To NAS or not to NAS

Hello everyone;

Let me start off by telling you what I have set up and why I did it this way.
I have a two computer network, connected together with CAT 5E cable and a Linksys WIFI router running Tomatoe software.

Computer #1
Is my my desktop computer which contains two hard drives a 500GB hard drive that contains my Windows 7 operating system, applications and data storage. I also have a 2TB hard drive on this system that contains a duplicate of the movies located on my HTPC. In addition due to the excess space on this drive I have a testing area on this drive.

Computer #2
This computer is my HTPC which is running Windows 7, the drive is partioned to hold the Windows 7  operating system files as well as a partion for my movies. I have a 2TB hard disk on this system.

Things to note: I use external storage to back up the both of my computers operating system as well as the data located on each with the exception of the movie files. As I have the movie database replicated on each device this serves as a back up.

Problems as I see it with this configuration:
1. I have to manually transfer new added movies to the HTPC from my desktop computer.
2. If either of my 2TB hard drives fail I have to manually rebuild the movies from the none failed hard drive.
3. Do to changes that have to be made to my movies on occassion I have to manually make sure that the same copies of the movies are in both places. Upon doing some checking I now find that some movies are not copied to the right areas and infact some movies are are just missing from the HTPC.

Would I be better served to set up a NAS system for the movie collection that I have and configure it to be RAID Level 1?

Suggestions please


Simple answer is yes, you best bet if your doing this on the cheap is to just turn your desktop into ur server, then just place plex etc on the desktop so that the HTPC can read the data. Use the two 2tb harddrives and place into the desktop machine set as raid one so you don't have to worry about it (even better would be a RaidZ1 ZFS setup). Then you no longer have to keep rebuilding you collection every time a disk fails.

Personnally though i would change it up slightly, firstly i would get a CuBox for my HTPC and place XBMC on the machine or use a nuc pc or something similar with just storage for the OS the rest being stored remotely on the server. Then i would make a small low end server to hold all this stuff (saving energy due compared to ur desktop im presuming holding a large GPU etc), place either freeNAS or just pure Debian on it and set it and forget it. 

Then whenever you have any movies you just transfer it to your server and update plex so that it can see the new files and hey presto it's done. Meaning you don't have to have two machines on the whole time and instead just have a small embedded board and a low power server running whenever you want to use HTPC functionality. Even better if you have a new TV with an Ethernet port just connect your network to that and most TV's will be able to then see your PLEX DNLA service via the TV itself.

Hope that helps

If you're only worried about keeping the movies synchronized, you could try something like this.

Yea I currently use BackupPC in those regards saves me alot of hassle but ill try that unison got quite a few build files that would be handy if they were synced with my main tree (instead of having to use SVN etc).

Thanks for the comments they are appreciated.

I am doing a lot of re-thinking of the upgrade to my movie storage, while the system that I use presently is more manually intensive it works and allows for a greater degree of security as it is an actually backup system. RAID 1 is less secure as it is susceptible to a virus attack that could affect both drives.

Looking at my systems and the implications of this upgrade I now feel that the cost factor will be greater than first anticipated and for me as a retiree this is an important consideration. Regarding the HTPC I have only one drive in that system and it is a 2TB WD Green drive with two partitions. With the move of it to a NAS I will need another smaller drive or maybe just a mid-range SSD to make this computer work.

For my desktop I have two drives one is a 500GB Seagate drive which I use as a system/application drive. The other drive is a 2TB WD Red drive partitioned for movies and another area for testing. With this upgrade I would then use this drive to complete the RAID 1 (NAS) deployment. This might mean a second drive being required for this system to cover off on what is being lost by the removal of the 2GB hard drive.

Other Issues:There might be a compatibility issue with the NAS having 2 different hard drives installed, although they are of the same size and manufacture. In addition the NAS that I am looking at wants to format both drives upon set up, which means that I will need another large drive somewhere that contains the 800 GB's of movies that then will need to be then moved to the RAID 1 system when complete. There might be a work around with this but many users have failed in their attempt to install just one drive with the data then add a second drive and manually install and format just that new drive and create a RAID 1 configuration. I hope that this is not to confusing?

To make things simple and safe it is my feeling that this upgrade would be best by purchasing another 2TB WD Red hard drive and use it along with my existing Red drive as the NAS drives. Then move the existing 2TB Green drive from the HTPC to my workstation where it will exist as a source location for the movies if the Raid l upgrade using the existing data fails. This then just leaves the purchase of a small disk or SSD to act as a boot device for the HYPC system.

Thoughts and comments please!


Well In your case If i was you I would go directly to ZFS simply because of two things:

One it can work with any type of drive aslong as it's the same size as the others (give or take a few meg).

Two it also allows you to set profiles so that you do not have the deletion permissions except on a single account.

To get the best out of this setup I would suggest also completely diving in now, and turning all your PC's into SSD machines and a server hold all your data, then all you need to install is samba for windows interaction and your sorted for data storage.

As an example all my machines are now holding either a small 128GB SSD (which are about 60 quid now samsung 840 EVO is awesome), my TV is connected also to the network so it can read the Plex media server (so i don't need a HTPC). Along with this all the data is stored on 3 different HDD's all 2TB in a RaidZ1 (which is raid 5 with data correction), then the area's of extreme importance are transferred via snapshot to an external backup drive.

What I like most about ZFS is "scrub" it allows the system to scan through the drive looking for error's in the data if something becomes corrupt it is replaced out from the parity storage bit (which you could set on a schedule).

For you this would involve another machine but as your considering purchasing a NAS your already spending alot of money anyway.

So to save cash I would do is use your two current HD's in a new server to give you an idea this is kind of what I would expect you to pay for this kind of server:

MB: £100 Z87

CPU: Any cheap CPU I'm a Intel Fan atm so mine cost me £40 quid for the lowest end 1150 socket

RAM: 8GB of RAM (That's for ZFS, ZFS needs lots of memory 1GB PER TB is best) £80

HD: Buy another WD Red 2TB and turn those three into ur main network storage £70 (you might have to buy another drive just to be able to transfer this stuff unless you know someone else with the storage, so like you said using the WD green as the end backup).

SSD: Two 840 EVO's £140 for the two and using the 500GB drive as the server OS

That's a £500 quid purchase so that isn't cheap and that's not even including the other parts needed. This could end up being about £650 quid at the end with a case and good powersupply (high efficiency is what your looking for so platnium is the kind of level your looking at).

However this is the most expensive route, the other route you can go is to buy a cheapo PC for a £100 quid and stick a GB ethernet card inside, aslong as it has space for your harddrives you would be fine (then head your way into debian server fun or whatever your fav linux os is). Then buy another 2TB WD Red and place it inside and create yourself a ZFS Mirror instead (gives you the benefit of data correction at the expensive of losing a whole drive to parity).

However as your retired you might want bang for buck more than anything so you'll pay more for this setup in the long run in electricity, it just all depends on your budget really and if you think your ever going to need more storage.

Also to Note if your TV is new you can just use your HTPC as the server (and place it somewhere away from your TV) it would save you buying another PC and use it instead as a media streamer. But again this all depends If the TV you are using is new, the big giveaway if it does support DNLA is the ethernet port on the back.

Hope this helps long post but quite hard to explain in detail otherwise.

Pretty much any way you look at it, you need a third 2tb hdd (and probably a 4th) To maintain your desktops collection of movies and testing area you need a large drive. To back up the whole system you need another large drive for your off line backup and you need two large drives for your nas.

You say you need around 800gb for your movies. That's a good start. You have your current data amount. so now you need to take a guess as to how much you will have this time next year. (No one want to have to buy new disks every month)

I'm going to take a guess and say your rate of data growth is fairly slow. Going the freenas route with a cheap atom or AM1 platform would be both cheap and easy AM1 give you a good bit of processing power idle consumption is pretty low and two sata ports. Your OS runs of USB and you can put your 2 WD red's (the one you have and the one you buy) in there as a mirror. Total capacity is 2tb and by swaping out the drives one at a time with a rebuild in the middle you can get up to 4tb of storage using 4tb drives.

It's not going to be the fastest thing around but it will be more than sufficient for playing some HD movies on your TV. The lack of ECC memory isn't really a deal breaker. How paranoid are you about a memory error messing with your movies. Just buy decent ram for the atom or AM1 platform and run memtest on it every so often.

If you use the WD green as a off line backup drive you wont need to have the movies on your desktop (unless you want to), so your 2tb drive can now shrink. Maybe it would shrink enough for you to use the 500gb drive in its place (only you could answer that question) but if that's the case i would definitely treat myself to a SSD as your os and use the 500gb as your work area disk.

As for the front end of your setup, buy a fast USB key and load the OS on that. I tried it on a sandisk unit a while ago for openelec and it was great. I would recommend a ssd or hdd for windows however.