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Pooled File Server with Redundancy: FlexRAID or unRAID?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I need a solution to store and transmit data, and these are the things I'm looking for:

-The ability to store data on hard drives while having the drives have their own independent filesystems and 1 or 2 drives for parity, which would allow for 1 drive to fail, recover data, 2 drives to fail, only those two drives' data would be lost.
*Both unRAID and FlexRAID do this, good! FlexRAID has support for more than 1 drive for parity, though.

-The ability to pool the resultant mass of drives into (ideally) one visible disk, or in less optimal cases, one folder.
*FlexRAID would be better for this as its main idea is to pool drives into one visible disk, whereas unRAID could work by creating a folder made up of all disks that would be shared on the network via Samba. I think FlexRAID has the advantage here.

-The ability to write parity information and update it in real time
*According to SnapRAID's comparison page, unRAID does this natively, and from what I can gather, FlexRAID originally had scheduled parity updates but now supports realtime parity updates (although some posts I found from 2011 state it's buggy - is that still true?). If Flexraid supports realtime parity updates, I think that's another score for it! otherwise, I could probably deal with the scheduled backups.

-Current level of support=
*from the unRAID forums, it seems like people don't expect to see any significant changes anytime soon, which leads me to believe that the project may be on its way out. FlexRAID's creator seems to still support it, but is working on developing NZFS, a new filesystem. No details on that though.

-Max array size
*unRAID supports up to 20 or so data disks, and I couldn't find a stat on FlexRAID's limitations. Interesting

-Methods of file distribution
-unRAID natively supports Samba file sharing, and it seems like not much else. AFP and NFS are supported but buggy, so I'd not like to count those. Anything beyond that is up to the plugins, so let's leave it at that. FlexRAID, on the other hand, runs within Windows, so whatever distro program that is used that can index a hard drive (the flexraid pool) is good to go. That means that I wouldn't need a separate machine to run a web server or an FTP server, and I wouldn't have to worry about transfer methods between the distro server and the file server. I think FlexRAID takes the cake here, again.

-Reliability (in terms of corruption, between restarts, pulling drives and hotswap capabilities)
-unRAID seems to need to be rebooted inbetween insertion of replacement drives and all, and I'm not sure about FlexRAID. maybe some help on FlexRAID's capabilities? Although in terms of running long-term, it seems like unRAID servers can run for months without worry. I've currently got a Windows 7 box that has been running as a torrent server for 60 days without a restart, and it's doing okay. Maybe Windows and FlexRAID is stable enough to do that...hopefully!


Okay, this is all I can think of at the moment. PLEASE PLEASE leave feedback, comments, insults if I got information all wrong (thumb.gif) and all that jazz. Hopefully this comparison can help people in the future that are deciding between the two! For me, it's really a method of best storing files by:

HAVING DRIVES POOLED TOGETHER WITH PARITY BACKUP, and how to serve those files in multiple formats.

Thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 18
-Max array size
*unRAID supports up to 20 or so data disks, and I couldn't find a stat on FlexRAID's limitations. Interesting


I myself have not found any information pertaining to the limit of disk flexraid can support.This guy is running 52 2TB disk in his setup,although he is just using disk pooling with two parity dives(post #350 & 352).

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1512972&highlight=FlexRAID&page=18


EDIT: It seem that Flexraid can support an infinite number of DRU's & PPU's.You'd just setup as many empty DRU's from the get go that you'd think you'd need in the future.See TX engine at bottom of page.

http://wiki.flexraid.com/about/1355-2/
Edited by reezin14 - 10/24/12 at 10:40pm
 
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post #3 of 18
I can't personally speak for unRAID but i've been using flexraid for about 7 months now. It's on top of windows 7 and also running an FTP server and air video server.

You should know that flexraid can also be install on top of linux if you choose. Ubuntu is supported, but i think it would run on any distro.

It can in theory support an unlimited number of DRU and PPU (data risk units and pairity... something units). Right now i've got 4 DRUs and 1 PPU. Your PPU drives need to be at least as big as your largest PPU drive.

It seems solid but after a restart i have to manually set-up sharing again. No idea if that's just because of my lazy configuration or what. I get good performance out of it too.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Cool, thanks guys! I also was worried about disk fragmentation, but it appears that FlexRAID doesn't impact disk defrag programs at all. Since you two already have the program, could you offer any feedback on whether this is valid or not?

Brahim's comment at the end of this article leads me to believe this: http://wiki.flexraid.com/2011/09/01/why-use-flexraid-view/
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post #5 of 18
flexraid is weird, it doesn't really have an affect on the data on disk (other than the pairity disk obviously). If you pulled one of the drives out of your 'array' and put it in another machine you could browse and read all the files on that disk. But together in flexraid they're pooled.

So yeah, it's no different than de-fragmenting a regular disk.
post #6 of 18
FlexRAID isn't actually that weird at all. The difference between FlexRAID and traditional RAID is that traditional RAID works at the block level, and stripes data across all of the disks (apart from RAID 1). FlexRAID works at the file level, much like parity files on Usenet, and since it works at the file level, it has no need to stripe data across the disks for performance reasons.
Edited by parityboy - 10/29/12 at 3:48pm
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post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy View Post

FlexRAID isn't actually that weird at all. The difference between FlexRAID and traditional RAID is that traditional RAID works at the block level, and stripes data across all of the disks (apart from RAID 1). FlexRAID works at the file level, much like parity files on Usenet, and since it works at the file level, it has no need to stipe data across the disks for performance reasons.

Right. It's just allowing the OS to see a pooled drive instead of individual drives, while also offering parity. I'm testing it right now, and it looks to be a better option for me at the moment.
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post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kubed_zero View Post

Right. It's just allowing the OS to see a pooled drive instead of individual drives, while also offering parity. I'm testing it right now, and it looks to be a better option for me at the moment.

If you're having the 30 day trial i can reccomend fillin the array with data and then removin a drive to see how lon a rebuild takes, and to check if it works. I had the trial and started uisn it, then just converted my trial to full version.

I apolaise for the spellin errors, my keyboard is broken.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyboyd View Post

If you're having the 30 day trial i can reccomend fillin the array with data and then removin a drive to see how lon a rebuild takes, and to check if it works. I had the trial and started uisn it, then just converted my trial to full version.
I apolaise for the spellin errors, my keyboard is broken.

It's all good on the errors, made me LOL a bit! I just tried the Real Time RAID and put data on, pulled a drive, and tried restoring, and it failed on me three separate times. It might have been because I rebooted the machine without stopping the pool, but either way, it didn't work reliably.

I then tried in Snapshot mode, and it worked perfectly when I pulled the drive, formatted it, stuck it back in, formatted it, and transferred data from the array, rebuilding it. No issues, no special procedures, it worked perfectly. I think I'll stick to the snapshot mode then. I only had a couple gigs of data and it took under a minute, so that seemed good! Once I get my m1015 RAID card and get my RMA'd 2TB Caviar Black, I'll try with significantly more data.

As a preliminary though, Snapshot mode of FlexRAID looks to be great!
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post #10 of 18
Yeah I use snapshot and just set it to sync my parity data daily at 3am. Obviously when you are doing the parity sync its only as fast as the single drive but when you run a verify it can do them all at once. I've seen 700MBs which is a novelty for me lol.

I'm also glad to see its still on sale. It was on sale when I got it in April too. I don't think it ever expires.
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