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Author Topic: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology  (Read 5617 times)

Chunkers

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"To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« on: November 30, 2016, 01:43:55 PM »


I love it when I find new things I can geek with......

I have 2 NASes on my home network, I probably only need one + offsite backup, but I have 2  :P.  They are both Synology NASes, my most recent a 2Tb DS214+ and my old DS211j.  The DS211j is very slow and just does backup and security cameras - it really struggles with the HD video security camera duties, it spends a lot of its time at 100% CPU, poor thing, but seems to work.  The DS214+ does all the heavy lifting - streaming video, downloading, file hosting, log-server, music server etc etc

I love Synology NASes because I think the interface is great and the web-based software and addons work really well, you pay a premium, but you get a premium product ... great!  The downside is that if you want to get a NAS with 4 drive bays and a decent CPU capable of transcoding etc the prices are really high.  I am currently running out of storage on both my NASes .....

Recently (today!) I discovered Xpenology, its an opensource bootloader which, for free, letís you run the Synology DSM software on pretty much any hardware \o/

I have known about FreeNAS for some time and toyed with the idea of self-building a NAS before but now I know I can have the Synology software and interface I am definitely going to give it a try!

I have any number of horrible old PC's lying around including a Q8200 quad core, an Intel i3, an E6600  - am thinking I'll give it a try.  If it works well I can look at a more custom lower-power build.  Have any of you done this / tried Xpenology?

Chunks
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phi2008

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2016, 01:51:41 PM »

I'm running Xpenology, main advantage over FreeNAS is that since FreeNAS likes to use ZFS you can't easily expand storage - with  Xpenology you just add a disk and it grinds away for a while and expands. I'm also running it with a 10Gb Mellanox card which works out of the box.
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Ronski

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2016, 03:54:32 PM »

I'm running my own server which I built,  which runs windows home server 2011, it currently has 4 x 3TB drives setup as a drive pool wit iimportant stuff duplicated. It's got room for another 6 drives, and if I bought another drive bay cage it could take a total of 15. But given the ever increasing capacity  of disks I doubt I'll ever need to.

It also runs Mediaportal TV  server, so does all our tv recording, as well as central file storage and cloud backup.
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Chrysalis

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2016, 04:10:14 PM »

Word of warning, be careful where you buy hdd's from.

I got 2 3tb WD Red's last week which came from a 3rd party seller on amazon.

I had noticed oddities such as.

One drive bigger than the other (gig bigger)
Weird firmware versions
No NCQ or 4k sector support which is at odds with official WD spec
Hot temps

Then finally after some advice on hardforum I checked the serial's on wd's warranty page and both were invalid.

I then noticed the seller was located in Leics so I paid him a visit today and he was shocked I took the time to visit him, instead of saying he would investigate etc. he then started trying to sell me a story that the warranty is provided by HP and is why the check failed, suggested he is knowingly selling counterfeit drives.  He did refund me there and then tho.

The workplace where he had a couple of guys building pc's was a mountain of dust.
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Chunkers

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2016, 06:57:46 PM »

I'm running Xpenology, main advantage over FreeNAS is that since FreeNAS likes to use ZFS you can't easily expand storage - with  Xpenology you just add a disk and it grinds away for a while and expands. I'm also running it with a 10Gb Mellanox card which works out of the box.
Cool, sounds great but,  erm,  I don't really  know what a Mellanox card is. Don't worry though,  I never allow a lack of research or background knowledge to get in the way of me trying to do stuff  😁

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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Chunkers

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 07:00:33 PM »

I'm running my own server which I built,  which runs windows home server 2011, it currently has 4 x 3TB drives setup as a drive pool wit iimportant stuff duplicated. It's got room for another 6 drives, and if I bought another drive bay cage it could take a total of 15. But given the ever increasing capacity  of disks I doubt I'll ever need to.

It also runs Mediaportal TV  server, so does all our tv recording, as well as central file storage and cloud backup.
Snap! I also have a Mediaportal TV server,  but it runs Windows so I'll probably try to keep it separate.

Also thanks for the tip about the bogus drives @Chrysalis I didn't realise there are fake ones,  I'll get them from Scan to make sure they are proper ones.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: November 30, 2016, 07:02:41 PM by Chunkers »
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Ronski

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2016, 09:13:50 PM »

@Chrysalis - great tip on checking the warranty/serial numbers, I bet his face was a picture and I hope you've reported him to Amazon. So far I've only used online retailers like CCL/Scan/Ebuyer for them - I also use the WD Red's. A good tip is not to buy your drives all at the same time, if there's a bad batch they could fail at similar times. I fairly regularly replace mine one at a time.
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phi2008

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2016, 10:34:03 PM »

Cool, sounds great but,  erm,  I don't really  know what a Mellanox card is. Don't worry though,  I never allow a lack of research or background knowledge to get in the way of me trying to do stuff  😁

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

Cheap e.g. $15,  SFP+ cards you can get from eBay - so you could do a point-to-point 10Gb link(extra for cable+transceivers) for around $30+shipping(think you can get a dual port 10Gb SFP+ card for around $50 that you could probably(drivers?) stick in your NAS). Mellanox works with Windows, Linux, FreeBSD - but not OS X(I have a Solarflare dual port SFP+ card in my hackintosh which works fine- cost £40).

Writes to NAS under fibre approach the 10Gb limit because they go to RAM before being written, reads are slower because they're limited by disk speed.
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Chunkers

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2016, 04:29:10 AM »

Cheap e.g. $15,  SFP+ cards you can get from eBay - so you could do a point-to-point 10Gb link(extra for cable+transceivers) for around $30+shipping(think you can get a dual port 10Gb SFP+ card for around $50 that you could probably(drivers?) stick in your NAS). Mellanox works with Windows, Linux, FreeBSD - but not OS X(I have a Solarflare dual port SFP+ card in my hackintosh which works fine- cost £40).

Writes to NAS under fibre approach the 10Gb limit because they go to RAM before being written, reads are slower because they're limited by disk speed.

Faster than Gb speeds is very cool, not sure i need this just yet but to be honest I didn't know what the options were for going faster and now I see it is Infiniband - thanks for the advice and info!

C
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Chrysalis

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2016, 05:09:46 AM »

@Chrysalis - great tip on checking the warranty/serial numbers, I bet his face was a picture and I hope you've reported him to Amazon. So far I've only used online retailers like CCL/Scan/Ebuyer for them - I also use the WD Red's. A good tip is not to buy your drives all at the same time, if there's a bad batch they could fail at similar times. I fairly regularly replace mine one at a time.

yeah.

I will post pics of the 2 drives later, and also of the warranty page screenshot.
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phi2008

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2016, 12:13:44 PM »

Faster than Gb speeds is very cool, not sure i need this just yet but to be honest I didn't know what the options were for going faster and now I see it is Infiniband - thanks for the advice and info!

C

This isn't InfiniBand, that's something different and a bit more exotic, SFP+ is a common standard that typically runs at 10Gb(SFP ran at 1Gb - many basic switches have at least a couple of these). There is a lot of cheap InfiniBand stuff out there(typically US eBay), and you can do impressive things(apparently-never tried) like buy a couple of $145 dual 56Gb port cards - team the ports - and effectively run a 112Gbit link.  Yes, apparently InfiniBand does work with FreeNAS!

Basically SFP+ is cheap, common, and does the job ... which is why I'm using it.  :)
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 12:18:25 PM by phi2008 »
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adrianw

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2017, 04:34:38 AM »

... main advantage over FreeNAS is that since FreeNAS likes to use ZFS you can't easily expand storage ...

You can add a mirrored pair of drives quite rapidly.

With ZFS

You can have one or more storage pools. You can control what goes in to each pool (e.g. by different shares).

A storage pool is supported by one or more vdevs (virtual devices), which can be of different types. Data is spread uncontrollably over the vdevs.

A vdev contains disks (or disk partitions), and can be of two main types:
* mirror - every disk (from 1 upwards) contains the same data.
* raidz, raidz-2, raidz-3 - the data is spread across the entire vdev, using 1, 2 or 3 drives worth of space for redundancy. The size of the smallest drive currently in the vdev controls the maximum amount of space available. You cannot add another disk to a vdev, only replace the disks one by one with a bigger disk and resilver it. Until you replace the last disk you don't gain any more space.

So, to expand a pool the easiest and smallest resilient way is to add a mirror vdev containing 2 disks.

I have two FreeNAS servers - a HP Microserver with 4 * 2 TB disks in a RAIDZ vdev (~ 6 TB available, used for backup and experimentation, currently broken) and a FreeNAS Mini with 4 * 6 TB disks in a RAIDZ-2 vdev (~ 10 TB available, my main NAS). With hindsight I should have set up the FreeNAS Mini with 2 mirror vdevs, each containing 2 disks.

I think FreeNAS/ZFS are wonderful. ZFS's checking parity information whenever data is accessed (and scrubs to force access) helps to detect rotting disks before you loose data. Compression can help (depends how compressible your data is - I get 1.40 on a NFS share used mainly for email, but 1.00 on a big MP3 collection). Snapshots (allowing you to recover deleted or corrupted files) can be a life saver. Replication allows a copy of your data to be kept on another machine, possibly off-site. I also back up the important stuff to a rotating pair of UFS formatted external USB3 disks with rsync.

FreeNAS 10, still in beta and not going to be released until it is ready, is looking pretty good.

There are downsides
* ZFS eats memory. 8 GB is the practical minimum.
* If you use NFS or iSCSI you will probably want to use a (possibly mirrored) SSD as an intent log (ZIL).
* People assume that a L2ARC cache SSD will help performance. It usually won't, and will instead impair performance because memory which could be used to cache data is instead used to hold information about the L2ARC content. Measure your workload before you buy. I did not, and wasted my money.
* Deduplication really gobbles memory and how much bit-identical data do you have anyway? Really only appropriate where people are storing many VMs of the same type on the NAS.

When I can afford it, I intend to build/buy a machine with many more SAS/SATA ports and drive bays and a lot of memory. Plus of course a lot of disks.
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phi2008

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2017, 08:39:36 AM »

You can add a mirrored pair of drives quite rapidly.


Maybe I should clarify, little storage planning is necessary with Xpenology. You buy a disk, add it, storage expands. No need to worry about anything else(and no need to purchase all your disks at once, just add them as necessary).

Anyone who is considering ZFS for their NAS should really read this first -

The 'Hidden' Cost of Using ZFS for Your Home NAS

And then decide.
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adrianw

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2017, 03:19:37 AM »

I confess that Xpenology / Spenology looks quite good. Being able to make effective use of different sized disks is a neat trick. Adding another disk to a striped RAID is another.

Free NAS choice for home systems is quite hard. Ideally one would evaluate several before committing to one. The most recent comparative review I can find is http://www.how2shout.com/tools/best-free-open-source-nas-software.html which mentions 8 (including FreeNAS but not Xpenology).

One important point, whatever NAS you choose, is that you have a means of backing it up, or at least the data you care about. My choice has always been (preferably on-box) rsync to UFS (FreeBSD) formatted external hard disks. In emergency I can always cobble together something to access them. General growth has meant that these have risen in size to 6 TB (using WD drives in StarTech enclosures). I also back up some of the Windows stuff to AWS with the pay-for version of S3 Browser. FTTC upload rates make it infeasible to back up the whole thing this way, as does the sheer number of files (everything I have found so far uses more memory the more files you have in the backup). I wish I could afford rsync.net.

My preference for FreeNAS comes from having run a FreeBSD / ZFS system for quite a few years on what had been a state of the art system, but had become a power hungry old clunker. Over time, I have reduced the number of FreeBSD systems I maintain myself to just 3, switched to binary updates rather than building everything from source, and use FreeBSD based "appliances" for NASs and firewalls.

Perhaps if Walnut Creek hadn't had a delay with Slackware when I ordered FreeBSD 2.2(?) and Slackware from them I would have jumped from SCO OpenDeathTrap to LINUX. As it was, FreeBSD suited my needs then, and aside from a few forays with netbooks and Ubuntu in VMs and a works desktop, I have stuck with it.
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Chrysalis

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Re: "To Build or To Not build your own NAS" - Xpenology vs Synology
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2017, 07:19:00 AM »

When I got my 2 most recent WD Red drives I spent some time in considering whether to get a NAS unit, and ended up against the idea as to me they seem overpriced for what you get.

Of course in my situation I have the following, and not everyone will be in the same situation as me.

My main desktop PC which has space for 8 x 3.5 inch drives is on 24/7 anyway.
I typically only need to access my storage from the desktop PC.

If I was going to get a NAS tho I would for sure want a FreeNAS unit as zfs to me is the king of filesystem's at the moment, its an incredible filesystem.
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