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Best way to turn old pc into a storage server?


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I was looking on youtube a video and they used freenas but it erased all data on hdss and i read if you add hdds in the future they better be empty as they'll get erased too.
Is it better to keep drivepool and windows on the old pc and connect it with a cable to my new pc and use it like a usb or ethernet storage device?

Can you give me some advise guys how to go about this?

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2 hours ago, billis777 said:

I was looking on youtube a video and they used freenas but it erased all data on hdss and i read if you add hdds in the future they better be empty as they'll get erased too.
Is it better to keep drivepool and windows on the old pc and connect it with a cable to my new pc and use it like a usb or ethernet storage device?

Can you give me some advise guys how to go about this?

I am using a 10 year old computer with 16 USB 3.0 HDDs in DrivePool primarily as media storage for Plex and Kodi. This was a great use of an older computer and cheap USB HDDs I had purchased over the years. The computer is plenty fast enough for the file transfers I need from it. I kept DrivePool on my older computer that I leave powered on 24/7. I don't think DrivePool would add much to the overhead on your newer, main, computer, but I just preferred to have a separate system for my mass media storage.

To setup your system, have all your computers at home on the same home network and make sure that all computers can see each other as network computers. Make sure you can share files between your home computers on the network. Then, you can add DrivePool to the computer of your choice. DrivePool will create a drive letter for DrivePool (J: drive in my case). I think the DrivePool drive letter is "shared" by default, but if not, set it for file sharing. I gave full read/write access to DrivePool on all my other computers.

It's just about as easy as that with only MS making it sometimes difficult to network your computers on your home network "for your safety". Occasionally, MS will send out an update to Windows 10 and for some reason it will reset my network sharing options and my computers can no longer see each other. So, I need to go back into the settings and set the computers to share files. This is a MS issue and has nothing to do with DrivePool settings.

For years, I used Windows Storage Spaces as my platform for mass media storage. When you add a drive to Storage Spaces, it completely wipes the drive and takes full control over it. From what I understand, FreeNAS does the same thing. DrivePool just creates a hidden PoolPart directory on your HDD that it uses to store its files. You can still use that very same drive for "normal" storage on your system if you want. You don't have to wipe the HDD when you add it to DrivePool.

I prefer to have my DrivePool HDDs used only for DrivePool, but that is not required. Also, now that I have 16 USB HDDs in my DrivePool, I removed the individual drive letters for all my drives in the pool. DrivePool does not need a drive letter for the drives in the pool, it identifies the drive by the PoolPart directory info - not the drive letter, and I just find it easier to not having 16 USB HDDs cluttering my File Explorer view.

If you plan on having many drives in DrivePool, I would recommend you rename the drives that makes sense for your physical setup. In my case, my drives are named as DP01, DP02, DP03, DP04.... That way, in the DrivePool GUI, all my drives are listed in alphabetical order. Also, my external USB HDDs are also placed on the shelf in their physical order DP01, DP02, etc... and I put a label on each case. If/when I have any problems with a drive, or just want to remove it from the pool, it takes me no time to find the physical drive. Using easy names and labeling the cases is much faster than trying to identify drives by their serial numbers.

Another big advantage with DrivePool is that you can just add one drive at a time if you need more space. I don't know how FreeNAS works, but in Windows Storage Spaces I would often have to add either 2 or 3 drives at a time - depending on how I set up my initial volume.

DrivePool does not have a parity option, but it does offer duplication on the complete pool or just designated folders. Since my main use is for media files that I have the originals backed up on other storage media, I do not need duplication on most of my pool. I have a few directories designated for 2X or 3X duplication, but those are relatively small folders compared to big movie file directories. In the end, compared to a parity volume in Storage Spaces, I get more storage out of my DrivePool using only duplication for files I deem more important and having the bulk of my media files without duplication.

And, of course, if you suffer a HDD failure in DrivePool, it will only affect files on that one specific drive because DrivePool writes complete files to each drive. In Storage Spaces, it stripes the data across many drives, and in case of catastrophic failure, there is no way to salvage your data and you might lose your entire volume over many drives (this happened to me). I had a HDD start to fail in DrivePool, and I was still able to remove all data off the HDD except for 2 files before it completely died. That made me a fan for life with DrivePool.

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If i connect the computers with home network will 1gb ethernert connection be as fast to watch videos and even play games with no problem?
Would it be better to use 10gb network cards?

Also is it possible to play a game that will be stored on my 2nd storage computer on my first one like you can play a game from external hdd without having to transfer it to the windows hdd?
Will my 2nd storage computer will require a gpu too?

Thanks for helping me out gtaus!

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17 hours ago, billis777 said:

Would it be better to use 10gb network cards?

That's an easy one, with computers faster is (almost) always better. Even if you don't need the speed right now, chances are that you will need it in the future. 

I am not a gamer, so I can't help you there with your concerns. All I know is that gamers demand more speed out their systems than I ever need just streaming some movie files. However, I would offer an option I just saw on YouTube earlier today. The guy was using a program called Primo Cache with his on board RAM and a SSD drive to buffer both reads and writes on his system. It looked like the only limit on the size of the cache was the amount of RAM and the size SSD drive you installed. In your case, I wonder if Primo Cache would load everything into RAM and the SSD cache, giving you extremely fast response time. Certainly many times faster than reading from a standard HDD spinning disks.

I now use a SSD on the front end of my DrivePool, and writes to the DrivePool are first cached to the SDD - very fast. However, DrivePool  does not cache reads from the archive drives to the SSD, so I don't see any improvement there. I am assuming that your gamming needs require more read caching of the games, which is why I am suggesting you look into something like Primo Cache. 

I tried out Primo Cache a few years ago. It was a great product and you can benchmark the transfer time difference when you are moving files around. At that time, I did not have an SSD and only 8 GB of RAM on my old computer. So I set aside 5 GB of RAM to use as a cache. If I transferred a file <5GB, it was unbelievably fast. However, once I filled up that 5GB cache, everything immediately slowed down to the transfer rate of the drive I was using. In other words, using a 5GB cache bought me only about 30 seconds of extremely fast file transfers. Most of my media file transfers are about 100GB, so using Primo Cache on my setup at that time was not worth the cost. If I had a SSD at that time, however, it may have been worth it.

Just out of curiosity, if running a game from cache is possible, how much memory would you need for a typical game these days?

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