Sunday, April 16, 2023

NAS Situation

I have an old Haswell machine which ideally shouldn't have gotten Windows 11, so I purchased Lenovo Yoga 7i just for Windows 11 and it's my first personal 2-in-1 laptop. So I now have a laptop with Windows 11 that takes me into the foreseeable future and an old 4th Gen Intel machine that's not passing 2025 but still capable.

This led me into learning Linux more and making this into a NAS without having to pay Synology or anyone of that sort. Tried my hand with FreeBSD based distributions only to learn that it has a terrible track record with Realtek NICs. Now my whole point is so repurpose existing hardware without spending anymore money, so I wasn't going to get an Intel NIC just to get to use FreeBSD distros.

This is when I truly fell in love with Debian and the derivatives based from it, OpenMediaVault in particular. I still have a love hate relationship with OMV as it solves almost all my needs and this is where I truly learnt my way around Linux as an OS. But it always has gone bad at some point or the other, it works flawlessly for sometime and then eventually gets messed up one way or the other.

TrueNAS Scale was refreshing but most of my drives are USB based and not within the case, internal drives and ZFS with single USB based drives are just a disaster waiting to happen. I enjoyed TrueNAS Scale more than OMV actually but given the drive situation I got on hand, I simply couldn't use it in any length.

Then Rufus had options to disable all the pesky TPM requirements and voila, the 4th Gen Haswell runs Windows 11 flawlessly now. I have password less Microsoft account in Yoga 7i and a local account with credentials in Haswell machine. This was my desktop is a NAS as I can share entire drives and access them from my laptop and with the excellent Solid Explorer app for Android in my phones. Desktop is the unified place for all the data which can be accessed both from the laptop and mobile, this was perfect. Back to Windows after having an affair with Linux.

That affair made me realise how wonderful RSync is and I learnt RoboCopy as the RSync Windows alternative, both are excellent CLI for data management. I used to replicate changes from source to destination drives with RSync, since ally drives are USB based, including two NVMe drives, I just mirrored two identically spaced drives for data redundancy and safety without RAID configurations. Say Disk 1 of 1TB will be mirrored into Disk 2 which is of the same 1TB capacity, thus the same data is on two different physical drives for data safety. RoboCopy's /E /PURGE and if all your ACLs are the same, then just /MIR was an easy replacement of what I used to do with RSync.

I also use OneDrive from my Microsoft 365 Personal subscription and ProtonDrive from my Proton Unlimited subscription to have essential, crucial data. The rest stays locally in the make shift NAS.

In Linux I could only do basic S.M.A.R.T and that's about it. But in more familiar Windows environment, I can both defragment/TRIM with easy and also check for integrity by running CHKDSK /F or /R at times on the drives. I wasn't able to do similar things from OMVs Web UI and I didn't learn CLI that much aside from SSH into OMV to remotely install some packages here and there.

So after going away from Windows, learning something new (Linux) and now back to Windows again and again learning something new (RoboCopy) my endeavour to make use of Haswell machine without leaving it for e-waste is going well. I'm content with the progress, changes and all the learnings I've garnered from this quest.

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