Reliability and performance vs unRAID?


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Hi,

 

I own a computer with unRAID installed on it. While it's very reliable, it's extremely boring and really difficult to add apps or features (dockers) to it. Every docker requires research, doubts, trial and errors until you get it working. Then, you depend on volunteers job to keep them maintained.

 

I discovered recently this mod, and as Synology software looks fantastic and really friendly to use, I'm curious about its reliability and performance (I mean XPEnology) on a normal computer. Can this be a serious alternative to unRAID in a domestic environment? I was surprised when I found Hybrid RAID, which is why I chose unRAID, thinking it was the only solution to allow different size disks with redundancy.

 

To describe my requirements, I own 3 Macs, 2 PCs with Windows 10, an APC UPS connected with USB to the server, and the server has the following specs:

 

- CPU: Intel Celeron G1820

- Motherboard: MSI B85M-E45

- RAM: 4GB

 

Disks:

- 3 x 3TB WD Caviar Green (x1 for parity, 2x for data)

- 1.5TB Seagate

- 1TB Toshiba

- 750GB Seagate

 

And about the software I'm running on it:

 

- unRAID 6.x

- Transmission

- Plex Server

- Airvideo HD

- DuckDNS

- Crashplan (to backup the whole content of the server on the cloud)

 

Is anybody there with tips ideas or comments about replacing unraid with XPEnology? Is everything compatible? Or are some features inside DSM disabled (like iOS access or something like that)? Does it works with UPS's? Is it reliable and easy to maintain?

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Lots to consider :smile:

 

As a start, your mobo hardware looks compatible with XPE as a bare metal install.

 

Then you have to consider the difference between unraid - a supported developed system, and XPE - a fantastic enthusiasts project that could 'end' any time, if Synology close the door on the 'hacks' or the 'Gurus' that develop XPE decide to move on.

 

If that does not worry you then, looking at your requirements, I think that the XPE/DSM and Packages combination would be as good as unraid, and as you say, might be easier and give you less headaches.

 

I think that your best option would be to setup a VM version of XPE/DSM, using one of the freeware virtualisation toolkits that work with XPE, have a play around and see what you do and dont like, especially Packages and features. If it does what you want - then take the leap :smile:

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Thanks for the answer but that about virtualization sounds like coming out from a headache to land onto another one, isn't it? :wink: The most I've played with virtualization has been with VirtualBox. Can you (or any other) point me to a tutorial or first steps about it? :smile:

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virtualization sounds like coming out from a headache to land onto another one, isn't it?

 

I felt the same way, which is why I went with a bare metal setup. Why add an extra layer of complication if I don't have to.

 

I also had an unRAID setup prior to discovering XPEnology and can completely understand your feelings about it. When I had my unRAID, I was never able to get much more than about 40MB/s reads and writes. On XPEnology, I now regularly see 110MB/s or more on reads and writes. Also, the UI of the Synology DSM is fantastic and much more fun to use than the unRAID UI ever will be. Lastly, I find the AFP to work much better than unRAID. Coming from unRAID, XPEnology will seem like a cakewalk to set up.

 

I only ran AirVideo server on my unRAID. After transitioning to XPEnology, I now use Plex server to replace AirVideo and have been extremely happy with it. I have not tried any other apps on XPE box.

 

The only disadvantage I can see is that with XPEnology, it is slightly less flexible with drives. While you can make arrays with drives of varying sizes and makes (with SHR), if/when you replace or add drives, the drive you use will have to be equal to or larger than the largest drive in your current array.

 

Secondly, with unRAID, you can easily take out one of the drives in your unRAID array and it can be accessed in Linux. With XPEnoloy, you would need the entire array and in the correct order to access it from another computer.

 

Personally, I have no regrets about making the switch and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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VirtualBox: https://myxpenology.com/tutorials/installation/hypervisor/how-setup-virt...

Bare Metal: https://myxpenology.com/tutorials/installation/hardware/hardware-install...

I would go bare-metal, this because i assume you're not going to use the server for VM's and such.

 

 

Posted via MyXpenology

 

 

Thanks for the links! That site has a lot of info there! Time to read! :wink:

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virtualization sounds like coming out from a headache to land onto another one, isn't it?

 

I also had an unRAID setup prior to discovering XPEnology and can completely understand your feelings about it.

 

It's good to know I'm not the only one with this feeling :wink:.

 

What you say about the read-write performance sounds quite interesting. And the point about the size of the replacement disk and access to individual disks is something important to consider too :wink:.

 

May I ask a couple more things?

 

- Do you use Time Machine? Is it reliable? with unRAID I'm having issues, I don't know if it's because of my Mac, but it gets corrupted quite often, so I have to start a new one after a couple of weeks :sad:

 

- Where is the OS stored and how safe it is? I mean, is it similar to unRAID, where the OS and prefs is stored in the USB stick, and loaded into the RAM when the server is On? Or is it stored on the HDD?

 

While writing I'm just remembering all the setup headaches I've had with unRAID during the last years: the OS is on the USB stick, but if you enable dockers you need to create and IMG somewhere else, and there are prefs for the dockers stored, and if you run out of space inside the IMG file, then you need to disable all the dockers, and expand it, and enable everything again. But the system prefs are elsewhere, and the plugins prefs on another one. And I have one docker for Crashplan, but because it has no GUI, I need a second docker called Crashplan Desktop, which usually is outdated and doesn't match the main Crashplan docker, so it's unable to connect to it, so I'm not able to modify or check how Crashplan is performing.

 

And for me, the worse part, is the even geekier route it's going: instead of going easier, I think it's more and more complicated as it evolves (more options -> more things to learn -> more things to setup -> more complexity -> more points of failure -> more headaches). There's a philosophy around technology which I love and spread every time I can: the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

 

It was created by an engineer many years ago, because the user interfaces tend to be a nightmare to the users, so he promoted to make interfaces as simple as possible. Many people don't know or forget about this :wink:

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I should have probably said in my earlier post that the virtualisation idea would be to do that on a PC (say VM player), get to know the system then decide, before you migrate your bare metal.

 

The other members posts give you all you need to follow up and if you are smart enough to have gotten unraid to work, a VM and XPE wont phase you :smile:

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virtualization sounds like coming out from a headache to land onto another one, isn't it?

 

I also had an unRAID setup prior to discovering XPEnology and can completely understand your feelings about it.

 

It's good to know I'm not the only one with this feeling :wink:.

 

What you say about the read-write performance sounds quite interesting. And the point about the size of the replacement disk and access to individual disks is something important to consider too :wink:.

 

May I ask a couple more things?

 

- Do you use Time Machine? Is it reliable? with unRAID I'm having issues, I don't know if it's because of my Mac, but it gets corrupted quite often, so I have to start a new one after a couple of weeks :sad:

 

- Where is the OS stored and how safe it is? I mean, is it similar to unRAID, where the OS and prefs is stored in the USB stick, and loaded into the RAM when the server is On? Or is it stored on the HDD?

 

While writing I'm just remembering all the setup headaches I've had with unRAID during the last years: the OS is on the USB stick, but if you enable dockers you need to create and IMG somewhere else, and there are prefs for the dockers stored, and if you run out of space inside the IMG file, then you need to disable all the dockers, and expand it, and enable everything again. But the system prefs are elsewhere, and the plugins prefs on another one. And I have one docker for Crashplan, but because it has no GUI, I need a second docker called Crashplan Desktop, which usually is outdated and doesn't match the main Crashplan docker, so it's unable to connect to it, so I'm not able to modify or check how Crashplan is performing.

 

And for me, the worse part, is the even geekier route it's going: instead of going easier, I think it's more and more complicated as it evolves (more options -> more things to learn -> more things to setup -> more complexity -> more points of failure -> more headaches). There's a philosophy around technology which I love and spread every time I can: the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

 

It was created by an engineer many years ago, because the user interfaces tend to be a nightmare to the users, so he promoted to make interfaces as simple as possible. Many people don't know or forget about this :wink:

XPE is quite simple, having used unRAID before, it is much slicker. You install the current image on a usb stick, and that simply acts as the boot device. The actual OS is around 2.5GB and is stored on the HDD(s) as their own partition. Every HDD you install has an identical copy of the OS, so you'll always have access to the system as long as the boot USB is installed (assuming baremetal install).

 

I was getting 110MB/s write speed using hybrid raid. This is simply because it does Raid 1 and Raid 5 depending on how it slices the uneven disks. I think Raid 5 is faster the more disks you have.

 

All applications are installed to a volume of your choosing, so any thing you have is run automatically from there. No need to do the stuff you have to do with unRAID.

 

One thing though, crashplan is not a native application but you can use the docker one from unRAID... Otherwise, cloudsync can back up to other providers.

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May I ask a couple more things?

 

- Do you use Time Machine? Is it reliable? with unRAID I'm having issues, I don't know if it's because of my Mac, but it gets corrupted quite often, so I have to start a new one after a couple of weeks :sad:

 

- Where is the OS stored and how safe it is? I mean, is it similar to unRAID, where the OS and prefs is stored in the USB stick, and loaded into the RAM when the server is On? Or is it stored on the HDD?

 

While writing I'm just remembering all the setup headaches I've had with unRAID during the last years: the OS is on the USB stick, but if you enable dockers you need to create and IMG somewhere else, and there are prefs for the dockers stored, and if you run out of space inside the IMG file, then you need to disable all the dockers, and expand it, and enable everything again. But the system prefs are elsewhere, and the plugins prefs on another one. And I have one docker for Crashplan, but because it has no GUI, I need a second docker called Crashplan Desktop, which usually is outdated and doesn't match the main Crashplan docker, so it's unable to connect to it, so I'm not able to modify or check how Crashplan is performing.

 

And for me, the worse part, is the even geekier route it's going: instead of going easier, I think it's more and more complicated as it evolves (more options -> more things to learn -> more things to setup -> more complexity -> more points of failure -> more headaches). There's a philosophy around technology which I love and spread every time I can: the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

 

It was created by an engineer many years ago, because the user interfaces tend to be a nightmare to the users, so he promoted to make interfaces as simple as possible. Many people don't know or forget about this :wink:

 

I have not tested Time Machine with XPEnology. I have an older Mac Pro which affords me the luxury of enough drive bays to keep a Time Machine drive on the computer itself.

 

The way XPEnology works is different to how unRAID works. unRAID keeps the OS on the USB flash drive along with plug-ins, apps (not the Dockers which are stored on the main array), etc. In XPEnology, the USB flash drive is just a boot loader. That means, it is just used to boot the system and then tells the system to load the Synology DSM. The Synology DSM itself is stored on every drive on your volumes. It takes up very little space and doesn't affect storage capacity much at all. When I was testing out XPEnology, I installed the boot loader on to a 256MB flash drive and it worked perfectly.

 

Although, I did migrate to unRAID 6, I didn't stay on it long enough to mess with the Dockers. It all seemed very confusing and convoluted to me. On XPEnology, the apps are stored on the volume. Installing Plex was extremely simple. I downloaded the necessary file from www.plex.tv and followed their directions and was done within 5 minutes and I was watching my content through my AppleTV and iPad shortly after.

 

Believe me when I say that XPEnology is far simpler to set up. If you have your hardware ready, all you have to do is copy the boot loader to the flash drive, plug it in to your NAS, boot up, and you are on your way. I'm talking about minutes compared to hours when comparing how much time is required to get everything up and running, XPEnology vs unRAID.

 

Once up and running, the vastly more elegant and intuitive UI of the Synology OS makes life very easy when it comes to configuring and managing your NAS.

 

I hope I've addressed some of your concerns. Please feel free to ask any other questions.

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Wow! Thank you all of you for your clear, interesting, and helpful answers! I was thinking about waiting, because there's another old IT phrase which says: "if it works, don't touch it!". So I was thinking "why to mess with another thing, when unRAID is right now working, even it's difficult". But I have to say that, after reading your comments, I'm tempted again :wink:.

 

As @sbv3000 said, I'm trying now with Virtualbox inside my Mac to see if I manage to test it. The issue is it doesn't format the virtual hard disks I created (I created 4 virtual disks to try to emulate a server and to play with fails and DSM reactions, as I did previously with unRAID). Maybe they are too small?

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Working! Instead of using the SATA interface, I'm using the IDE one as you @sbv3000 pointed. Now it's working fine. Really easy to do and really nice GUI! The embedded help system is great too! It helps a lot with the new windows and many options! But it seems it lacks info about the SHRAID solution (the one I'm interested the most, because it's the one closer to unRAID :wink:.

 

I've added two more disks to just play with them (adding and removing them from the volume) and I'm also playing with the Audio app! Man, it's great! It's what iTunes should be!! It even detects my Airplay speakers without any setup! Right away from the box! :smile:. The temptation is increasing each minute I spend using it! I think Synology should support it's OS on third party hardware! Right now, the desire to buy one of their NAS is bigger, and I've read many topics with users who begun with XPEnology and ended buying their NAS :wink:

 

One last question: I've found many questions during setup about Synology services, like Quickconnect. Is it possible/safe/recommended to enable and use them in XPEnology? It could be great to have access to music and files no matter where I am :wink:

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Keep in mind setting a controller to IDE mode comes with a preformance penalty.

One last question: I've found many questions during setup about Synology services, like Quickconnect. Is it possible/safe/recommended to enable and use them in XPEnology? 

This is possible, explained over the forum a couple of times. Basiclly its easy as:

- Generate mac an serial

- Put the mac and serial in syslinux.cfg

If you want, i can write a small how to =).

 

 

Posted via MyXpenology

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But it seems it lacks info about the SHRAID solution (the one I'm interested the most, because it's the one closer to unRAID :wink:.

 

When you first create your volume, selecting the default will result in an SHR array.

 

 

One last question: I've found many questions during setup about Synology services, like Quickconnect. Is it possible/safe/recommended to enable and use them in XPEnology? It could be great to have access to music and files no matter where I am :wink:

 

This is a bit of a gray area among the users. While technically possible, some feel it immoral and has the potential of jeopardizing future development of XPEnology. But much of the same functionality can be replicated simply by using a DDNS service such as no-ip.com or duckdns.org.

 

In regards to add/removing drives, when I started off, I used whatever spare drives I could find laying around. I then migrated data from my old unRAID and a Drobo. Along the way, I pulled drives from those systems and used them to replace smaller drives in my XPEnology build. I went through this six times within a month and a half. Everything went as expected and I didn't lose any data.

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Thanks again to everybody answering here! Really useful information! @pastrychef, thanks for the clarification about the gray area, I get it and I agree with those users that has the potential to damage the XPEnology survival. I don't plan to use it, and DDNS is no problem to me (I already use it).

 

And thanks too for the step by step explanation about the migration from unRAID to XPEn :wink:. If I finally do it I'll need to design a strategy, of course, so it helps :smile:.

 

Time to weigh pros and cons and to decide what to do... I should stay with unRAID because it's working fine now, but apps like the music app are calling me :wink:

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My pleasure. Glad I was able to help. I have a feeling you will be making the transition sooner rather than later. lol

 

Side note: I told my uncle about this and he eventually made the leap from unRAID to XPEnology as well. He loves it.

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My pleasure. Glad I was able to help. I have a feeling you will be making the transition sooner rather than later. lol

 

Side note: I told my uncle about this and he eventually made the leap from unRAID to XPEnology as well. He loves it.

 

Nice :wink:. There's just one thing is stopping me right now: the Crashplan docker for unRAID was updated and now includes a viewer, so it's really easy to monitor or configure when needed, instead of the old way of having to connect remotely. That's a big bonus right now. I've seen that XPEn also supports dockers, so I tried to install the same Crashplan docker used in unRAID, and it's very very difficult (all the install script must be done quite manually :sad: )

 

Also, I've tried to research here and there about minor and major updates for XPEnology and they seem quite complicate to me, needing to extract the usb flash memory, copying a new image, and rebooting (I guess I need also a screen connected to the server to do it), and following the wizard. Some tutorials I've seen use SSH too, and all these options seem to be much more complicate than unRAID right now. Is it like that? Or did I just looked at the wrong tutorials? :wink:

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Also, I've tried to research here and there about minor and major updates for XPEnology and they seem quite complicate to me, needing to extract the usb flash memory, copying a new image, and rebooting (I guess I need also a screen connected to the server to do it), and following the wizard. Some tutorials I've seen use SSH too, and all these options seem to be much more complicate than unRAID right now. Is it like that? Or did I just looked at the wrong tutorials? :wink:

 

Here is the procedure I use to update the boot loader on the USB flash drive:

 

1. SSH to the NAS.

2. type in the following commands:

[spoiler=]wget m https://download.xpenology.fr/XPEnology ... 5592.2.img m (use appropriate link based on version of boot loader)

 

find you usbdrive with fdisk -l

 

dd if=XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.2-5644.1.img of=/dev/sdg1 (sdg1 should be replaced with whatever your USB flash drive ID is)

 

3. Update the Synology DSM from your web browser.

4. Reboot.

 

I learned this procedure from: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9835

 

I use this method because I do not have a monitor or keyboard connected to my NAS. I use the Terminal app in OS X to do it all.

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Also, I've tried to research here and there about minor and major updates for XPEnology and they seem quite complicate to me, needing to extract the usb flash memory, copying a new image, and rebooting (I guess I need also a screen connected to the server to do it), and following the wizard. Some tutorials I've seen use SSH too, and all these options seem to be much more complicate than unRAID right now. Is it like that? Or did I just looked at the wrong tutorials? :wink:

 

Here is the procedure I use to update the boot loader on the USB flash drive:

 

1. SSH to the NAS.

2. type in the following commands:

[spoiler=]wget m https://download.xpenology.fr/XPEnology ... 5592.2.img m (use appropriate link based on version of boot loader)

 

find you usbdrive with fdisk -l

 

dd if=XPEnoboot_DS3615xs_5.2-5644.1.img of=/dev/sdg1 (sdg1 should be replaced with whatever your USB flash drive ID is)

 

3. Update the Synology DSM from your web browser.

4. Reboot.

 

I learned this procedure from: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9835

 

I use this method because I do not have a monitor or keyboard connected to my NAS. I use the Terminal app in OS X to do it all.

 

It seems reasonable... As far as I understand, the command creates and new image on the USB flash from the .img file. Then, from the DSM web interface, I update the DSM itself using the modified .PAT file which has been downloaded prior to the update, right? Works this method for minor and major updates?

 

Thanks again for your kind help and patience :smile:. I do so many questions because I consider migrating the OS of my server quite important I don't want to screw things or put more job on my agenda :wink:

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It seems reasonable... As far as I understand, the command creates and new image on the USB flash from the .img file. Then, from the DSM web interface, I update the DSM itself using the modified .PAT file which has been downloaded prior to the update, right? Works this method for minor and major updates?

 

Thanks again for your kind help and patience :smile:. I do so many questions because I consider migrating the OS of my server quite important I don't want to screw things or put more job on my agenda :wink:

 

Yes, that's exactly how I've been doing it and it has worked fine.

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