Upgrade NAS or back to PC?

Soldato
Joined
21 Jul 2008
Posts
4,879
Hello, I am looking for some advice. Sorry for the long background post. But I feel it is worth telling my experience.

I have been running a PC for the last few years as my media server for a while now. I have a few programs that I use to get the media that I like, and had everything working quite well using an old PC I had with an intel 4770k an SSD for OS, and a few 6TB Red drives for storage. There was no fancy RAID or anything though.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to try a NAS. Well actually, I have tried a few. First many years ago, I had an HP Microserver, and hated it. Just couldn't get it figured out at all to do what I wanted it to. Then it stopped booting up. So I drop kicked it over the fence. It was only a couple years old at this point. So I just started using my desktop PC, but then had to leave it on 24/7 to do what I wanted.

So then a few years later I tried a QNAP TS 453 thing. And I hated it. Exactly the same as before. I couldn't get it to do what I wanted it to do. So that lasted a week. Then sent it back. This time I decided to build myself a new desktop, and repurpose my old i7 desktop with lower power components, to run 24/7 as my server. Problem was it was in a mid tower case. Not exactly small, and only had space for 3 x 3.5" drives. Ran it with windows, and everything I wanted to do, apart from disk redundancy, was easy to set up. But I was working with 3 seperate disks. So it was difficult to manage the storage space comfortably. I would prefer one large storage volume ideally. And if I need some redundancy, then so be it. It is mostly just media files, so can be reacquired. I mean, it is "mostly" ripped from my own BR or CD's anyway, so that's easy enough. But I don't want to lose the WHOLE volume if one of 4 disks fails.

So I thought I'll try again. I thought the problem the last time was simply that Qnap weren't as good as I had hoped. And this time I'll pay up and get a Synology. Had a read about to see what one to get, and thought I cam to the conclusion that while I would prefer the + model, the regular DS418 should do what I wanted. Saw a deal and bought one.

How wrong was I? Very as it happens. No upgradable RAM, can't run a docker and seems incredibly slow. Absolute worthless POS for what I want to achieve. Now, some of the setups I want to run aren't fully compatible with DSM, but I did find some, what looked like, excellent guides for getting everything running neat in a couple of dockers or similar. But now they are no use to me as I cant run a docker. And at least one of the programs I REALLY want to use, doesn;t work in DSM (Sonarr).

The problem I have now is that my 3x 6TB disks in the RAID (SHR) while not full, are getting there. Meanwhile I added a 14TB drive to pick up the capacity slack from the redundancy. I managed to lose a whole 6TB drive worth of data in the switchover from Windows to DSM (my own careless fault, I started the storage pool with the wrong WD Red. The one I didn't manage to get onto the 14TB to start with. I should have paid more attention). Anyway. Now there isn't room on the 3 disk array to backup the 14TB's data, nor the other way round. So that's a bit tragic to start.

Now, I suppose to the question. I think I have had enough of trying these off-the-shelf NAS's. I like windows, and can generally work windows ok. So maybe I should go back to Windows. But I don't want a large box again. I like the form factor of a 4 bay NAS for doing this. So can I build something similar myself? Or is there a solution, with a decent processor capable of HW transcoding, that I can just buy? I am willing to buy another 14TB drive to start me up again. But I don't want to expand further than this for a while.

I am using Plex as my media server (I have Plex Pass). I use other programs for organising my TV shows and Movies and stuff properly. Ones that don't seem to lay well at least with DSM. I just find it easier to run things that way rather than through my full on Sky sub, or getting up to play a BR disc, ha ha. Lazy mostly. But also, I travel from work, so Plex works well and grabbing my shows in the UK and letting me watch them abroad without having to mess about with VPN's and stuff. I am using Nvidia Shields and Ipads on the client side of things mostly. But also my phone (Galaxy S10) or just whatever (Roku stick, Chromecast, whatever)
 
Soldato
Joined
29 Dec 2002
Posts
6,962
TLDR: You don’t read reviews/research before purchase and have made some dubious choices thy haven’t worked, have no patients to learn new things and can’t use anything but windows, but want suggestions on building a low power NAS/PC.

I don’t see a happy ending here, as anything other than windows will likely suffer the same misfortune as previous attempts without some change on your side. Assuming you’re willing to do that, UnRAID + Sonarr/Radarr/SAB+VPN/Plex is a pretty basic config that is hard to beat for local media usage, it supports docker/VM and is easily expandable with mixed size drives, but it does require you to put in some effort to set-up properly, then it’s basically fire and forget other than doing periodic updates.

Hardware wise plenty of smaller cases exist, but you’ll pay a premium for them, something slightly bigger is usually less crowded, better air flow and more room to expand storage. Rather than relying on iGPU if it’s only you using it, i’d be tempted to just stick with CPU transcoding, AMD gives a lot more performance at this stage than Intel and a B450 ITX board should be cheap, just beware the very limited expansion options this brings.
 
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Soldato
OP
Joined
21 Jul 2008
Posts
4,879
TLDR: You don’t read reviews/research before purchase and have made some dubious choices thy haven’t worked, have no patients to learn new things and can’t use anything but windows, but want suggestions on building a low power NAS/PC.

I don’t see a happy ending here, as anything other than windows will likely suffer the same misfortune as previous attempts without some change on your side. Assuming you’re willing to do that, UnRAID + Sonarr/Radarr/SAB+VPN/Plex is a pretty basic config that is hard to beat for local media usage, it supports docker/VM and is easily expandable with mixed size drives, but it does require you to put in some effort to set-up properly, then it’s basically fire and forget other than doing periodic updates.

Hardware wise plenty of smaller cases exist, but you’ll pay a premium for them, something slightly bigger is usually less crowded, better air flow and more room to expand storage. Rather than relying on iGPU if it’s only you using it, i’d be tempted to just stick with CPU transcoding, AMD gives a lot more performance at this stage than Intel and a B450 ITX board should be cheap, just beware the very limited expansion options this brings.

I was trying to be careful about mentioning what programs I was using as didn't know how acceptable they would be. But yes, old PC was using Sonarr + qbittorrent + VPN + plex. Took a bit of setting up initially, but once up and running was working perfectly.

I did do some research on the QNAP, and thought, at the time, it would do the job. I wasn't using Sonarr then though, using a different method with RSS feeds and such at the time. But I just couldn't get it up and running properly at the time. Regardless of the guides / research I was using. This was just as Ryzen was launched, so that's when I built my Ryzen desktop, and repurposed my i7 as my "server" with Win10 Pro, just to make things easy, and then employed above setup. This was run "headless" so no iGPU really. I did have it plugged into a screen, but only used it that way if there was some boot issue, otherwise it was generally maintained with remote desktop or before that, Teamviewer. Client side was mostly xboxes and Nvidia shields running plex.

Spending the time setting things up and re-learning isn't the issue now (it was initially with the QNAP, but not so much anymore). I didn't have much time to research the Synology unfortunately. There was a decent deal on (20% off) on the Synology, so thought I'd jump on that before it ran out. My quick research about it was that the + was the top spec one, the one I really should have got, but it was out of budget, but the regular 418 seemed just below it in the spec tree or something. I thought that would do, because I could leverage the Plex Media server on the shield for the processor, and running plex, and that way the Synology would basically just be the media gathering / storage. As any research with Synology and Sonarr shows almost everything suggesting running Sonarr in a docker, I (obviously stupidly) assumed that it would be a relatively simple process and all Synology NAS's would have that capability. Certainly on the one that wasn't, apparently, the "base" model. I certainly didn't expect the NAS to not be able to run Sonarr with any level of stability. But, alas, I was wrong. I have it installed (Sonarr, using SynoCommunity packages). And it runs for about 5 minutes, then stops, and wont start again unless I re-install it. So not much cope then. I then did consider trying to run Sonarr etc... off a Raspberry Pi setup. But that may just be adding complexity to the whole rig. So it's basically the Sonarr issue that I'm having a problem with. Everything else I can work around / with. But this is completely ruining my experience, ha ha. Otherwise I'd like to be happy with it.

So if I can't run Sonarr on my NAS, then I am tempted to go back to the PC. It's no real hardship. But ideally I'd prefer it to be in a smaller box. I still have my old PC, so I am happy to re-use any parts I can from that (processor / RAM / SSD etc..). But Ideally I'd prefer it in a smaller box. But with 4 disk capabilities.

Current spec of that PC is:


Intel i7 4770k
MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard
16 GB (4x4GB) Crucial RAM
Corsair H60 AIO Watercooler
Samsung 840 Evo SSD (120GB)
Creative Soundblaster Z Soundcard
PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet card
Superflower 450w 80plus Platinum PSU
Corsair Carbide Spec Alpha Case
 
Soldato
Joined
29 Dec 2002
Posts
6,962
OK, first up have a look at some of the YouTube video’s for UnRAID, spaceinvader1 does some decent step by step guides thy show you what is involved, management is just as Windows via web page. Assuming you are comfortable with what you see, then as UnRAID has a free trial and you have existing hardware spare, I would suggest giving it a go. You can see how you get on in terms of set-up with what you have and then decide if you want to try something else.

Longer term when you find what you are happy with you can look to buy a smaller case and either sell what you have or track down an ITX board, but before you spend anything its worth investing some time to make sure you are happy with what you will be using, especially given the route to get to this point.
 
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