Easily expandable NAS with low upfront cost

Heya peeps!

I’m noticing a trend with my data and it’s ever expanding size.

*Basically I start to run out of storage so I become conservative with gathering new data, then I go buy more storage and slowly I start to pick up the pace again of my collection then rinse and repeat. *

I want(read need) to set up a NAS so I can hoard better. I’ve been looking at the options and to my eyes it’s either huge upfront cost or difficult to no expandability.

My perfect NAS would have a survivable upfront cost, redudancy (I currently have 0 of this) be gbps capable and expandable to the tune of me buying a drive every one or two months and just tossing it in there(gently). Plex, decoding etc would be a bonus, so not really something I care too much about.

Does my perfect NAS solution exist?

you could connect some external usb drives to a raspi. This is half way a joke and halfway serious. I would be interested to see a system like this. obviously cant make any claims about its stability, but it couldn’t be much worse then just plugging a usb drive into your computer for backup.

another relatively easy option would be to throw unraid on an old pc with some drives in it.

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You can do a lot with used hardware and something like unraid. Not many solutions offer a way to expand your storage a single drive at a time. Unraid has a unique system for its array that does allow this.

beat me to it, shit.

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unraid is really good if you want something that just works and is really designed for the individual with to much data. It’s also a good way to learn about linux systems in a pretty user friendly way with lots of support and tutorials available.

I would second the old PC. A first or second-gen intel i5/i7 would be plenty. I would suggest getting one with at least two PCIe slots that are at least 8x, so then you can put it (maybe later) a 10gpbs network card (or faster), and also a HBA card to add more ports. The ideal is someone’s old gaming computer in a large case, so you can just buy it, and start throwing in drives. That’s basically what I run.

Plug your initial drives into the motherboard Sata connectors, then when you either need more ports or want to start buying SAS drives then you can get an LSI SAS card. EIther get one that is an HBA or can be flashed to HBA mode (IT mode in LSI terminology). They can be had for $40-50, or less, if you get a deal or find the right model number.

UnRAID is one option for software, OpenMediaVault is another. Or if you know or are willing to learn Linux shell, then just about any Linux distro can work.

If you are willing to buy drives in pairs, then put the pair in a mirror (raid 1), and when you get another pair then expand to stripped mirrors (raid 10), another pair do a separate RAID 1, then expand to raid 10, and so on.

Then, if you find you are running out of room in the case for drives, you can eventually get a disk shelf and connect that with external cables, or transplant the whole thing into a server case.

For this, you either want a newer Intel chip with an iGPU, the newer chips have better acceleration, or an Nvidia GPU, probably Maxwell at the oldest.

just plugging a usb drive into your computer for backup

This is pretty much exactly what I wanted to avoid! :laughing:

UnRAID sounds like the perfect solution, and I just found someone selling a used system with some flaws, i7 3770K, 16GB ram and a GTX680 in a Corsair 275R case for around 150 USD. That would eat up my storage budget for the month but seems like a good start on something better!

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Yep, sounds like a good start, and at a good price.

You are probably going to want to sell that GTX 680 and get a newer card for transcoding.

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Check/register the drive warranties online, before you start putting data into them. There’s some cheap and nice 12T and 14T toshiba drives and 16T exos drives. (Good $/TB).

If you end up using btrfs for raid stuff you can easily rebalance data as you add more drives.

Make sure you don’t get anything super ancient that doesn’t do aes-ni (otherwise encrypting storage will use up all your cpu, so no low power Celerons and such.

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