Home > Toys > Updates on home storage solutions

Updates on home storage solutions

August 17th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

For a while I was looking into and hoping to go the eSATA route. Immature chipsets and lack of OS support have somewhat kept that idea frozen.

I want to use ZFS for a filesystem. Or a filesystem -like- ZFS. Currently there are no others out there like it. There is Btrfs, and there is another one I thought picking up steam (although I can't remember it now for the life of me) - both of those however aren't stable yet. ZFS is still not as stable as I wish on FreeBSD. It won't run natively on Linux, and I don't think it's very stable either. The only true way to get a stable filesystem like ZFS is to in fact run ZFS on Solaris.

I was not excited to try Solaris. It used to be a joke to call it "Slowaris" - I remember the old days of using random UNIX shells and hating Solaris boxes because I couldn't run hardly anything or compile anything. However, that's changed somewhat now. I took the plunge and installed SXCE (Nevada build 94) since Solaris 10u5 did not support the new CIFS implementation. So far, I've learned a little bit here and there about Solaris system administration and I've been using ZFS to create some snapshots, filesystems, etc. It is so easy even my mom could handle it. Not to mention Solaris has some pretty neat tools like the Solaris Fault Manager, which I have crontabbed to run every 30 minutes and email me if -any- hardware/faults get reported. So I have this great box sitting there running the best filesystem possible integrity-wise, and it is also damn quiet. It's not a small form factor which I would have liked, though.

So I begin looking into trying to get a small form factor ZFS box. I might be able to, if I want to hack up a Shuttle style case (see Udat at Mashie Design - there are mini-itx motherboards now with 6 SATA ports onboard which would allow for a 5 drive RAIDZ1 + maybe use a Compact Flash card for a boot drive. However, that requires case modding and can only fit 5 drives. I'm not sure I really want to try all that.

Instead, even Mashie himself has admitted to moving into larger form factors for storage boxes (I believe he's using a CM Stacker nowadays) - and from a space perspective, it probably does make the most sense.

Currently I'm exploring going with a full-size case that could hold 15 drives, or a mid-size case that could hold 10 drives (not including optical + boot)

I think I may have found a winner, for the mid-size option. Lian-li has a self-proclaimed "silent" chassis that has 9 bays (which means 6 bays for 2x5-in-3 modules) + optical + 1 boot disk in the spare 5.25" bay. Roughly 8-9TB usable in a mid-size case that would be about as silent as it can get. It even has a front door on it. Actually, there's a second place one - this one is much more extensible, but has no door on it, which I think would help shield any noise coming from these 5-in-3 modules. See here. Cooler Master also has a case like that too - again, no door on the front. I wish I had local access to all of these cases to try each of them out. Right now I have to order them online, and then pay possible restocking fees, and at least the cost of shipping the product back. I'm tired of that back and forth game. I've had to do it too many times in the past.

Lian-li also has a full-size chassis that already includes 10 internal drive bays, + 5x 5.25" front bays. Those extra bays could be used for more drives too. So many options... I'm trying to determine the amount of space I want to use in my office and how large and bulky I want these machines to be. Ideally I would like as little CPUs as possible - no need to have full-out operating systems installed and having to manage all that. I'm just tired of all my equipment making noise, getting hot, failing, and data corrupting due to failure or bit-rot. It's time to upgrade and streamline.

I've pretty much examined every chassis at Lian-li, Coolermaster and Antec. I have an Antec P182 right now. It's great and quiet, but does not support as many drives as I want for these next boxes. Stay tuned as I pull the trigger and build another storage box soon. Perhaps I'll share some pictures and specifications with my existing storage box I just built, which is for "off site" daily snapshots of my hosting infrastructure and some other servers I administer.

These next machines will be for my own personal use... and now I've gained some good knowledge on what to expect. It's been a while since I've built a normal-sized machine, as I've been a Shuttle XPC user for years now 🙂

Categories: Toys