unRAID

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Storing
Tags: , ,

I’ve been planning to play with unRAID for a while now, and the
original plans called for me to build a new WHS and then re-cycle the
old box for unRAID. As usual I went a completely different route.

The old desktop was originally re-cycled into a Win 7 MCE.. After
building it I then decided that there really was no reason for it.
We’ve got Sky and that does all the PVR duties that we currently need.
What we do have is a problem with media playback from our own library
via XBMC. Video will playback but on completion, the screen will go
black and the box will lock up. The logs indicate an issue with SMB,
something that I’m increasingly becoming convinced is due to the NAS.
Space on the NAS is also creeping towards ‘full’, so something will
need to be done sooner rather than later.

So in the best traditions of TwistedNix…. I ripped the MBoard out of
the HTPC case and dumped it back into a small tower case. Added a
couple of large (1Tb +) drives, an USB flash drive for the OS and off
we went. A brief (33 hour) wait for the drives to all finish
pre-clearing and we were ready to build the new array.

The free version of unRAID allows for 3 drives in an array (1 parity
and 2 storage), but even this simple set up immediately gave me 2.5Tb
of storage… almost as much as the old NAS in RAID5 currently gives.
And none of that must use matched drives rubbish that makes RAID
management such a PITA.

So far it’s all worked beautifully, so I’m now waiting for a new case,
PSU and Lexar Flash drive to port the server into it’s new home.

As it stands now I can connect 7 SATA HDD to the MBoard. Assuming 1
parity and 1 cache drive, that leave me with initial potential for
15Tb of useable storage. (5x3Tb HDD). There are 2 PCI slots free on
the board, so potentially another 4 if I can extract the Sil PCI SATA
card from another box and another 4 if I buy an additional card. That
gives me a potential storage pool of a huge 39Tb… Granted that’s
theoretical (last time I checked I didn’t have 13 3Tb drives hanging
around in boxes or the ~£2k it would cost to buy that many!).

Once that is done I’ll look at copying the media library across on to
the unRAID and then setup the NFS access for XBMC. The old NAS can
stay on the network for music and downloads.

Useful unRAID links:

unRAID

unRAID Me

Jim Metcalf’s article on his unRAID experience

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