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Building a business NAS

nas storage backup raid zfs

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#1 CelticWhisper

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 21:27

I'm looking at putting together a pair of NAS servers for my (small-medium size, and thus cost-conscious) company so we can have offsite backups of our SQL database and user data. I've got a proposed hardware list but I'm not 100% certain about implementation just yet.

First, the hardware:

Case: Antec Three Hundred
PSU: Seasonic S12II 430B
MB: Asus F1A75-M LE
CPU (APU): AMD A4-3300
RAM: G.Skill 4GB DDR3 1600 (Non-ECC)
RAID Controller: Intel SASWT4I
Storage: 4xWD Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200RPM SATA HDD, planned to be striped in a RAID5 array.
And two of these: http://www.neweggbus...N82E16835185054 to cool the drives.

My questions, though, are:

-Starting with the heart of the beast, is the Intel RAID controller any good?

-What about the rest of the hardware? I was a little surprised at myself for choosing the Antec case, but it's $60, has 2 120mm fan mounts that point right at the drives (which I'd want to keep cool due to the nature of the system), and Antec is a trusted brand.

-This is intended as a recipient system for automated backups, so integrity is a must. Should I be using ECC RAM for this (my gut says yea, but I'm also worried about costs jumping up if I have to find a new mobo that accepts ECC memory)?

-In all fairness, this isn't really a hardware question, but what should I run on this? My initial instinct was to go with FreeNAS, but I'm not seeing that the Intel RAID card is compatible, and when I tried looking up Q&A on FreeNAS-compatible RAID cards, they kept talking about using ZFS instead. Is ZFS a better way to go? I'm inclined to stay with what I know, which means RAID. Does that make FreeNAS a no-go? If so, what else would be good in terms of compatibility and ease of management?

As always, thanks so much for the help.


#2 Site Lab

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 22:31

ZFS is the file system. You can use RAID + ZFS.

In regards to ECC RAM, the FM1 socket motherboards donot support ECC however Socket AM3 ones do for example:


ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/1866/1800/1600/1333/1066 MHz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory

$94.99


ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

4 x DIMM, Max. 16GB, DDR3 1866(O.C.)/1333/1066 Hz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memor y

$79.99


You could then couple this with something like an X2 or an X4. Otherwise the rest of your specs look fine (otherthan the non ecc ram)...



#3 cybertimber2008

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 22:34

So just to be sure, you're putting BACKUPS on this correct? This isn't a storage server for active SQL DBs or anything, but just backups?

4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/1866/1800/1600/1333/1066 MHz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory

$94.99


ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard


4 x DIMM, Max. 16GB, DDR3 1866(O.C.)/1333/1066 Hz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memor y

$79.99

Uhh, which is it? EEC or Non-EEC?!?! They say both.

#4 Site Lab

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 22:45

Yes, it means it accepts ECC and Non-ECC memory apparently.

#5 evacc44

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 23:13

Though it may be more expensive, have you looked at a drobo? Depending on how much storage you need, it may not be much more than $500 for the unit.

#6 OP CelticWhisper

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:34

Site Lab - I figured that was possible but a lot of the posts about FreeNAS+RAID implied that ZFS should be used in place of RAID rather than alongside it.

Cybertimber2008 - Yes, backups only. These should not see duty as live SQL servers. The closest they'll get is if they're needed for a restore operation.

evacc44 - Hadn't considered a Drobo. How are they regarding remote monitoring/management? My current vision is having one of these devices at each of our two branch warehouses and running backups over our site-to-site wireless links (approx. 30Mbps). Will these work with either our current Backup Exec 11 software or another backup management program?

#7 Jason S.

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 20:30

i would suggest buying a pre-built NAS from QNAP or Synology. I had my company purchase a Synology RS810RP+ and it's great. dual PSU's, all the RAID specs you could want. this unit will also support an expansion shelf. The software's features are spectacular for business use as well. This unit comes w/ a 5 year limited warranty.

I highly recommend Synology! i have a DS409 unit at home as well.

#8 cybertimber2008

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 17:11

Cybertimber2008 - Yes, backups only. These should not see duty as live SQL servers. The closest they'll get is if they're needed for a restore operation.

If it's just for backups than yea, you probably could get away with building one since all you really need is storage. A bought one would have support however.

Anyway...
The case I can speak for because I have one, it's a solid case and very nice. There is a dust filter in the front where the spare 5.25" bays are that can get dirty, so you may have to clean it periodically. Though I can't see the fan holders as well as they show in the pictures.

Power supply should be fine as long as it agrees with a PSU calculator and has the room for supporting more hard drives if you find yourself in the need to add more. Give yourself some room as well as 430w is the peak, but it can't run 430 continously (you probably already knew). A modular might be a little better in your case as you can add more SATA power cables and forget about the old molex ones, but the one you have really would be fine.

Mobo looks ok. I see you had 4GB of ram (which should also be fine), but I see the Motherboard only has 2 slots. You may want to see if you can find an acceptable one with 4 slots. It's easier (and cheaper) to put in 4 sticks of a smaller size ram, than 2 of a higher capacity (eg, 4x4gb vs 2x8gb). Second NIC onboard or otherwise wouldn't be a bad thing to look at either (load balancing mainly, failover also a good consideration, etc). Backups can make use of the network throughput.

Ram: Probably overkill with the heatsinks. For a storage server, speed of the RAM isn't a critical factor.

Processor: Looks ok. L2 cache leaves a little to be desired (2x512KB) but may not have a big impact.

RAID controller: Don't know much about that model, but I will note that it supports a hot spare. If your budget allows, make use of it (eg, 4x1TB drives in a RAID-5 array w/ the fifth as a hot spare). You don't want your backup storage in a degraded state too long while you are waiting for a replacement drive to arrive.

Hard Drive: For a backup storage server, should be ok. Like I said above, order one additional (per NAS) for a hot spare, and have at least one on hand, unplugged and stored away as a cold spare.