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Netbug

Combination Server and NAS

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Netbug

I've always run my MB Server on a Windows 7/8 machine and had a separate unRAID NAS for my media.

 

I would like to build a setup for my parents in a single box that they would be able to move from their summer cottage to their winter condo.

 

I'm wondering what the best way would be to do this, specifically with the OS. The hardware I had priced out was this: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/fzBgzy

 

Obviously that SanDisk and unRAID can be knocked off the bottom.

 

What would you guys recommend for what I'm trying to do here? What reliable/low-maint OS for the storage pool (expandable to the hardware capacity of 8 drives) and MB?

 

I intend to use primarily Roku boxes attached to any TVs at both locations which would be controlled by Windows/Apple Tablets/Phones.

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Koleckai Silvestri

As the Linux version of Media Browser Server isn't out, just use Windows 7 on the system. It can support any number of drives plugged in and you can use a drive pooling solution to manage the drives. With the motherboard and case you've selected, you'll need external components to support 8 drive. You can do 3 drives with a separate OS drive in the current setup.

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DeeMac

I would normally recommend Win7 also... but I think Windows 8.1 is the better option.

Get rid of the complexity of adding Nas or multiples drives and worry about uptime.

Use Window 8.1's internal storage spaces feature instead of Nas/Raid and this will allow for future expansion and reliability, and less things to go wrong/blame/troubleshoot/fix/pay for,

 

The only thing you really need to worry about is a mobo and case that supports the number of drives you want.

I think you should do an ssd for the boot/system and for data storage/recording/multimedia files... either go with:

- 2 drives for storage using Windows's Raid 1 OR

- 3 or more drives use Windows 8.1 storage spaces.

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Koleckai Silvestri

I've read that Windows Storage Spaces were poorly managed and slowed down data transfer. You would have to investigate. I tried Windows 8 for over a year and wasn't really satisfied with it as a desktop OS so am back to Windows 7.

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DeeMac

Yes, I've read something along these lines... 

 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/mspfe/archive/2013/02/25/why-windows-server-2012-parity-storage-spaces-might-perform-slowly.aspx

 

and more specifically in that article... http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/15200.storage-spaces-designing-for-performance.aspx

 

and boiling it all down.....

The caveat of a parity space is low write performance compared to that of a simple or mirrored storage space, since existing data and parity information must be read and processed before a new write can occur. Parity spaces are an excellent choice for workloads that are almost exclusively read-based, highly sequential, and require resiliency, or workloads that write data in large sequential append blocks (such as bulk backups).”

 

Moral of the story: For heavy workloads requiring high speed, random I/O and the best resiliency possible, use the mirrored space as opposed to the parity space.

 

My Summarization: Don't use parity storage spaces.

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ebr

Actually, for media storage,  I would think the parity space would not be a problem since almost all access is read.  I would think other processes (encoding, ripping, network, etc) would be bigger bottlenecks in writing than the actual parity write speed.

 

However, I use Windows 8.1 and FlexRaid as I got scared off of Storage Spaces when it had so many problems in the early going.

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DeeMac

Correct ebr, normally parity is not a problem in a htpc setup... but I dont want to get the non-pro people confused when to use it and why.  Plus, parity needs 3 or more drives.  I recommend to use 'MIRROR storage spaces'.... can work for 2 or 3 drives and still gives increased performance.

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Deathsquirrel

If 2 3TB drives is all the storage they need, you don't need RAID or NAS to begin with IMO.  Your just adding points of failure for a system designed to be used by the non-technical.  I'm assuming that since they aren't building it.

 

Switch to an LGA 1150 socket CPU like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116945 and you can find mini-itx motherboards with up to 6 SATA connections for around the same money as you're looking at spending.  When they need more space just slap a new drive in, assign it a drive letter, and create a 'movies' folder for new titles.  Add the new drive to their library and they're set.

 

That's pretty much what I do with my own home server.  Worst realistic case is a drive failure and I keep everything backed up on older HDDs so restoration is as simple as connecting through a SATA>USB adapter and copying the missing movie files back to the replacement drive.

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DeeMac
Your just adding points of failure for a system designed to be used by the non-technical.

 

 

 

The OP also asked for reliable

This is the point of storage spaces (and unraid) ... to have redundancy in case of failure.

Having NO redundancy in ANY non-test system is dangerous and foolish.

Why go through all the trouble of setting something up then not give it reliability..... Especially if this is for non-tech people.  Let the hardware be redundant and eliminate a huge point of failure.... increase uptime and satisfaction for his parents, and  reduce and/or eliminate immediate response scenarios by the OP.

And what other OS is used by millions of entities worldwide? Unraid, perhaps.  Windows, Yes.

And what other OS is supported by more than just a community? Unraid, perhaps.  Windows, Yes.

 

The OP asked for low-maint OS 

Windows 8.1 update is reliable and Low maint. ... if you are not messing with the config all the time and not using it to surf the web.  An HTPC is not used for surfing the web so it should be fine.  I turned off all automatic updates on my HTPC for over a year, no related OS issues.

 

The OP also asked for ...the storage pool   

Not just storage... but a storage POOL.  Yes with Storage spaces.  

 

The OP also asked for (expandable to the hardware capacity of 8 drives) and MB.  

 Yes with Storage spaces.  

 

...and remember, raid is not backups.

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Netbug

I'm a big fan of Windows 8.1 Pro and all the other systems on the network (save one laptop) are running it.

 

I've not used storage spaces though. It has redundancy? I would be starting with 2 drives (and possibly a used 1TB that's in their existing system), one of which I was planning on being parity. I'm assuming that this is how storage spaces works (similar to unRAID?). (I'll go read up on it now). I would definitely need more than 2 drives; this was just to get them started.

 

When you slap another drive in, it's fairly simple to add it to the pool, I imagine? In case of a drive failure, is rebuilding fairly straightforward?

Edited by Netbug

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Abobader

Good day,

 

Personal view here:

 

Price for hardware pci-e 8 ports raid card somehow not that high now days like LSI/Areca .. etc, and any cases now days can hold 10 to 12 hdd's, and top of that hdd's price going down, then what left, OS as win 8.1 are fine (I using win 7 btw), let the OS handle the mb server, and let the hardware raid handle your storage.

 

My best

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Deathsquirrel

The OP also asked for reliable

This is the point of storage spaces (and unraid) ... to have redundancy in case of failure.

Having NO redundancy in ANY non-test system is dangerous and foolish.

Why go through all the trouble of setting something up then not give it reliability..... Especially if this is for non-tech people.  Let the hardware be redundant and eliminate a huge point of failure.... increase uptime and satisfaction for his parents, and  reduce and/or eliminate immediate response scenarios by the OP.

And what other OS is used by millions of entities worldwide? Unraid, perhaps.  Windows, Yes.

And what other OS is supported by more than just a community? Unraid, perhaps.  Windows, Yes.

 

The OP asked for low-maint OS 

Windows 8.1 update is reliable and Low maint. ... if you are not messing with the config all the time and not using it to surf the web.  An HTPC is not used for surfing the web so it should be fine.  I turned off all automatic updates on my HTPC for over a year, no related OS issues.

 

The OP also asked for ...the storage pool   

Not just storage... but a storage POOL.  Yes with Storage spaces.  

 

The OP also asked for (expandable to the hardware capacity of 8 drives) and MB.  

 Yes with Storage spaces.  

 

...and remember, raid is not backups.

 

True, all those things were requested.  That doesn't mean they are necessarily good ideas.

 

The use case provided is a portable device for movie playback for a couple that will likely expect the OP to maintain it.  My suggestion is to minimize  support time needed.  Here is my recommendation.

  • Drop RAID from the plans.
  • Increase the storage drive sizes as far as their budget allows.
  • Add a small SSD for the boot drive, 80-120GB is likely fine.
  • Backup the ripped media safely.

The larger drives means you don't need to add additional drives often and fewer drives is fewer things to break.

 

The SSD boost startup performance quite a bit but also is likely to last a long time.  There are no moving parts and the data transfer will be almost all read access.

 

Good backups minimize restoration time.

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DeeMac

I'm a big fan of Windows 8.1 Pro and all the other systems on the network (save one laptop) are running it.

 

I've not used storage spaces though. It has redundancy? I would be starting with 2 drives (and possibly a used 1TB that's in their existing system), one of which I was planning on being parity. I'm assuming that this is how storage spaces works (similar to unRAID?). (I'll go read up on it now). I would definitely need more than 2 drives; this was just to get them started.

 

When you slap another drive in, it's fairly simple to add it to the pool, I imagine? In case of a drive failure, is rebuilding fairly straightforward?

 

Storage spaces mirror mode and parity mode has redundancy.

Easy to slap in another drive to add to pool.  In case of drive failure, storage spaces has redundancy!

This is the same technology in Windows Server 2012 - Enterprise class stuff, folks!

 

Good day,

 

Personal view here:

 

Price for hardware pci-e 8 ports raid card somehow not that high now days like LSI/Areca .. etc, and any cases now days can hold 10 to 12 hdd's, and top of that hdd's price going down, then what left, OS as win 8.1 are fine (I using win 7 btw), let the OS handle the mb server, and let the hardware raid handle your storage.

 

My best

 

I believe hardware raid is a bad idea anywhere except the enterprise.  Hardware raid means your data is now in a proprietary format that can only be unlocked with a similar raid card from the same manufacturer.  I dislike this lock-in and favor reliability in the fact I can rebuild another windows 8 eval/temp system for free for 3 days to get my data off a windows software raid 1 system.  [This is also a reason I dislike those NAS systems like synology if they use a proprietary file/raid system].

I do not believe a properly built HTPC needs hardware raid. My HTPC uses 1% of CPU (see specs) when watching live TV... and my HTPC uses ~30% max CPU when transcoding to 3 different clients at the same time.

 

 

True, all those things were requested.  That doesn't mean they are necessarily good ideas.

 

The use case provided is a portable device for movie playback for a couple that will likely expect the OP to maintain it.  My suggestion is to minimize  support time needed.  Here is my recommendation.

  • Drop RAID from the plans.
  • Increase the storage drive sizes as far as their budget allows.
  • Add a small SSD for the boot drive, 80-120GB is likely fine.
  • Backup the ripped media safely.

The larger drives means you don't need to add additional drives often and fewer drives is fewer things to break.

 

The SSD boost startup performance quite a bit but also is likely to last a long time.  There are no moving parts and the data transfer will be almost all read access.

 

Good backups minimize restoration time.

An SSD is good, you can get a Crucial MX100 256GB SSD for ~$100 nowadays. I use a SSD for Intel SRT.  (SSD's were more expensive way back when.)

 

I believe asking for a reliable/low-maint OS for the expandable storage pool is a great idea.

 

OP, are you willing to eliminate drive/data redundancy and only rely on backups on a system that you are relying on to function when needed? What about when a drive fails?  What then?  Good luck being pretty much 'on call' or available within the next 24hrs to fix the media center when a drive dies.  And good luck restoring all those TB's of data anytime soon!  Oh, and you have to have another drive on hand to fix everything BEFORE you can start restoring.

 

Also, manual Backups are out of the question.  You must configure automatic backups to run when the system is turned on.  When is that?  I doubt your parents will want this running 24x7.  Your backup window must now be big enough to cover the large amount of storage drives... but when to schedule that backup window?

 

Consider the alternative, if a drive in a raid system dies... no bigge.... you bought yourself time to fix it.  Immediately order another drive and relax... they still have a working system, and backups.  This is where the statement about having more drives is not logical:  Just because there are more harddrives in a system, does not mean a system is worse for having more harddrives.

 

To everyone who reads this... I'm not against backups, I'm just against setting yourself up for heartache.  

I've used a hacked windows RAID 5 in my Windows Xp system years ago, and have been using Windows 7 software raid 1 AND backups for over a year on my 24x7x365 HTPC.  After a few drive crashes, I went to raid on my highly available systems and never looked back.  Ironically, I've never had a drive failure on a raid system, knock on wood (but it could be because I started keeping my drives cool with more fans or better fan placement).   I highly recommend doing both storage spaces AND backups.  For backups, perhaps have your parents stuff backed up to your system (by using Crashplan (free)).

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Deathsquirrel

Netbug, simple question: where are your parents getting their movie files?  If the answer is you then I strongly recommend against the RAID suggestion.  If the answer is they're ripping and encoding their own discs themselves then I'd go with some form of raid, whether software or hardware.  I'm guessing they get their movies though you whether you're ripping and encoding their discs for them or whatever.  If that's the case you have, or can have, backup copies of whatever is on their server already.

 

To each their own though.  Just remember that what's right for tech-savvy users is not necessarily appropriate to folks that require third party support...which, I'm guessing, is you.  Build what you want to support if that's the case.

 

Personally the idea of never having to deal with anything more complex than a file copy in the case of drive failure appeals to me when I'm spending my own time on someone else's PC.

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Netbug

I really appreciate the discussion here, especially the points made between DeathSquirrel and DeeMac. My thinking is more in-line with what DeeMac is suggesting, and I'm going to go that route. Backups are not an issue because 90% of the content will be on my personal unRAID box here.

 

DeeMac also mentioned why he doesn't like hardware RAID solutions and his reasoning is the same as mine; proprietary sucks.

 

I may have misled on the "portable" comment. I'm not saying this needs to be picked up and moved every day; at most, maybe twice a year. So 5-8 drives shouldn't be a problem.

 

I will definitely get an SSD as you suggest, Deathsquirrel. I checked the prices and they've come down immensely.

 

So I'll stick with the hardware listed here (removed unRAID and the USB Stick): http://pcpartpicker.com/p/cZvK23 (added in an existing HD, the SSD, and Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit)

 

Once I get it up and running, I'll turn off the automatic updates for Windows (unless someone recommends leaving it on?).

 

This build should give me the expansion they need, redundancy with the storage spaces parity in case of drive failure, the MB server, all in a single box.

 

Any last minute suggestions/changes recommended?

 

Thanks all.

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bloodtaker

Price is a bit high for a dual core setup let me get a setup that will bring the price down quiet a bit for you and run plenty fast for what it is going to be for.

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Netbug

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TdwPgs

 

681.55 vs 771.36

 

That's far better. Thank you. :)

 

Now to figure out how much I'll get killed in shipping to Canada. :P

Edited by Netbug

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bloodtaker

$859.73
 

for those you chose

 

$734.95
 

for those i chose

 

just have to switch it over to canada in the top right hand side and then change the ssd to one that canada sells as for some reason it didnt show a price when i switched it 

 

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/p/TdwPgs

 

the above link is fixed for canada ;)

Edited by bloodtaker
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DeeMac

Op, u will need 3 data drives minimum for parity.

 

Get all the latest windows 8.1 update patches. Then turn off auto updates if the system is not used for anything more than a htpc.

 

Setup remote access with no-ip.org for remote troubleshooting.

 

Check the system when its physically near you- once when it arrives and once just before it goes away with your parents for the season.

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Netbug

Thanks, DeeMac. I will. I have an account with DynDNS already for remote access. I also have a 2TB data drive already in the system which I will use as a third drive in the initial setup.

 

:)

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ebr

Just for future planning - use the largest drive you can get your hands on for your parity drive.  It has to be as large as the largest drive in your system forever.  So, if you use a 2TB for parity you can never have any data drives larger than 2TB.

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bloodtaker

Also Teamviewer would be a good idea for you. Allows you to remote control the cpu from anywhere in the world.    http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx great program it is what I use to control my server pc. I have it setup in the back room. With that I do not need a monitor keyboard or mouse. I am able to change the router through that as well if I go somewhere and want to access the movies and what not while I am there. If I am not going anywhere I keep the router blocked so that its just internal connections only.  But for you with teamviewer you would be able to keep track of the server for them even if you are not there and not just mediabrowser but the entire computer itself.

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ebr

I second that.  I have TeamViewer on both my parent's computers which makes tech support for them soooo much easier.

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Koleckai Silvestri

Another Teamview proponent here. Makes things a lot easier and I can access machines from a phone or tablet if needed.

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