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Building a server...Is unraid the answer?

WastedfunWastedfun Posts: 254Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

Hello all :)

Soon I will be putting together a new Plex server to replace my "temporary" windows 10 box. I have a small issue with hard drive space however...

I have been in the bad habit of just buying 4tb red drives and once they get filled up, buying another and repeating the process. now I have 9 wd red drives that have about, 4tb of free space between them. In addition, I have two extra red drives that I have not used at all yet. So, in reality, I have a grand total of 8 used drives, and 3 free ones.

Now, my new server will have:

24 HDD bays
2 x Intel Xeon E5-2650 2.0GHz 8 Core CPU
8 x 8GB Ram DDR3 ECC PC3 10600R
3 x LSI SAS9211-8i Raid Cards

I was looking at using freenas, however I have concluded that the safest zfs option is raidz2 with 6 drives in each pool. But to do this I would have to buy 3 more drives just to set up the first array and I would lose a lot of usable space, albeit safe.

Then I started looking into unraid as a possible solution. From what I can find, it seems that I can create a new unRAID array and then expand that array with additional drives, thus expanding the overall storage..If I could do that, I could easily move all of my data to the new array and not have to buy more drives yet. However, I have to wonder how safe this is and if one parity drive is enough. Or for that matter, do I have all my drive on one array, or do I split them up?

I guess at this point in my planning stage, while I wait for my server to get here, I want to see what someone else thinks of this solution and if it would do as I need. And, is it possible to have two parity drives with unraid. I cant seem to find any support for dual parity as people just say its best to have backup of your data. But at this point, a full backup of all of my data is not possible so I have to make my solution as reliable as possible.

The more I look into all this, the more confused I get and the more I bounce back and fourth between unraid and freenas lol. I would love to hear some info from people who know what they are talking about. And yes, this will primarily be for a Plex Media Server. Once setup I will be doing other things, like ftp, cloud, backups, etc. but first and foremost, a pms.

Thank you!

Best Answer

Answers

  • WastedfunWastedfun Posts: 254Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I think that helps a lot, thanks. I didnt know you could dual parity with the newest version. after searching for it, I found the release article and see it. The problem with backups for me is, I cant backup all of my media, its just too much. even if I bought a host for it, it would takes 2 years to upload it with the limitations of my provider (data caps, not speed).

    However, my crucial data...Photos, family videos, documents, etc. are actually stored in 4 locations. Main PC on Raid 1, server on one disk, HDD attached to router and in the cloud.

    I think unRAID is the way to go. Now that I know it supports dual parity and I can expand my array...it seems obvious. The ONLY down side I see is the write speeds for it is terribly slow....but I also have two, 250GB SSD's that will be available to me that I can use for a cache drive. So I think that issue is solved...or rather, worked around.

    Any tips for me as a potentially new unRAIDer?

  • BrianAzBrianAz Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go! Posts: 566Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja
    edited October 2016

    The cache drive is a must if you're adding a lot of content during Plex viewing times. At present I think I have a 500GB WD Black drive. It's plenty fast, though I've fantasized about switching to SSD for even faster copies. I have my mover run once a day @ 3am. That seems to have worked well for me though there have been times where I was copying TB to my server and I ran the mover manually a couple times a day to avoid overflowing the cache and writing direct to the array.

    Tips: Make sure to preclear your drives, especially new ones. I usually run 3 cycles which takes ~ 29 hrs per cycle per 3TB drive. Once your array is fully on-line, keep a spare 4TB pre cleared and on-hand so you can immediately begin rebuilding if you have a drive die. You want to avoid having to take a day or two to get your new drive and then you want to run a preclear to stress the drive before moving it into the array (this is why more parity is good). Most drives appear to fail when they're new or they're good for many years. I try to keep two precleared spares on hand for all my storage arrays (including non-unRAID) as funding permits.

    I use 2xm1015 cards in my system (LSI SAS9220-8i) which are pretty similar to yours. I flashed them to IT mode and they host 16 of my 20 drive bays. They have worked great, so I think you're making a good choice there.

    I don't run any VMs/dockers/etc on my server... just storage. But your CPUs ad RAM look like they're sufficient for the services you're looking to run.

    Looking forward to hearing what you end up with (and maybe some pictures?? :) )

    Plex Clients: 2 iPhone: 8/8+, iPhone SE, iPad Mini, Chromecast (old and new), Mac Mini Mid 2011(MacOS+PMP/Web), Intel NUC DN2820 w/ 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD (OpenPHT), Zotac ID41 (Flirc+PMP), MacBook Pro Mid 2010 (MacOS+PMP/Web), MacBook Pro Early 2015 (MacOS+PMP/Web), i3 Custom Desktop (W10+PMP/Web), 2 aTV 4th Gen, Roku3, ODROID C2 (OpenPHT), Pi3 (NOOBS:Kodi+PMP). Gigabit wired network where possible.
    PlexServer: 2 CPU, 2GB Memory, Gigabit Network, Ubuntu 16.04 VM on ESXI
    ESXI 5.5 (ASRock z77 Extreme4 Whitebox): i7- 3770 CPU, 32 GB RAM, Gigabit Network (Other VMs: BlueIris IP Cam Server, Indigo HomeBridge, ESXiTools)
    Movie/TV Storage: Local - 18 Disk / 47 TB unRAID Server. Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM. Cloud Backup - GDrive
    Remotes: 3xHarmony Smart Control (w/ hub)
    Network: LAN-Gigabit, WAN-GigabitFiber

  • WastedfunWastedfun Posts: 254Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    sweet. thanks again man. I plan on using this primarily for Plex, but once I dive into unRAID, I will want to try out all the other features it has, that seem interesting. I think the expandable storage and dual parity support fully sold me on it. and from what I can tell, it seems like it doesn't stripe drives like raid5 or 6 does. so if I am watching media, only the drive that holds the data will spin up. This is mind blowing as to how a single drive can hold parity for the others without parity shared between all drives..

    I plan on making a big video over all this for my channel, I will share it here when done :)

  • JusedawgJusedawg Posts: 142Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I went with the Enterprise Hardware RAID solution myself, but if I was going to utilize software RAID, it would probably be unRAID.

    I also separated the media server from any serving applications like Plex, Emby, Serviio, Tversity, etc. so they could all access the same data and run as their own VMs and can be worked on and rebooted independently of the media host. I like reboot the RAID host as little as possible. I used to run everything from the RAID host as well and found it to be much more reliable to separate them. So your beefy server is VM host and then the RAID host can be super minimal.

    Of course, I have quite a bit of storage though so it takes a little longer than the average single server. : )

    70+ drives spread of 4 enclosures for about 240TB with an exact mirror in another part of the house. This also allows me to remap the network shares to point tot he backup server instead so there is no loss in service.

    Like you said, online backup isn't feasible so the only option is to mirror it yourself. I have gigabit and it would still take years.

    Just so Plex didn't die, I have servers setup for specific content. I also separate them because Plex has yet to add other library types so if you add everything in as a movie or TV show it clutters up the front page as well as matches things incorrectly.

    Plex - My main windows server (Movies, tv shows)
    Plex Linux - Same as above
    Plex Adult - Adult content
    Plex Music - music, concerts music videos
    Plex Documentary - documentary tv shows and movies
    Plex Reality (Stand-up, PPV, Sport, Workout)
    Emby - Testing alternative to compare and see what Plex is doing right and wrong
    Serviio - Same as above
    XBMC - Same as above
    Tversity - Same as above

    All of which access the same media shares on the RAID host.

  • WastedfunWastedfun Posts: 254Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    wow...beefy setup man, def beyond me at this point. My libraries are more basic...movies, tv shows, comedy, workouts. But when I move things over, I will be breaking them down a bit more by adding kids movies, horror, etc.

    For me at my budget, unraid seems the best starting point.

  • BrianAzBrianAz Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go! Posts: 566Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @Wastedfun said:
    ...and from what I can tell, it seems like it doesn't stripe drives like raid5 or 6 does. so if I am watching media, only the drive that holds the data will spin up. This is mind blowing as to how a single drive can hold parity for the others without parity shared between all drives..

    Yea, you can tell it to only spin up the drive it needs, or you can have it spin up all your "Movie"/"TV"/etc drives at the same time. Initially I had it spinning up only the one drive for whatever I was watching, but I got irritated when I went from one show to another and had to wait for the next drive to spin up. I ended up creating spin-up groups to minimize that issue. It certainly is a nice feature though and offers great flexibility.

    I plan on making a big video over all this for my channel, I will share it here when done :)

    Looking forward to it!

    Plex Clients: 2 iPhone: 8/8+, iPhone SE, iPad Mini, Chromecast (old and new), Mac Mini Mid 2011(MacOS+PMP/Web), Intel NUC DN2820 w/ 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD (OpenPHT), Zotac ID41 (Flirc+PMP), MacBook Pro Mid 2010 (MacOS+PMP/Web), MacBook Pro Early 2015 (MacOS+PMP/Web), i3 Custom Desktop (W10+PMP/Web), 2 aTV 4th Gen, Roku3, ODROID C2 (OpenPHT), Pi3 (NOOBS:Kodi+PMP). Gigabit wired network where possible.
    PlexServer: 2 CPU, 2GB Memory, Gigabit Network, Ubuntu 16.04 VM on ESXI
    ESXI 5.5 (ASRock z77 Extreme4 Whitebox): i7- 3770 CPU, 32 GB RAM, Gigabit Network (Other VMs: BlueIris IP Cam Server, Indigo HomeBridge, ESXiTools)
    Movie/TV Storage: Local - 18 Disk / 47 TB unRAID Server. Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM. Cloud Backup - GDrive
    Remotes: 3xHarmony Smart Control (w/ hub)
    Network: LAN-Gigabit, WAN-GigabitFiber

  • HeciruamHeciruam Posts: 161Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited November 2016

    Where does PLEX store the Posters and the Fanart on unraid? If I had an SSD cache drive would that be saved on there or could i add another ssd for that?

  • LeifggLeifgg Posts: 53Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Yes, the preferred configuration is to have an SSD setup as Cash drive. When you are using Dockers there will be a share called appdata on the cache drive and this is the default location where each Docker container would store its configuration data.


    unRAID server 6.5.2 with Plexinc PMS Docker ver 1.13.1

  • HeciruamHeciruam Posts: 161Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Thanks. I guess I will go with unRaid as well.

  • NeodudeNeodude Posts: 33Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited November 2016

    I can't say enough good things about unRAID tbh. I have it running on Dual Xeons with 64GB ECC Ram.

    I have Plex running on it along with Couch Potato, Sonarr, NZBget, Deluge, Crash Plan, Calibre, Teamspeak and more.

    As well as this it is running my Gaming PC as a virtual machine, an OSX Virtual Machine and a Linux VM.



    Plex Server: Home Server "Gandalf": unRAID Pro 6 | Case: Lian-Li PC-D600WB | MB: ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS | CPU: Dual Xeon E5-2670 | RAM: 64GB Crucial PC-1600 ECC | Cache: 2 x Samsung 850 EVO 1TB | Array: 4 x 4TB WD Red, 4 x 3TB WD Red | Gaming VM: Win10 & MSI GTX1070

    Players: 6x RasPlex on RPi3.

  • JusedawgJusedawg Posts: 142Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    You game inside a VM? I do a lot of stuff from VMs, but gaming isn't one of them. How does that perform compared to being a host OS? You are remote desktop into the VM as well when playing games? There has to be some type of lag there. whether it be audio, video or input.

    Interesting choice to combine your desktop and server into one machine. My servers take up several racks so that literally isn't possible, but nice case those, great job. : ) Xeons are awesome for servers, just never used one for gaming.

  • georgelzageorgelza Posts: 53Members ✭✭

    Just curious, close to 12 months after these posts. Updates.

    Busy starting to put together a BOM for a new Home NAS/Media server.
    So far the only def is the drives and run-in Plex
    Still bouncing between FreeNAS, unRAID and RockSTOR

    G

  • HeciruamHeciruam Posts: 161Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I'm happy with unraid and I will stay with it. But if I had the funds to buy the same drives and replace all of them when I need more space I would probably go with FreeNAS.

  • metoermetoer Posts: 4Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    If > @Jusedawg said:

    You game inside a VM? I do a lot of stuff from VMs, but gaming isn't one of them. How does that perform compared to being a host OS? You are remote desktop into the VM as well when playing games? There has to be some type of lag there. whether it be audio, video or input.

    Interesting choice to combine your desktop and server into one machine. My servers take up several racks so that literally isn't possible, but nice case those, great job. : ) Xeons are awesome for servers, just never used one for gaming.

    Look at this for gaming in a vm

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