What's the best home file server nowdays

MrMitch

Spinning Drives Rule!
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Messages
2,604
My current set up is a WHS 2011 system. Have about 5 TB of data and its all duplicated so about 10 TB of storage. The primary purpose is to back up other PC's and act as a storage hub for windows media center. It's been acting up lately and I'm debating overhauling it. Since WHS is a dead end tech and I havent been paying attention much lately, whats a good system?

Needs to "help" prevent data loss if a hard drive dies. Ideally a software solution as I'm not looking to add a raid card, and I don't have matched drives but rather a collection of 1.5 and 2's from all the companies.

Is windows 7 a viable option as I have a copy I can spare for it. What would I do to make that happen.


thanks and if you need any more info let me know, I appreciate the help.
 

bao__zhe

Weaksauce
Joined
Apr 18, 2012
Messages
123
Seems to be a good opportunity for ZFS? Either native ZFS or ZFS on Linux.

If you want to stick with Windows then you can take a look at Storage Space. Not as good as ZFS but better than before.
 

MrMitch

Spinning Drives Rule!
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Messages
2,604
I was looking at freenas with ZFS, but does ZFS allow multiple miss matched drives and cover a disk failure.

I keep really important data on an external locked up in a safe, but I still want some redundancy incase of a disk drive failure.
 

nodle

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 9, 2001
Messages
1,557
I'm still rocking the WHS V1. Still works awesome. I have heard that Windows 8 can do some of the same stuff though now. I have seen alot of people switching to either a Netgear or Synology boxes these days though. Or you could always make your own.
 

dandragonrage

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
ZFSonLinux with a 3.11.x-based kernel (don't touch 3.12+ at the moment - ZoL doesn't have a stable release that's compatible yet)

I've used Solaris 11/11, 11.1, Illumian, OmniOS... Performance with my ZoL setup is ridiculously improved, and Linux has better hardware support than BSD or OpenSolaris/etc. Some people claim I just suck at optimizing the OpenSolaris-based distros and that may be true, but I tried NFS and CIFS, tried quite a few tweaks that I found, and couldn't get decent performance even though when I ran utilites to benchmark the network it was fast and local disk tests were fast, but CIFS and NFS just performed like crap, no matter what I did. And even if it WAS my fault for not tweaking it correctly - Linux is still better, because I didn't need to tweak it at all to get awesome performance.

I will note that actual Solaris also performed better than OpenSolaris-based stuff for me.

NTFS is awful, by the way. It is the worst part of Windows aside from activation.
 

Phantum

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 25, 2001
Messages
1,716
I too am an ex-WHS user and while I must say that I was extremely happy with it, compared to my current setup it was a joke. I loved the ease of setting permissions, duplicating specific shares and above all else idiot-proof disk pooling via Drive Extender. I was scared to make a change but after a brush with nearly complete data loss and mysterious slowness I knew I needed to do something.

Enter ZFS... I decided to re-visit FreeNAS (it had been a few years since I used it) and after just one week I will never look back, or anywhere else for that matter. I grabbed a 3TB external USB drive and copied everything on the WHS to that and began my quest into FreeNAS w/ ZFS. My current setup is very simple and yet extremely powerful, useful and fast. I grabbed one of these and based on a few reviews I found I decided to get 8GB of SO-DIMM RAM to go with it (even though Supermicro says it maxes out at 4GB) and BAM! a rock-solid ZFS box was born.

Storage is done in my own crazy way because I was unable to find (or the filesystem is unable to) an official guide to nesting the levels (hybrid levels). I have 3x RAID-Z1 arrays; the first two are comprised of 6x 1.5TB disks and the third is 3x 3TB disks. The first two arrays rsync to the third nightly and snapshots of all three are taken every hour. If I'm not mistaken (someone correct me if I'm way off base here) I've set this up to be similar to a RAID51 setup. But a RAID-Z2 or even Z3 setup would be great, if you're particularly paranoid.
 

Ghost26

Weaksauce
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
110
ZFS on an Atom based rig ?!

And you say you have good performance ?!

I'm interested in a few numbers here ! How do you score in IOPS and data throughput ?
 

uOpt

Gawd
Joined
Mar 29, 2006
Messages
795
Win7 doesn't come with software solutions up to the level of ZFS or Linux md.

For a complicated (probably better) solution I like ZFS on FreeBSD. For a "primitive" solution I like Linux md and ext4 on top.
 

westrock2000

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
9,346
If you want to stay on Windows you have to go to hardware RAID. There is no "good" filesystem that can offer protection like ZFS.

If you can stand to move to Linux, Unix or OSX then ZFS is by far the ticket.

It can handle just about any scenario you can throw at it and the throughput is more then enough for a home file server.
 

/dev/null

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Mar 31, 2001
Messages
15,190
zfs on FreeBSD has been out for years, has a large community and is rock solid stable. It's also less obtuse than Solaris.

I say go FreeBSD :)
 

Bobalias_LeShay

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 27, 2013
Messages
287
Synology FTW.
I'd have to recommend against a NAS appliance unless you're unable to roll your own solution. On one hand, an appliance is dead simple and just works. However, it's also more expensive, less powerful, and less flexible.
 

okashira

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 7, 2005
Messages
1,802
ZFSonLinux with a 3.11.x-based kernel (don't touch 3.12+ at the moment - ZoL doesn't have a stable release that's compatible yet)

I've used Solaris 11/11, 11.1, Illumian, OmniOS... Performance with my ZoL setup is ridiculously improved, and Linux has better hardware support than BSD or OpenSolaris/etc. Some people claim I just suck at optimizing the OpenSolaris-based distros and that may be true, but I tried NFS and CIFS, tried quite a few tweaks that I found, and couldn't get decent performance even though when I ran utilites to benchmark the network it was fast and local disk tests were fast, but CIFS and NFS just performed like crap, no matter what I did. And even if it WAS my fault for not tweaking it correctly - Linux is still better, because I didn't need to tweak it at all to get awesome performance.

I will note that actual Solaris also performed better than OpenSolaris-based stuff for me.

NTFS is awful, by the way. It is the worst part of Windows aside from activation.

You found OmniOS to be slow ? Linux faster? Did you try Freenas?
 

Ghost26

Weaksauce
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
110
I'd have to recommend against a NAS appliance unless you're unable to roll your own solution. On one hand, an appliance is dead simple and just works. However, it's also more expensive, less powerful, and less flexible.

But if you take the synology example, you don't need anything more ... Unless you want ZFS, Synology NAS are very good.

Sure, it's expensive. Less powerful : yes, but for simple "traditional" non-ZFS file system, it's enough. Anyway, you'll be limited by the network. Less flexible : okay, but Synology offers a good number of packages for multiple services. Yes, a Debian/Red Hat server would offer more packages, but I don't know them so I don't probably need them. As for the hardware, there's not much to do : if something breaks on a Synology, you probably can't repair it, but you can access your data since it,s mdadm and EXT4.

But yes, it's dead simple, ready out of-the-box, and you don't have to spend hours to configure and optimize the performances just like on a ZFS system. And ZFS is not for everybody too. I see it more for large scale and business data than storing movies and music...
 

dandragonrage

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
You found OmniOS to be slow ? Linux faster? Did you try Freenas?

Yes, OmniOS was extremely slow for me. 2 teamed gigabit connections that did bench basically at theoretical speed via netio (yes I know netio is extremely simple) to another machine also with 2 teamed gigabit connections. Windows 7 as a client in both cases (and I was using the MS NFS client which is only v3 because I couldn't figure out how to get the umich v4.1 client to run without the identity mapping server stuff). Local disk benches did over 100MB/s easily. Couldn't get more than ~40MB/s (with large files mostly 250MB+) over either CIFS or NFS. Again, I may have needed to tweak things better, but I spent quite a while trying quite a few tweaks, none of which helped.

I've set up FreeNAS for other people, but let's just say I'm not a fan of BSD in general. Linux is FAR from perfect (their kernel RCs are betas and the first few releases should be the RCs - they don't test the kernel anywhere near well enough - so I'll only consider it after several revisions i.e. I went to 3.11 series with 3.11.8 only) but it has the best package management, the best driver support, and to me, is by FAR the easiest to use.

If you're wondering if FreeNAS would have performed well for me, I'm honestly not sure. I got rid of my server when I moved from a house to an apartment. I currently dual-boot Windows 7 and Linux, and only have access to most of my storage in Linux. I've been meaning to get my Windows 7 partition to be usable via KVM in Linux, and to set up a VMWare Player VM with my Linux partition in Windows, but haven't gotten to doing either yet. Also VMWare Player 6.0.1 has a bug in trying to add a physical disk passthru to a VM - it gives "Internal error" and crashes out of the settings dialog and doesn't save the configuration. (I might be able to do it if I edit the vmx file myself, as it does save the vmdk files containing the passthru info - I probably just need to find the syntax to use in the vmx file to reference these vmdk files). As things are now, Linux is usable to me as a desktop OS as well. I have Steam installed in both Windows and Linux, though only some of my games are available in Linux at the moment. I did install Linux on my server to replace OmniOS very briefly before I moved, though, and it was indeed much better for me. It's helpful for me that I simply have much, much, much more Linux experience than all other *nix combined (Solaris/OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, HP-UX (glad my work got off of this crap), etc.).

Not saying FreeBSD has no use in the world, but it couldn't interest me less. I don't see a compelling reason to use it over Linux. Yeah, you could say it's much better tested, but I'd rather just treat most Linux kernels as the betas they are and just use a stable one. Of course FreeBSD is better tested, because they barely ever update it. Some people might be fine with that. It's just not for me.
 
Last edited:

okashira

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 7, 2005
Messages
1,802
Yes, OmniOS was extremely slow for me. 2 teamed gigabit connections that did bench basically at theoretical speed via netio (yes I know netio is extremely simple) to another machine also with 2 teamed gigabit connections. Windows 7 as a client in both cases (and I was using the MS NFS client which is only v3 because I couldn't figure out how to get the umich v4.1 client to run without the identity mapping server stuff). Local disk benches did over 100MB/s easily. Couldn't get more than ~40MB/s (with large files mostly 250MB+) over either CIFS or NFS. Again, I may have needed to tweak things better, but I spent quite a while trying quite a few tweaks, none of which helped.

I've set up FreeNAS for other people, but let's just say I'm not a fan of BSD in general. Linux is FAR from perfect (their kernel RCs are betas and the first few releases should be the RCs - they don't test the kernel anywhere near well enough - so I'll only consider it after several revisions i.e. I went to 3.11 series with 3.11.8 only) but it has the best package management, the best driver support, and to me, is by FAR the easiest to use.

If you're wondering if FreeNAS would have performed well for me, I'm honestly not sure. I got rid of my server when I moved from a house to an apartment. I currently dual-boot Windows 7 and Linux, and only have access to most of my storage in Linux. I've been meaning to get my Windows 7 partition to be usable via KVM in Linux, and to set up a VMWare Player VM with my Linux partition in Windows, but haven't gotten to doing either yet. Also VMWare Player 6.0.1 has a bug in trying to add a physical disk passthru to a VM - it gives "Internal error" and crashes out of the settings dialog and doesn't save the configuration. (I might be able to do it if I edit the vmx file myself, as it does save the vmdk files containing the passthru info - I probably just need to find the syntax to use in the vmx file to reference these vmdk files). As things are now, Linux is usable to me as a desktop OS as well. I have Steam installed in both Windows and Linux, though only some of my games are available in Linux at the moment. I did install Linux on my server to replace OmniOS very briefly before I moved, though, and it was indeed much better for me. It's helpful for me that I simply have much, much, much more Linux experience than all other *nix combined (Solaris/OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, HP-UX (glad my work got off of this crap), etc.).

Not saying FreeBSD has no use in the world, but it couldn't interest me less. I don't see a compelling reason to use it over Linux. Yeah, you could say it's much better tested, but I'd rather just treat most Linux kernels as the betas they are and just use a stable one. Of course FreeBSD is better tested, because they barely ever update it. Some people might be fine with that. It's just not for me.

Thanks for your reply. I have only used FreeNAS, and the performance has been good with my new (although powerful) setup. I get 110 MB/sec over CIFS pretty consistant.
However, I am not happy with the power management and driver support.

I wonder if Linux would better support a newer board such as a C2550 atom or better support the power management features of my Haswell C226 setup.
such as lower idle power; and proper sleep support and WOL. Oh, and Intel USB 3.0

I have absolutely no experience with Linux, and my only BSD experience is in FreeNAS. I wonder would you recommend to me to try Linux? Where would I start?
 

dandragonrage

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Thanks for your reply. I have only used FreeNAS, and the performance has been good with my new (although powerful) setup. I get 110 MB/sec over CIFS pretty consistant.
However, I am not happy with the power management and driver support.

I wonder if Linux would better support a newer board such as a C2550 atom or better support the power management features of my Haswell C226 setup.
such as lower idle power; and proper sleep support and WOL. Oh, and Intel USB 3.0

I have absolutely no experience with Linux, and my only BSD experience is in FreeNAS. I wonder would you recommend to me to try Linux? Where would I start?

Intel is still working on getting Linux power management up to part with Windows, but it should be a LOT better than any other *nix. What I don't know is if Intel's P-state driver is included with precompiled kernels Linux distros provide or if they tend to only include the less-good-for-modern-Intel-chips cpufreq stuff. I compile my own kernels as that is what I have always done with Linux.

I do recommend giving Linux a try (it's not like you HAVE to stick with it if you end up not liking it). I am currently using OpenSuSE 13.1, though I will probably move to Arch (something I also have experience with). I've used a lot of distros over the years (to name just some: Slackware, Debian, Mandrake, Redhat, Fedora, OpenSuSE, Gentoo, Sabayon, Arch, Linux Mint... and probably at least 3-4 more I can't think of at the moment).

Most people go with Ubuntu because it's easy, but I avoid it because I don't support how Canonical keeps deviating from standard Linux software in favor of in-house software which is considerably worse (only because they want total control, kind of like Apple did with OSX) and then Mark Shuttleworth (a f***king piece of... yeah) goes and whines about developers not wanting to support them, when in actuality it's them that won't support the Linux community.

I can recommend OpenSuSE though you'll need to install ZFS from http://software.opensuse.org/131/en - I use this one http://software.opensuse.org/package/zfsonlinux-spl-dkms (aevseev's repo). It's not necessarily super easy to install ZFS with OpenSuSE if you're not that familiar with Linux. You can either do it the traditional kernel module way or you can use DKMS. I think you might need a couple other packages... libzfs2 and zfsonlinux-zfs, if I remember correctly.

Once you get it all installed, go to a prompt, su up and (if I remember correctly - I am not in Linux at the moment):
dkms build spl -v 0.6.2
dkms install spl -v 0.6.2
dkms build zfs -v 0.6.2
dkms install zfs -v 0.6.2
zpool import -f [yourpoolname]

Some distros will be easier to install ZFS on than this, though personally I didn't have an issue with it since I'm familiar enough with Linux. I can't tell you which are the easiest to do it on. Many of them I haven't used for at least a year. Perhaps, if you want, someone else might be able to tell you a distro or two which are relatively easy to use and install ZFS on.
 
Last edited:

okashira

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 7, 2005
Messages
1,802
Intel is still working on getting Linux power management up to part with Windows, but it should be a LOT better than any other *nix. What I don't know is if Intel's P-state driver is included with precompiled kernels Linux distros provide or if they tend to only include the less-good-for-modern-Intel-chips cpufreq stuff. I compile my own kernels as that is what I have always done with Linux.

I do recommend giving Linux a try (it's not like you HAVE to stick with it if you end up not liking it). I am currently using OpenSuSE 13.1, though I will probably move to Arch (something I also have experience with). I've used a lot of distros over the years (to name just some: Slackware, Debian, Mandrake, Redhat, Fedora, OpenSuSE, Gentoo, Sabayon, Arch, Linux Mint... and probably at least 3-4 more I can't think of at the moment).

Most people go with Ubuntu because it's easy, but I avoid it because I don't support how Canonical keeps deviating from standard Linux software in favor of in-house software which is considerably worse (only because they want total control, kind of like Apple did with OSX) and then Mark Shuttleworth (a f***king piece of... yeah) goes and whines about developers not wanting to support them, when in actuality it's them that won't support the Linux community.

I can recommend OpenSuSE though you'll need to install ZFS from http://software.opensuse.org/131/en - I use this one http://software.opensuse.org/package/zfsonlinux-spl-dkms (aevseev's repo). It's not necessarily super easy to install ZFS with OpenSuSE if you're not that familiar with Linux. You can either do it the traditional kernel module way or you can use DKMS. I think you might need a couple other packages... libzfs2 and zfsonlinux-zfs, if I remember correctly.

Once you get it all installed, go to a prompt, su up and (if I remember correctly - I am not in Linux at the moment):
dkms build spl -v 0.6.2
dkms install spl -v 0.6.2
dkms build zfs -v 0.6.2
dkms install zfs -v 0.6.2
zpool import -f [yourpoolname]

Some distros will be easier to install ZFS on than this, though personally I didn't have an issue with it since I'm familiar enough with Linux.

Thanks. I gotta know one thing. Is Haswell USB 3.0 usable? With ZFS?
 

lilfiend

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 28, 2008
Messages
6,663
drivebender for windows for simplicity in setup and sharing.

I've fully changed the computer its in and reinstalled several times, removed HDD's, added HDD's, all while keeping the same share, it is literally as easy as setting it up once and it just works forever. I've never had to reconfigure my pool after I initially set it up, every reformat of windows it just auto detects my pool and its good as gold after I reinstall drivebender.
 

dandragonrage

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Thanks. I gotta know one thing. Is Haswell USB 3.0 usable? With ZFS?

Haven't tried it. There's a USB 3.0 driver yes but no idea with ZFS. It will probably work. Test it out with non-sensitive data first unless someone else can confirm.

P.S. if you ever see a blank pool and are like MY DATA DISAPPEARED!! try an export and an import. I tend to have to do that when I update certain things. Also if you update zfs you'll need to redo the dkms stuff.
 

Moogoos

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Messages
334
Synology FTW.

I'd have to recommend against a NAS appliance unless you're unable to roll your own solution. On one hand, an appliance is dead simple and just works. However, it's also more expensive, less powerful, and less flexible.



+1 Synology. He can use SHR with his different disks. It also HAS a lot of features that a plain old FS does not and typically much easier to use and manage. It can also play his video.
 

Quartz-1

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
4,257
The primary purpose is to back up other PC's and act as a storage hub for windows media center. It's been acting up lately and I'm debating overhauling it. Since WHS is a dead end tech and I havent been paying attention much lately, whats a good system?

(Bolding mine)

I suggest you look into fixing whatever is wrong with your installation of WHS. If you insist on moving on, you should try WSE 2012. The backup facilities of WHS and WSE are tailor made for the home user.
 

Aesma

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 24, 2010
Messages
1,854
What do you mean by mismatched drives ? If it's models/brands but same size, then ZFS is fine. Different sizes, you can forget most of the answers in this thread, and consider FlexRAID and similar solutions.
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Messages
18
Personally I like using Windows 8.1. It is super slow, but on the other hand it is super slow. I enjoyed FreeNAS when I used it, but the wife always had trouble using it. Win 8 just works for me. Did I mention how SLOW it is?
 

Ghost26

Weaksauce
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
110
Personally I like using Windows 8.1. It is super slow, but on the other hand it is super slow. I enjoyed FreeNAS when I used it, but the wife always had trouble using it. Win 8 just works for me. Did I mention how SLOW it is?

I agree !!! It is SLOW ! loL !! :p
 
Top