Brother Builds “Zerg-Berg” Coffee Table Media Server – 38(!) USB Drives

After [Travis]’s media server died a couple months ago, his brother [Nick] secretly plotted to replace it for Christmas. Admitting it to be an “asinine Rube Goldberg” arrangement, [Nick] wanted something custom and remarkable for his sibling. Rather than go the normal SATA route, 38 USB hot-swap laptop drives were clustered together inside a custom leather enclosure with a bronzed glass top.

[Nick] picked up 45 of the 500GB drives for only $350 and designed the project around those. He spent $1000 on matching metal docks for each of them, powered by $800 worth of PCIe quad independent USB controllers – no hubs. A $550 Xeon motherboard with 14 USB ports, 16GB of RAM, a basic video card and a 1000W power supply rounded out the electronics.

Under Windows 8.1 all drives are arranged in a single giant array under Storage Spaces, no raid.

Everything was built into a wood-framed coffee table wrapped in high-end leather that [Nick] spent 65 hours hand stitching himself. Fancy brass corner braces hold the frame square. All the wires were run underneath the table so the visible surfaces are clean and clear. The table structure is lifted up on legs made from half-inch square barstock bent into a hairpin and bolted to the underside.

All together [Travis]’s Zerg-Berg media server cost in the range of $4500. [Nick] intends it to be something that lasts him a very long time.

See the video below for [Nick]’s rationalization explanation of the hardware and methods chosen.

152 thoughts on “Brother Builds “Zerg-Berg” Coffee Table Media Server – 38(!) USB Drives

    1. Good point.

      Reminds me of an old story about what happened on our college server. One drive in RAID cluster died. It had to be replaced but the server could not be turned off. So it had to be hotswapped – not a problem, but there was such a mess in the rack so when they tried to diconnect the drive, they disconnected a good drive, not the bad one. The server went down. So did the filesystem.

      1. With a ratio of 4/3 it must be stripped grapes of raid5 using 4 disks (3 data + 1 parity). Still not a good idea. Also RAID5 is a poor choice (write hole problem). At least he could have picked ZFS with RAIDZ, but well.. the operating system is a really poor choice either.

      2. Not 45, 38.
        He bought 45.
        Motherboard has room for 14.
        6×4 PCIe USB controllers = 14 + 24 = 38.

        16.2 TB after parity if memory serves, but, your’e right, it doesn’t seem like there’s much if any.

    2. I don’t know why you think Storage Spaces is just concatenation. It’s basically the Microsoft equivalent to ZFS — it provides as much or as little redundancy as you’d like, and supports advanced features like SSD caching of often-accessed data, and can obviously expand/contract the filesystem when drives are added or removed.

      It’s really quite a bit more advanced than RAID, and definitely makes sense in a scenario like this.

      Stop hating!

      1. Yeah,so he could have saved 1500+$ simply by buying an old Opteron board with lots of PCI-X slots and several old 8++ SATA-port PCI-X cards and he even probably would have got a higher R/W rate.

        1. Yes i could have… but this isnt intended to be a high transfer nas. He is just using it as a media center so my 120 MB/s transfer rates are more than enough. He also ends up much higher end hardware for when we wants to do cad ect… For a guy using XMBC this is just an assinine but fun way of creating a large storage array… THANKS!

        2. It’d probably cost a lot more for PCI-X SATA cards rather than some PCIe ones. I also wouldn’t want to be stuck with such an old motherboard that it supports PCI-X. In either case I’m sure he’d have a much better throughput vs USB.

    1. If you click the link, the first thing it tells you is the story of how he and his wife decided to spend the money to replace the motherboard, at which point the brother told him why not to.

  1. Super mega epic fail.

    I don’t even know where to begin with this. 38 individual drives, attached to 38 SATA -> USB converters, running off $800 worth of USB controllers? What the fuck? And to cap it all off, the entire thing doesn’t run RAID, boots into Windows 8.1, and cost the guy $4500?

    What am I missing?

    For that much money, you could easily build a machine running off 12 brand new 2TB disk drives hanging off a real RAID controller like an Areca or something. Then at least you’d have the bandwidth and hardware to run RAID5 at a reasonable speed, lest one of your drives fail.

    This is like… the perfect example of how not to build a media centre. Especially one that you expect to “last you a very long time”. I’m going to have to show this to the SAN guys at work on Monday, because this entire build is absolutely hilarious.

    1. If you watch the videos, you’ll see that the brother knew this was a wacky build, and wanted something unique. It wasn’t the cheapest or most normal solution. I mean, this is *Hackaday,com*, not “Buy something normal off of the”, the spirit of doing things the wrong but fun way shouldn’t be that unfamiliar.

      1. NO, no, no… Because you can, for the fun/love/joy of it, in the spirit of… is all fine an dandy, but not an argument for it to be exempt from critique in any way shape or form, especially if you choose to post it online. It is rather poor form to brush off topical arguments against such a build as “hate” or unwarranted. In fact it’s a argumentative fallacy. Nobody critiques the intentions or feelings of the builder, but purely the build on which the opinion why one thinks it is ill-conceived are often simply valid opinions. Not hate, trolls or whatever non-sequitur you like to inject right there.

  2. Lol. People who expect that any current piece of technology, particularly computing technology will be “something that lasts him a very long time”.

    Yeah nah bro. Needs moar dragons and hobbits and shizz.

      1. Just weigh the data and the odds:
        Chance of failure of Whole Array >= Chance of failure of 1 HD (No Fault Tolerance)
        Chance of failure of 1 HD : 1/x
        Chance of failure of 2 HD: 2/x
        Chance of failure of n HD: n/x

      1. Bless your heart, man. Sorry the HaD goons picked up on this. You did a good favor for your brother and good on you for getting it all together. It seems like folks are overlooking the leather and such which I think is a nice touch. Keep on tinkering and kudos on getting it up and working :)

  3. I’m sure the guy enjoyed making it but I wouldn’t have chosen that route.

    2.5″ Hard drives in my experience have been far from reliable and these are used drives so would be even more weary of them. For reliability and cost I would have preferred to have used brand new high capacity 3.5″ drives. This would have considerably reduced the number of controllers required. With far fewer drives there would be less bulk and lower power consumption.

    As drives are SATA I wouldn’t have bothered with the USB connections, not only is it slower but the USB-SATA boards are an extra part to fail that is unnecessary and prevent monitoring the health of the drive using SMART.

    Sorry to seem so negative one last design issue is that the glass top does not extend beyond edges of the box with the drives in. So if liquid were spilled (coffee table) it would run inside the box.

    1. I appreciate the comment. I went with 2.5 drives mainly for their resilience to movement. In addition i went with only drives that use a single platter, to increase reliability. I also used USB 3 as the badwith is more than the drive can use. As i mentioned in the video, i could have easily gone the standard route…. its not nearly as fun and wacky :)

  4. This seems like a waste of power and money, hope he just did it for the kicks… other seems odd to do.
    45 drives say at 7 watts each, that be just >300 watts just for the hard drives alone at idle, for only 22.5 TB of storage.
    How about ~21 watts with 3 8TB drives for ~$2,454?
    How about ~30 watts with 4 6TB drives for ~$1,100?
    How about ~42 watts with 6 4TB drives for ~$834?

    1. This is under the assumption that all the drives and usb controllers are never in a sleep state both of which are usually enabled by default.

      I don’t really think this whole build is as ridiculous as it seems, I see it as a big giant storage unit with out the need for speed or redundancy that a raid array offers while having the ease of immediate portability with the current enclosures. USB3 and plain network can easily serve a whole household so I don’t see the issue here on speed and if a drive shits the bed just replace it and re-satisfy the content it’s really not that big of a deal.

  5. USB drives and Windows …in a storage server…. Oh my flying spaghetti monster! It surely was fun and to build the thing but I wouldn’t trust it for anything serious. Lots of wasted money too. Nice coffee table build btw.

  6. It looks like some bodged 70’s furniture. A piece of furniture that tends to get knocked about quite often I think. With 45 mechanical drives positioned he way they are, how much kicks does it take to make at least one drive crash, taking the whole system with it? Not that it will not fail nonetheless as some point in the near future.

    Surely the type of media server that would require 20+TB of storage would also need some kind of proper IO and redundancy?

    It is truly terrible in all its facets.

    1. The other question is how much coffee, beer, bong water and other strange liquids need to be spilled on that rather wierd looking table to knock this storage server out?!!

      If the table would overlap that leather box or if there weren’t any of those spacers between the glass and the leather box,I’d say it could last a while. But in this configuration and the wierd shabby leather look, i’d bet that it will die from spilled liquids during the next house party.

      1. “Laptop drives are by design better at handling impact”
        I won’t bet on the drive preemptively parking the heads when you bump the table.. Also you have not one but 38 drives that can fail, making the odds moot.
        With your choice of OS and redundancy implementations, it’s a good thing you’ll only host expendable media.

  7. “because we can” spend tons of money for senseless stuff.

    -no raid
    -usb-to-sata bottlenecks
    -windows 8.1 (not even windows server wtf?)
    -case without dust handling (have fun cleaning this)
    -coffe table top without fluid handling (drop your coffee an it will run along the edge clinging along the downside of the glass and dropping right on your bild. ruining your non raid data storage)

    at least the case looks nice

    “because we can” fail epic

    1. No RAID = Who needs it

      USB to SATA bottleneck = minimal

      Windows 8.1 = Why would I buy a windows server license. It’s a HTPC. XBMC handles all my streaming needs. I have no need for enterprise level functions.

      Case without dust handling = Compressed air when we dust

      Coffee Table without fluid handling = never seen one designed to handle fluid but you can sleep easier knowing that we will not be using this as a “coffee” table. More like an end table we don’t put drinks on.

      1. >No RAID = Who needs it

        If you give each drive a 1/6 probability of breaking within 3 years, 38 drives means 99.9% probability that at least one drive in the array will fail in the next three years and corrupting the entire thing.

        In other words, don’t expect it to survive six months.

        1. I see what you’re getting at, and normally I would agree with you. However; the LE you speak of is considering the intended application of these drives. That is to say they are expected to be jostled and thrown about within a hard drive, spun up and down many times a day as well as reading and writing while in motion. The way they have been used will significantly extent the LE of these drives. That is, spin up, stay spinning except for maintenence shut downs.

          On the RAID portion, it would have been more accurate for me to say “RAID Controllers” as Storage Spaces is operating with a small parity, so I guess it’s technically a software raid, but as Nick mentioned in another comment, 120 MB/s is plenty enough to do what is required of this machine.

          As for drive failures, I think you’re mistaken. A failure will not corrupt the whole thing. I know at least one drive can fail and I’ll be fine. Due to the hot swap nature of the bays this is easy to remedy. Your worst case scenario was considered and planned for. There are several backups on the shelf :)

  8. Jeeez. This is HaD and one should always expect some “constructive criticism” no matter what. To the dudes that are so angry: he didn’t make this for you. He didn’t make this to make you happy. Get over it. OK – yeah he didn’t use RAID…omfg GET OVER IT.

    1. To the dudes who are so angry because of comments that point out the mistakes and failures, these comment are not made for you or to make you happy.
      I really do not give a flying toss about your personal preferences on comment contents, not that I expect your standards to be very high judging by the off-topic drivel you posted right there. Apart from it not being obligatory, what constitutes the “constructive” element in criticism is mostly subjective.
      Get over it? You presumptuous nob, I was never under it.

      1. O.o . So much hate directed to a complete stranger who built something he was proud of for a loved one.

        There’s no “mistake” or “failure”, he did exactly what he set out to do. Push engineering limits and build something in a completely unique way that no one else had ever done before.

        He flat out says the normal way to do this would be a few 6TB drives in a raid and be done. He wanted to make a unique computer-furniture gift.

        Honestly sometimes I’m ashamed of this community.

          1. The line mostly is subjective for most people here it seems. If you think I am going to be nice to some random Joe because he disproves of my opinions, then I suspect you’ll have a rotten time in reality.

        1. The line “don’t feed the trolls” is coming to mind for me.

          Love the build, for all its shortcomings. Would’ve gone a different route, but that can be said for so many things.

          Might I suggest at least separating the drives up into clusters? One for OS, one for backup, one for media? Little less overall storage, whole lot more data safety. Of course, you may already have data backups, that are not mentioned.

          Most of all,, congratulations on having a brother who is willing to spend that kind of time and money on you.

        2. Don’t worry about voxie. Every web community has its trolls, and by putting 95% of the trolling into one melodramatic character we can have most other people be constructive and polite. Personally, I reckon there’s a bit of jealousy going on over the quality of the leatherwork, but I could be wrong.

    1. The “builder” himself seems to be a generic PC shop monkey. You know those stores that always smell like slightly burned PCB and look like a cheap decor from a vintage sci-fi movie. The kind of place where people imagine that putting together standardized parts that only fit one way is somehow a meaningful skill.

        1. Having been charged of the latter by committing the former, I really just stopped caring and felt people at large still had one coming. That being said, I now believe this to be true.

        1. I know, right? Personally, my inner five-year old wants to slap him silly, but the adult in me recognizes his brokenness, and just feels badly for him. The only appropriate response to someone so full of vitriol is pity.

          I hear it like this:
          Nick: “Hey, everybody! Want to check out this outrageously stupid, inefficient project I made, just because I wanted to make my brother something that serves its purpose in an outrageously stupid, inefficient way?”
          Haters: “Hey, idiot! That is an outrageously stupid, inefficient project! You should have done it like everyone else does! We don’t like imaginative hacks here!”
          Hackers: “:facepalm: Nick; good job. Haters; where do we even start?”

          Myself, I love it. I think that it is a crazy piece of left-field art that is actually useful, and your brother will enjoy it for many years to come. Bravo!

  9. I just want to point out that when he says “no raid”, he means “no tattoos controller”. In his next breath he is wondering out loud how much volume he’ll lose to parity.

    Apparently he’s just not well informed on raid layouts (or budgeting, or how to get performance out of a drive array, or how to build your nas in another room where you can’t hear it running)

      1. Thank you for your comments. I have expressed the choice to not use raid below. Storage spaces handles parity differently, which was kinda the point with the dynamic options. At that point in the build i had not bothered to do the math since the end result was moot. I already had the drives so it didnt really matter were it ended up. This video wasnt really ment to be published to the masses, i just wanted to get something on film a few months ago when i started so i could share with a few friends to keep them in the loop :)

  10. I really don’t understand this build. Seems like a really slow, really expensive, really risky way to build a media server. I really hope no one spills a coke on it!

    Nice coffee table btw

  11. Wow. This generated more conversation than I thought it would. There are a few details you should know. Those startek controllers give each port it’s own controller, meaning each drive gets 5Gbps bandwidth. The reason he chose the processor and board he did was because he needed to be able to have the PCIE lanes available to make use of all that bandwidth. The drives are making use of parity so I can lose up to 2 drives before I need to worry about anything. It takes a special kind of preparation to build something like this and have it be effective. This is not the first over the top computer he’s build and it probably won’t be the last. See:

    Anyone looking for more information on the controllers, the motherboard, or just the build itself can check out the my blog. He’s also done great reviews on the USB controllers and Motherboard as people seem to have problems understanding how to implement them correctly. I’ve got 3 more videos where he goes into more detail during the build, one of which documents read write speeds. Keep in mind this is a media server. It’s sole purpose is to play tv shows and movies.

  12. In addition to the obvious issues with the disk array, am I the only one who is outraged that he chose to install a single, expensive 16GB DIMM in a board with a CPU that supports quad-channel memory? An equally-priced set of smaller DIMMs would have massively improved memory bandwidth…

    1. How dare you disapprove of anything that a generation-Y special person build? It’s love and pride based and completely not subject to any form of topical critique and opinion. It’s because he could, and automatically therefor it can’t be have mistakes or be ill thought out.
      Have you no respect for people who have different opinions and don’t like to be confronted with the obvious fact that not everybody shares them?
      You should either love it 100% or completely refrain from commenting at all.. Really, this is a forum for very sensitive people.

      1. The choice of a single 16GB stick is actually pretty simple. Yes the board supports quad channel but i wanted to use ECC memory since we are using a Xeon. Using the QVL, this stick was really the only option… ECC was not supported at launch and still has a very small supported list :)

        1. Firstly, you might want to respond 1 level higher. Secondly, What, pray, would ECC memory do for this USB3-vertically stacked-38-2-drive-parity simple media server cluster-(*@&#$ do ? Is it to make it even more skewed and weird? And going by the QVL? What???? Here, let’s do a massively thermally under-designed casing with a completely bonkers storage solution that has no chance in hell of being efficient, reliable or cheap and lets worry (paranoia level) about error correction in memory, for it is, after all, just a media system…….

          1. lol i understand your hesitation. But maybe if you were not quite so combative to everything you would see the answer. I am already running the Xeon for the extra PCIe lanes. ECC memory did not cost anymore than standard ddr4… and i had to use the QVL since the board still technically does not support ECC… they only made bios exceptions for a few select sticks. Do i need ecc no… but its the same cost so why not

          2. lol your argument collapses in on itself. So in your mind i should pay extra for quad channel ram. For the extra bandwidth i dont need and wont use in as you put it “just a media system”. Or maybe i could save a little bit and use the stability however nebulous of a stick of ECC. [Mike] questioned the choice based on price… which was fair… given that ecc is normally more expensive…. in this instance it was cheaper…

            Happy holiday, im done because at this point you are just arguing with yourself :)

  13. So much knee-jerk tech indignation.

    I may not be a great server/storage designer, but I am a big brother and this build makes complete sense:

    The recipient is going to get something so large and intrusive (and intentionally obfuscated) that they’ll have to either stare at it consuming kilowatts and producing ridiculously risky storage (intolerable) or start tinkering with it. Obviously they can’t throw it out since it’s a gift from family and was expensive and pointlessly hard to do (and provided the giver with a lot of brain-occupation in the process).

    It’s the perfect white elephant project gift – I can’t wait to see what comes back.

    1. I don’t get the analogy. The interview being, in part, a critique (not even constructive) of north Korea, I can only assume that you liken Kim Jong Un to the people who like this/build it/run HaD and the producers of the Movie to the people who don’t like it for various reasons.
      I mean, nobody would really argue that North Korea is a terrible dictatorship with some really warped policies.

      Really, anybody railing against critical opinions on this build with that nasty superfluous righteous indignation, is acting just as infantile as Kim Jong Un.

  14. Travis your brother is a multidisciplinary wizard. I’m sorry for the level of vitriol here – surprising from hackers – a group whose credo has always been to be helpful generous and supportive.

        1. Impeccable build of a very outrageous device. I’ll parrot the “not how I would have done it” vibe, but then again, I don’t remember you asking me… :-) I’d rethink the lack of raid. Look at the MTBF hours on those drives and divide by 38 to see that you are going to have issues quickly. I like the idea and the execution though. Over the top is one of my favorite build styles.

  15. Good Morning All,

    I would like to start by thanking everybody for interest. I would also like to apologize off the top for my persistent use of the word “essentially” in the linked video. I just wanted something quick on video before i started the project, it wasn’t really meant for public consumption :).

    So lets start with the most pressing concerns. Yes for the roughly 5k investment, their are a myriad of options to create a rock solid nas. Quite honestly for quite a bit less money. The personal nas at my house, its industrial, has more storage and cost quite a bit less. But that has been done to death, i wanted something fun and ridiculous by nature. So please, i welcome the criticism… their are certainly things i could have done differently in hindsight. But to just say, its over USB… FAIL… you have missed the point.

    There is also quite a bit o’ vitriol over the non use of raid. First of all i get it, but we in IT are clinging an edifice of the past with raid. Now we all know the alternatives that exist, and some are certainly better than others. Storage spaces is Microsoft attempt. Now am i ready to roll out storage spaces to anything new we bring to the data center were i work(fortune 50 company). Honestly not yet, but their are more than a few very large enterprise implementations of storage spaces in the wild. And it does work exceedingly well as a dynamic NAS option. I should point out that the version of storage spaces in windows 8.1 is full featured. Finally i wanted to make sure and use a dynamic option, so that at any point he could take out one of those 500’s and add a 2tb+ drive and add himself more space. Or hey swap them all when the price goes down, but as i pointed out in the video. Also as it has been mentioned, we have 2+ drives of dynamic parity. This server is intended to last him a while, and simply buying all high capacity drives would have been over 5k by itself.

    So lets talk about the drives themselves. If you watch the video at the very end i discuss the drives, and that while technically used, the vast majority had 0 hours of use time. Although at the price point, even if they were used it was still a great deal. Buying these drives provided the inspiration, and the reaming capital to fund the rest of the project. Each drive runes at USB 3.0 spec. Meaning it pulls exactly 4.5 watt at spinup, and roughly 1 watt constant.

    As some have pointed out, i used a separate controller for each drive. As such there is no bottleneck for using usb. Fluids handling, i chuckled a bit when i read that. But enough have questioned it so i guess i need to respond. The reason there is a gap between the chassis and glass is simple. We need airflow. The airflow design pulls from the bottom and every so slowly goes out the top. Now this system does not exactly put out a bunch o’ heat, but i cant exactly box it in. So the answer is simple, you need to keep aesthetics in mind. Making glass bigger than the table would look terrible, same thing for adding a lip. Also the simple answer here is im not selling this to the public. I would undoubtedly re-engineer the chassis for the public to alleviate concerns like this. Its an honest concern, but not really in scope for the design. As Travis can attest this system is silent.

    Windows 8.1. Look we all hate it… but the truth of the matter is, its solid, very quick and supports root level dynamic storage. So Travis can deal with the tiles and corners lol. Besides hes just going to have xbmc open the whole time :)

    @Rumburack I am currently accepting applications lol

    Im sure i missed stuff… i read through it all but if you have any questions feel free to yelp at me.

  16. So, outrageous, sure. But no RAID? Stupid. Those cheap consumer drives are not that reliable even when they’re not refurbs. All that trouble to get independent USB channels going is pointless if you’re not running the drives in parallel. Not that you need all that much performance for typical home media server use, but the parallelism comes free with the redundancy in any decent RAID configuration And the cost… my 16TB Drobo cost far less.

    1. Also, those laptop drives being slow and SATA anyway, he could have put 4-5 drives on a single SATA port multiplier without any loss of performance and eliminated the expense of all those USB controllers and the power consumption of those and the USB to SATA bridge devices, so that’s likely 24-30 drives on a single main board give or take, all you want adding another PCIe to SATA controller. Or just go individual SATA links, if that’s cheaper than a case of port multipliers. Either way, that would also have boosted past the 30MB/s or so practical limit on USB 2.0 storage, better yet with RAID.

    2. But you see, your Drobo wasn’t make with special ingredient X which is made from “fun”, “love” and “pride”. That is why any fault you see in this should not be expressed because this would be tantamount to “hate” and it would automatically make you a “troll”.

      It is far better to simply point out to people that question any part of the thing that ingredient X based items may yield any sort of opinion, as long as it is positive and appreciative and if you are called out on this, you must surely take personal offense.

    1. Hey that was a great tool. After using it I find that this should be (at least if it were a true hardware raid) very reliable.

      One person actually did call out server, but I know what you mean. I run a few linux boxed and find that as a full time employee and full time college student, I don’t have the time required to keep up with something like that. The reason windows was chosen was mostly because it works out of the box, but also because I get a discount as a student.

      Thanks for the comment :)

  17. Why would anyone spend that much time and money and then slap Windows 8 on it?

    Nice build – good (if strange) design – but terrible choice of OS.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if your brother re-gifts it just for that (like a bad fruit cake).

    But hey, it’s the thought that counts – so good job and Happy Xmas!!!

  18. Storage Space is Raid implemented as 256MB slabs on top of an underlying h/w storage (SCSI, IDE, USB, whatever)
    So it is RAID but without the hardware tie in.

    USB drives are simple to add.
    So its legit if you ignore the heavy lean on msoft which always seems to end up dropping their storage products. E.g. Drive extender and windows home server were both pulled.

    more info here:

  19. This is definitely unique. I read all the comments and I’m surprised at the compliments because this was so expensive and Frankensteinesque. Whenever I see stuff like this I’m always reminded that about 21,000 people, mostly children, die every day from hunger related starvation and people like the OP would rather spend a humorously large amount of money on what amounts to a novelty table. Hope it’s a really special gift dude. If my brother did this to me I would be sad.

    I also especially agree with voxnulla’s comments because even though they are mean they still are focused and relevant.

    1. Because no one should be able to enjoy the benefits of their local economy? Every human should channel their unneeded income to others who need it across the globe? So we can all enjoy mediocrity, while huge amounts of unneeded procreation takes place across the world, which would likely account for the abundance of child deaths that you site? What is your particular game-plan for the “perfect world”?

    2. >children, die every day from hunger

      Thats a novel spin on ‘save the children’ demagogy.
      Thomas you are free to dedicate your whole life to whatever cause you like, but you have no right to tell other people what they should spend their money on.

  20. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t do this with eSATA and SATA multi-port.
    Results would be similar, but with better performance and likely cheaper. Then RAID with LVG on top.
    The basic idea and physical configuration is very cool and interesting though.

  21. If Nick wants to make some oddball storage device that will likely fail in a year, no need to call it a fail. It’s an interesting build, he had fun, no taxpayer money was wasted and it’s certainly not the first weird thing posted here that will not outperform OTS stuff and not be as reliable. For $5K, you could probably build a baby Netflix Open Connect Box, but how creative is that? And I think one has to admit, it is pretty neat looking.

  22. This guy is troll of the decade! Loving it!!

    No RAID;
    It runs Windows… WINDOWS;
    Not only that but WINDOWS CLIENT FFS!;
    …with way too many USB devices!;
    Overkill number of HDDs;
    Exceedingly high chance of failure;
    Massive unnecessary expense;
    Completely impractical;

    Sure it’ll crash. Sure drives will fail. Sure it’s a complete waste of time. But it does make you laugh.

    Come on guy/girls, this thing was obviously not made to be practical or reliable by any stretch. It’s simply for the lolz.

    1. I wish I had the kind of money where I could blow $4500 for the lolz!
      But you’re right it must be a joke, it’s certainly not going to be functional or useful. After all, who’s got 20+ TB of data that they absolutely don’t value at all and therefore don’t mind putting it in this $4500 data black hole. The number of points of certain failure here is staggering.

  23. Very nice build design-wise, though the technical side makes me cringe.
    Yes, Storage Spaces does use Parity, but it’s a very new feature that does have early version flaws. I’d use RAID over Storage Spaces anytime (Specifically, my own server uses FreeNAS with ZFS RAID-Z).
    Use of USB over direct SATA, why?
    You lose SMART monitoring and therefore any early warnings that a drive might fail.
    Also, in the event that a drive DOES fail, how do you know which one it is, so you don’t replace a working one?

    Lastly, but that point is merely one of personal preference, I’d put only a small HTPC with only a single OS drive in the table and all the storage into a separate dedicated storage system and put that in the basement / back room / etc.
    (Actually I did have my server in my room previously, but changing it’s hardware to a used Supermicro rackmounted machine made this impossible because noise^^)

    1. To answer your questions.

      1) SMART works fine over usb… some older controllers had issues… these do not
      2) it really is silent… the open air design means i dont need banks of fans… infact listen in the videos… its on and running.. but you dont hear it :)


  24. Cool a$$ build. I only hope that [Travis] and [Nick] have thought of a backup solution for the data that is stored on this machine for the time when it does eventually fail (as all hard drives do…EVENTUALLY). I would hate to have 17TB+ of data lost to the ether. “BZ”, [Nick]. [Travis], hope you enjoy this gift from your brother!

  25. Absolute piece of shit. Its not bonkers, its retarded. Wont even say anything about $$. Might as well laminate real life turd in plexiglass and make a table out of that,

    At the same time I can confess I build similar horrible abomination ~7 years ago. 12x 500GB HDDs. 6 on sata, 6 on two USB 2.0 hubs. Difference is
    -I knew it was shit
    -USB was the cheapest option
    -data was non critical
    -speed wasnt an issue
    -there was a fixed amount of money to be spend, either build it or no deal.
    -I was stupid

    It was used in remote office with bad internet connection, serving copy of static data (video, scans, original backed up at the headquarters). Speed was quite horrible, 10-50MB/s depending on the mood and interleave between drives.

    Client wasnt willing to pay for proper hardware and I didnt know any better. I learned that its a sign of further stinginess, and there indeed were $ problems – I got fuxored on the next project by the same company, I hope my craptastic contraption imploded on them at a critical time when they needed it the most :/

    1. Speechless… Maybe next time you decide to make an a** of yourself and confess your terrible business acumen, you’ll first consult all available information.

      My guess is you read the title and the first paragraph, then jumped to the end of the comments section so you could profess your superioress to the world. Given the number of comments (if you had read them) there are well reasoned answers to all of your gripes. All incoming haters must now report to you. You have done it in spectacular fashion.

      You literally added nothing to this conversation. At least Vox showed us he knew what he was talking about. He even made valid points (even if they miss the purpose of this build). You sir take it to a whole new level of Troll.

      Since I know you aren’t characteristic of the HaD community… The same community that has helped me on a couple projects even if my questions were stupid, or had been answered before. I’ll continue to hang around.

      I hope for your sake you learn to deal with your need to hate on people from behind the curtain of your online user name. I suggest you start with comments like that to people in the real wold so you may know what happens when you approach a complete stranger with such ignorance and hate. (Might I suggest you start at your local bars? It’ll help with the courage needed to do such things in public.)

      On another note:

      Thank you so much to everyone for all the comments (good or bad) I learned a few things from some of them. I can only hope to return the favors this community have done me in kind as I progress in my education. I’ll no longer be following this comment thread, I believe the conversation has run it’s course.

      1. I’m sorry that not all of us like the project, but if you can’t face this fact without being such a whining little bitch about it, perhaps the best suggestion is to refrain from reading anything that could upset you on the intarwebs.

        Look, I don’t like it, The commenter above doesn’t like, various others have issues with it and loads of people did actually like it. All of them perfectly capable of expressing honest opinions without whining about “characteristics of the community” or “suggestion which bars to hang out” or “the hate!” or “new level of troll” or any other useless mindless random assumption you mistook for a valid argument.

        What you do, as a firm believer in the project as you should be, is brush it off or address on topic. Not this feeble pseudo-polemic bullshit. It’s fucking pathetic.

      2. I dont hate you. Im sure you are a great guy, we all know you have a sense of humour ;)
        Its perfectly ok to build goofy junk as a joke for your brother, but its something entirely different to expect admiration from the internets because you spend $2K on useless redundant parts and keep praising your business/technical acumen.

        1. I don’t know. A guy named Travis defending such an utterly flawed concept by galloping a small forum… What’s not to hate?
          I would have never thought I would see the day where inhabitants of Red-neckia would joint the church of policorism, but thus, pigs have flown. (My surprise is obviously fake). Random PC builders building a stupid PC in a ugly box isn’t a hack and does not deserve praise on a serious forum. Hate is the appropriate response in this case ( and at least it have a fucking case!).

  26. I usually don’t respond to these – one of my coworkers sent this to me as a joke… but here are some observations.

    – If you want to see mannerly, respectful discussions about a topic, turn off your computer and go have one, because people are usually incapable of having them on the internet.
    – If you want to see well-designed storage systems call professionals (a storage architect from a major corporation or a research institution or a VAR)… and don’t confuse people who post in forums with professionals.

    That being said, there are many problems with this design, but I’m open for them being intentional or maybe a “learning experience.” This is a novelty, not a best-practice guide, and just as long as we all accept it as that, then sure. I have built dozens of storage systems all over the world using many different platforms – traditional RAID systems, EMC, Isilon, Nexenta, SOCFS and Storage Spaces, etc. ranging from high IO implementations to high capacity up to several petabytes.

    My concern is that a junior sys admin might see something like this and take it seriously and try to implement it for a client who doesn’t know the difference… he will potentially cause a lot of harm – lose valuable data, cause people to lose their jobs, etc. Would you let an 8th grade biology student who just finished dissecting a frog perform surgery on a loved one because they “have experience”?

    Everyone starts somewhere, and this can be a jumping off point for learning about storage designs… sometimes hard lessons have to be learned along the way – and maybe the best way to learn them is to lose data – it’s a potent motivator!

    Despite some of the acerbic comments here, they are correct… this build is an exercise in poor design as far as the storage part goes… it’s novel, but not safe by any means – for too many reasons to go into right now.

    Just make sure you have good backups and have fun!

    1. Well put. And I agree. There _is_ a risk of someone Googling their way to this and implementing it for someone else in a business (well, ANY really) environment. The results would be disastrous for the implementer and the client.

      Honestly, even as a novelty, it’s a really expensive living room decoration and nothing more. I wouldn’t store anything on it that I ever wanted to see again. In fact I think linking your Trashcan folder there might be the only legitimate use for it.

  27. Just for fun / comparison’s sake I did a little checking.
    For $4500 you could –

    Fill two Drobo 5N’s with 6TB drives for a total usable storage capacity of about 50TB (25TB each). All will be SATA connected giving you high performance, RAID(ish) protected storage served out over Gigabit Ethernet.
    Oh, and you’d still have $500 left over to buy a nice big UPS to protect all that storage.

    Or you could buy one of those 25TB Drobo configurations with a UPS, and spend the remaining $2000 on a plethora of things, including possibly upgrading the mentioned basic cable Internet.

  28. BTW, for anyone looking to do something similar…except correctly, go here:

    Note, you could substitute 10 6TB drives in a smaller system for about $2500 (vs the $5400 worth of 1.5TB drives) drive cost and save a lot of space and money over the industrial strength BackBlaze solution. You can also sub off the shelf SATA multi-port eSATA enclosures for their custom enclosures and backplane.

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