Hey everyone. I'm hoping this is in the right place, I couldn't find a better place to post it. This will probably be a bit of TLDR material, but I want to make my situation as clear as possible.
I've been thinking about getting "serious" about my data storage, but I can't make up my mind on what would be best. I'm hoping to get some insight and opinions on possible solutions for my case. If in doubt, assume I know nothing about anything, and you're probably fairly close to the truth.
My current situation is that I've got a desktop computer that I'm about to upgrade. Currently it has 3x1TB disks in a Windows 10 storage space (RAID5), but aside from lacking a backup, I'm starting to realize I could use more space. My idea was to buy a new computer and while I'm at it, move most of the data storage to an external, always-on server/NAS, with only applications, games and data that is not relevant to anything else stored locally, and with a 3rd device strictly for backup. I'm counting with about 3TB of storage total on the computer (2x512GB SSD + a 2TB HDD that I've already got), though I doubt I'll use all of that in practice.
For the backup, I'm just planning on buying a cheap NAS enclosure e.g. 2-slot Zyxel and an 8TB disk, which will only be used to write backups to and retrieve data from if my computer or server for some reason lose their data. I'll do full backups of the computer, so that leaves at least 5TB of free space for the file server backups.
The file server is where I'm having trouble deciding. My current data consists mostly of images, video and music, both my own and stuff I've bought/downloaded, with some miscellaneous things mixed in. None of it is strictly speaking critical data, but a lot of it are things that'd sting quit a bit to lose. I'm planning on getting 2x4TB NAS disks (e.g. Seagate Ironwolf) and mirror them for some basic protection and read performance, with the option to at some point buy another 8TB disk if I need the space and use in a mirror with the one I'd use for backups, replacing that one with a bigger one. I want to avoid hardware-RAID if possible, since I'd rather not have it all collapse in the event of hardware failure with no option of recovery. In addition, I've already got a 120GB SSD I'm going to use as a system disk and I'm considering getting a cheap SSD scratch drive for downloads and general workload like unpacking files and whatnot, where performance is desired, a lot of space is not required, and I don't care if data is lost since it's just a temporary storage. The latter depends on how I decide to solve everything though. That should give me a total of 7TB of data to backup, which should fit on an 8TB disk with some wiggle room even if I somehow end up using all of that space.
That's as far as I'm getting though, and I keep getting stuck trying to decide on software and hardware to use. Obviously OMV is something I'm considering since I'm here, but I have no experience with it or anything else like it, so I have no idea if it suits my needs. It's looking promising, but I want to be sure before I throw money at the problem. What I do know is that I want the following:
- Storage that acts like a regular harddrive as far as my Windows 10 computer is concerned, i.e. it should in practice work the same way and let me manage files as I normally would with a physical drive installed. A big part of why I'm doing this is to get rid of the local storage from my computer after all, but I still need easy access to it.
- A torrent client, as I tend to download using torrents whenever possible and I've already got a sort of ad-hoc infrastructure in place for sharing with friends/family using it. Multiple options for clients is a big bonus so I can pick one I feel comfortable with without worry.
Those are the critical ones. In addition, it'd be nice to have the following:
- Storage that can be accessed by OpenELEC or similar running on a RPI (I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I've got a 3B+ that I'm planning on turning into a smart TV).
- Storage that can be accessed from outside my network, e.g. on my phone to play music or to download a movie at a friend's house. I've got a public IP, so there are no ISP-level NATs to worry about.
- Plex server.
- Possibility to run additional things, like a database and webserver for strictly personal use, i.e. no performance really required.
- Cheap components, low noise and energy consumption (obviously). I'm planning on running it 24/7, so it's a bonus if it's cheap to run and won't become a really expensive radiator during summer.
- Ease of setup. I'm not a complete idiot, but I'm far from experienced. The less things I have that I can do wrong, the better.
My original plan involved a Ryzen 1200 with ECC memory (a 240GE before that, until I learned it didn't support ECC) and FreeNAS for ZFS, but after reading up on jails and the problems getting them to work properly as well as lack of updates, I thought it'd be better to run it virtually on ESXi as a NAS exclusively, and then run additional server(s) for torrents, Plex etc. as VMs that connect to the NAS as well. I can't seem to get a straight answer on if ESXi + RDM with FreeNAS will work though, with some saying it's fine and others claiming that my NAS will murder me in my sleep if I even think about trying it. That, in addition to complete lack of clear information on whether the ECC memory would even work in ECC mode, and I'm having second thoughts on both counts.
So I guess my question boils down to: what the heck am I doing? Should I go for good hardware and try to virtualize a NAS and a server separately, and if so, is OMV a good choice for my setup? Would it play well with ESXi in regards to running RAID, or should I just go for hardware RAID and give the NAS the resulting pool to manage? Should I not bother with virtualization at all, if OMV supports everything I need it to as it is? Should I do something completely different, like buy bare-minimum hardware for the NAS and give up on ECC and then get something like an RPI4 to run the torrent/server stuff?
As you might be able to tell, I've got nothing, so any help or advice at all is much appreciated.