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Server recommendations (home use)

Discussion in 'Servers and Enterprise Solutions' started by Berserker, 25 Aug 2021.

  1. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,466

    Location: West Berkshire

    Bit of a brain dump, but here goes, I'm currently looking into replacing my old NAS (Drobo, just don't!) and 2-3 old PCs with a single box that can quietly sit in the background and do routine stuff - e.g. e-mail, backups, Plex server, including TV tuner interface (HDHomeRun or similar), and maybe video transcoding if the hardware is up to the job. I'm going to run it headless whatever, so don't care about graphics (I'm aware GPU-based transcoding is a thing, but most of my media is 1080p or less, so there's no great need, which is just as well at the moment).

    I've looked into various options ranging from one of the higher-end Synology desktop NAS products (DS1821+ or better) up to a Dell T6xx server. Obviously I wouldn't expect a NAS to do much HD transcoding, but it would need to be powerful enough to run a few VMs (or Docker containers, at least in the case of Plex). I'm reasonably familiar with Dell servers, though only in rack form factor, which I wouldn't use at home (anyone got any ear defenders!) so I'm not sure how practical a tower server would be (Dell's documentation suggests it might be, but that's as much as I know). I have also considered something like an HP MicroServer, but not sure if any of those have enough drive bays to be an option. I have researched all the way up to the 18-bay T640, primarily to allow for future storage expansion, but that's possibly overkill! (who needs 160TB anyway, unless you're a member of /r/DataHoarder).

    That said, I do already have 20TB+ worth of accumulated data to deal with, hence the decision to set a minimum of 6-8 drive bays (I'll likely start with 6x 10TB drives with dual redundancy, and expand if required from there). Synology systems are obviously easy to manage, relatively secure if configured properly (one reason I discounted QNAP), and power efficient. Dedicated servers obviously win on flexibility, but cost more in terms of time and money to run. That being said, the likes of TrueNAS and UnRaid are well within my skillset, and do appeal to my tinkering nature (though I also have a fairly short attention span, and don't want to put data at risk, so set-and-forget would likely win out). I'd prefer a filesystem that can do things like snapshots (e.g. Btrfs). ZFS looks interesting, particularly as its snapshots can be integrated with Windows, but I'm aware capacity expansion is problematic (its being worked on).

    There's no 'right' answer here obviously - I'm just struggling to decide and despite a lot of research (probably too much) don't know how any of these options are likely to play out longer-term - so would appreciate input from anyone who has used any of these or has more experience with the pros and cons.
     
  2. chroniclard

    Capodecina

    Joined: 23 Apr 2014

    Posts: 20,152

    Location: Hertfordshire

    Unraid user/fan here, does my plex, downloading, torrents, chia farming, minecraft server, rust server, various other bits and pieces. I moved from a windows based server and once I got my head around the differences its great.


    I would check out if Unraid has the various docker containers/apps you require first. Also have a read up about Unraid parity drives. :)
     
  3. casper_uk

    Gangster

    Joined: 7 Oct 2004

    Posts: 288

    Another vote for Unraid here, and as an added bonus, you can build your own server to end up with something far better suited to your needs, for cheaper than buying a Synology unit etc. Not using a parity drive at the moment. I just can't justify the cost of another 14TB hard drive right now, especially when I wouldn't be able to store data on it.
     
  4. BigT

    Mobster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,328

    Location: UK

    If ultimate sustained write performance isn’t a requirement then I’m another happy UnRaid user here. 3x 14/16TB shucked drives and an SSD in a nice Fractal Node case will give you a lovely quiet 28 or 32TB server with parity protection that you can tinker with or just leave and have confidence in. Having said that, nothing you’ve mentioned would be a bad choice I suspect. I run twenty-something docker containers on a self built fan less J5040 with 32Gb Ram doing everything from downloads and media through to PiHole ad blocking. Like you, my Plex usage doesn’t involve greater than 1080p and very few concurrent streams. I suspect if I had to transcode a lot more it would struggle.
     
  5. Harnser

    Gangster

    Joined: 24 Oct 2014

    Posts: 221

    Timely post @Berserker as I've been thinking this through for my homeworking setup. My aim is to have a central place to back up, removing USB external HDDs from every computer, a place to run containers permanently, and ideally be able to use as a network share that's as fast as a local HDD. And to reattach the USB external HDDs as an external backup :cool:

    In 20 years of FAT32 and then NTFS I have lost multiple photos through bit flipping and sectors dying. So for me ZFS is important to add despite its quirks, so I know that files haven't changed and can be recovered. Should we ever get FTTP its snapshots will be handy for off-site backups.

    UnRaid looks easy to use but from my searches the file system isn't self-healing. Even with the improvements, I've heard too many BTRFS horror stories to trust it.

    You're in a different situation as I've got <10TB data and preservation is my goal. My plan is to repurpose an old PC for the server (great excuse to upgrade) and stick in a 2.5Gbe network card as from back of the envelope calculations a standard HDD is going to exceed the capacity of a 1Gbps link - if that's wrong someone tell me as networking is not my skill.
     
  6. casper_uk

    Gangster

    Joined: 7 Oct 2004

    Posts: 288

  7. MrWhippy

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 15 Sep 2005

    Posts: 1,701

    I know it's not what you asked OP but I do all the stuff you say you want to do with a Dell r210 ii rack server in the garage and a Google Drive for business subscription. Data integrety/redundancy and powering it is not my problem and the Dell has the power for all the VMs I need. Also run proxmox on it and it's been a solid solution for several years now.
     
  8. nox_uk

    Hitman

    Joined: 12 Sep 2006

    Posts: 740

    Been pondering this too, and have come to the conclusion a synology Nas (rs1221 probably) and a couple of k series nucs will do the job for me :)
     
  9. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Hello, infrequent user here, but I went the FreeNAS/TrueNAS route, mainly because I store work files and can't afford to lose anything.
     
  10. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,466

    Location: West Berkshire

    Been away for a while, thanks for all the replies...

    Plex and email mainly, might look at something like a PiHole if there's a container that'll do that (I used to run a proxy but shut it down several years ago).

    I'm aware of the write performance issue (basically, maxes out at the single drive limit), though an SSD cache pool can help with that. Thanks for the confirmation that I'm on a reasonable path.

    BTRFS used to have issues like that, but if Synology trust it enough to make it the recommended option for their NAS, then I can trust it too. BTRFS's RAID implementation is a bit odd, so I'm not sure how stable UnRaid's cache pools are. I'm also not sure how UnRaid's storage pool plays into this due to its 'odd' parity handling. If anyone has experience setting up scrubbing and snapshots, I'd be interested.

    Level1Techs have a nice guide for this, after setting up a ZFS pool for Gamers Nexus (they even configured it to work with Windows file versioning!)

    Still undecided on the solution, but I acquired a WD Gold drive to assess noise levels, and I'm mostly happy (a fair bit of seek noise but otherwise quieter than the fans in my current NAS), so I'll be using those.
     
  11. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Just to regurgitate what I've heard, but Synology use a sort of front end BTRFS, but a ZFS back end, so it's surprisingly safe.

    I very nearly went the UnRaid route, but I was a bit disturbed that when a drive fails, it sounded as if you lost the data on that drive. I could be wrong.

    Like I said before, I did go the TrueNAS route, but while it provides bullet proof reliability, it does suck up drives and spits out far less usable space. Yesterday I created a 4 x 4TB Ironwolf pool (RAIDZ1) which gave 10.91TB usable space....buuuuut, you have to leave 20% of it free for the magic to happen.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Sorry, image link didn't work and I don't seem to be able to edit it

    [​IMG]
     
  13. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Sorry, can someone delete my pointless posts :(
     
  14. BigT

    Mobster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,328

    Location: UK

    If you go the UnRaid route then there's a few implementations of PiHole in its docker templates. I run one and it was dead easy to setup. Plex of course has lots of docker templates. Email, if you mean hosting, there are docker containers for that too but I wouldn't be running my own mailserver for reasons that have nothing to do with whichever NAS you go with.

    That's not true unless you run without a parity drive. Run one parity drive and your array will keep running with any one disk failure with access to all your data. Run dual parity and you can withstand any two concurrent disk failures and still have access to all your data. The data isn't being read from the failed drive(s) of course but that's true in any system be it parity based, RAID based or something else, if a drive has failed then some or all of the data isn't accessible without intervention.
     
  15. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Thanks for the correction, so UnRaid is pretty much the same as TrueNAS, with parity drives. I have had drive failures (intentional, testing) and the data has continued to be accessible, but at a slower rate of transfer. I've popped a new drive in, resilvered the pool and removed the failed drive. If UnRaid has the same function, I might look at it again some time.
     
  16. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,466

    Location: West Berkshire

    I've heard nothing of the sort. As far as I'm aware, evidenced by recovery guides, Synology uses md raid backend like almost every other Linux distro (SHR is just a fancy name for LVM groups).
    Seems that you've misunderstood UnRaid. If you don't enable parity, then if you lose a drive, you are correct that you do lose the data on that drive. If, however, you enable single drive parity, then UnRaid can emulate a single drive if a data drive fails (a parity drive failure just means you lose redundancy). If a second drive fails, you lose the data on the failed drives (compare that with RAID 5 where if two drives fail, you lose the whole array).

    With the size of modern drives, failures during a rebuild are more likely, so dual parity is recommended. You then lose nothing with two failures, and only lose the data on the failed drives with three or more (again, compare with RAID 6 where you lose the lot).
     
  17. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    @Berserker Thank you for correcting me, I think if possible a mod should delete my post to avoid spreading misinformation.
     
  18. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,466

    Location: West Berkshire

    Its not a problem, and you may have been thinking of QNAP, who favour ZFS for some of their products.
     
    Last edited: 14 Sep 2021
  19. bikerchris

    Associate

    Joined: 20 Oct 2013

    Posts: 83

    Location: Kent, United Kingdom

    Thank you, I did some intensive research a few years ago, seems a lot of it had been mis-remembered. Probably just need to re-install my brain OS.
     
  20. slinxy

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Dec 2002

    Posts: 3,943

    Location: Groovin' @ the disco

    might be worth looking at the argon 40 eon...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI3XfWg9ftA

    It's Pi driven, so it's a flexibility as the pi... maybe with a usb tv turner it may meet your requirements?
    If/when my nas gives up the ghost, I'll likely get one of those with 4 2.5 SSDs..