Intro

Backing up data is something that I don’t really do at all. I’ve owned a Drobo5N for a couple of years and I’ve just used it as a big hard drive that any computer on my network could access.

One day I decided to reboot the Drobo by going into the Drobo Dashboard software and clicking on the reboot button. Simple enough right? Well what happened right after that was the Drobo forgot how to work and that is the simplest way I could word it. Usually the device has been foolproof but I guess when it fails in some way it fails hard and it really scares you as a user. See the thing about Drobo is that they use this proprietary file system called BeyondRAID, well, it’s more of a volume manager. Any disks that you feed the Drobo will get combined into a large pool of disk space very similar to a RAID5. You can pull disks out while they are building or put in disks that are known bad and you simply can’t kill the data unless all your disks fail at the same time catastrophically. The catch here is that nothing else is able to read your drives except for the Drobo drive enclosures which are not very cheap. Now getting back to the story as I close my web browser with the technical documentation for BeyondRAID in a tab plus Amazon looking at Drobo prices. What happened was that my Drobo5N somehow got its Embedded Linux install all outta whack. Big props go out to the Drobo tech support for fixing this issue which allowed me to get my crap off my drives. The fix was to remove all the drives and boot it up empty and then perform a manual firmware update. Once I put the drives back in after performing the update and letting it boot up once before shutting it down again it rebuilt the storage array and everything was working again.

Figuring It All Out

During the time before this issue was fixed I put together a couple different NAS builds on PcPartPicker. The process of deciding what parts to use for any system should usually start at purpose. What will this computer be used for? For me that’s simple; a SAMBA/SMB/Network Neighborhood compatible computer that runs Windows 10 and can house many drives. Right now I’m only using two 4TB drives along with a small SSD to boot from. I won’t be using Plex or anything like that because I just like navigating to folders and accessing things that way. I decided on Windows 10 because of just how much easier it is to use than anything else I could use instead. I don’t want to tinker and I don’t want to have the opportunity to be able to tinker. The conclusion I came to was either a low end AM4 CPU or a low end Coffee Lake CPU. I have a motherboard for both platforms on hand but the one for AM4 has some thermal paste on the socket, I’m sure it’s fine since its non-conductive paste, but I don’t want any issues at all with this. So, Coffee Lake it is then! I went with the highest of the low end on offer, the Pentium Gold G5600.

The Specs I Ended Up With Are:

  • Intel Pentium Gold G5600
  • AsRock Z370 Extreme4
  • Patriot Signature Line 8GB DDR4-2133 (2x 4GB)
  • 2x Western Digital Red NAS 4TB 5200RPM
  • 1x HP 120GB SSD
  • 1x Hitachi 500GB HDD 7200RPM
  • SeaSonic Focus Plus 550W 80+ Gold PSU
  • Corsair Carbide 100R Silent Edition

This is a very low power build and it does everything I need. Putting it together was a fun time that you can watch right here on my YouTube channel.

Setting Up The Beast

I’ll admit I’m being hyperbolic in calling this computer a beast. Being a geek that really only enjoys the high end of computing and claims to not understand the concept of ‘price to performance’ I honestly do have an appreciation for parts that come together in a very harmonious way. This rig is definitely one of those times. I took my time before installing Windows 10 Pro because I wanted to think everything through and do the installation just once. I came to the conclusion that I don’t ever want this computer to see the Internet unless I tell it to. The solution for that was to set up a parental block on my Asus router. There are also parts of Windows 10 Pro that I don’t want this computer doing so I went hog wild with the group policy editor toggling a bunch of things just to see what would happen. Here are the changes I’ve made so far at the time of this writing.

The Big Table

Setting State Comment Path
Allow Telemetry Enabled No \Windows Components\Data Collection And Preview Builds
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\Microsoft Edge
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Smartscreen\Microsoft Edge
Force A Specific Visual Style File Or Force Windows Classic Enabled No \Control Panel\Personalization
Prevent Grouping Of Taskbar Items Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Prevent Input Panel Tab From Appearing Enabled No \Windows Components\Tablet Pc\Input Panel
Remove The People Bar From The Taskbar Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn Off Automatic Learning Enabled No \Control Panel\Regional And Language Options\Handwriting Personalization
Turn Off Automatic Promotion Of Notification Icons To The Taskbar Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn Off Notification Area Cleanup Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn Off Personalized Menus Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn Off Taskbar Thumbnails Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn Off Toast Notifications Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar\Notifications
Turn Off User Tracking Enabled No \Start Menu And Taskbar
Turn On Classic Shell Enabled No \Windows Components\File Explorer
Allow Cloud Search Disabled No \Windows Components\Search
Allow Cortana Disabled No \Windows Components\Search
Allow Cortana Above Lock Screen Disabled No \Windows Components\Search
Allow Input Personalization Disabled No \Control Panel\Regional And Language Options
Allow Search And Cortana To Use Location Disabled No \Windows Components\Search
Allow Telemetry Enabled No \Windows Components\Data Collection And Preview Builds
Configure Reliability Wmi Providers Disabled No \Windows Components\Windows Reliability Analysis
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\File Explorer
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\Microsoft Edge
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Smartscreen\Explorer
Configure Windows Defender Smartscreen Disabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Smartscreen\Microsoft Edge
Disable Windows Error Reporting Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Error Reporting
Prevent Input Panel Tab From Appearing Enabled No \Windows Components\Tablet Pc\Input Panel
Specify Passive Polling Enabled No \Network\Network Connectivity Status Indicator
Turn Off Application Telemetry Enabled No \Windows Components\Application Compatibility
Turn Off Automatic Learning Enabled No \Control Panel\Regional And Language Options\Handwriting Personalization
Turn Off Cache Power Mode Enabled No \System\Disk Nv Cache
Turn Off Cleartype Enabled No \Windows Components\Internet Explorer\Internet Control Panel\Advanced Page
Turn Off Crash Detection Enabled No \Windows Components\Internet Explorer
Turn Off Enhanced Notifications Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus\Reporting
Turn Off Hybrid Sleep (On Battery) Enabled No \System\Power Management\Sleep Settings
Turn Off Hybrid Sleep (Plugged In) Enabled No \System\Power Management\Sleep Settings
Turn Off Location Enabled No \Windows Components\Location And Sensors
Turn Off Microsoft Consumer Experiences Enabled No \Windows Components\Cloud Content
Turn Off Real-Time Protection Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus\Real-Time Protection
Turn Off Routine Remediation Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus
Turn Off Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program Enabled No \System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication Settings
Turn Off Windows Defender Antivirus Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus
Turn Off Windows Error Reporting Enabled No \System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication Settings
Turn Off Windows Network Connectivity Status Indicator Active Tests Enabled No \System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication Settings
Turn On Windows Defender Application Guard In Enterprise Mode Enabled No \Windows Components\Windows Defender Application Guard
Turn On/Off Find My Device Enabled No \Windows Components\Find My Device

Regularly Scheduled Apology

Sorry for the long table you just had to scroll past but I wanted to make sure to include all that. I won’t go into explaining really why I went with all those settings because I’m not sure what is going to be doing what and if what it does is good yet. Usually I just leave Windows be and don’t mess with much in terms of all those internals because my main computer is in the insider preview branch.

Data Time

When I got the data off the Drobo it was a slightly involved process. First I took out one of the 4TB disks and put it into my main computer. The Drobo can survive this kinda thing just fine because it has a sort of single disk redundancy that it falls back to. I then thinned out all the random crap I had on there by either deleting or recompressing stuff. After I was done all of that I just transferred everything to my main computer over the network which didn’t take long at all. Then I just put that second 4TB disk into my computer and then created a mirrored dynamic disk using the Disk Management tool in Windows 10 Pro and put all the data onto the array. This was all done before the parts for the computer even got to my house and this allotted me time to figure out how I’d like to do the network sharing. Once the computer parts got here and I put it together and got Windows 10 Pro installed I just shut down my computer, took the array out and put the drives into the NAS and everything was golden. Windows 10 Pro picked up the array and did all of its resynching and rebuilding. But after a little while of using this in mirrored mode and me messing with things that made the system crash I decided to just go with basic drives and forgo any sort of managed disk system until I’m done tinkering.­­­­

Time To Share

Sharing over a network is so much easier when everything is running Windows 10. I could of used Linux for this NAS but have you ever actually tried to use SAMBA on Linux? Using my laptop over the past couple weeks I cycled through multiple different Linux distributions. Ones I’ve looked at were:

  • Ubuntu LTS 16.whateverthefuck
  • Ubuntu 17.whateverthefuck or is it 18, I don’t care
  • Some sort of SUSE
  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • Maybe a BSD of some sort
  • Manjaro (I love this DISTRO)
  • Clear Linux
  • Arch (eh, why aren’t you more like your son, Manjaro)

I’m sure you get the picture, I’ve tried more but I forgot what at this point. The only Linux I had a good time with was Manjaro, it took a bit to get SAMBA share access and I don’t want to know what would go into making it a server. But, Manjaro is my main OS on my laptop for whatever that’s worth.

So yeah, Windows 10 Pro is what I’m sticking with and I couldn’t be happier. I have it set up so different folders on the disk are shared with different permissions and user names. When I used the Drobo it had “Shares” which were essentially UNIX permissioned mounts that the Drobo Dashboard set up and let you access, but you could access them with other means also. I had a share for me and my random personal crap, a share for my father and his stuff and a share for all my video projects. There was an admin account that I used that had full access and then an account for my dad and a non-admin account for myself. I was able to replicate this type of permission scheme very easily in Windows 10 Pro.

Power Draw & Thoughts Of The Future

This is a very efficient processor for a NAS but technically not the most appropriate. You won’t be able to do any sort of small business server grade kind of stuff with it due to the lack of ECC. It is still just a low end consumer chip and it comes with all of that baggage. If you aren’t fooling yourself into thinking that you somehow beat the man at their own game and you treat this system for what it is then you will totally have a great time with it. Efficiency is something that I really hoped that the CPU would give me and it really over delivered in this respect.The entire system while sitting doing nothing (both WD Red NAS drives do not have AAM or APM power management) draws only 29w from the wall. If I spin up that one Hitachi hard disk, meaning I turn off it’s power management mode, the wall power draw goes up to 40w, so I’ll most likely take that one drive out. The WD Red disks just sip power in comparison and performing a network file transfer to one of them will spike the power draw initially to 50w and then it settles down to 45w. I’d love to eventually replace the spinning disks with solid state of some sort. This really is making me also reconsider the choice of power supply I settled on, 550w is a little bit too high to be efficient; but at that point I’d just be futzing around trying to find a 100-200w supply with fully modular cables.

So, the system meets my needs (I have special needs) and I no longer have any fear that my data could be held hostage to a proprietary system that would be costly to replace. The NAS portion of this review is done and I’m going to get started on a semi-proper review of the CPU in more depth very soon so watch out for that and BOTHER ME ON TWITTER if you think I’m slacking off and you would like to read more!