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Looking to build a wife friendly rack mount NAS

I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do as far as my storage/home computing needs. Right now, I have a decent workstation/desktop, as well as a laptop. My wife also owns a laptop, and we have a couple of smart phones, as well as a few external hard drives. I’m finding that juggling multiple external hard drives is just getting messy, unsightly, and unorganized.

I must admit, that in the past year I’ve neglected to follow my backup routine because of this. So far, everything is ok, but I know from experience that’s not always the case. This is why I think I need to have some sort of centralized storage device for our home. A NAS fits the bill perfectly here, but figuring out exactly which solution to use is taking time.

I originally thought I could just buy one of those small 4 bay NAS boxes from a variety of retailers, but at the end of the day, I like to build things. Sure, it might cost me a little more, but I know that for the money I’ll be getting a much better end product than I would have bought off the shelf. I then calculated the theoretical max space of all of our computers and external drives in the house. It comes to around 17TB. Now, all of this isn’t being used at the moment, but I am finding that I’m using exponentially more data each year. So for this reason, I feel like it definitely doesn’t make sense to opt for a 4 bay NAS, whether I build it or not. Even an 8 bay could be pushing it in the future, so now I’m leaning towards something that will provide much more expandability in the long run, like a 24 bay rack mount chassis.

The issue with this it needs wife approval. If I’m ever going to run something like this, it needs to be quiet, and as out of sight as possible. Now, I know that servers are not designed to run quiet. Obviously they’re intended for data centers where sound isn’t an issue. If I went down this route, I would definitely be doing anything and everything I can to make this machine as quiet as possible. Primarily, replacing all fans and heat sinks with Noctua variants, and replacing power supplies with SuperMicro’s quiet alternatives.

The next issue is location. As of now, we have limited space and we’re renting. For this reason, we’re unable to make any modifications to our living space.

I had originally wanted to put the server next to our router. The coax into the apartment is located in a small closet, which has a routing board which I have attached a switch to, so that we can now take advantage of the 5x RJ45 wall connectors around the house. I was hoping to plug the server into this switch so that it could easily be accessed from our network, whether wired or WiFi. The main issue here is space. The closet itself is only about 2’ by 4’, and there are no AC vents inside. Right now, with just the modem, router and switch, the room doesn’t get hot, but I imagine that would change pretty significantly if I added a 24 bay server on the floor, even if I was only using 8 drives to begin with.

After this, the less ideal solution would be to build some sort of small rack cabinet that could sit next to my desk in the second bedroom. My issue with this is noise. Even if I make the modifications mentioned above, it will still have at least 8 spinning drives which will create noise and vibrations, although this might just be something I have to live with. One benefit of this solution though, is that it would be closer to my desktop, meaning I could actually get a 10gb connection to that machine. My desktop’s motherboard has a built in 10gbe port, so I could just buy a single port 10gbe PCIe card for the server, for a hard wired connection to my desktop. If I ended up going this route, and had to build a cabinet for my server to go next to my desk, I feel like I may as well just transplant my desktop into a rack mount case (maybe something by Rosewill?) and have them next to each other in the rack. I could also buy a UPS or 2, and have them placed at the bottom of the rack. I was thinking 12u total, 2x 4u computers and 2x 2u UPS’s. If I’m building the cabinet from scratch, I could easily add casters to the bottom too, for portability.

My main worry with this is noise. If I’m sitting next to it while trying to work, I don’t want to go nuts with the sound of the server. I’m also concerned that if we ever have guests, I like to take my desktop out of that room temporarily, and into my bedroom, just so that I can continue to use it without invading on anyone’s space. Would this cause issues, powering down the server, taking it offline, moving to a new location, and doing all of this again a week later? This would probably happen a handful of times per year.

Sorry for the very long post, I’m just trying to get all of my ideas out. I’d love some insight into how much heat a 24 bay, 4u server with 8-12 drives installed will put out, as well as expected noise levels of this many drives (and cooling fans, I suppose). Maybe there isn’t an ideal solution for me right now, and I should just buy something smaller with the intention of upgrading a few years from now, if and when we live in a different space.

Any help or guidance is much appreciated!

More a joke than a direct solution for your situation. :wink:

Generally, the problem will be the noise which imho limits / excludes a typical server / pc to a large extent.
You have little space and are concerned about noise and heat generated? Maybe a rack and 24 hdd solution is not the best option at the moment?
You say you need 17TB immediately … maybe a few Odroid HC2 and a light data separation plus another HC2’s as an extra backup. In this way, you have the option of easily expanding it in the future and eliminate noise and large electricity bills. You only need to invest in a large HDD. Yes, this is not a typical ideal solution as one large NAS but …

I personally use HC1 at home and it’s ok if 1Gb/s is enough.

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Hey, have you considered a large chassis like the guy modified here:
(not small)

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I have actually seen this video, and am definitely interested in it. My only concern is completely removing the fan wall and making a custom one. I suppose it would be possible to just replace them with 80mm fans in the hotswap cases, just like the rear fans.

Do you think it would move enough air and still be quiet enough to sit next to?

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He used larger fans in the wall, then added a whole trio of even larger fans on a new front cover, so I suspect not, not if you want the quiteness

But, it;s just an inspiration. I’ve looked at a couple of Supermicro chassis the same, and they often come with components in for about $1000 configured.

Instead I got a local version of a Logic case 24 bay, which had the benefit of accepting regular ATX power supplies, rather than the redundant custom ones in the supermicro chassis.
The logic case has a fan wall and came with industrial fans (very effective 120mm ones, but loud as heck at full steam) and U replaced them with 6 slower 120mm fans in push+pull, with a spacer grid in between to reduce the vortex effect if the push/pull fans are next to each other (might not actually do anything, but works for me :man_shrugging:)

I’ll take a look into Logic, thanks. Yeah, I only really looked at SuperMicro because they were cheap-ish on ebay and I’ve heard good things about them as far as reliability.

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I hear their build quality is really good.

They do redundant power supplies, which is good for those who need the uptime.

I’m okay with lesser quality, and some down time for my NAS/ storage machine

@TimHolus may be joking but he may be on to something.

A 24 bay array of 3.5" drives would create serious heat and some noise with anything faster than a WD red (non-pro). I wouldn’t go for this for a small location. Rescale the solution to be more appropriate to the space. For context I used to run a 2u 9bay rack in a cupboard in my office and it hit high 50°c in summer ( hot for drives) and CPU sometimes throttled.

So let’s reframe the problem.

Your post is not clear what you storage model would be. Are you thinking of one big pool or JBOD? Or something in between? Your total number of disks is not a functions of total storage, but how much you want online instantly and at what speed. So instead of starting with hardware consider:

What OS are you planning? If freenas, linux or unraid you could use three 10TiB drives to meet your data needs with 1 disk redundancy. With good backups that should be fine… Unless…

What uptime do you need? Generally massive disk arrays are for uptime, not capacity. So to increase uptime move to 2 disk redundancy, so say six 6TiB disks for 24TiB usable. Similar price to three 10TiB drives.

So there are 2 solutions that just need max 6 bays. You can fit that in a microatx chassis with a suitable mobo.

Add a brace of noctuas and a quality PSU and you have a high uptime home server with small footprint and low power / cool running.

If you want a simple solution, go with fewer disks in a small dedicated case like a node 804. That should be easier to cool and may work in your closet if you can ventilate. Keep the CPU low power.

If you are planning to shuck or reuse your existing drives in a JBOD array, I’d just get a passive micropc like a NUC or gigabyte brix (I’ve got one of these as a media centre, very effective). In this case use a hub to share and power the disks, stack them tidily, and make sure your backup regime works. I’d suggest against this model as it is more prone to failure. Keep the removable a for backups and use larger identical drives for your NAS.

Hopefully useful

Have you considered putting it in a area out of the way

I have a loft I keep my NAS in, you could try an attic

You can also try sound dampening

DIY perks made a video with the incredible sound absorbing ability of towels and home insulation


I’m not saying line your walls with rectangles and triangles but you can apply this knowledge to where you place the NAS
Even line the outside of the chassis with the foam sans the intake and exhaust

People don’t really like sbc as a NAS and they prefer to go to the big x86 right away … I like sbc especially if there are reasons to use it.

Of course, a large box with x86 as a NAS is a nice thing and a large field for expansion but … If there are restrictions why not go in a less traditional way.

Odroid HC2 is a nice sbc. Buy three pieces and 12TB or more HDDs and you can create something. Even without GFS as separate instances + openmediavault. The question is whether it should be NAS only to store files in the main or backup option. You would also have to think about backup. Or another three HC2 as hot backup or tape / bluray as cold backup.

HC2 is passive, only HDD will generate noise. But you can soothe them when they are not needed. They take up little space. Easy to move from the room. Low power consumption. Rather cheap, the most expensive will be HDD.

If I were in the OP position, I would consider each option. Because a rack box can be a shot in the foot, given the restrictions. :wink:
Or if $$$ is not a problem something ready …

Probably a timing thing. It takes time to build trust and as it stands I trust what I know, which is x86. I tried an arm based NAS, it disappointed me.

In a couple of years a powerful but cheap NAS based on a pi clone will be common sense. Today, not quite for me

https://www.dustfreepc.com/product-category/servers/
any of these configurations may help and you can probably line them for noise dampening