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N40L Data Store Build


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Hey guys,

With other projects coming to completion, I am finally getting around to deploying my N40L microserver as a redundant data store for various home computers. I have no intention of turning this into an HTPC or gaming server.


I am glad to find this community still going strong! I have spent several evenings last week going through these forums and the Aussie forums. No doubt I've missed a few relevant threads, but after getting up to speed on new developments here, I have tweaked my original plan as follows:



  • N40L
  • 2 x 8 GB Kingston ECC RAM (KVR1333D3E9SK2/16G)
  • 6 x 2 TB WD NAS (WD20EFRX)
  • 1 x 8 GB USB Flash Memory Stick for OS
  • External USB HDD(s) for backup 


  • NAS4Free, the direct descendant of FreeNAS (e.g. The king is dead. Long live the king!)
  • RAID-Z2 = ZFS RAID with 2 parity drives (a.k.a. RAID-6)

Regarding RAID-6:

After reading a couple of papers concerning the likelihood of experiencing mulitple drive failures, I was persuaded not to rely on RAID-5. RAID-6 was the obvious alternative; although, it requires cramming another drive into the box. Why are so few folks here running RAID-6? I had always planned to use the ZFS file system available through NAS4Free, but now that RAID-6 is supported by the HP RAID controllers, is hardware RAID the better choice? If conclusive benchmarks do not yet exist, I suppose I could test both before I put my box into production, but I would need some guidance.

Regarding the placement of the additional drives:

Icy Dock drive bay adapters for 2.5" SSD/HDD strike a balance of both form and function. Six drives in a 5.25" bay is remarkable! Yet I had previously bought three 3.5" HDDs, and RAID requires (?) that all the drives be of the same size. Besides, the 3.5" drives are cheaper, and I need six. My research here indicates that while one of the drives can be connected to a SATA connector on the motherboard, the other drive will have to be connected using the external SATA connector. With the external port allocated, folks here just backup over USB.


Regarding cooling:

For heat dissipation, it's appears preferable that the two drives in the 5.25 bay be positioned side-by-side rather than stacked; however, I did not readily identify a means to mount them securely. I ended up buying this Akust 5.25" to 3.5" adapter which is similar to the Noiseblocker X-Swing. Has anyone installed a silent fan to cool the optical drive bay? Does the motherboard support ULNA, LNA, or ?

Edited by mythic.glyph
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Wow, 16gb of ram for a NAS?  :blink: More is always better though!


Personally, I'd run less drives, but with higher density. For example, my MicroServer has 3tb red drives in it... 3 in a Storage Spaces pool and 1 spare which holds backups to the pool. I have 3 thin provisioned shares:

- SecureMirror - personal stuff that absolutely must be protected and requires credentials to get into - this is the stuff I back up to the offline disk

- SharedMirror - This is stuff I don't want to lose, but want various devices in my house to have access to (i.e. family photos/video's that we'd want to show on TV, etc). Again, this stuff is backed up.

- SimpleShare - This takes up the most space and is stuff that you won't lose sleep over if something happens (I have a million and one cartoons for the kids, ISO's, transient space, drivers, test VM's and so on)


Now, I'm not telling you all of this so that you can replicate what I do, just giving you ideas. Potentially consider running 4x 2tb drives in your ZFS pool and have a fifth 3-4tb drive for backup instead of having a RAID-6 setup. The new setup that I'm working on now, will actually do full backups to a different machine completely, which will be running a secure pool of its own.


I don't like external drives for backup because they have an extremely high failure rate - even though it's the same drives as you'll buy internally. No opinion on IcyDock.. I like it for swapping drives for testing (I do a LOT of that), but wouldn't run it as part of my RAID.


Hey, we're all different... just throwing ideas out there...

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Boris, sounds like your box consists of two sets of RAID-1 paired drives, one backup drive, and one drive not backed up. Are you using a dual-channel RAID card for the two RAID-1 sets?

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Boris, sounds like your box consists of two sets of RAID-1 paired drives, one backup drive, and one drive not backed up. Are you using a dual-channel RAID card for the two RAID-1 sets?


No raid, just drives that are in a Storage Spaces pool and one "spare" drive for backup

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