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JackoUK

Home Server JBOD for Storage Spaces

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JackoUK
The more I study Storage Spaces, the more I realise its benefits are only obtainable with a large number of disks. Obvious really, since the product was designed primarily for enterprise JBOD's of 24,48, and 72 disks.

 

The question then is: how do we design a cost-effective 'JBOD for home server'? My difficulties are:

- ordinary PC's rarely come with even 4 disk bays these days

- HBA's on consumer motherboards typically offer only 6 ports, one intended for a DVD drive

- I'm frugal, so no operating systems with 'server' in their title here (Windows 10 Professional - I have licenses already)

Much as I like the HP Microserver ... it doesn't have enough disk bays (one of the reasons for the splendid modding which goes on throughout this forum).

 

I am beginning to think that I have purchased my last Microserver for storage and am looking at 3 solutions going forward:

 

1. Microsoft's offer of £70pa for unlimited cloud storage on OneDrive has shocked me: I didn't expect prices to come down so fast, indeed I wouldn't have been surprised if they had remained forever higher than a bespoke solution. Given sufficient broadband bandwidth there is no need for local bulk storage above work in progress. We are close to the availability of Gb broadband speeds which will bring the download of data on a par with 1GbE wired LAN speeds.

 

2. Dedicating an additional machine as a data server with mirrored disks is more expensive than Microsoft's offer for even small quantities of data ... but there is a hybrid option for those requiring fast local storage: use a single (unmirrored) copy locally and OneDrive as security. The widespread availability of 3, 4 and 6TB disks makes this easy, even for workstations with small numbers of disk bays. (This was the problem I always had with WHS ... why have a special additional device when you could just add disks to your main workstation?)

 

3. Having said all that, what if I still want to equip my main workstation with extensive storage capabilities (especially since I am coming from a legacy position with lots of HDD's!)? First thoughts:

 

a. The cabinetry for disk bays is the main problem. The best answer I've found so far is the HAF 935 Stacker. I'll have to be quick though since it looks like the case is end of life (good for purchasing price but bad for maintenance, need to consider spares).


 

b. The motherboard will probably be in the 'enthusiast' class because it needs to come with many SATA HDD ports, the capability to add extra SATA HDD cards, extra GbE ports, M2. SATA and NVME options, perhaps the capability to add a Thunderbolt card ... and a decent graphics card.


 

c. Will it be better to add 4-port SATA cards or 8-port RAID cards to service the disks? Design knowledge I don't have presently.

I'm thinking of: an 8-disk solution with HDD's, a 16 disks solution with HDD's and a 24 disk solution with 8 SSD's and 16 HDD's.

 

Still needs (a lot) more work. Any ideas?

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HellDiverUK

So, when your internet goes down, what do you do to get your data?

 

What about bandwidth?  Most people in the UK, like me, are stuck with ADSL, which means 12/1 - except it only really does 720kb upstream without freaking out.  That makes storing anything on the cloud totally pointless, even uploading a photo to Facebook takes 30 seconds or more.

 

The home server still has plenty of life in it yet.  You don't need a powerful machine, anything recycled stuffed in to a better case is good enough for most people's uses.  Or a two-bay Synology would be good enough for 90% of people.

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Drashna Jaelre

As for the cloud stuff:

What is your up and down streams like? If both are not fast, using Cloud solutions may hurt you.

Also, does your ISP have data caps? Because these are another huge limiting factor. :(

 

 

As for local storage, how serious are you about this?

Because if you've very serious and want lots of storage, look into rackmount solutions like this:

http://www.norcotek.com/item_detail.php?categoryid=1&modelno=RPC-4224&PHPSESSID=c5d03921ecef4a2060c617fc0ff32607

Otherwise a consumer case with a lot of available ports is a great solution.

 

As for the motherboard, if this is going to be always on, then maybe check out a server/workstation grade board. ASRock RACK has some great, lower cost options that would work great for what you want.

http://www.asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=C226%20WS%2b#Specifications

 

 

As for controller cards, depends. But an 8 port may serve you better in the long run.

Also, if you don't mind flashing firmware, check out the IBM ServeRAID M1015 cards. You can get them for about $70-100 on ebay. They support 8 drives (with two "breakout cables"), and are more than fast enough to support 8 drives. (and if you need more, you can buy an SAS expander card and get a LOT more drives connected.... a single expander card can add 20 drives to the ServeRAID card's capacitiy).

Though, this still maybe on the pricy side.

 

 

 

 

 

As for the mirroring OneDrive storage .... 

Covecube is releasing a product soon that may do what you want (when coupled with StableBit DrivePool).  As is Division M (Drive Bender)

 

As for local accessibility, if you share the storage on your server (file server), then you can map the user folders to the network share. This makes them so you can share between systems... and sets them for Offline access (so the shares are cached locally).

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Poppapete

I have all my onedrive files set as "available offline" so they in essence mirrored in the cloud and always available. If you have an office 365 account then onedrive is "free" and unlimited.

 

I do agree that if you have low speeds and small bandwidth then syncing is slow but it just keeps chugging along in the background unobtrusively.

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JackoUK
I am optimistic that with ReFS and Storage Spaces (and SMB multichannel working over commodity network devices) they are now headed in the right direction. So none of your special WHS or Windows Server Essentials OS's, or expensive cards, or enclosures ... just commodity kit. If one of my cheap, scruffy consumer disks fails, I expect the system to recover automatically until I replace it.
 
Another reason I don't want to spend much money is that my next migration is almost certainly to the cloud. My broadband speed is 80/20 unlimited … and in a few years (GFast in 5 for the UK?) will approach Gb levels.

"So, when your internet goes down, what do you do to get your data?"
I do without. I am not an enterprise - I am a home user. If I/the family can't get a specific video from way back during the rare periods the net is down ... we watch/do something else instead.
I am about to post a separate idea here under the networking thread: in short a failover wired-4G home router.
 
"What about bandwidth?"
I offered 3 solutions: everybody chooses one according to their bandwidth. Mine is OK at 80/20 for full cloud implementation. One feature I like about Storage Spaces with lots of disks is that the rebuild after a failure uses all the disks in parallel. This cuts the 'at risk' time down by a fraction which is the number of columns in your space. Instead of having a 6TB disk it will be better to have three 2TB disks. This also means that the unit of recovery is fractionalised too. Good news for those of us who have built up lots of (now) smaller disks!
 
"2-bay Synology"
I view this as a stopgap at best ... why not put 2 disks in your workstation?
I gave Paul Thurrott a hard time on his blog with that idea. After having stated he only had 4TB reducing, an HP MicroServer (with Windows Server Essentials), various external USB drive enclosures, Office 365 home, Office 365 Business ... he went out and bought a 2 bay NAS with a single GbE port. Complete waste of $600. Of course he only wanted to test a NAS so that he had experience of the device and he was fed up with administering his server (put 2 disks in your workstation and you don't have to administer a separate server, already)... but what a poor choice (for his needs). Gotta be 4 bays, 2 GbE at least, come on!

“As for the mirroring OneDrive storage .... 
Covecube is releasing a product soon that may do what you want (when coupled with StableBit DrivePool).  As is Division M (Drive Bender)”
I don’t see how this will help my designs. In my option 1 I am all cloud: mirrors handled by Microsoft. In option 2 I have un-mirrored disks backed up by OneDrive: mirrors again only by Microsoft (the Office 365 subscription replaces the storage server (no duplicate disks, no OS, no hardware, no power costs, no maintenance time)). And in option 3 I am all Storage Spaces. Mirroring Storage Spaces with another product goes against SS’s benefits: if I decide to buy twice as many disks I will convert an 8 disk Storage Space (4 columns) into a 16 disk Storage Space (8 columns), increasing performance (parallel read from 8 disks instead of 4) and halving the disk failure rebuild time (in theory, failed data copied to 8 locations in parallel instead of 4).
 
The weakness In Storage Spaces appears to be the initial write time … but that doesn’t worry me greatly, since I maintain all my work in progress on SSD’s and only write projects to bulk storage when they are finished … it doesn’t matter if that write is slow, ‘cos I’m finished. Reads from multi-column Storage Spaces are fast, so when I want to revisit a finished project, that’s fast.
Guess I forgot to mention that all my work is done on SSD’s, soon NVME. Surely that’s the way to go even for consumers? Keep all WIP in SSD and only write to HDD when you’ve done with that item.
 
One problem I see with switching to Storage Spaces is that all my data is on the same disks which Storage Spaces will blank out in setup. My upstream bandwidth is 2MBs, so 120MBm, 7.2GBh … say 1TB per week after overheads. With 18TB all told, I would need three 6TB disks just as scratch space … or 18 weeks of Office 365 annual subscription time to upload. Still far cheaper than buying scratch disks.
 
The central part of my design is to conflate the main workstation (we must have one relatively powerful PC, or what else is generating TB’s of data?) and what might have been a data server … into a single device. The only missing piece of the puzzle is the cabinetry to hold 8,16, 24 consumer disks at consumer prices. That’s why I like the Coolermaster 935 Stacker. I’ve looked at Drobo, Synology, QNAP … all 8 bay units start around £600.
 
Thanks for all the suggestions guys ... I'm still thinking.
Edited by Joe_Miner
Misc edits

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Joe_Miner

What testing have you actually done in Storage Spaces?

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schoondoggy

There are many alternatives to RAID, but in almost every case it requires a lot of drives.

What is the usable storage space you require?

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Joe_Miner

I was pretty happy with the performance (reads & writes) of SS 2-Way Mirror w/Thin Provisioning & NTFS but I appreciate the flexibility/transparentcy of Covecubes Stablebit Scanner and DrivePool and when I had 6 ST3000DM001's fail in a short period of time DrivePool and Scanner really saved my data without having to recover from my backups :) Right now I'm running with 5*4TB + 1*3TB +2*1TB drives in DrivePool.

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JackoUK
"What testing have you actually done in Storage Spaces?"

None (nor with SMB multichannel), I'm still in research/design mode ...

 

"There are many alternatives to RAID, but in almost every case it requires a lot of drives."

Which is fine by me and what Microsoft seems to be getting right now ... I like the idea of parallelism/redundancy speeding up performance and resilience.

 

"What is the usable storage space you require?"

16TB.

OK, that's what I'd like, as opposed to that which I need, and I enjoy playing around with design possibilities ...

... and like everyone else i access about 2% of my archived collection in any year and my relatives will probably delete the lot and flog the hardware when I'm dead (except for the bits I've protected in my will).

 

"6 ST3000DM001's fail in a short period of time"

If this happened to me I would lose all but my own work, family images and videos (about 3TB); half the stuff I've bought commercially would be lost (CD's and DVD's now in the landfill!). Dunno which half!

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JackoUK

Questions, questions ... you're trying to work out what I've got ... and what I'm trying to do.

 

OK

- I've got a 5 year old workstation with a 256GB SSD which I'm thinking of replacing (used to be fast!). All my work is done in SSD.

- I've got 16 HDD's of various sizes from 1TB to 6TB with 25 years worth of data I don't want to lose

- I've got (effectively, from previous software purchases) 6 moveable Windows 10 Professional licenses

- I've got 3 HP MicroServers

- I've got BT Unlimited fibre broadband with bandwidth 80/20 (I'm in a UK town)

 

What I'm currently planning to do is build a combined workstation/data server to hold everything for the next 5 years.

I'll probably sell my old kit 2nd hand. Microsoft surprised me with Office 365 unlimited cloud storage offer.

After 5 years I'm planning to go all-cloud storage with Office 365 and OneDrive.and BT's GFast fibre product (say 500/100 bandwidth).

 

No doubt I will accrete more data along the way ;-)

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