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ryans081

Starter Unraid build to eventual setup.

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Current Setup and Use:

 

2 Drobos

Intel NUC server Plex

 

The drobos are filling up, so I was in the process of building a FreeNAS server, then I found UnRaid. I like the idea of being able to expand as needed, thus I am leaning towards UnRaid instead.

 

As with building a new project, you get excited and the project becomes more than it you initially planned and more grand.

 

I have went from thinking about buying a used server off of ebay, building from scratch, replacing my current CPU/MB with a new one and using it as the server. But, due to various reasons, 4k Transcoding, compatibility, cost, form factor, etc... It just made more sense to use an older PC that I have laying around and using the Rosewill 12 bay chassis. And eventually, build a more robust server as a VM Host and spin Plex as a VM.

 

I have a couple of questions before moving forward with this project.

 

I understand that UnRaid, is installed on a USB. If I want to upgrade the hardware, is it as easy and replacing it and the USB will still recognize everything? This most likely means going from a desktop grade setup to Xeons.

 

In a similar fashion, backing up the contents of the USB, to another USB. Would they be interchangeable in case of USB failure?

 

With dual parity, do I start with 3 of 4 Hard drives?

 

This might sound a bit silly, but, I like organizing things. Since the largest drives are always the parity, I plan on putting them at the end of the chassis. If I purchase a bigger drive, I would remove one of them and put the bigger drive in. Do I have to wait for it to rebuild the array or can I just pop it in, put the "old parity drive" into its new slot and call it the day?

 

As stated, eventually, I plan on building a more robust VM server. It will serve the Plex Host that is capable of transcoding 4k and a lab environment. For the lab environment, disk usage will be localized. So  really, the only connection between the storage and this server is Plex.

 

In this setup, are cache drives even recommended?

 

Thanks,

 

Ryan

 

 

 

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Yes you can upgrade hardware and unRAID will recognize the new hardware.

 

You can back up the contents of the USB drive, I would search for threads on this.

 

Dual parity doesn't really make sense, IMO, until you have a lot of drives and you can move up to dual parity at any time, assuming your license permits it. If you are starting out with only four drives, I would stick with single parity for now.

 

In terms of replacing drives with a larger one, you have to rebuild parity. The process of replacing a drive with a larger one is like this and assumes you have hot swap drive capability, otherwise you have to power the server off:

 

-Stop the array

-remove drive you want to replace

-start array

-stop array

-add new drive

-start array, unRAID recognizes new drive and says it has to overwrite the drive to rebuilt data

-parity rebuild begins

 

Cache drives are recommended for several reasons, one being the use of dockers and another being for VM's. Cache drives are typically where docker and VM information are stored.

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1 hour ago, ryans081 said:

Do I have to wait for it to rebuild the array or can I just pop it in, put the "old parity drive" into its new slot and call it the day?

Yes. and no. It can be simple or complicated, depending on what exactly you are doing and want to end up with.

 

Waiting for a rebuild depends on which part of the question, and your definition of wait. Yes, you replace the smaller parity drive with the larger one, and start the rebuild. No, you don't have to wait for it to complete before you use the array, but it may be slower to access and it will slow down the rebuild process.

 

If you want to add the old parity drive back to the array as a data drive, you can add it to another logical slot, and it will be cleared to allow it to be added without effecting parity. The array is still available while this is happening, but you can't use the new drive until it's done clearing and you have checked the box and allowed it to be formatted.

 

If you want to do both operations at once, you can, but it's a little more complicated. There are more complications that exist when dealing with both parity type 1 and 2. If you only have parity type 1 you have more flexibility. Parity type 2 is drive slot dependent, so you can't move drives from logical slot to slot without rebuilding it. Parity type 1 is slot agnostic.

 

You can't add a data drive to the array that is larger than either of your parity drives.

 

1 hour ago, ryans081 said:

In a similar fashion, backing up the contents of the USB, to another USB. Would they be interchangeable in case of USB failure?

 

The USB stick GUID is tied to the license. You can only start the array with the matched license file, however, you can keep a working bootable backup on another USB stick with your current license if you wish, and then if your licensed stick dies, you can go to the license tool in the WebGUI and transfer it to the new stick automatically once a year. If you have incredibly bad luck and the dog eats your replacement stick before the year is up, you can plead your case with limetech and they will deal with it from there.

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Looks like they answered most.

 

I would add there's no need to run a VM just for Plex. There are Dockers for that and many other apps. Some of us haven't really needed a VM, docker apps do all we want. 

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2 hours ago, ryans081 said:

I understand that UnRaid, is installed on a USB. If I want to upgrade the hardware, is it as easy and replacing it and the USB will still recognize everything?

 

True for unRAID the NAS. Less so for unRAID the VM host. If you decide to create a VM and pass-through some specific hardware from the host, then that VM has become depending on that specific hardware. But that is obviously not a limitation of unRAID  as hypervisor.

 

2 hours ago, ryans081 said:

With dual parity, do I start with 3 of 4 Hard drives?

 

Your own choice. You can start with 3 disks in the array - one data and two parity. Obviously, you get a higher startup cost per TB of storage with only one third of the disk capacity available. But you have no advantage of adding in disks before you actually need them. But I wouldn't bother with two parity drives for a single data disk - I would probably wait until I have 3-4 data disks before moving to a second parity drive.

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I thought I would add another bit about the "installed on a USB". You could think of the flash drive as the "firmware". The OS is unpacked from the archives on flash into RAM at boot time. The OS actually runs in RAM and not on flash. Settings you make in the unRAID webUI are also stored on flash so they can reapplied at boot time. So, the flash drive really gets very little activity to cause it to wear out.

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I should have been more clear, the other server is actually going to be an ESXi host with Raid 10.  I was just planning on using the UnRaid server as a straight NAS with a 10gb connection between the two servers. But, I might as well give docker a shot and see if my old PC can handle the work load.

 

I think I'll just stick to single parity and sign up to a cloud backup like crashplan. I have been meaning to do so anyway.

 

Thanks for the replies everyone. Now just have to wait for the chassis to arrive.

 

 

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