The Guru College

Personal Projects: Moving to FreeNAS

Another personal technology project I have put into motion this summer is abandoning OpenSolaris once and for all and moving to FreeNAS. This involves a totally new machine, which has been ordered, and will move the data from 4 pairs of mirrored disks to an 8 disk RAIDZ2. This gives me much better data protection and a lot more usable space.

I’m buying NAS-rated drives for the RAIDZ2 pool, which is for general file and media storage. NAS-rated 2TB drives are now $99 on NewEgg. Using RAIDZ2 lets me lose any two drives simultaneously and not have a loss of data. I can currently lose 4 drives in my mirrored pair setup, but if any two drives are from the same pair, the whole pool is lost. Considering the age of the oldest drives, I’m not liking my odds any more. I was looking at 3TB and 4TB drives, but I’m not comfortable with the URE rates and rebuild times when larger drives are involved, so I’ve stuck with the smaller drives.

I have also moved to a Xeon processor, 16 GB of ECC RAM and a new PCIe 2.0 LSI HBA. This is going to give me significant throughput gains over my current setup, and the 16GB of RAM should help buffer when I move from mirrored pairs to RAID. The smallest files I do work with are Nikon NEF files, which are 12MB+ each, so I don’t have as much issue with small file I/O as some people do.

I toyed with the idea of getting a SSD for a slog or an L2ARC, but I decided against it for now. The ZIL/slog is most useful for doing random NFS writes, which I do very little of, and the L2ARC has a memory cost that is pretty steep – 5GB of L2ARC consumes 1GB of system RAM. A 60GB SSD would chew through 12GB of RAM, and I’m only buying 16GB to start with. There are two slots open on the new motherboard, so I can add more RAM if needed, and that is a much more performant place to add ARC.

The order is placed and the machine will be here over a couple of days next week. I’m looking forward to building a new system. I’ll take pictures as I build and post them here.

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