Freenas Upgrade (6 of 7)

All of the work I’ve been doing lately has eaten up a lot of storage space. My 4 by 3TB drive freenas storage solution is down to less than 1TB of space and shirking fast. The motherboard I’m using for my Freenas installation only supports 4 SATA ports, so I started researching a PCI-e upgrade solution. After a little bit of hunting I came across the Syba PCI-e 4 port SATA controller card. The card is natively supported by the latest version of Freenas and gives me the option to add another 4 drives.

Freenas Upgrade (1 of 7)

The Mid sized tower I used for this build only has 4 3.5″ hard drive bays, all of which are being used. To add 4 more 3.5″ hard drive bays and add a little extra cooling I decided to go with the Cooler Master 4 in 3 hard drive module.  Basically this takes over the 3 external 5.25″ drive bays and replaces it with 4 3.5″ internal bays.

Freenas Upgrade (4 of 7)

For $24 the Cooler Master comes with all the hardware and mounting brackets you need for installation. Unfortunately it also comes with blue LED lighting on the fan. The case will be hidden away in a closet so it’s not a huge issue, still i don’t need my computer to double as a nightlight. I know that there are many people who prefer windows and glowing lights on there computers but I’ve never been a fan. Give me a flat black case and the option to disable all things glowing and I’m happy.

Freenas Upgrade (3 of 7)

I might not enjoy glowing lights, but I do prefer clean cable routing if possible.  Rounded SATA cables tend to provide a much cleaner installation then the standard flat cables included with most motherboards. A nice power distribution cable also keeps down clutter and provides a few filter capacitors (internally) to smooth out power across a group of hard drives.

Freenas Upgrade (2 of 7)

At the time I ordered the drives (last week in the airport terminal), Toshiba’s 3TB offering was $119 a drive making it the most affordable option. The units are basically rebranded Hitachi 7200 rpm drives with a slightly shorter warranty period (2 years instead of 3 years). As of this writing Seagate Barracuda 3TB drives are now winning the price per GB race at $118 a peace, however they only offer up a 1 year warranty.

Freenas Upgrade (7 of 7)

I finished the upgrade this morning so I could start dumping footage. 3 TB of mirrored space should hold me over for the rest of the year and I still have enough room for 2 more drives before I completely run out of space. 18 TB seems like a lot, but keeping things redundant automatically drops that down to 9TB, and with the format size of a 3TB drive giving you about 2.7TB of actual space, that number drops even more.

With data rates the way they are in the DSLR arena, it’s easy for a small 2 or 3 camera shoot to rack up 500GB worth of footage before a project is finished. Raw video can be even more data intensive. Even formats like Prores 422 can eat up a lot of space (4 to 5 times the file size of h.264) in a short amount of time. If you plan to shooting everything raw in the future, you might want to start considering storage solutions as well as compression formats like Cineform raw. All that footage won’t do you much good if you don’t have a place to store it.

I’ve tried to cover every step of my Freenas adventure. Hopefully this should make things easier for those of you wishing to save some money building your own storage solution. Here are the earlier posts that cover my build progress:

The first and second links provide a parts lists from December. As of this writing everything is still avalible and none of the parts I used in my current build have been discontiued. The i3 processor and 16GB of ram have been more then enough (possably over kill) to keep up with the ZFS file system I’ve been using and the build saved me around $600 over a truditional all in one 8 bay NAS solution. I’ve been very happy with Freenas storage so far.

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