Recently our collection of storage hard drives started to look a little bit too big. Yet we had several drives with a lot of free space fragmented between them but neither of them has enough free space itself to make you me comfortable. Trying to do something with it I decided to start looking for a solution that would allow me to aggregate those drives and their space providing me with one big logical partition. Oh, and having some kind of security would be nice too.
Browsing the internet I have found nice solution called Drobo. That’s exactly what I want to have. Nice, compact solution providing scalable space at the same time protecting data in RAID like manner. There is only one problem with Drobo (and it’s not the price). Drobo uses proprietary software and from several cases described over the internet it seems like when it goes bad, it goes really bad really quick, usually loosing most of the info stored. And then the only chance you have is to send the box with all drives to the company itself and pray they can restore something for you. That effectively deletes this device from my list.
But browsing further I stumbled upon ZFS. This seems to be ‘the best file system and last you’ll ever need’. It provides ability to create software RAID systems which are supposed to be secure and fast. So home brewing my own NFS server seems to be the best option. Even more appealing as I’ll be able to use the same machine to run our HVAC system.
First step was to get all needed hardware.
- Server. As I do not need performance at any cost I’ve decided to use old Dell GX280 machine lying around and gathering dust. It has 1GB of RAM and P4 2.8GHz processor which should be plenty enough for my needs. Cost: $0
- Hard drive enclosure. I got myself Sans Data Tower Raid enclosure with port replicator that is able to host 5 drives and connects to server via one eSATA cable. Cost $173
- Hard drives. I dissected external 1TB Iomega USB drive which turned out to house Samsung’s HD103SI drive. Not a speed hog but for now will suffice. Cost $0
So far total spent: $173. Not bad I would say.