Audio: Listen to this article.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about reevaluating my music storage. My backup NAS died, leaving me with a single QNAP TV-872XT for music storage. The more I researched possible solutions, and read the great comments from members of this community, the more mentally paralyzed I got. I set the topic aside for several days, then took a look at it with fresh eyes. I've now settled on a solution that works for me. Here's the solution, and more importantly why I selected it.
I've elected to keep my QNAP TVS-872XT as the main music storage device. This NAS is extremely capable, and remains a current model in the QNAP lineup after many years. To speed up, or at least make sure the files stored on my QNAP are served as fast as possible, I will add four additional 6TB drives to the unit. This will fill all eight drive bays. Then the eight drives will be configured as a ZFS RAID0 array. Huh? Isn't this an audio site? I know, sometimes it can get geeky.
A vdev (virtual device) or multiple vdevs, make up a storage pool, which contains the folders that store our music. A simple way to look at this is, physical disk(s) > vdev > pool > folders. Don't ever use that as an answer on a test, but for our purposes of storing and playing music, it's all we need.
On a ZFS based QNAP NAS, running the QuTS operating system rather than the QTS operating system, configuring the array as RAID0 places a single vdev on each physical disk. The more vdevs striped together, the faster the storage pool becomes. In my case, I'll have eight vdevs because I'll have eight drives. I'm using 7200 RPM Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives, so this NAS will deliver files as fast as possible. I talked with QNAP about adding an NVMe drive as cache, but I was told this would not increase the speed because a RAID0 array is so fast.
I'm currently using four drives in a ZFS RAID0 array, and as soon as my additional four drives arrive, I'll start from scratch with a new eight drive array.
A large RAID0 array like this can saturate a 1Gbps network link very easily. It wouldn't make much sense for me to use this configuration without a 10Gbps network. I've added a 10Gb interface to my MacBook Pro (much more on this later), and connected it to my exiting 10Gb network, and connected the QNAP's 10Gb interface to the same 10Gb switch. My MacBook Pro still uses the 1Gb Thunderbolt interface as well, for my Merging Ravenna hardware.
In my testing with only four drives, I can play 12 channel 24/352.8 6GB files without an issue on my MacBook Pro. The files load very fast.
HOLD UP, RAID0 IS DANGEROUS!
If one drive goes bad, I lose all my data! Yes, that's true. To counter this "issue" I've added 16TB USB drives to the QNAP, and created Hybrid Backup Sync job that runs automatically, to mirror the data on my NAS to the USB drives. If a drive in my RAID0 array goes bad, I will replace it, then reverse the synchronization to restore the data. I'm not running a datacenter where the uptime must be 24/7/365. If my local music files are unavailable for a couple days, while the restore is running, I'm OK with that.
Adding suspenders to my USB backup belt, I installed iDrive directly on my QNAP, and am backing up to the cloud right now. In my tests, uploading and restoring from the cloud is very fast. I certainly won't use this as my first restore option, but it's there if I need it. The cost for iDrive is very reasonable (pricing). The first year of 20TB of cloud storage cost me $20. Additional years will cost $200.
Note to people interested in iDrive. I recommend using your own encryption key as part of your account setup. This keeps your data completely encrypted and unavailable to even people at iDrive. Using the default encryption key won't keep iDrive from decrypting your data. Using a private key is as easy as specifying a string of characters that you make up, like a password, as part of the setup.
I very seriously considered using local storage on my MacBook Pro. The cost of internal storage was quite high, at around $2,400 for 8TB. This still wouldn't hold my entire library, so I'd have to split it up. An external 8TB NVMe drive is about $1,300, but then I have something hanging off my laptop. A larger NVMe array is much more money and much larger. Either way, I still need to backup this data, then make the backup available for other computers I use for music playback. NVMe is certainly fast and easy, in some situations, but I just don't think it's the right solution for my use case.
Best Solution For My Use Case
A centralized NAS, with automatic backups, that's available to all computers on my network, and is fast enough to saturate a 10Gb Ethernet network, is right for me.
Adding the 10Gb Ethernet to my MacBook Pro was both easy and elegant. I will write about this next week. I absolutely love what I'm using and thin kit deserves its own article.
I likely missed some reasoning above, as my brain worked overtime considering all the options. I'm happy to discuss more reason for why I selected this storage solution. The why is much more important the the what.
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now