Thursday, February 26, 2015

My 22TB RAID file server

Sans Digital 8 Bay eSATA Enclosure

My GoFlex Net 22TB NAS

I've been meaning to write up my experiences in creating my cheap 24TB GoFlex Net setup, but I haven't found the time until now.

Now, I've been buying 3TB drives when they were on sale for years now, whenever it goes below $100, I bought one each time, and was planning on just plugging it in my Pogoplug or a desktop HTPC so I can have my file collections accessible online.

Eventually, I was able to buy an 8-bay eSATA enclosure from for around $160 which was quite cheap compared to the regular price of over $300... It had two eSATA connectors, and the card that came with it supports RAID setups, which I opted not to use.

I have 4 3TB drives and 4 2TB drives installed  in it, totaling 18TB and was using my HTPC as the network server for my iPads, Androids, XBMC, WDTV, XIOS, etc. and it was ok for a while...

However, having a 300W PC server, is a bit excessive as all I really needed was a fileserver, and I looked for a more energy efficient option.I shopped around for any 4 or 8-bay NAS and was surprised it costs more than what a PC is worth and appalled that an 8-bay NAS with no Disk costs more than a thousand dollars, and probably powered by a so-so processor that even the slowest Celeron PC can run around circles with.

I looked at Cubieboards (1 SATA port), Raspberry Pis (USB only), Beaglebone Blacks (USB) and even Cubox-i4Pro (1 eSATA port) and only the Cubox-i4Pro would probably be able to handle the 8 drives, but it would involve splitting the single eSATA port to two SATA connectors, which would in-turn split into 4 drives each, and I'm wary that a single SATA bus would be able to handle it.

Then I found out about the Seagate GoFlex Net, 
Seagate GoFlex Net

which was an fork of the Pogoplug, it supports two SATA drives, and more importantly those SATA bus supports Port Multiplier, allowing me to use my 8-bay enclosure.

The GoFlex Net is now discontinued, as the Pogoplug Cloud didn't really take off, but it is hackable to install Linux on it. My first try was to use Arch Linux, but Debian has a number of fairly good packages I switched to Debian instead and installed Open Media Vault.

I will be discussing later on how I was able to install Debian on the GoFlex Net and the uBoot settings I had to configure for it to be able to boot from the first drive (freeing up the lone USB port) and how I soldered an external power connector (which I took from an old internal fan connector) so I can power the GoFlexnet from the enclosure power supply.

But just to show you it is doable, here's a couple of pictures of the GoFlex Net mounted inside the 8-bay enclosure, thereby giving me a cheap 8-bay NAS. I've accumulated more than 8 3TB drives, so I was planning on installing all of them to have 24TB, but I had problems booting on the 3TB drive due to the Linux's limitation. I was able to boot off a 3TB on my Seagate GoFlex Home (which is a 1 SATA Pogoplug clone), but I was having a hard time to do in on the GoFlexNet, so I opted to just use a 2TB drive for my first two drives in the enclosure... I was planning on setting up RAID on the first two drives and then another RAID for the rest of the 3TB drives, but in the end I just set them all up as independent drives (Disk 1 to 8) and just use RSYNC to back up the important files (which are just pictures, home movies, etc)... Hence I have 22TB  of storage accessible...

GoFlex Net inside the eSATA enclosure

Plugged the SATA cables directly to the GoFlex Net

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