Gearing up for a huge NAS purchase - questions about use

So I could ask this on a regular plane jane PC-esque forum, but since its use will primarily be for emulation (and a minor hunk for plex) I figure this will be easiest to figure out what needs to happen.

A bit of info on my current set up. I have 50 terabytes of storage at current spread across 9 drives. 3 of those 9 are plex and external, the other 6 are internal. 0 redundancy so if a drive goes - im ass-out.

This is half the reason I need a NAS. I want to do something like a raid 6, which will allow me a bit of protection against failure. This equals needing a few more drives. Add in the fact that for the money i’ll be spending, I also need to actually UPGRADE my capacity, which equals a few more drives yet.

I’m looking at doing something like 10x10tb drives, lest 2 for parity.

All that stuff is the easy stuff though. What concerns me is how it interfaces with the PC.

As mentioned, I currently have 9 drives. All pathed out. Plex has library paths to each of the 3 drives its assigned (which is a very small fraction of my concern and will be fixable or even rebuildable much easier than what I have going on with retroarch).

Retroarch on the otherhand (not to mention several standalone emulators for which retroarch has no equivalent core) has playlists which point to various drives, symlinks for art which point to their own drive, and even steam has command line shortcuts that rely on retroarch being in a certain place.

All this was curated and set up over an embarassing amount of man hours that cost me a large amount of family time (and game time!).

Hindsight and all that, I should have went with a NAS years ago. They were less prevalent though and i never realized i’d become so compelled to create a veritably complete retro-gaming collection.

So the easy out is to simply buy 9 new/larger drives, transfer 1:1, assign the same relative drive letters to each, and be done. The old drives would then be backups of a sort.

Still considering all the other perks that having a NAS brings, I want to give it a go if its reasonble to set up.

So ultimately the TLDR version is, would a NAS require me to redo every path/playlist/shortcut/symlink for every single thing?

ive briefly heard of/read about something along the lines of “mapping it as a system drive” or some such, which in my head ideally would work like this.

-create a bunch of partitions on the NAS each holding the data from each of my drives. Assign each partition as a drive to windows with the same letter as the current drive.

leave happy with everything functioning as it always has.

Prooooobably unfortunately not how it goes in practice. Since im old and married (aka friendless), and as such have nobody with a NAS i can go visit and poke around with - I’m left with the next best thing. The internet! I have to rely on someone out there that has seen and used a NAS to set me right :slight_smile:

For the solution, look at what best fits your needs. Raid is faster, I believe had the same features as a standard drive, and provides parity but is inflexible if you need to expand your system, requires quite a bit of work to set up and opt out, and you lose everything if you lose more drives than you have parity for. If those risks are too high, I’d look at other solutions like unraid, snapshoting, and drive pooling which will have their own benefits and problems.

As for the links, you’ll need to reset them up and test but there are a few ways of doing it. The right way is to go through and fix everything as possible, making sure it works (you can probably mass find and replace the paths in your playlists at least. The quick way is, assuming you keep the same folder structure, to try something like creating sym links from your old drive letter to the new drive letter. Or You might be able to mount the same physical drive as several logical drives.

I have an 8 drive system set up through drive bender (a pooling program) and then two drives of parity done through snapraid. The upside is I have a single, easily expandable and reversae logical drive but it can be slow、drive bender doesn’t support sym links, and I have to remember to backup. I’m not sure what I would choose now, but back in 2013 this was a pretty good option.

Thanks for the reply.

Its very likely ill end up going with one of those prebuilt synology or qnap jobbies and filling it with some ironwolfs.

In all honesty I havent gotten to that point before I was able to get some idea of what I was getting into as far interfacing goes.

You are correct, the playlists should be, by and large a copy/paste notepad++ job. Its the recreation of all my steam shortcuts, my windows games shortcuts, my vm’s and damn near everything emulation related (scrapers etc) that all point somewhere that will no longer be valid.

From what it sounds like, theres not really gonna be any clear cut way around it. While it will/would be a ton of work - perhaps its best in the long run.

I appreciate the input, especially from someone with hands on experience in exactly this realm.

hows performance relative to a local disk? Is it roughly the same? I hear a lot of talk about latency with NAS setups but I figure im gonna be going from 5400rpm archive drives to 7200rpm drives in a raid, so hoping to at least break even.

As for expansion I believe even with raid its possible, your just stuck changing out 1 disk at a time and its slow as can be while it rebuilds. Especially with volume of data.

Yeah, if you are going to go the long route I’d recommend spending some time thinking about how you should arrange your drives, folders, etc so that should you change your storage solution in the future you don’t have to redo all of your links etc again.

For performance, I haven’t really noticed any issues while gaming but Drive Bender does cause a bit of slowdown in File Explorer. It can sometimes freeze when working with a folder with lots of files, moving/copying lots of files, and in the past would sometimes slow the system down during indexing though that’s fixed now. I think those problems are pretty specific to software-based pooling solutions so I doubt you’d see any issues with a raid etc.

Hmmm.

Who woulda thought it was such a big choice. Ultimately a NAS solution would potentially allow me 1 folder for roms, movies, tv shows, etc - versus several spread across several drives and mapped differently etc.

For all intents and purpose it would operate like a big disk should i choose.

The flipside is, if i put the money, time, and work into making that “conversion” we’ll call it… Then im now locked into that for basically ever. I imagine re partitioning that out to individual disks would be an even larger PITA.

Not to mention, when it comes time to change NAS units, I cant even guess at what downtime would be with 50-100TB of data. I “think” it can be reasonable should u stay with the same filesystem/raidtype/software/nas brand, but any time you were forced to legitimately migrate - scary thought.

What would you do? Do you think the merits of what a NAS offers are worth buying into that as your primary storage solution for…well good?

I haven’t done the research on NAS for a while so I can’t speak to that specifically but I can break it down a little.

I think there’s a big benefit of converting everything over to a single disk (either through raid or pooling or whatever) as it makes finding files a lot easier and you don’t have to track the fill status of like 10 disks whenever you add a new game.

I also think there’s a big benefit to redoing your file structure and sym links to try to minimize the effect of future changes. I would try to move everything that HAS to be in a specific place to somewhere static like C: and then store the locations of the rest of your files in that location. That way, should you change your solution in the future you just need to go to that folder on C and update the links

I am simultaneously terrified and intrigued by RAID and would probably look for other options that would let me stripe and offer parity but don’t lock you into disk size limits and massive rebuilds every time you swap disks until I gave up and chose something but no idea what.

well ideally, you’d never have to rebuild at least lol. I’m so far so good on my 9 disk pileup, knock on wood.

I do have them set to spin down and some dont get used for days, so im sure that contributes to my “luck” and the fact that I upgrade them every couple years at worst. Usually sooner if i run out of storage space, and if not, when i start feeling scared.

also infrequently peek at the smart data etc.

youve given me a substantial amount to think about :slight_smile:

Look into buying/building something and installing Unraid on it. I use it for everything now and love it. Although it’s not as easy to set up as a standard NAS.

yea, just last night I was doing some digging as the price of a pre-built NAS unit is pretty up-there relative to what you actually get. Not to mention your largely locked into that ecosystem at that point.

Im not averse to a pre-built, while I have no experience with a nas and VERY little with linux, I have been building and working with pc’s for 20+ years.

The first hurdle I found is finding a chassis that’ll take 12 3.5" disks lol. Obviously dont want rack mount, and for at least a bit of future proofing + failsafe’ing I’m going to need 12 bays.

I was in the same boat as you with very little Linux knowledge and no NAS knowledge barring a short time spent with Synology but I think you’ll be fine considering you’ve been building computers for so long. There are lots of videos and lots of helpful people in the Unraid community.

I struggle to find a lot of chassis’ that have 8 bays let alone 12. A quick Google however came up with the Lian-Li PC V2000B PLUS. Now how good a chassis it is I don’t know but it has 12 bays and doesn’t seem to be stupidly expensive.

Hit me up in a PM if you want to talk more about Unraid, it’s a really interesting piece of software and I love talking about what it can do.

ah, i hadnt come across that one. Havent used an lian-li case in yeaaaaaaaars. PC-71B i think for a build back in the early 2000s maybe even late 90s. dont recall :stuck_out_tongue:

Still - I hadnt came across that one. Perhaps it was due to the form factor I was looking for. Something less conspicuous and less pc-esque. Still shakey on what differentiates a NAS from a file server, but ultimately want something that can be simple in operation and appearance most of the time. Gonna be a big financial investment and a big initial set up, so beyond that point Id love mostly hands off.

Either way, this post has brought me even more to think about - so when I do get to such a place where ive decided on a DIY relative to an AIO, if thats the direction I head - I’ll definitely take you up on discussing Unraid.

Yeah, looks like it’s an old chassis though looking again (USB 2.0 only front panel connectors) so that may or may not put you off.

You might be better with FreeNAS now I think about it if you’re looking more for a file server and will use another device for your Plex server, etc.

I just loved the idea of one server which I can run VM’s on, use it as a file server, Plex/Emby server, download box, router, etc, etc but not everyone wants all that in one box and I understand that as well :slight_smile:

in all honesty, it will be first and foremost a means to consolidate paths, and have a bit of reassurance regarding drive failures. (likely raid 6).

It will also host plex media and I’m still torn on whether or not it should run plex server or leave it to my pc. I also like the idea of not having to have my pc on 24/7 like I do now. The tradeoff of course would be needing something powerful enough to transcode.

It will also hold my VM’s but they’d be ran on the pc, so apart from read speeds I dont know how performant it would need to be in that regard.

I did hear people repeating FreeNAS quite often, and theres plenty of debate on the whole AIO vs DIY thing.

Add the aforementioned to my perfectionist/ocd’ism (plus the fact its a HUGE investment for me) and this ones gonna have to stir n simmer for quite some time. Might as well as I imagine the initial set up and transfer of data is gonna take literally weeks. (which is another factor in my choice of which route to take as if i make the leap, im definitely not going back).