Question expanding size of a NAS

Gerry557

Active Member
I am considering a NAS but cant seem to find out if you can expand the size by simply adding another hard drive. I was thinking of trying raid 5 with 3 drives to start, I think this is the minimum, correct me if Im wrong.

As it fills up can I just add a fourth drive to add or map to the array?

I have an old pc and thinking of using free nas to trial it assuming it works. If so to save the lecky bill can I just use a low power cpu/motherboard combo again assuming I can find one with enough sata connections.

Is there any merit in keeping windows7 or upgrade to 10. just for storage?

Finally again correct me if I am wrong, if a drive fails, I would loose access to all data until I replaced the faulty one.

Thanks in advance and Im sorry google hasnt helped
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I was thinking of trying raid 5 with 3 drives to start, I think this is the minimum, correct me if Im wrong.

As it fills up can I just add a fourth drive to add or map to the array?

In a "classic" RAID5 array, no - you have to back off, destroy the array and recreate. However, there are some smarter RAID controllers/software available these days that may be able to do it on the fly. I'm afraid it's something you'll have to pay attention to when you're choosing your NAS/OS. Doubtless others here will be able to advise on particular models.

Finally again correct me if I am wrong, if a drive fails, I would loose access to all data until I replaced the faulty one.

Again, in "classic" RAID5, no - you replace the failed drive and it's data is reconstructed from the data on the others. And whilst the rebuild is in process, you can continue to access/update the data, albeit possibly at a slower rate (not that you're likely to notice in it a SOHO environment.) If you suffer a second failure whilst the rebuild is in progress, you probably loose the lot - something to consider given how big modern multi-terabyte drives are and therefore rebuild times. RAID5 should [edit] not [/edit] be used as a substitute for backups.

3 drives is minimum for RAID5.

Wiki's articles on RAID are pretty good if you want to have a read.
 
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cjed

Well-known Member
... RAID5 should be used as a substitute for backups ...

Missing a big NOT I think ...

Any sort of redundant RAID is NOT a substitute for backups of your irreplaceable data. Redundant RAID (RAID systems that can survive the loss/failure of one or more disks) is all about continuity of service, your system keeps working until the failed drive can be replaced. RAID does not protect against catastrophic system failure, or accidental / malicious deletion or modification.
 

Gerry557

Active Member
Thanks both of you. I was considering raid to increase redundancy should a drive fail and hoping to keep adding more and more hard drives as my movie collection grows. This sounds like its not a common thing to be done but newer systems see the benefit of that ability.

Maybe its not cost effective. My HTPC case will only take x2 HDs, its got to be small to fit in the tv stand. I could swap the case they do one same size with hot swap HD's that also takes more x5 i think but wanted to consider all options.

Maybe someone can suggest a expandable raid system
 

stevelup

Distinguished Member
Synology NAS units are completely transparent when it comes to adding drives. As long as the new drive is bigger than the smallest one you're replacing, you can even change an old smaller drive out for a bigger one and a few hours later, the extra space automatically becomes available.
 

Gerry557

Active Member
Thanks stevelup, I will have to take a closer look at them. Initially the costs seem a lot more than using the old pc route but if it wont do the job then maybe its a non starter. I like the idea of being able to swap to bigger drives as they get cheaper.

I have to justify the costs, sticking a load of HDs in another pc and sharing the files might be the way to go temporarily. I might have a look for some youtube reviews that might explain it. Thats part of the problem I dont know what I want or what can be done.

Thx
 

stevelup

Distinguished Member
I'm not saying you can't do that with the free PC based stuff - I just don't have any first hand experience.

I have, however, had several Synology units over the past few years and they have been completely trouble free and zero hassle to use.

Their clever thing is SHR - have a look here:-

What is Synology Hybrid RAID? - SynologyWiki
 

Navvie

Active Member
nas4free (with ZFS) allows you to 'grow' the size of the array by replacing every disk with a bigger one. I believe an option has to be enabled when initially creating the array for this to be possible though.

One other thing, a traditional raid knows nothing about the data on each drive (that's the job of the filesystem), only the status of each block . If a drive fails in the array, each block must be checked and written against the rest of the array, from the start to the end of the drive, even if the array is only 1% full. ZFS on the other hand does know about the data on each drive (it's a raid controller and filesystem) and is able to rebuild the array much more quickly.
 
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wysinawyg

Active Member
I'm pretty sure all the dedicated 4 bay NASs will let you go from a 3 disk to a 4 disk RAID 5 without problems. Someone above says their Synology does and my QNAP 439 certainly does. Worth checking the documents before you buy though.

I'm all on board for the low power (=lower total cost of ownership) but than then kind of speaks against using an old PC. By the time you've bought new memory, board, CPU etc. suddenly you're not saving yourself much vs a "proper" NAS. Take into account the cost of say 3 x 3TB WD Reds to start it up and you end up where I did in just going out and shelling out for the dedicated NAS for the ease of setup.

If you do want to go DIY then there is a fairly interesting book available from wegotserved on building a Windows 10 server. Its looking more at doing a high end file server rather than a simple NAS, but an interesting enough look at the concepts that I thought it was worth reading (even though I've ended up with a QNAP). On Windows 7 vs Windows 10, 7 wouldn't be terribly worthwhile but 10 (or 8) has Storage Spaces which allows for the flexi-RAID type setups where you can add drives etc. whereas the RAID controllers built into MOBOs or controller cards may not.
 

Gerry557

Active Member
Sorry for the delay in replying. Thanks stevelup, it looks like Synology out of the box is my "ideal" solution but needs the cash up front. It also seems to be the standard from reading around. Although I might not learn anything via this route even if I keep my hair in. Drummerjohn also agrees with the expansion planning

wysinawyg, well the initial plan was to add an SSD put windows 10 via upgrade and then play a bit from there. If I liked how it worked then look for a better solution ie lower power etc. I have quite a few spare bits anyway and if I liked it I though I might be able to just find a low power MB/CPU combo like the J1900 costing an extra £100.

Although there was a Readynas 104 for approx the same amount but I though it might be limiting my options. My son would prefer the server route cos he wants a bit for his gaming. I suspect the server route would be less efficient with the power.

Navvie I think I need to learn a bit more about nas4free thanks, The reading continues ...........
 

AJBek

Well-known Member
I am running the gigabyte j1900 itx combo with windows 10 as my nas and it works great. The only thing to be careful of is the lack of sata ports. I only have 2 on my MB though there is a mini pcie and a full sized pci slot which would allow another 4-6 ports to be added ( though the pci ones would only run at sata 1 speed , not really a huge issue for bulk storage though).
 

Gerry557

Active Member
AJBek, I was initially looking at this option as the "low power" side of things if I got the pc nas thing to work. The x2 sata ports were a problem as I was looking to start with 3 hard drives, I think that is the minimum with raid 5 and hoping to grow into 4 or 5 HD's as things grow hence the option of online volume expansion.
 

Gerry557

Active Member
I think I may have found a different option. Windows storage spaces. one of the old PC's has been updated to Win 10 and using said option allows you to add more drives and run it in parity spaces which seams similar to RAID 5 option to spread data across multiple drives.

I think more reading is needed but this might provide an interesting solution to try. I can also just add more or bigger drives as needed.

Im not sure yet what would happen if the pc its self failed with regard to your data. Can you just throw the drives into another pc as you would with a single drive? Like I said more reading needed
 

Gerry557

Active Member
Well apparently should the hardware fail, the storage pool can be moved into another pc and be recognised. I have not tried this yet. I have built a storage pool with x3 different size hard drives in parity. Added data, been warned that it was 70% so added a bigger 4th drive. It asked to carry out optimization which I said yes.

Now its chuntering away and seems to be stuck at 3%. I dont know how long this should take. I have tried to shutdown to try and stop the process but it appears to be still trying its optimization even after being left on over night.

Im a bit stuck now, I dont know if I need to give it more time or if I should pull the plug. Im away for a week so that should give it the time unless it gets to a state where the power settings shut it down to sleep mode.

Anyone else know how long this process should take? What is likely to happen if I end up pulling the plug? I can see the data in the pool via the network.
 

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