Home NAS

LiamC

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#1
Is anybody using NAS at home?

It used to be that my main rig was powered on all the time. So storing files on one of its local drives meant they were available to all other machines. A few weeks ago, I decided to enable sleep & hibernate, but if the machine is in hibernate mode, it disappears from the network. A way around this is to implement NAS.

has anybody done it? Pros? Cons?

Most machines are still XP 32-bit. One is W7 32-bit. Anything/other solutions I should consider?
 
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#2
I had a couple of those cheap NAS devices at one point. The fastest I could manage out of one (that had GbE, no less) was 7MB/sec. None of them performed decently.

If I didn't have all my storage local to one of my machines, I'd be getting a Windows Home Server.
 

Mercutio

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#3
You can also turn on S3 suspend in your BIOS and reference your main machine by its IP rather than its network name in your mapped network drives. That will allow it to be awakened by network requests (for some reason, Windows machines wake up a lot faster when you make network requests by IP. No, I don't know why. I just know they're like that).

Anyway, NAS devices are quite handy and I'd probably use one if I only needed to share some paltry amount of disk space, too. ;)
 

Handruin

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#4
I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but I did start a thread a little while ago here with my ideas on building a home NAS. I'm still considering similar hardware to go along with freeNAS and now possibly Openfiler.

They both have a feature set that interests me. They will both do iSCSI targets and also rsync. There is also a feature for Wake on LAN that is supported by freeNAS which might be useful to you.
 

Tannin

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#5
I haven't played with this stuff for ages, not since I had an early model unit some years ago, and I had to constantly buggerise about manually setting and re-setting read-only vs write rights for the individual client machines. Sound bizarre? It was! Drove me spare. I pretty quickly reverted to using ordinary network shares on an ordinary machine.

These days, I have too many physical drives anyway .. er ... 6 I think? Maybe 5.

So all I do is leave the storage machine off most of the time, start it up whe I think I might want to access the archives. The drives auto-power down after a while and it takes a few seconds for the machine to do anything on a powered-down drive. No hu-hu.

What would NAS give me? (Ans: almost certainly nothing, but why not ask anyway?)
 

Mercutio

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#6
What would NAS give me? (Ans: almost certainly nothing, but why not ask anyway?)
Centralized storage, simplified backup, less heat and noise compared to a full fledged file server and possibly some nifty appliance features that aren't in whatever desktop OS you'd be using to serve files.
 

Tannin

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#7
OK. Thanks. Hmmm ...

Centralised storage: does not apply. My Thinkpad aside, this is the only system in the network. Well, sometimes I plug in a Netbook, but that's on no account.

Simplified backup: this is the backup.

Less noise and heat: would be of benefit. On the other hand, I can always (and in fact regularly do) use the old-fashioned manual acoustic management routine. (Also known as the off switch.) The hardware - an old single-core Athlon 3800 - and the OS - XP Pro - are sunk costs. But a smaller, easier-to-carry box would be handy.

Nifty appliance features: might be something of benefit here.

Why only a single core CPU? Because the old CPU, which was even smaller, fell over (or at least the motherboard did), and this was the smallest one I had handy. A K6-III would actually be plenty, if it could talk to all those SATA drives.
 

mangyDOG

Learning Storage Performance
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#10
I am currently running a Qnap TS-639 with 6 * 1Tb 5400rpm drives in RAID5. This unit may be over kill for home but it is very quiet (it resides on the top shelf of our walk in robe) and is very fast, 60-80Mb/s writes and 90-100Mb/s reads across the network so I can save a Gig of video to the NAS in just over 10 seconds. I have also sold quite a few of the two drive Thecus N2200 units which are much slower, (but still adequate for streaming video) and have nice features like iTunes server and bittorrent clients built in.

I have built in the past some PC based NAS units using freenas but it is very limited in security features and I could not get the size, noise and power usage down to that of an "off the shelf" NAS.

Cheers,
mangyDOG.
 

sechs

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#12
I've had a ReadyNAS for some years, and it does. Unfortunately, since Netgear bought the outfit, they've put a lot of effort in adding whiz-bang features rather that fixing bugs and imparting useful functionality.

Unless you need something particularly compact, I think that rolling your own is probably a better choice these days.
 

LiamC

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#13
Well I was going to use P!!! I had lying around, with a VIA Gigabit PCI card
FreeNAS doesn't detect the VIA card at all. Swapped it out for a RealTek 8139 fast Ethernet, and get the dreaded rl0 watchdog timeout. FreeNAS doesn't like RealTek (guess it's smart) :)

On top of that, I was using an ALi M5289 SATA PCI card for the attached Samsung 1TB drive. Drive is not recognised.

Sigh.

On top of that, I thought I'd switch to an Abit NF7-S with Athlon XP mobile (low watts). Hosed the BIOS when saving, so off to eBay I go for new BIOS chip...

It's been a bad few days
 

Handruin

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#14
I actually have an Abit NF7-S (rev 1.2) sitting in my closet that I don't use. I don't know if it interests you at all? I also can't remember if the board works, but I think it still does. I have an after-market north-bridge cooler on it. PM me if you want to talk details.

Have you tried Openfiler to see if you get any better hardware support when compared to freenas? I know that Openfiler uses rPath linux which is a variant of redhat where as freenas I believe is freeBSD-based?
 

Handruin

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#16
Hmm, I could have sworn it was. I know that recently they've been moving to newer distributions, but I thought they even had some red hat founders on their own staff...maybe that's what I'm confusing. I'm going to ask tomorrow at work since we've been using them for several years now.
 

LiamC

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#18
I actually have an Abit NF7-S (rev 1.2) sitting in my closet that I don't use. I don't know if it interests you at all? I also can't remember if the board works, but I think it still does. I have an after-market north-bridge cooler on it. PM me if you want to talk details.

Have you tried Openfiler to see if you get any better hardware support when compared to freenas? I know that Openfiler uses rPath linux which is a variant of redhat where as freenas I believe is freeBSD-based?
Thanks for the offer, but I think postage would kill me. I might try Openfiler.

FreeNAS is moving to a Debian/Linux base precisely because if FreeBSD's lack of hardware support. From what I understand, the project to do so only kicked off last November or so though.
 

LiamC

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#20
You've got to love old hardware...

Fired up one of those motherboards Tony/Tannin loves to hate, a PCChips GFXcel PC133 SiS630 based thingy, added the SATA controller and the d*mn thing just worked. I'm going to add a PCI Gigabit card shove it in a box and forget about it. FreeNAS has a little bit of a learning curve, but it's not too steep. Disable eveything not needed in the BIOS (serial, parallel ports, audio, modem) and with a P!!!, should be a nice, reasonably low-power device.
 

LiamC

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#21
I can actually see the PCI bus as being the performance limiter on this. Both a PCI gigabit NIC, and the PCI SATA controller are on it. I might try to compare this with something more modern with PCI-e connected gigabit and SATA to see how much throughput you lose.
 

LiamC

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#22
OK, got some numbers

Systems
733 P!!! on SiS 630 with 512MB RAM. 10/100 onboard or PCI Gigabit. 1TB Samsung connected via ALI M5283 PCI SATA card

Athlon II 250 on GigabyteGA-MA785GPMT-UD2H with 2GB 1333 DDR3

I tested with FreeNAS i386, W2K minimal and Win XP

System OS Write MB/s Read MB/s
AII 250 FreeNAS 42.6 43.2
SiS Gig FreeNAS 8.9 12.3
SiS Gig W2K 12.8 23.3
SiS 100 W2K 9.3 8.9
AII 250 WXP 21.1 44.3

Q9550** WXP 18.2 37.4


**For comparison, writing to a Q9550 with 4GB, WinXP and 4x500Gb Samsung in RAID 10.

Preliminary thoughts. Storing media using FreeNAS isn't a good idea on an old box--The throughput just isn't there. But after having used it for a week or so, having the drive available on the network is a real bonus versus having to go around and make sure a particular computer is on.

Read performance versus W2K/WinXP is similar, but FreeNAS has it all over them with it's write performance.
FreeNAS over gigabit is nowhere near as fast as a good local drive, but it isn't like using 100Mb either.

I will do some follow up when I've tuned the thing a bit, and tried out the AMD64 version. ZFS is supposed to be much better, but I'm not sure if UFS is any faster.

 

LiamC

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#23
BTW, I built a few AM2 based systems with DDR2 over the years and they always felt a bit sluggish compared to 939/DDR systems or Intel C2D/C2Q systems. Almost like the memory performance was a bit off. But I was really impressed with the Athlon II 250/DDR3 combo. Very snappy.
 

LiamC

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#26
Hey, Australia is great.

We are awake when everyone else is asleep, and Vicky Versa. Stuff costs far more here than in the US or Europe (MSI Wind12. US $480. Exhange at 90c to the dollar puts it at about $540 here. Cheapest I can find it $780. :(). We have seven of the top 10 deadliest animals, including the top 4. 95% of the country is desert or arid.

Yeah. It's great...:monky:
 
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#28
Very funny. I can handle dangerous creatures, so long as there aren't many of them to deal with at once and you can see them. That means that you with your spiders and snakes can enjoy without me. I'd rather deal with lions and tigers and bears.
 

Handruin

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#29
I'll likely be trying similar things once I build my NAS device. I want to compare freeNAS with OpenFiler and maybe WHS for similar read/write as well as iSCSI performance. Thanks for posting the numbers it's looking hopeful that freeNAS has some decent performance.
 

time

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#30
We have seven of the top 10 deadliest animals, including the top 4.
That depends on how you define deadliest, eg. Cobra's aren't very venomous compared to Australian snakes, but there's a lot of them and a lot of humans live where they do, so they end up killing quite a few people.

It's very possibly right if you're talking about survivability after an encounter.

The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe) is hysterically funny. It includes three critters from Oz, although they left out stonefish (the most venomous fish in the world), and a couple of infamous spiders such as the Sydney Funnel Web (It is also known that because of their large fangs, the victim has to pull the spider from the area of insertion. They will not detach if you shake the area.)
 

LiamC

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#31
That depends on how you define...
Yep, you are right. And that is as they say, how politicians survive by more or less telling the truth, it's all in the figures they present.

Damn. You've brought out my cynical streak.
 

LiamC

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#32
Hmm.

Just an update, might have to merge this thread with the other one...

I thought the bottleneck was processor in the SiS 630 system, so I upped it to a 933 (Instead of 733), and that made zilch/zero/nada difference.

So I stuck with the Athlon II 250, but that seemed overkill.

On a whim, I tried out the same disk in an i810 board with the 933MHz chip (GA-6WMM7+). Throughput went up considerably. Stupid PCChips/SiS.
SiS Gig FreeNAS 8.9 20.3
i810 Gig FreeNAS 19 19.6

That is usable as a NAS device. That BTW was with FreeNAS 0.70. and a VIA Gigabit PCI Ethernet card. Swapped out the VIA card for an Intel and got maybe 0.3/0.5 MB/s more (but that's probably within the margin of error). Upgraded to FreeNAS 7.1 (latest stable build) and got roughly 10% more throughput! I'll post the exact number later, but I think it's now in the 22MB/s mark. Not too shabby.

Moral. Not all old boxes are created equal.
 

gordybhere

What is this storage?
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#33
FreeNAS

I have tried the following server software:
Windows Home Server
ClearOS (was ClarkConnect at one time)
Ubuntu Server (All Versions)
OpenFiler
FreeNAS
Amahi (Must have Fedora 12 installed first)

My findings are:
Windows Home Server Costly, Not Reliable

ClearOS Sometimes will fail to boot up at times

Ubuntu Server Configuration takes a bit more time since there is no default Web interface for configuration (you have to install Webmin or etc)

OpenFiler Takes a hefty amount of ram

FreeNAS Soild as a rock and has everything needed for a NAS

Amahi tried it once and dumped it soon after (A bit Slow)



FreeNAS will always be the one I use. Rock solid, totally dependable, easy to setup. Most important thing about FreeNAS is it has a very lean foorprint and takes up at most 256meg of space on the boot device (I use a ThumbDriveso so I can have the all the hard drive space for storage).
 

CougTek

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#34
The latest version of Ubuntu is supposed to have impressive boot times. I've read people saying it boots in 8 seconds on their system, although I doubt it. I downloaded it this morning, but I have yet to try it. It takes a lot more ressources than a dedicated OS like FreeNAS or OpenFiler however.

I use FreeNAS at work, but it's been so long since I had to reboot it that I don't remember how long it takes.

Handruin didn't complain about the amount of RAM needed by OpenFiler, but he praised its functionality.

When I'll have to replace our current file server, I won't use an obsolete beige box because they are all noisy (silence wasn't a priority 7-8 years ago for mainstream computers). I'll probably build something around a mini-ITX board with an integrated dual-core Atom and 1Go of RAM. It'll be fast enough, should be more reliable than an old system (the fact that it doesn't dissipate a lot of heat will surely help its lifespan) and it'll run any dedicated file server OS. If I need a lot of local storage, there are huge enclosures like the Antec P183 which are compatible with mini-ITX boards.
 

Handruin

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#35
Since I converted my existing system into a NAS server I already had 6GB of RAM in it for OpenFiler (64bit version).

OpenFiler is the only one I've tried (out of a limited set) that uses the extra RAM as a cache for files written to the NAS device. The status interface also shows you how much is being used for cache. In my testing, if I copied a 4GB file to my NAS and then copy it to my computer or another system, I get tremendous throughput (over 100MB/sec) and when looking at the NAS array there is no activity on the LED lights which makes me think it's all being pulled from the cache.

I'll have to check and see how much memory the base system uses at boot. It's likely more than FreeNAS and some of the others. I'm making no claim that it's a minimalistic NAS OS. When comparing performance between OpnFiler and FreeNAS, I'll gladly accept the additional RAM consumption of OpenFiler for the doubling of speed in transfer rate. FreeNAS would only get up to 45-55MB/sec in transfers using the same array and hardware configuration as OpenFiler which easily went beyond 100MB/sec in several of my tests.

In addition to the low resource requirements, FreeNAS does have ZFS functionality over OpenFiler which can be a nice feature for some people. Both had their quirks, but as of now I'm still in favor of OpenFiler over FreeNAS. I also find it's array configuration and updatability (using rpath) to be superior. Whenever they come out with a fix or performance improvement, it's very easy to update over the internet to get the latest packages.
 

LiamC

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#36
OK, long time no update, but perhaps some useful information (I hope).

Turn key NAS devices are appliances—like washing machines. NAS gives you a bit more without the overhead (learning curve) of a full-blown server OS. But there is a difference between an appliance device and FreeNAS (or Openfiler or ClearOS)

And with all due respect to Handruin, I think that Openfiler is much harder to learn than FreeNAS, but, and it's a very big butt (think Kim Kardshian butt—and I don't think that is a bad thing) OpenFiler's ability to use memory as cache is a huge plus.

But. There's that word again. FreeNAS has come along leaps and bounds since this thread started. If you've tried it and haven't updated in a while, grab the latest nightly build. The difference in performance OotB is worth it.

My original box was a P!!! 933 on i810. I was getting ~ 19MB/s (Big B) throughput for read and writes. With later builds, the read throughput went up by a factor of 2, ~38MB/s. Not the same as a dedicated disk, but not bad. Then I started down the performance per watt path.

The Pentium 933 with Gigabit NIC and SATA card with yum cha 150W power supply was pulling ~ 78 Watts at idle. I played around with several configs and settled on a Socket 754 board with a Turion ML-34 (1.8GHz, 1 MB L2 cache) and 1GB RAM. Any of the later revision S754 boards witll support Turion (AMDs mobile chip) out of the box. This little beastie is good for 35W max at 1.35V. I dropped the voltage to 1.2 V (equivalent to an MT model Turion) which is good for 25 W max. Combined with an Antec Earthwatts 380 (80plus Bronze), at idle this rig (same HDD) is good for 49 Watts at the wall (as opposed to 78W). Throughput is in another league—88MB/s (710Mb/s) reads and 37MB/s (300Mb/s) writes. Close enough to a physical hard drive.

Why a 754 rig? It was sitting around, supports mobile CPUs out of the box and the Turion cost AUS$10 landed. Seriously I think AMD has a market for old 754 boards as appliances that it's missing. Almost none of the newer stuff gets under 45W. And this is with a full size ATX board (DFI LANParty 250Gb if your interested), 4x IDE, 4 X SATA, Matrox G450 16GB, 1GB DDR 400. A microATX 754 with integrated video would likely drop the idle power draw by several Watts. Sure you could buy a miniITX board for a few hundred dollars that would draw less power, but it would take a while to pay back the return on investment.

Cougtek alluded to it in an earlier post. Sometimes it doesn't pay to reuse older hardware. Handy is also correct as well. FreeNAS doesn't use more than about 22% of the available RAM, so Openfiler has the edge, but then my figures are obtained with a single drive, not some 6 drive monster array :)

Would I buy a NAS appliance? No. I backup to another drive on the FreeNAS box every 15 minutes via rsync. And that is mirrored to another computer.

For free software, I'll take it.
 

Handruin

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#37
I'm surprised that you find OpenFiler more difficult to learn compared to FreeNAS. I'll have to go back and try the latest version of FreeNAS and see what has changed. I found it cumbersome to get storage configured and it was just confusing to me. For some reason I found it very easy to setup and provision storage in OpenFiler. I may try setting them both up side by side in VMs to play and see if the UI in FreeNAS has been changed since I last used it.

There have only been a few minor updates for OpenFiler since I've started using it. Their built-in updater works fine for me, but I don't know if they've continued development on it.

Do you know if FreeNAS supports aggregating multiple NICs? That's one feature I plan to take advantage of with OpenFiler.
 

LiamC

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#38
I've not played with Link Aggregation, but the facility to do so appears to be there.

I guess interfaces are like system colours/desktop backgrounds. What appeals to one person might not to another. Which is good in this space because if FreeNAS doesn't appeal, then there are lots of other choices. Like gordybhere, I've also played with ClearOS and Ubuntu Server, and found Ubuntu Server with Webmin much easier to deal with than ClearOS. Still wish FreeNAS had Openfilers performance.
 

CougTek

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#39
Does anyone here have any experience with Open Media Vault and if yes, how would you compare it to Openfiler? It seems to have even more features than Openfiler. I don't know about the file transfer performance. The user interface looks better to me.
 

Mercutio

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#40
Apparently it's a Linux-based fork of FreeNAS. The administrative interface looks very similar to me, but it doesn't appear to do ZFS, which is the biggest single reason why I settled on FreeNAS in the first place.
My experience with FreeNAS/ZFS is that out of the box Samba performance is sub-par even given gobs of RAM, but NFS is quite acceptable.
 
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