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RAID. Is it worth it for a home server?


So am thinking of finally making a somewhat proper homeserver for myself. Primary use is file storage and hosting my git repos. Probably more stuff later, like rudimentary home room automation.

Anyways, so the question is, is RAID worth it for home use? I wanna run OpenBSD on it, and they support software-raid in 0, 1 and 5 configs.

Or is it better to run FreeBSD and ZFS and just pool the disks?

Also, is it better to buy more low TB HDDs, or few high volume?


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  • If you value your data but don’t care about uptime, take backups to separate hardware.
  • If you don’t really care about the data but your server needs to keep running, go with RAID.
  • If you both value your data and care about uptime, RAID and take backups.

ZFS is fine, so is RAID. Both have their proponents. ZFS does tend to be very memory-hungry though. Just don’t do RAID0.

I wouldn’t buy a <6TB drive in 2019. Don’t worry about getting NAS or enterprise level drives, just get a cheap non-Seagate name brand, shucking WD whites/blues is fine.



Probably should add that am poorfag, so not sure if I can just keep buying HDDs for archiving atm.

Although I don’t have that much data to archive anyways. :thinking:



8TB USB3 WD’s are commonly $130 these days, not even really on sale, so you can build an 8TB RAID1 for $260. Tough to beat that. 8TB is a heck of a lot of space with HEVC videos and such.



Watch for sales on Western Digital MyCloud devices. You can just pull the drives out of them, they use standard SATA connectors.

With the sales, it’s cheaper to buy the whole device and pull the drive then to just buy the drives. :rofl:

It’s common enough that /r/datahoarders has a term for it: shucking.



Indeed, USB external drives are dramatically cheaper than buying the drives bare, that’s what I was recommending above. I filled my NAS with 4 8TB WD blues shucked from external drives, 24TB of space with 1 disk redundancy. I backup everything to an encrypted datastore on an unlimited space Google Drive.



Just get Synology NAS with 4+ HDD bays. It also has git as one of the one-click apps. I’d also get external hdd as a second backup which you can plug in via USB3 and let it auto backup. There is no messing up, you can set it up in minutes and forget about it, and it is rather quiet



If you want to preserve files, I HIGHLY suggest something that can scrub for errors, and correct them. This generally involves having at least 2 disks (checksumed data alone can be checked for errors, but not corrected without proper parity data). While rare, the do happen for a variety of reasons. ZFS is my jam, but BTRFS and snapraid are also alternatives.

A pair of mirrors, with a third backup disk (with INCREMENTAL backups, very important for when you need to revert because your shit got deleted/encrypted and you backed that loss of data up automatically.)

Try to get the biggest disks you can afford, because physical slots, electricity, and sata connections have a cost too, and it’s easier to “retire” larger disks as an offline backup in the future. Easystores and WD Elements are consistently dropping down to ~$160 every so often, and 8TB are hitting ~$130

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Okay, so what if I am a total poorfag and not willing to shell out more money than is needed. Does single 4TB drive for storage, and external drive for backups sound too bad and cringy?

:man_shrugging: 200% poorfag here



backups > raid

do what you gotta do

hardware raid is fine and has the benefit of being relatively simple/cheap to implement. You can get an old dell perc card for cheap and they will work great without the added overhead of something like ZFS. Obviously you lose out on some of the featureset. Mirrors are good enough for the average home gamer.



reee, I don’t game, I run loonix!



get 2 externals in case the cat fucks one up



Inefficient backups are better than none.

How much data do you currently have, and how much data are you planning to store (and what kind)?

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atm ~1.4 TB. Video, Pictures, Music, Books, code.

But I also wanna store some of the family stuff, like their photos and what not.

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I would say a 4tb with a 4tb for backup is fine. When you outgrow your 4tb storage (since you have a backup) you can easily build a raid5 or whatever really at a later time (personally run a mdadm raid6 too).
So once you need more storage you could buy a 8tb backup drive and another 4tb one copy the backup to the 8tb one and build a raid5 from the 4tb drives.

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Ghekko server: A Series of Non-thought out Events

One thing you can do in the meantime is encrypt/compress your most important things (family photos, financial records, illegal memes) and upload it to some of the free cloud services available. That’ll give you some good extra redundancy.

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i would say yes. Built a NAS recently for about $400 all in. 3x 2TB HDDs in RAID-Z(5) for a total of 3.5TB capacity. Not a huge capacity, but I wanted reliability and redundancy in case one drive fails. (Also, I don’t need crazy high capacity).

It depends on your use case and personal preference.

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  • RAID is not worth it for performance for your use case listed above (because for mostly sequential/single user archive type access, rust will keep up with gig-E just fine). You’ll likely be network bottlenecked unless you’re lucky enough to have 10G at home.
  • ZFS IS worth it if you care about keeping whatever it is you are storing.

I’d be going with a minimum of 2-3 appropriate size SATA drives to mirror.
If you find performance is inadequate (i don’t think you will, as per above - you will be NIC limited), step up to 4 drives for a striped mirror set up (2x mirror vdevs in your pool). ZFS will serialise random writes and cache reads, so again, performance for single/small number of users should be plenty.

Sizing is a case of either needing more spindles for speed (you won’t) or concerns regarding rebuild time. Bigger drives take longer to rebuild (ZFS will only rebuild what is consumed, but presumably if you buy a big drive you will eventually go close to filling it).

With 8 TB drives, i’d be tempted to get 3 of them (3 way mirror) in case of failure during rebuild, but YMMV. 2 will likely be just fine. Probably better to back up your super critical shit off-site anyway, if its more a case of losing the non-critical bulk of the data being inconvenient as opposed to life changing, i’d consider a 2 way mirror to be good enough.

If a 2 way mirror isn’t enough then off-site backup is probably essential anyway. RAID/ZFS isn’t a backup of course, but it will maintain service in the event of a failure.

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Not a fan of cloud, but yeah encrypted tarball could be a thing.



If you run something like freenas i’d suggest setting up owncloud/nextcloud and working out of your synced folder for really important stuff.

If your NAS breaks, your important stuff will be synched to your workstation PC, and vice versa.

Combine that with ZFS snapshots on the owncloud/nextcloud dataset and you’re safe from synchronisation fuck up, if that was to happen, also.

Also, just on backup.

If you were to go for say, 3x hot-plug drives in a 3 way mirror, you could perhaps remove one periodically to use as an off-site backup. Plug it back in , let it re-silver and then remove either that one or a different one next week/month to keep off-site.

You’ll still have hardware redundancy with the 2 drive mirror that remains, and if you have a failure, just pop the backup drive in for a fast rebuild as it will already be mostly synchronised from before you popped it out. ZFS only rebuilds what is missing.

If you have total system failure (house burns down, etc.), you’ve got your 1 off-site drive with (most of) your data on it that you can import into anything that can run ZFS to get your stuff back.

No need to fuck about waiting for backups to happen, just pop a drive out. Mirrors are a wonderful thing :slight_smile: . Sometimes, the best/most convenient backups are the ones that require no time or effort to do…

Alternatively, zfs send/encrypt your stuff to a cloud provider.

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