad. Just my opinion and work I have done over the past 8 years of rolling my own DIY nas.

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i think most people overcomplicate this. one of the best choices to me is to just use something like Win 7 or Win 10 with folder shares as your storage server. And if you like to add tons of drives and have the appear as one single drive then installing Windows software called Stablebit DrivePool.

I have used all the "nas" boxes and OS's in every way imaginable over the years, but what I usually see happen to people who use the linux/unix storage servers is that they get a bad drive or raid failure one fine day and lose everything. Most people aren't technical linux file system and raid expert savy. 

The nice thing about using Windows is that everyone is familiar with the OS and file system. It's very easy to just take a drive(s) from a Windows box and put in another system or usb external case if needed. Don't use RAID because it complicates things too much. With Stablebit Drivepool you can easily move any disks to other systems if needed to get data and no raid to deal with. I have seen RAID screw a lot of people. 

Plus building a regular computer to run Windows as your storage server is also super cheap for the power you can get from cheap parts for such usage. 

And with such a simple non RAID solution, my answer to backup is really just that, do backup (raid is not backup at all). Just mirror your data to a an external usb drive(s) for backup.

You can also take advantage of lots of other services on the Windows file server, like running using it as a print server or a remote desktop server or a number of other things. Your Windows apps are all possible to run on this file server.

While I think the linux/unix file servers can be good, I don't think they are good for home users.

Just my two cents on this.

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One bit that folks haven't touched on is what to store on the NAS.

I use a Synology NAS, but what I've found is this.

DO:

*Store your ROMs on your NAS in some folder, perhaps an "Emulation" folder

*Map a network drive to that Emulation folder

*Copy a second instance of Launchbox/Big box with ROM mappings to that Emulation folder.  (I have a Launchbox, and "Launchbox Online" shortcut, I simply don't use the Online version when I don't have access to Wifi)

 

DONT:

*Store meta data Launchbox uses (Pictures, startup videos, etc.) as it would take Launchbox longer to load

*Store your emulators there (I just assume it would try to run off your NAS's "processor" which wouldn't be good)

*Store your game saves there (Haven't tested having emulators read saves off my NAS yet)

 

My 2 cents...

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i build myself a little NAS recently as well (and with little i mean TINY, only 4TB storage, i really need to buy more and bigger HDDs and get this thing to a level where it deserves the name "storage server", but you gotta start somewhere and the old HDDs i had still around were that starting point).  

First i looked into FreeNAS, i do NOT recommend.  
The "Free" in the name attracts a lot of attention but there are a few things that really aren't good for home users at all.  
Starting with HDDs, you can't simply add drives to your array.  
In the according reddit they will verbally lynch you if you even suggest turning the system off for longer amounts of time because the file system is ZFS and it constantly tests the storage for "bit rot"... don't even dare suggest a stanb-by mode when idle...  
i don't want a Server at home that has 10 HDDs spinning 24/7.  
I want my Server to spin down drives that are idle for noise reduction and i want to be able to add a HDD here and there as i need to expand, without losing my data on the entire array.  
Also i turn the thing off when not used, i have it OFF for sometimes up to 3 months because it is literally just a data dump for me, with some redundancy.  

unRAID can do all that, and much much more while being super user friendly.  
Now FreeNAS has better data security of course, but for the home user having a Parity Disk that can rebuild a dead drive's data on a new drive is really all that is required anyway... what is the worst that can happen with bit rot? a single file with a CRC error? a short flicker in a 10GB movie file? All of that stuff can be replaced, i just don't want to lose multiple TB of data if a single drive fails.  

The only real rule with unRAID is that the parity disk has to be the largest disk or same size as the largest disk in the system, it won't work with a smaller disk.  

And you probably want to use a motherboard that has plenty of at least SATA 2 ports (mine has 8) so you can use plenty of HDDs without resorting to PCI extension cards instantly.  
Using a Fractal R5 case, that has solid build quality for the HDD cages, no vibrating or anything and the case has noise dampening as well PLUS the ability to spin down drive when idle ...as long as you don't have any screeching HDDs the server will run relatively silently.  

unRAID also has a vibrant community that creates plugins (think like Chrome/Firefox browser plugins), if you can think of something that you want to do with it, somebody probably already wrote that plugin and you just need to find it.  
 

Pro Tip:  
DO NOT (ever for anything!) use Molex to SATA power adapters! Those are known to catch fire frequently, you don't want your storage server to go up in flames because of some cheap shitty mass produced cable.  
Best get a PSU that has enough SATA power connectors for the project, or do your homework which adapter cables are quality and which aren't.  

Edited by Z3R0B4NG

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If you have a spare PC get an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2016 Essentials it comes with a 180 day trial and can be rearmed twice by the time the trial is over you will be able to get an eval copy of Server 2019 Essentials (The regular Server 2019 is already available for testing) It not only offers network storage but also allows you to create full back ups of all of the client computers you have and this is without having to join them to the domain (although this does take a little tweaking).

Then you can become a full blown data hoarder like me and end up with drives for every letter in the alphabet. I use software called Stablebit DrivePool to create a virtual pool so all the content of the disks are listed as one drive.
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