Need Software Advice for a Serious Plex Server

I posted a version of this question on the Unraid forums, but I also wanted to ask for feedback from the LevelOne team.

I’m considering a massive shift in my server’s data storage and software methodology. Before I get to the software questions, I must describe the hardware I’m working with.

My current hardware configuration is pretty outrageous for a Plex server. However, things are about to get even crazier since I’ve recently acquired a 45-bay Storinator chassis, a 64-core 3rd gen EPYC CPU, 2 x P4000 GPUs, 256GB of 3200 DDR4 ECC memory, and a new motherboard.

The server is colocated at a data center in the Seattle area, so utilities (cooling, power, battery backup, and internet access) are not an issue. Everything listed below is housed in a Supermicro 847 (36-bay config) with passthrough backplanes, which are getting a bit old.

OS Unraid Pro 6.12.0-rc6 | MB H11SSL-i | CPU AMD EPYC 7371 16-Core @ 3100 MHz | RAM 128GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC | JBOD 3 x LSI 9305-16i | ARRAY 482TB Usable (+2 x 20TB Parity) | CACHE POOL 6.52TB Usable (2 x Intel U.2 SSD) | CONTAINER POOL 1TB Usable (2 x Sabrent Rocket 4.0 M.2 SSD) | GPU 2 x NVIDIA P1000

About 2/3 of the array is 18 TB drives, with the remaining 1/3 being 16 TB. All the drives in the array are enterprise-grade (mostly Seagate EXOS).

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way let’s talk about software. My current setup has evolved significantly from where I started several years ago. Thanks to Unraid’s flexibility, I’ve been able to quickly and easily expand my array, try out new hardware, and continue learning. However, I’m now at the point where XFS is holding me back. A rebuild usually takes about three days and significantly deteriorates server performance. My current setup is also capacity-limited since I’ve allocated the maximum number of drives allowed by Unraid’s implementation of XFS. Maintaining a massive XFS array filled with 16 ~ 18TB drives is no longer feasible.

I enjoy Unraid’s simple, straightforward GUI approach to managing Docker containers and the highly vibrant community of add-ons, plugins, and other tools available on the platform. My entire Plex “stack” is built on these tools, so it would probably be a significant (but not impossible) lift to port all of this over to TrueNAS Scale.

Taking all of the above into account, I feel that I only have two options available to me:

  1. Continue using Unraid, but ignore XFS and rely on ZFS pools instead.
    PROs: Familiarity. I’m familiar with the Unraid system, and my current configuration “just works.”
    Cons: This approach comes with significant risk since ZFS support on Unraid is still a beta feature. It’s still unclear to me how reliable the front-end implementation of ZFS management will be in the near term, nor whether ZFS’s more advanced features will ever be available to users.

  2. Move to TrueNAS and leave Unraid behind.
    PROs: Stability and reliability. TrueNAS is built for ZFS, so support, recovery, maintenance, etc., is well documented and readily available. TrueNAS Scale supports Docker containers, so porting things over from Unraid should be straightforward (I hope).
    Cons: Porting over everything from Unraid may not be trivial. It’s an entirely new system to learn, tune, and optimize. The community isn’t as vibrant as Unraid and less “free” support exists.

NOTE: Don’t worry about the logistics of moving/storing data between drive format changes. I will have enough drives to temporarily hold all the data while setting up the replacement system.

I’d greatly appreciate any feedback, opinions, references, or other help you can offer. I appreciate the time!

1 Like

I have been using Scale for over a year now. About 8 months virtualized and 4 months bare metal. Been very happy and I would recommend it. I am not sure exactly how you have your current stuff set up but it sounds like docker containers which are very easy to do on Scale. There is a forum post here that goes over the process of setting up portainer in detail.

As far as using ZFS in unraid you should be able to do everything through the CLI which might not be as intuitive for you but I don’t see a reason why you would lose capability going to ZFS.

However, things are about to get even crazier … a 64-core 3rd gen EPYC CPU, 2 x P4000 GPUs, 256GB of 3200 DDR4 ECC memory, and a new motherboard.

The server is colocated at a data center in the Seattle area…

Just sharing my amused thoughts: Somehow I find joy in the fact that there are people in the world willing to go crazier than me. I’ll be watching this thread closely, and I’m interested in the final results.

Isn’t unraid based on Debian? I’m not sure there would be much advantage moving from one Debian distro to another if they both can use OpenZFS.

IMO If you’re more familiar with unraid, making yourself familiar with managing ZFS under the command line opens the beautiful world of ZFS to you.