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NAS: Off-the-shelf vs. FreeNas (or others?)

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Drjones, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. Drjones


    Sep 28, 2002
    Likes Received:
    CA, just outside the United States
    Hi guys.

    I need more storage space.

    For about 3-4 years, I have been running a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo and I have absolutely no complaints; it's a great little unit.

    I also have one here at my office that I maintain for a buddy & his office that they access remotely, and it works well for them too.

    I'm about at capacity on mine, though, and have been looking at my options.

    What's largely responsible for rapidly eating my space are movies. I also have around 30 or so DVDs that I'd like to rip, compress, and store on my NAS so I can get rid of the physical discs.

    My duo can only hold 2TB total (2x2TB drives mirrored). I just checked and it will not support the new 3TB drives.

    I really have my eye on the Netgear Ultra 6, which is a 6-bay device that DOES support the new 3-TB drives.

    But again, I'm weighing all my options and have given some thought to building my own NAS using FreeNAS.

    My main goals are reliability and performance. I'm a little concerned with FreeNAS that it will (obviously) be a much more involved process, and I just don't know if I want the bother, especially when I'm probably only saving $2-$300 over the Ultra 6.

    I was thinking that I have several old PCs sitting around, so I could just convert them into NAS, but the reality is, with the capacity that I want, I'll have to get a purpose-built case that can hold up to around 8 drives, and of course will need a Mobo with at least 6 SATA ports, etc. etc. see where I'm going with that.

    The PC's I have are pretty old (P4, not much RAM) but most important, have IDE, as I've been thinking this out more, it becomes more clear I'd really have to build something from scratch to get what I really want, which is a high-capacity (and high potential for expansion) and high-performance unit.

    All my stuff in my office is gigabit with Cat6 cables, yet the best my little Duo can muster for file transfers is around 30mb/sec - it's just at the limits of its hardware. It streams HD video to my TV media player just fine, though.

    I also have taken a brief look at Windows Home Server as an option - any thoughts there?

    I guess I'm really leaning towards the ReadyNAS because I'm already familiar with them, I've sold several to clients and they work well for them, and they are simple. Expansion and replacement of failed drives is a snap; just pop in new drives, let it sit, and expansion/replacement happens automatically.

    I guess I'm kind of making my own decision here; I'm really leaning towards the ReadyNAS Ultra's $800 without any drives. Seems to me that I couldn't build a NAS for less than about $500....not sure if the potential headaches (and at the very least, time spent learning the new system) are worth saving a few hundred $$$.

    Anyway, just wanted some more input.

    Thank you!! :wavey:
  2. tous

    tous GET A ROPE!

    Jan 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Plano, Texas, Republic of
    If you have a spare $25,000, get a rack-mount 24-terrabyte direct-connect NAS.
    Or, for a mere $75-100,000, a SAN might be what you're looking for.


    Good luck.


  3. Pierre!

    Pierre! NRA Life Member

    Jun 20, 2003
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    Lovin Sparks Nv!
  4. JimmyN


    Sep 29, 2006
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    And if 24 terrabytes will not be enough storage space for your NAS you could install FreeBSD or FreeNAS on a 64bit CPU and use the ZFS 128bit file system with virtual drive pools (zpools). Each zpool can hold up to 256 zettabytes, and you can have 2^64 zpools.

    That would allow you to store and access 256 quadrillion zettabytes. You could also store single files as large as 16 exabytes, provided you are under the age of 30 and would live long enough to transfer such a file. :kidding:
  5. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
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    You can probably come in under $500 on a FreeNas box, if you shop wisely. It's only limitations will be your wallet.. :)

    To me, the savings would be worth learning. FreeNas isn't *that* difficult.

    Look at it this way, if it doesn't work out, you'll have a PC to install Linux on.. :rofl:
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
  6. JimmyN


    Sep 29, 2006
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    Here is a FreeNAS traffic graph, while streaming a DVD to the media PC in the den, and a Blu-ray movie to my desktop at the same time.
    View attachment 218012

    And this graph again shows the DVD and Blu-ray streaming, plus the green was three 25meg files I copied to FreeNAS from a third PC, all at the same time. The movies still play perfectly with no pauses or stuttering. Not bad for a PC that's well over a decade old with a P4 processor and 256 megs of RAM.
    View attachment 218013
  7. Tackle


    Jul 5, 2011
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    I know that this is my first post. But, have you ever looked into Openfiler for your NAS software?

    I've compared it against other free nas/san software and have found it to perform better than the others.

    We have 2 SAN's where I work (I'm a Sys Admin) running it. I don't have any details on performance or even a comparison to the other san software available. But it may be worth a look. Each san has 16 slots for drives. Currently we have 750GB drives, will be upgrading when the budget permits.

    At home I have an old p4 box with 2gb ram setup with Openfiler and it connects to my ESXi server. I never have any issues with performance.

    Currently I use iSCSI, but am looking at switching to NFS so I can mount the drives locally.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
  8. jasonvp

    jasonvp Kantre Member Lifetime Member

    Nov 19, 2000
    Likes Received:
    annoying the liberals in NorthernVA
    I built my own NAS using 4 1.5TB drives (hotness at the time) in a software RAID10 configuration. For the OS, I just used a plain-jane CentOS 5.x server install, trimming out a LOT of the cruft that I don't need. It was a very manual process to set up, but not difficult at all; I've been using Linux since the early 90s.

    • Inexpensive. Probably spent more on the 4 drives than I did on the rest of the server.
    • I can run whatever drives I want without any limitation.
    • The OS is something I have complete control over.
    • Can run whatever RAID level I want to, as long as Linux supports it.
    • No cutesy point-click-and-drool user interface to drive it. All CLI, all the time. (I like this, others may find it a problem)
    • Didn't build it with hot-swappable drive bays. Oh well.

    I did consider various commercial NASs. The two at the top of my list were Thecus and QNap. The problem was that while both run a flavor of Linux, each had built-in, and quite stupid IMHO, limitations. For instance, Thecus wouldn't allow you SSH/CLI access to the box. QNap wouldn't support nested RAID, like RAID10. Both were somewhat pricey for essentially a box I'd get annoyed at quickly. In the end, it was just easier for me to build my own.

    I kicked around some of the FreeNAS-like distros, but I found them either broken, annoying, or just not interesting enough. So I stuck with CentOS since it's an enterprise-level version of Linux.

    bane# mdadm --detail /dev/md0
            Version : 0.90
      Creation Time : Mon Dec 14 15:30:09 2009
         Raid Level : raid10
         Array Size : 2930271744 (2794.52 GiB 3000.60 GB)
      Used Dev Size : 1465135872 (1397.26 GiB 1500.30 GB)
       Raid Devices : 4
      Total Devices : 4
    Preferred Minor : 0
        Persistence : Superblock is persistent
        Update Time : Wed Jul 27 21:03:26 2011
              State : clean
     Active Devices : 4
    Working Devices : 4
     Failed Devices : 0
      Spare Devices : 0
             Layout : near=2
         Chunk Size : 256K
               UUID : 627bde2a:421f8a14:4ddd579d:b46dcc4b
             Events : 0.180
        Number   Major   Minor   RaidDevice State
           0       8       17        0      active sync   /dev/sdb1
           1       8       33        1      active sync   /dev/sdc1
           2       8       49        2      active sync   /dev/sdd1
           3       8       65        3      active sync   /dev/sde1
  9. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000
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    The one thing I do like about the newer Netgear Ready NAS's is that they run XRAID, which means you can host swap larger disks to increase the size of your RAID both horizontally and vertically.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011