Currently, I'm in the process of specifiying a new backup / storage server.

At the moment, we have an ailing Netgear ReadyNAS, which is pretty good for some things, but has some big limitations, such as unable to bridge the NICs, and a dodgy unfriendly web interface that doesn't always like firefox, and Chrome.

Use Case:

Currently the ReadyNAS is divided into a bunch of volumes, and mounted via NFS on a seperate server. The server runs rsync scripts nightly and pull data from our webserver cluster onto the NAS device. It also holds a load of office data shared across a few users over SMB.

I'd quite like to be able to combine the backup server and the disk array into one, so that we save rack space on not having 2 units. I'd also like a linux box that has a known interface, such as snmpd, and will allow me to run zabbix agents on it.
The ReadyNAS is a linux box, running embedded debian, but doesn't expose a lot of detail, and we're forced to use the dodgy web interface.

For these reasons, I'd quite like to stay away from an appliance box, unless I could be sure that it was sufficiently "enterprise" and not just a high end consumer grade box (bad experience in the past).

For similar reasons, the Drobo and Drobo Pro are off limits. I've seen some very bad reviews.

USB storage cannot provide the required performance.

Firewire seems to be dead, unless you're a geek with a mac pro and an audio workbench!

  • Total Capacity: > 2TB
  • Multiple protocol support (NFS, SMB/CIFS, Native Apple [whatever it uses!], iSCSI might be nice, but not essential)
  • Multiple Gigabit NICs (2 essential, 3+ would be nice!)
  • Bond/bridgable NICs
  • VLAN support
  • 1 or 2 U, and Rack mountable.
  • Direct support for a tape device would be nice.

Does anyone have any suggestions that might help me choose a new storage platform?
For the moment, I'm going to say that money is not the deciding factor, as long as the cost can be justified.
Within reason, anything will be considered.


To get the exact configuration you want your prob going to get the best results from building the machine yourself and using something like Openfiler or FreeNas as your OS. You can then configure the machine exactly the way you want it.

That said, there are obviously some downsides to this. You need to commit the time to building and configuring this, and perhaps learning about the technology. You also don't have a single vendor to complain to if it breaks. If you don't have the time or want the re-assurance of a vendor provided device then I'm sure someone who knows more about that will give you some suggestions shortly.

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  • I've been thinking about doing this, and to be honest, if it was my call, I'd either be doing this with openfiler on a high end dell or HP box, or calling Sun and getting a big ZFS file server. Sadly, It's not down to me, and the other engineer I'm working with would rather get an appliance type box. Makes some sense i suppose, especially where support is concerned. – Tom O'Connor Nov 29 '09 at 19:57

If you're interested in a DIY solution, you might consider using the Backblaze approach: http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/

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  • 1
    Don't use those if you have only one and you aren't using a distributed file system that distributes your data to different machines. They published this for a reason: Their secret sauce is the software, not the hardware. – UrOni Jul 11 '12 at 22:56
  • @UrOni - very true. But it's certainly a start towards an interesting solution :) – warren Jul 12 '12 at 15:36

I've used openfiler with good success on centOS 5.x

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These answers are alright. It is 2012 though and I should mention one thing.

ZFS works almost anywhere. These already ready to go distros are nice but when you have to customize them. They are not.

FreeBSD and ZFS has been tested to work great if you want to avoid OpenIndiana.

Alot of the NAS distros are bringing ZFS support and even Linux has hardcore support for it. I do not know how reliable it is but...http://zfsonlinux.org/

It is under active development and going to be great if not already.

With ZFS you have so many features and options. With sha checksums its almost virtually impossible for data corruption to occur. This does not mean do not backup though.

Snapshots. Everything.

From what I have read though ZFS and tape drives may have problems. Especially with tape libraries. I have seen some scripted solutions but who knows.

You think that making the above decisions take thought? Research? Wait until you get to hardware.

It takes a ton of effort to research hardware depending on the solution you chose. You want the NIC, SATA Controller, Etc, etc, everything to work. I have thrown together BSD servers quickly but my OpenIndiana box took a bit longer.

If you are doing this for home. It has been reccomended that you look for used enterprise hard drive controllers online (ebay, craigslist, whatever). You can snag up an SAS controller that supports many many drives.

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We use FreeNAS for this very reason and it works very well.

You might also want to look at using a FreeNAS-mini appliance if your partner feels it's better than rolling your own.

Look here: http://www.ixsystems.com/freenas-mini/

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