Storage expansion ideas and suggestions

Idle hands make for no good. :grinning: I’m looking for opinions and suggestions on the following. My ideas of a possible expansion path is based on some of the Lawrence Systems videos on YouTube.

I have a storage and backup system for mainly photo files (both Raw and Photoshop) that slowly grew in size from a couple of small desktop NAS boxes. Currently both the primary server and the backup server as setup are filled with about 40TB of data each, with about 19TB of free space left on each system. This is currently enough space for awhile, but I am looking to the future.

The primary system consist of a QNAP 8 slot rackmount server with a QNAP 12 slot expansion chassis and the secondary server consists of a QNAP 12 slot rackmount server with all slots filled. Each server has 1 storage pool and each storage pool consists 2 raid 6 raid arrays. I have had good luck with Qnap , the equipment reliable and is easy to operate but it is expensive (to me) as a new empty 12 slot expansion is $3000.00 and new 12 slot rack mounted servers are that price range or higher also empty.

My main question is what would be some efficient and cost effective ideas to safely add to and expand the storage and backup system in the future that I can explore? Should I stay with QNAP? Or integrate something else into the mix.

My idea of a possible expansion path would be.

A refurbished Dell 12G PowerEdge R720xd - 12 Bay 3.5" which I can get setup fairly well for around $1800.00 or so that I can run FreeNAS, OpenMediaVault, or something similar on.

Then I would also want a disk storage device/array (suggestions?) that would be compatible with the Dell that I can add disks of 10TB or greater to as needed for additional storage. SAS 12 GB/s or similar is good. It would be great if the same storage array component (not necessarily the same one) could be attached to the second QNAP server via SAS.

Any suggestions?

Do you really need SAS drives? What is your connection speed to the this storage? If it is only gigabit ethernet then you won’t need SAS drives in the Dell server.

No I don’t need SAS drives. The way the attached storage from QNAP attaches to a QNAP server is by 12GB/s SAS card, so I wish to keep any directly attached storage to the server as SAS. The storage expansion units use either SAS/SATA drives. I have SATA ones installed. The servers attach by a trunked (2) gigabit connection to the network which is plenty for us. In the end I thought it would be easier if any attached storage to a new server (and/ if possible existing servers) was connected to the servers as SAS. Make sense?

Since I’m not a qnap owner, no it isn’t really making sense to me. I’m thinking that you would make a stand alone freenas server which you could build into about 80tb after formating. Just that SAS drives are a lot more money than SATA drives.

I don’t have much experience with server stuff as I do industrial robots at work, not servers. But that’s kind of what I am thinking. Set up a new server and attach an additional storage device to it. I just not sure what the best attached storage unit would be.

I was looking at the Dell server because it was reviewed here on the YouTube channel fairly recently. The spec I looked at said Up to 12 x 3.5’’ SAS, SATA, nearline SAS, SSD, PCIe SSD drives and 2 x 2.5" drives. (Requires Optional Flex Bay Kit), so I am taking that to mean it can use 12 3.5" SATA drives as that’s what would go in it. I should be able to find a manual and verify this and would certainly do so before ordering it if the server turns out to be suitable.

There are so many attached storage devices out there I have no idea which would be the most suitable for the Dell server or which might be most suitable for my situation. Hence the need for some advice or ideas.

Not many seem to know much about QNAP systems and their forums can be less than helpful if you attempt to think outside their products. Since the secondary server is full of drives it would be nice to try to find an attached storage compatible with it so I can add to it’s storage. I can always just save up and go with what QNAP offers for attached storage.This is separate from knowing what the Dell server needs and I probably shouldn’t have muddied things up by including QNAP stuff in the question.

I’d have to say the QNAP has top marks for ease of use if you simply want to use it for storage, but they are pricey. If you have these at home then noise and power will be a factor.

You ought to play with FreeNAS and OMV, validate it gives what you want. For the life of me I cannot get Kodi to see my NFS share on FreeNAS, the share works from everywhere else, would not have guessed this before testing !

I was looking to build a 3rd NAS on the cheap, I had a hard time to find something I knew would work for certain and meet my spec for space and noise. In the end I bought some USB 2x5 bays and plugged them into a cheap Lenovo box running FreeNAS.

Sound is of some concern but currently I have the QNAPS at home in the office and they are not too noisy under regular operation. When they boot they sound like jets taking off at the airport. They are only used for storage.

I am looking for something as a 3rd NAS unit that is not too noisy that will work with 10TB and up 3.5" SATA drives and I can connect an additional storage unit to it when of if necessary and still be under the 3000.00 of a QNAP 12 slot (REXP) expansion unit.

I have been running both FreeNAS and OMV under VirtualBox on my Windows 10 Laptop with Raid 5 configurations to see which I like better. Other than my Linux Mint (latest version) laptop having an issue with connecting to SMB shares from FreeNAS (had to check “Enable SMB1 support” in FreeNAS for some reason) they both seem suitable. FreeNAS being a little more mature but requiring more horsepower. OMV defaults right now to ext4 with suggestions to use BTRFS Neither were that difficult to setup for basic storage and access.

I have 3 QNAP NAS devices, two TS451s and a TS853A and I also have FreeNAS running for the very reason that while QNAP has been create for me both in simplcity and reliability they are expensive. I have setup my FreeNAS box on an old desktop PC with some older RED WD drives I had in storage to get famariler with the system and I am still learning but impressed with how usable the GUI is and how straigth forward most tasks are on FreeNAS.

I was originally looking at the Dell 720XD with the rear flexbays but have decieved to get a 4u chasis and build a server out of parts that will fit within the same buget as the Dell +/-. The reason for this was not only the noise of the Dell that will be in my home server room but also the power draw and heat generated by the enterprise equipoment. Right now I am deciding betwen something like the Rosewill 12 bay hotswap case or something like the Athena 24 bay case both are 4u that use a standard ATX powersupply or the redundant that fit the same form factor.

My plan is to replace my 3 QNAPs with 3 built FreeNAS boxes and when it times for expansion I plan to build DAS boxes to add storage bays to my FreeNASs.

I was also looking at that route with finding a 12+ bay hot swap case adding a SuperMicro board with redundant supplies.

Also looking at SuperMicro case with board etc. all from SuperMicro.

I also may have fairly soon (in a few months a older tower computer that I could set up a real FreeNAS or OMV system on. and run it for awhile to see how it does.

So I should be looking for some type of DAS box for expansion if I wish to go with the DELL? I don’t want to spend a bunch on hardware only to find out it won’t work well together.

QNAP stuff I’m currently running
TS-EC879U-RP
REXP-1220U-RP 1
• The REXP is Connected to the TS-EC879U by a 12GB/s SAS connection
TVS-1271U-RP is the secondary server
Each server is on their own APC rack mount UPS systems which gives about 25 or so minutes runtime to shut down.

As far as I am aware there are Dell DAS systems that can be used with the R720XD but I have not researched this in-depth yet. Supermicro is a solid choice for FreeNAS as well, I have looked at them but they are a little bit higher in the price point for new equipment and also I worry about noise/power/heat with there older equipment. I am hoping to move my server equipment to a single chassis/hardware to minimize the number of parts I need to keep on hand for failures and to also reduce noise/power and heat.

Right now I am running 3 HP DL380 G5s and a Dell 2950 G3 along with my QNAP devices and 6 DGS-1100 switches across 3 racks. Ideally, I would get them down to where I could use the space in the server room as an office and not have to compete with the sound of jet engines beside me.

Many of the newer SuperMicro servers are a lot more quiet than the older stuff. Wish I had seen this post while I was at work, I could have grabbed the chassis number. I know my newest ones are X10 main boards with built in 10 ports of SATA (8 storage, 2 OS) and Xeon E5 processors. Some of the X11 with E3 processor will be even more efficient and quiet.

SAS Drives are expensive compared to normal HDDs. If you are not editing off of your storage array then its probably not worth it.

As far as your Qnap not taking only SAS drives, you may want to look up the specs. I see you posted the following for your Qnap
REXP-1220U-RP 1 - I looked this up and it does support sata drives
https://www.qnapworks.com/REXP-1220U-RP.asp?utm_term=rexp%201220u&utm_campaign=Qnap+*251&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_tgt=kwd-354731427247&hsa_grp=54460269575&hsa_src=g&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_mt=e&hsa_ver=3&hsa_ad=264322568555&hsa_acc=9041622380&hsa_kw=rexp%201220u&hsa_cam=99769621&gclid=CjwKCAjw2a32BRBXEiwAUcugiPHXCKC7TR4qrUdLybYu8ctlIMecUBfZZZjkTsq71JZn1dOIKBDkpBoCiEYQAvD_BwE

TS-EC879U-RP - This also supports SATA drives

The SAS connection is probably a PCIE card or backplane in the QNAP that connects the drive all together. It will have a SAS connector. If you look up Mini SAS SFF-8087 that is what Im guessing they mean by SAS 12GB/s
So Im guessing its just a SAS connector on both ends.

From the specs of both devices you should be fine with using either or.

You’re asking for the most efficient and cost saving solution. I noticed that nobody has suggested keeping the systems you have and upgrading to larger drives. You should be able to do this one raid set at a time for a minimal upfront cost.

Yes the expansion chassis has a SAS/SATA backplane which connects to a board that connects to a couple external ports. The servers have an option to get a PCI card to add a couple Mini SAS ports and the two then plug in with the expansion showing up as a JBOD.

That’s what I have been doing. I took the 8 slot and added an 12 slot expansion chassis populated by 6 drives to it which I increased capacity recently by populating the other 6 drives. The backup server is 12 slot which I recently increased drive sizes in from 6TB to 10TB on one of the Raids. (The 8 slot server and expansion chassis are populated with 8 6TB drives each set as Raid 6 arrays then pooled. The 12 slot server is also Raid 6 with one array of 6TB drives and a second array of 10TB drives pooled into one pool. This gives each server about the same amount of storage space. Eventually, I will have all 10TB drives in both.

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What I have done so far is I picked up a 16 Bay SuperMicro CSE-836E16-R92JBD chassis for a good price and picked up an SFF-8644 to SFF-8648 cable. This should allow me to connect the SM JBD chassis to the QNAP stuff. If all works well, it will provide extra storage when the time comes. Unless the QNAP uses some kind of proprietary setup for the expansion connection which is the question no one seems to have an answer to, I think it should work. If it does it will save me about 2200 over buying a bare 12 bay QNAP expansion chassis. Money saved can then be spent on drives.

Hi Phil,

Why 10TB drives going forward? Seagate exos 16TB drives aren’t much more expensive per GB than 10TB drives, and that ups the maximum capacity of your bays by a lot. Using high capacity drives has the added advantages of lower power bills, less waste heat to deal with, and not needing extra space for servers, so the extra cost per gigabyte pays for itself :wink: . Just my 2 cent worth :slight_smile:

If you went the Dell server route, you could by DAS (Direct attached storage) for it as well. It would require a PCI card for the server and then a DAS shelf.

Well, I did think about it recently and what I have been doing is 4TB >6TB >10TB as our storage requirements grew, but was caught off guard when the main storage server hit 80%. My wife the pro photographer decided to scan and digitize years and years of old negatives from film days at high resolution (and in RAW format I think) which is what is using up the space.

I know there has been some issues with certain manufactures not being quite honest in their specs as to if drives around 16TB are shingled or not (and 6 to 8 TB ones for one manufacturer) and at the time I could get a good price on the Segate EXOS 10TB drives from where I usually get drives from. I really don’t want a shingled drive anywhere near the equipment as it is possible for them to cause a raid to catastrophically fail under a rebuild and don’t want to chance getting one that marketing decided not to properly spec out. As I understand things the Segate EXOS 10TB drives I bought are conventional not shingled where as maybe or maybe not on the 16TB. ones.

I actually picked up the SM JBOD chassis and a 36 bay dual processor SuperMicro server. Both look to be in good condition and the price was good. If what I want to do with the JBOD chassis does not work out then I will probably attach it to the 36 bay SM chassis.
Unfortunately I have to wait on some equipment to come in before I can test any of this stuff and I am back to work at my regular job starting today.

I think the SM JBOD CSE-836E16-R92JBD chassis is similar to the DAS for Dell. All the SM JBOD has in it are power supplies, fans, backplane and the connector card. It is older one but was new in box.

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