Large Volume RAID Storage/Media Server?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by whatisthe, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. whatisthe macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #1
    I've spent days trying to figure out what to get and I'm really no closer to a solution. I would like something that has around 8 drive bays, maybe more for future expansion, that I can raid and hook up to my mac pro. It would contain mostly movies, tv shows, and music. It should be able to be quick enough to stream hd movies and also have decent redundancy, probably raid 6.

    I've looked into sonnet, g-tech, caldigit, and maxxdigitals solutions but they are pretty expensive and limited to just my mac pro with no file sharing capabilities that I can use around the house. It may be possible to configure shared drives within my computer and share stuff with the rest of my household but that really isn't the point, it's just too expensive and limited connectivity.

    I've also looked into getting servers like an xserve but that's too expensive. I've looked at unRaid and I don't think it gives me enough redundancy/config options.

    I've looked into building my own servers with raid cards running windows home server or linux but this seems rather complicated and i'd rather not have too worry about another computer. Also noise is an issue, I'd be working with it and sleeping with it in the same room, it should be as quiet as possible and another computer would definitely increase noise levels.

    I've also looked into the varieties of NAS's available including Thecus's new offerings as well as drobo and others. They just don't seem too reliable.

    I'm completely overwhelmed by the amount of options and lack of trust I have for raid or really any storage products. I would be buying 1tb seagate server class drives as I trust them and have had 4 with constant use with no problems.

    If anyone would like to shed some light on my situation it would be greatly appreciated! Cost is an issue but I would be willing to pay what it takes for a stable high capacity solution.
     
  2. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #2
    What I have up in the loft as my primary consolidated storage at home is a Dell Poweredge 1950 running a Powervault MD1000 DAS. The MD1000 has 15 slots for 3.5" SAS/SATA drives and can be daisychained.

    The previous custom-built server was running 2.5" drives for silence and I removed the noise-shedding requirement by building an isolated, air-con'd cubicle in the loft. All my home IT/comms equipment that doesn't need to be actually in the same room as me are there - and I've just got my first batch of racked workstations, one of which I'll divert to home to see how suitable it'd be to achieve my nirvana of a clean / totally silent under-desk environment.

    The solution will be more expensive than an XServe, but probably cheaper than trying to get a similar level of networked storage on any Apple-based solution. In terms of a consumer-level NAS solution that doesn't need a 'business infrastructure' to support it (racks, etc) you're not really going to get above 4-5 drives. I suppose the other alternative is buying a case with a high drive complement and building something of an acceptable noise level yourself.
     
  3. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
  4. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #4
    Thanks for your input Sesshi. Unfortunately I do not have the ability to put it in a separate room most of the time as I'm still in college and living in a single room. Also, that set up is prohibitively expensive for me, I was hoping to be able to spend less than $3,000-4,000 total.

    Consumer NAS's seem to be able to max out at 8 bays but I just don't trust their reliability. Many seem to use software raid or cut costs with unreliable hardware. It would be nice to have a silent rack-mount solution that I can place besides my desk but I can't imagine that would fit in my price range.

    In terms of building my own with an acceptable noise level, I'm quite familiar with putting the hardware together but I would be lost in deciding on an OS that is compatible with OSX. I'm not too familiar with linux and I really don't need advanced features, just simple file sharing/streaming to OSX computers.

    That's a good suggestion dubhe. An old mac pro would cost at least $1500 and really only has 4 hard drive bays though. A raid card would be expensive and there isn't really room for expandability but I would like something as simple and quiet (if it were an intel mac pro) as a solution.
     
  5. VoR macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    You could try freenas on any old hardware you've got spare before you decide to build a machine, the AFP support is excellent and it's very easy to configure.
    Easy to get a cheap case with space for any amount of disks, I'm less sure on how you'll meet your sound requirements though. Spindown, isolation mounts, quiet(slow) disks and dense soundproof material are all I can think of, but it's no different than any solution.

    Nothing wrong with (an open) software raid, but I wouldn't touch consumer raid devices for so many reasons. Real raid cards are very expensive and can be tricky to replace if there's a failure, a cheap and fast raid on x86 can be much easier to fix after a disaster. Saying that, you shouldn't rely on a single system for important data :)
     
  6. milk242 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    #7
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #8
    There is FreeNAS.

    http://www.freenas.org/

    Pair it with a hardware RAID card (ask in the community) and you should be good to go. Finding a nice server case for your needs which can run silent can be a little more tricky - maybe take a detour to SilentPCReview.com forums for that one.

    SPCR has been very useful - I have successfully contacted / commissioned several machines from forum members.
     
  8. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    #9
    Freenas is too slow. I ran it for a long time before swapping to something faster. I ran Windows Server 2008 for a long time with a 8 port hardware raid card. It was great but a bit too much. Now I run a WHS box with 9 harddrives and its the best thing since sliced bread. You should really take a look at WHS.. the mac works fine with it too.

    zack
     
  9. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #10
    @scottydawg

    I've looked into that and it's too expensive and I've read a few accounts of the power supplies failing causing data loss.

    @VoR

    I've looked into that possibility and I'm considering it. FreeNas looks decent but just how stable is it? If I can build a machine cheap enough I may build two and backup to one in a remote location every month or two.

    Software Raid may be a good option but isn't it difficult to add drives to an array without reformatting everything or rebuilding a drive if one dies?

    @milk242

    I'm not really familiar with linux but I have looked into Ubuntu since it can support AFP. It just seems quite complicated doing everything in the terminal. Setting up raid 5 or 6 and then possibly adding new drives without rebuilding the whole array seem difficult, especially with a large number of drives.

    @Sesshi

    FreeNAS looks good but good raid cards are expensive and as VoR mentioned earlier, difficult to recover data with in the event of failure. I will definitely check out SilentPCReview.com and see just how quiet of a server I can build affordably. Thanks for the tip!

    @CarlsonCustoms

    I've looked into WHS but it doesn't seem to offer any real software raid support besides JBOD. Also it only has SMB but that may be sufficient for streaming to a mac.


    So I guess it looks like I'm going to be building my own box after all, now I just have to figure out how the OS, how to implement raid, and the hardware. So I'm not too much closer to a solution but at least I've narrowed it down to not including prebuilt NAS's or RAID enclosures. Thanks for all your help, I'd appreciate any further advice you could give me!
     
  10. VoR macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    I think expanding an array always involves a certain amount of crossed fingers, and if you want it done quickly(er) this is where a hardware card really comes into play. I haven't had the most experience with geom, especially expanding arrays, but with years of uptime I'd confidently say there's no issues with stability. You could possibly consider using zfs and expand pools using multiple arrays, but my preference with important data is to setup what you need and leave it till you buy your next set of exponentially larger disks :)
    I'm sorry it doesn't really help, but you only need a few spare drives to test and I'm sure you'll want to trial and simulate everything before loading any system with data.
    Make sure you read the freebsd hcl before investing in any hardware of course, and I seriously can't recommend intel network cards enough for any nix os.
     
  11. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    #12
    WHS doesn't use RAID per se.. It actualy duplicates your files over two drives. It works actually pretty well.

    With a sophistcated raid setup like 5 I'd advise against a software setup anyways becuase of the complex calculations needed.

    I have two hardware raid setups and that's the only way I'd go.

    You can use hardware cards with WHS too although its not really setup for it.
    Zack
     

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