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    Reevaluating My Music Storage

     

     

    Audio: Listen to this article.

     

     

    As I wrote in the forum yesterday, my ten year old Synology DS1812+ died on Sunday. I accidentally flipped off the circuit breaker in my storage room, where much of my IT related equipment is housed. This usually isn't an issue for 99.9% of my gear. Power outages happen. However, the DS1812+ didn't come back to life and I wasn't able to resuscitate it. 

     

    A power outage taking out a NAS isn't new to me. Like the DS1812+, my QNAP TVS-872XT also died a couple years ago in a similar way. I have friends in the industry who've experienced the same issue, multiple times. On the plus side, QNAP support was great to me and repaired my TVS-872XT, which has been my main NAS for years. 

     

    The DS1812+ was my backup NAS. It's death isn't the end of the world, doesn't really change my daily listening habits, and I haven't lost any data because it all exists on the QNAP TVS-872XT. I could easily just replace the Synology with a cheap backup NAS and call it a day. I could also reevaluate my music storage needs, research the current music storage landscape, and plot my path forward. As someone who always looks for improvements and educational opportunities, it's a no brainer for me. It's time to reevaluate how I store my music. 

     


    Current Overview

     

    I have 16 terabytes of music on a QNAP TVS-872XT running the QuTS hero h5.01.2248 operating system and ZFS pools for storage. I'm using about 75% of the storage capacity, which could be expanded with more disks. I don't depend on many of the QNAP apps, but I like the ease of remote access and the fact that I can install MinimServer directly on the NAS and it runs very well. QNAP's Helpdesk app was handy last year when troubleshooting and fixing a memory leak, but I usually leave it disabled.

     

    My Windows and Mac computers connect to the QNAP TVS-872XT, as does my Roon ROCK. My Aurender N20 and ACS10 have local storage, and don't connect to the NAS at all (although they could). Roon isn't really a concern because I've listened to Roon for exactly 0 minutes over the last four weeks according to Roon's stats, and running Roon directly on the QNAP lead to much frustration, resulting in me removing it.  

     

    Lately I've been playing really large 12 channel DXD files and have been forced to move them to local storage on my Mac (1TB internal NVMe) and Windows (2TB internal NVMe) computers. When I click play on a 6GB file, I want it to start immediately. Pulling these files over the network each time I wanted to play them, resulted in a less than desirable experience. In addition, my collection of 12 channel files is growing much faster than my two channel collection, resulting in my library growing nearly two terabytes las year. 

     

    That's the current lay of the land.

     


    Moving Forward

     

    I have many thoughts about my music storage and how best to improve upon my current situation. Thanks to members of this community, I have some additional ideas that are great. I spent several hours yesterday researching paths forward and ended the day with more questions than answers. Not questions about the technology, but questions for myself about which path I want to pursue and which path is the best. Those two may be the same, but also can be very different. For example, a QNAP NAS is easy and used by tons of people in this community. An esoteric solution may work better, but also may be a bit over the top and uninteresting to everyone but me. Finding the balance is key.

     

    A drop-in replacement for the DS1812+ backup NAS is simple, but not the path I want to go down. I think rotating my QNAP TVS-872XT into the position of backup, and replacing it, is a better route, but to be honest I really don't know. It's also hard to say if QNAP, or even Synology, hardware is as reliable as other potential solutions. The internet is riddled with horror stories about hardware failures, but I don't think they are based on a longitudinal study. It's more likely angry people with loud voices. That said, I've experienced failures that I consider premature. 

    If I rotate the TVS-872XT to backup and replace it with a new NAS as my main music storage location, I'd like to improve upon speed and reliability. Playing two channel high resolution files is a piece of cake. The 12 channel DXD albums are another story. Reliability will be nearly impossible to judge objectively. 

     

    ts-h1290fx.jpgOne option is a NAS such as the QNAP TS-h1290FX. It has all U.2 NVMe storage and up through 25Gbe connectivity. A fast AMD EPYC processor and tons of RAM, could also enable me to run Roon on it, if I want to in the future. One item I'd love to see on this unit is dual power supplies because I know people who've had QNAP PSUs fail. It would be nice to have a backup and units with dual PSUs usually enable hot swapping of those PSUs. I don't need it to be hot swappable, but the capability means replacement is as simple as it gets, without opening the unit and fighting with the case and tiny internal space. 

     

    I hesitate going this route mainly because of cost. The cost of a TS-h1290FX base unit with 64GB of RAM is $4,899. Not the end of the world, but also not inexpensive. Drives for this unit can be either U.2 NVMe or M.2 NVMe in the QNAP QDA-UMP4 converter. If I loaded the unit up with 12 4TB NVMe drives and converters, the price would be north of $7,000 for the drives alone and give me around 40TB of usable storage.

     

    Another hesitation I have is the 25Gbe speed. I'd absolutely love to take advantage of this incredibly fast Ethernet, but I could only do it on my CAPS Twenty Windows PC. I could easily add a 25Gbe card in CAPS and it would fly, I have no doubt. However, my MacBook Pro is limited to either 1 Gbe or 10 Gbe, with the 1 Gbe being the only Ravenna certified speed. I've used 10 Gbe on CAPS Twenty for Ravenna, but I haven't done so on macOS. 

     

    I'd be well north of $10k for a great NAS, but I'm unsure if the cost is worth it, given my reliance on a MacBook Pro. I suppose I could add a Thunderbolt PCIe card to the MacBook Pro and a 25Gbe card etc..., but now I'm closer to a kludge than I want to be, and I've added more cost to the already very expensive solution.


    TrueNAS MiniXL Plus.jpgAnother NAS I've looked at for many years is TrueNAS. I built my own based on FreeNAS back in the day, and I really liked it. I switched to QNAP as more people in HiFi started using QNAP and I wanted to be able to test, talk, and educate about all the QNAP possibilities. The TrueNAS Mini series is fairly affordable and is rock solid. I like the TrueNAS Mini XL+ because it has eight drives and 10GB SFP+ slots. The SFP+ slots would enable me to place the unit in my basement because I have fiber running in my house from top to bottom. That said, I could save $600 by using copper 10Gbe and placing the unit behind the wall in my listening room. 

     

    The Mini XL+ uses spinning drives, just like my QNAP and dead Synology. 6Tb drives are a sweet spot right now price-wise, enabling me to fill up the Mini XL+, with SFP+, and 64GB of RAM for roughly $3,800. That's a pretty attractive price for around 40TB of usable space. In addition, this would get me into the TrueNAS ecosystem running the new Scale (Linux) operating system and open some different possibilities. The TrueNAS community is very active and support direct from the company appears to be good. 

     

    I could spend $3,800 and use the TrueNAS Mini XL+ as my main music storage device, but I wouldn't gain any speed over my QNAP TVS-872XT, in my estimation. It would be a nice project and serve a purpose, but I'm hesitant. If I was starting over from NAS ground zero, this is likely the route I'd take.


    After studying "canned" NAS options and building my own NAS using a custom operating system, I started looking at a solution that seems like a step or two backward, local storage. I could use local storage on my music servers, and use the QNAP as a backup, or I could use a hybrid approach with an additional backup drive attached to my QNAP. Let me explain. 

     

    I'm getting a new MacBook Pro in the next couple of months. Given that Apple released the new models today, things are looking good. I currently can't play 12 channel DXD files with 65,000 tap convolution filters on my 2017 MacBoo Pro. I just don't have the horsepower. I could purchase a new MacBook Pro and max out the internal storage at 8TB. Apple charges a ridiculous $2,200 for the 8TB internal drive upgrade, but there are no other internal options because the hardware is locked down. 8Tb of space would enable me to store my 6TB music library, and keep the 10TB "archive" on the NAS. The archive is music that I almost never listen to, but I just can't delete. The 6TB collection would be on the MacBoo Pro and backed up on the existing QNAP TVS-872XT. The remaining 10Tb is all stereo, so I could play it directly from the NAS using Audirvana, and back it up to a USB drive attached to the TVS-872XT. 

     

    Screenshot 2023-01-17 at 12.34.21 PM.pngI also thought about getting a 4Tb drive in a new MacBook Pro, and storing only the 12 channel albums locally. Apple's price for a 4Tb upgrade is $1,000, which is easier to swallow. Still, everyone talking about how cheap storage is today, hasn't looked at NVMe drives. The prices are crazy. The cost of a new 14" MacBook Pro is $1,999, but the cost of 8Tb of storage is $2,200. Have high end audio manufacturers started producing NVMe storage in small batches!

     

    The most attractive parts about local storage are speed and simplicity. While I complain about the cost, it would also be less expensive than getting a new NAS.

     

    If I go this route, my MacBook Pro would be OK, but my CAPS Twenty Windows PC would be in the same position as it is today. I could technically place the huge 12 channel DXD content on the local CAPS NVMe drive, and use the 10Gbe Ethernet card to pull music from the NAS, or stick with the JCAT 1Gbe card because the huge files would be local. 

     


    Wrap Up

     

    That's where I'm at, as of Noon Central US time today. The more I research, the more paralysis takes hold. I really don't know which option I want to go with, or if another will pop up this afternoon. As I think through the options I. Come up with reasons why a specific solution will/won't work, or why one is better or worse than another. There is no clearcut solution that checks all the boxes. This sounds very similar to DACs and high end audio :~)

     

    All of this research makes solutions like Aurender seem so dang easy. 


    N20_1_2048x.jpg

     

     




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    23 minutes ago, Billy_SP said:

     

    I don't know for sure, but according to this review, the Wolf can do multi channel, upsampling and DXD:  https://houseofstereo.com/blogs/news/review-by-posi-ive-feedback-impressions-the-wolf-audio-alpha-3sx-music-server-revisited

     

    I have no commercial ties with any audio company, just thought it was a route worth of consideration given that a server can give you plenty processing power and flexibility.  I am considering this route myself by the way.

    Thanks @Billy_SP. I will look into it. DXD stereo and upsamping are one thing, but 12 channels of DXD with convolution are another. My Aurender can play 12 channel DXD, but I have to send the audio to another computer for convolution. 

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    I wonder  If a “real server” like: https://system76.com/servers.  Would be a better idea.  configure it like you want.  Run windows in a VM for those needs, pick a NAS software pagckage?  

     

    Do we need a new thread:  The Audiophile Style Data Center! 😇

     

     

     

     

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    21 hours ago, Marcin_gps said:

    This is exactly why I have all my files backed up on a 2nd drive and on dropbox. 

    Be very careful with dropbox it is not a backup system and will sync your files into the ether if you are not very careful

     

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    6 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    Do we need a new thread:  The Audiophile Style Data Center! 😇

    I'm sure my family woud love when I install fire supression system :~)

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    7 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    I wonder  If a “real server” like: https://system76.com/servers.  Would be a better idea.  configure it like you want.  Run windows in a VM for those needs, pick a NAS software pagckage?  

     

    The inner-geek in me does appreciate such a system and would like it :~)

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    18 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    I wonder  If a “real server” like: https://system76.com/servers.  Would be a better idea.  configure it like you want.  Run windows in a VM for those needs, pick a NAS software pagckage?  

     

    Do we need a new thread:  The Audiophile Style Data Center! 😇

     

     

     

     

     

    Yes for flexibility and processing power, no for the quality of ports (need reclocking), the low noise ethernet and the power supply,  which IMHO make a night and day difference for the final sound quality.

     

    Pink Faun, Baetis are other examples that allow configurations and provide the other stuff necessary for good sound. 

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    On 1/18/2023 at 11:03 PM, luisma said:

    Hi Chris, I can't find out at the moment with a quick search but I know the HBA adapters allows TrueNAS and the software to build the ZFS vdevs (these are ZFS's logical RAID units) and system, making it transparent to migrate to another RAID / vdev upon failure of the controller. Which is something other technologies don't do. Synology will rebuild a NAS for you but you need to call support and pray they figure it out.

     

    ZFS in general:

    It has a huge disadvantage which is the writes, if you write continuously without deleting much you are good, if you constantly write and erase, write and erase it will degrade with time, that's the ZFS Achilles heel. I don't write/delete much o it is fine.

    The other disadvantage of ZFS is capacity, once you cross 70% of used capacity it degrades performance.

     

    Aside of that is a wonderful system, the XL comes with WD REDS, these in the past where SMR (you don't want SMR), I believe now are CMR which are good but I would not go with WD RED's 

    https://www.servethehome.com/wd-red-smr-vs-cmr-tested-avoid-red-smr/

     

    I usually build my NAS and select Enterprise drives for it (I'm a huge fan of former HGST part of WD today) enterprise drives IMO is the best way to go and they are not much more expensive if you know where to buy.

     

    With 8 bays you could do with 14 TB drives (you could use higher capacities 18TB if needed)

     

    1x vdev with RAIDZ2 (RAID6) = 14x 6 = 84 TB

     

    I personally would do:

     

    2x vdevs with RAIDZ2 = 28TB + 28TB = 56 TB (a tad faster and even more resilient) assuming 56 TB is enough for you

     

    If you ever need to expand storage you must replace all drives in a vdev one by one and it takes time, that's why I like to split vdevs in maximums of 4 drives and not 8 drives.

     

    Synology is much much much more simplified but the overhead of the system, the limitations and the abilities of TrueNAS to do maintenance and check drives etc. are just better IMO.

     

    EDIT: 1st paragraph I meant to say "making it transparent to move the drives to a new ZFS system and read the RAID and operate it there independently from the actual hardware controller"

     

     

     

     

    I've been thinking about this post more and going over the options endlessly. 

     

    I wonder how I can speed up my existing QNAP to max out its performance, for a reasonable amount of money using spinning drives for the main storage. Then add a couple large USB drives to the QNAP and schedule backups to those. 

     

    Analysis paralysis to the max :~)

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    32 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    I've been thinking about this post more and going over the options endlessly. 

     

    I wonder how I can speed up my existing QNAP to max out its performance, for a reasonable amount of money using spinning drives for the main storage. Then add a couple large USB drives to the QNAP and schedule backups to those. 

     

    Analysis paralysis to the max :~)


    Low tech/low cost seems like a great idea to me. Only question is whether the QNAP will take the additional volume of music you’ll be trying to cram in there.

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    11 minutes ago, Jud said:


    Low tech/low cost seems like a great idea to me. Only question is whether the QNAP will take the additional volume of music you’ll be trying to cram in there.

    I have four open drive bays and an open NVMe slot for caching if needed. 

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    2 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I'm sure my family woud love when I install fire supression system :~)

    I would bet that the biometric security system would come first in their love!  Keypad and retina scanner on the fridge.  DNA scanner on the stairs to the listening room!  Someone would have to feed and take care of the guard dogs on the basement data center.

     

    Maybe just add some drives and a TB cache to the NAS!  Back the whole thing up to cold storage and go back to listening!

     

     

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    34 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I have four open drive bays and an open NVMe slot for caching if needed. 


    Throughput OK?

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    3 hours ago, Jud said:


    Throughput OK?

    I need to do some testing to see where bottlenecks are, there are always some. 

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    I'm a big fan of TrueNAS. I run it on a Supermicro server I built myself using NVMe drives. I've been using Supermicro motherboards for my main engineering workstations for a very long time without a single issue. I have three of their motherboards on the shelf, they all still work perfectly, I just wind up replacing them every 5 years or so to get faster/better etc. I can't get up the nerve to through away these motherboards that are still working perfectly. Every so often I take them out and just hold them, marveling at the quality and engineering.

     

    I use BackBlaze B2 for cloud backup, their price was much less than anything else I looked at and TrueNAS makes using it incredibly easy.

     

    I have yet to have anything fail on TrueNAS so I don't know how easy it is recover. I've had very BAD experiences with traditional RAID, but ZFS seems to have worked out many of the issues I've had before. We'll see on that one.

     

    I Do have a VM running Windows 10 on it for a couple of things only available on Windows. This worked surprisingly well, much more reliable than Windows on a normal desktop computer. 

     

    One thing with the server hardware is ECC memory, I'm not sure but I get the impression that this makes a big difference long term. I've had several machines with ECC memory and they all have much better "uptime" and way less just plain little "gotchas" that inhabit other systems.  I built a little computer to run my new big CNC machine out in the shop (completely sealed, no fan Akasa case) and it has ECC RAM, you do NOT want your CNC machine going crazy!

     

    And yes, the power supplies designed for rack mount servers have screeching little fans on them. The ones in Supermicro equipment ARE quieter than others, they use special compliant fan mounts that help a lot.

     

    For me, going with TrueNAS was one of the best decisions I've made.

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    5 hours ago, JohnSwenson said:

    I use BackBlaze B2 for cloud backup, their price was much less than anything else I looked at and TrueNAS makes using it incredibly easy.

     I also use BackBlaze. Super cheap for storing lots of data. Restoring it en masse is a bit of a pain, but if you're not in a hurry, they'll put your data on a hard drive and mail it to you (and even refund you the cost of the drive if you return it to them).

    Thanks for the tip about TrueNAS. I'll check it out!  I've been using a Synology DS1513+ for a while now and I'm generally quite happy with it.

    One of my favorite additions to Windows in recent years (since around Windows 8, iirc) is Storage Spaces, which is a way to set up a storage pool using whatever drives you have laying around (ideally equal size and consistent technology, but they don't have to be!) and then to carve up logical volumes (potentially with differing RAID-esque storage strategies like mirroring, parity or striping, etc.) from that pool. The rub is that you can lie to it and set a size for the Space and it will just pretend you actually have that much space until you run out of room on the storage array behind the scenes. It usually 'fails' into 'read-only' mode at that point, similar to what happens if you remove a drive from a mirrored/parity set.

    My favorite part about it is the entire pool and space configuration is distributed across every member of the set, so you can take a Space (in whole or in part) and move it to another computer running the same (or later) version of Windows and it "just works" so long as a quorum of the drives that comprise your space(s) are available.

    Storage Spaces in Windows - Microsoft Support 

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    On 1/20/2023 at 9:57 AM, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    I wonder how I can speed up my existing QNAP to max out its performance, for a reasonable amount of money using spinning drives for the main storage. Then add a couple large USB drives to the QNAP and schedule backups to those. 

     If the same QNAP is used for storage and backup don't you run the risk of the QNAP loosing its mind and corrupting all the drives ?

     

     

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    8 minutes ago, bbosler said:

     If the same QNAP is used for storage and backup don't you run the risk of the QNAP loosing its mind and corrupting all the drives ?

     

     

    I’m sure it’s possible, but I’m not sure how. 
     

    The external USB should be formatted exFAT so it’s readable on macOS and Windows (if that’s needed).

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I’m sure it’s possible, but I’m not sure how. 
     

    The external USB should be formatted exFAT so it’s readable on macOS and Windows (if that’s needed).

    I know that exFAT is very inefficient for size. The larger the HD size, the larger the block size, the more wasted space there is. With Windows and Linux (used Daphile, Volumio, and Red Hat), I used NTFS. Not sure about OSX.

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    2 minutes ago, botrytis said:

    I know that exFAT is very inefficient for size. With Windows and Linux (used Daphile, Volumio, and Red Hat). Not sure about OSX.

    I just use it often because almost any OS can read it. 

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    Well, exFAT can be read faster, but it is not as secure as NTFS.

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    I am tired of dealing with NAS’s.

     

    I have ordered an Aurender ACS100.  About $3,400 not including drives.

    Relatively small, and has a CD ripper.  Works “plug and play” with a Nimbe CD autoloader.

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    36 minutes ago, Richard D. George said:

    I am tired of dealing with NAS’s.

     

    I have ordered an Aurender ACS100.  About $3,400 not including drives.

    Relatively small, and has a CD ripper.  Works “plug and play” with a Nimbe CD autoloader.

    I get it completely. I have an ACS10 here and love it. 

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    Slightly OT but, I sure hope that all of you who have these (very) large music collections stored on a NAS device also have a physical off-site back-up. Cloud back-up is fine for a smallish collection but I would not trust a six figure music collection to cloud back-up. I don't know what the latest tech for this is but back in the day when I was responsible for data security we backed up our servers every day to a tape back-up unit and someone got to take the tape home with them and bring it back for the next day's back-up.

     

    Strange things can and do happen. Houses burn down, get hit by lightning, get broken into, utilities have massive failures and the list goes on. All of which can result in the total or partial loss of data.

     

    Another thing to consider is insurance for your data (not to mention the six figure hardware systems). These things are out of the scope of a Homeowners insurance policy and would require riders and/or special placement. Contact your agent or broker.

     

    Be careful out there.

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    2 hours ago, bobflood said:

    Strange things can and do happen. Houses burn down, get hit by lightning, get broken into, utilities have massive failures and the list goes on. All of which can result in the total or partial loss of data.

     

    It's precisely because of these contingencies that I have a cloud backup.  My cloud provider has better provision for such eventualities than I could ever manage with an offsite backup that I owned.

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    4 minutes ago, Jud said:

     

    It's precisely because of these contingencies that I have a cloud backup.  My cloud provider has better provision for such eventualities than I could ever manage with an offsite backup that I owned.

    I know cloud backup is far better today but I would still keep a hard drive(s) in a bank safety deposit box and update it periodically if I had a home library. I got tired of all this and switched to streaming only when it got good enough with advent of Qobuz. Plus I am not sure a cloud backup would work well with the size of a library like the one Chris and some others here have. The other thing I found is that like Chris mentioned in the body of the article, I no longer wanted to listen to a lot of what I was storing and that Qobuz( and Tidal to some extent) really suited my current musical tastes. 

     

    The other problem with home storage is the legal one. If something is ripped from a CD, you really should keep the CDs to be within the letter of the law. If something is downloaded, you really don't own it. You have only purchased the right to listen to it and delete it if you no longer want it. You can't really even give it away or bequeath it. I admit that I have not researched this stuff in years so it may have changed.

     

    My point is that for me it was way more work, worry and hassle than it was worth but I do realize that others have vastly different opinions and I certainly respect their choices. 

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