If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that my storage space has been reduced to 60 GB and now I’m putting my files in hard drives on my other machines. My NAS cannot handle the capacity needed for backups, so I’m standing on the edge. I decided that I have enough money left in my budget to do an emergency hardware upgrade of my storage system, so I started actively researching this week, although I have been passively researching the past few months. The question was, should I build a DAS, NAS or SAN? Maybe a bit of all three.
What I already have
- ASUS G53S laptop for gaming (500 GB SATA for data + 3 TB USB for media storage)
- C2D custom box for XBMC (1 TB for secondary media storage)
- QNAP TS-409 Pro (effective 3 TB RAID-5 for backup)
- Acer Aspire T671 (Pentium D 820 garbage system)
- Apple iMac (1 TB for unused storage)
- 3 x 3 TB WD Red SATA HDD
- 1 x Rosewill RC-219 eSATA PCI-E x1 card
- 1 x Intel PWLA8391GT PRO/1000 PCI network interface card
- 3 x 2 TB WD Red SATA HDD
- 1 x MediaSonic HF2-SU3S2 USB3 + eSATA 4-bay enclosure
- 1 x CineRAID CR-H458 USB3 + eSATA 4-bay enclosure
- 1 x Mushkin Enhanced Mulholland 8 GB USB2 flash drive
- 1 x ASUS EeeBox EB1012P-B0320 box
- The first goal is to replace the C2D custom box with the EeeBox for XBMC duties. There’s a lot of serious hardware in the C2D box that I can repurpose into a gaming box later on, but the current plan is to run it as an underpowered ESXi box running a FreeNAS VM. With a VM, I can back up the VM and choose to migrate it anywhere I want later. Also, FreeNAS has enhanced performance running as a VM, so that’s a bonus. Unfortunately, the C2D box has an onboard Atheros NIC that doesn’t get detected by ESXi 5.1, so I’ll have to install the Intel NIC. I might check for an Atheros third party driver that I can add to the ISO with ESXi-Customizer later. As a sidenote, my whole house is running GbE hardware, so if I can configure FreeNAS as an iSCSI target, even better.
- Optional. I do plan on installing Server 2012 just to handle the CIFS/SMB sharing over the network, but it’s tentative because I don’t know if the C2D can handle it (and with only 1 GB of RAM to spare).
- Next is to install the eSATA card into the C2D box, then I can attach the CineRAID and MediaSonic enclosures to it by eSATA. The Rosewill card is supposed to support FIS-based switching with port multipliers to allow multiple drives to be detected on one eSATA interface; the reason for this is because the enclosures are going to be configured as JBOD only; I’ll be depending on FreeNAS to do software RAID, and I’ll be giving it the 6 GB of RAM it needs to accomplish this, since I have 8 GB total in the C2D box. The CineRAID enclosure will be my main storage point while the MediaSonic is going to be a backup device. I currently have a Dropbox paid subscription, but I’m considering either CrashPlan or BackBlaze for online backup for offsite backup, so that will cover my three points of storage.
- The 2 TB drives are going into the CineRAID to act as my main storage point while the 3 TB drives will be placed into the MediaSonic for backup. The reason why I’m using more storage for backup is because I intend to not only have compressed backup jobs, but also Windows 8 File History for on-site versioning in addition to Dropbox’s Pack Rat feature. This will ensure that I always have access to a daily version of a file at any given point in time.
- Finally, the 8 GB flash drive will be used to boot XBMCbuntu on the EeeBox.
The definition in the end
This is a bit complicated. I’m connecting two JBOD enclosures to the C2D box with eSATA; that part defines a DAS. I’m using FreeNAS to handle software RAID and hopefully act as an iSCSI target; that part is a SAN. My gaming laptop (or file server) is going to be the device that will act as an iSCSI initiator, and will be sharing out the files I store on it over the network using CIFS/SMB; that part is a NAS. So, in the end, I suppose it really is a combination of all three to create an enterprise level storage solution. It turns out I really thought this one through!
I ordered 4-bay enclosures for the sole purpose of using all 4 bays. However, I only ordered 3 drives for each enclosure because of budget constraints. I’ll be getting the last remaining drives later on as my storage needs grow. Thin provisioning anybody? LOL. I’m only one person, so probably not (unless I feel like fooling around with it). :P
My main computer, unfortunately, is my gaming laptop. I’d like to replace it with a gaming desktop. This will allow me to do easy upgrades in the future. My old gaming desktop that died was a prebuilt Acer. When I think back, the cost to buy all new custom hardware would have been way cheaper than the laptop itself, but the gimmick in owning a gaming laptop was too great at the time; now the hardware is starting to show its age.
I am planning to build a proper server next year. A SuperMicro custom build is in the works (I have some select hardware in my wishlist) to allow for Server 2012, FreeNAS, SAS, 10 GbE, and other fun enterprise level stuff not appropriate for a SOHO. :D
Believe it or not, I’m still learning all this stuff despite sounding like I know what I’m talking about; the invested returns on months-long research was pretty good. Hopefully the parts arrive next week. Keep checking my Twitter feed for more info!