40 TB for $4k

I was working with one of my clients a few months ago making our project plans for the year when we hit the topic of storage. We were looking to add approximately 20TB of file storage and needed a place to back it up, but we wanted to back up to different technology than we were using for the raw file storage and we wanted to keep the budget as low as possible. I did some digging, and put together numbers for a system I had been planning in the back of my mind for a while and said “What if I could get you 40 TB of backup space in 1U for under $4,000?”

This particular client has been burned pretty badly more than once by large storage systems, so his initial response was “I’d say that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.” I, of course, replied “maybe, but what are the chances of that disaster happening the same time we loose the primary storage arrays?”

Where do I sign up?

The key component of the build is this odball little barebones kit by ASRock’s server team (ASRock Rack) which squeezes 12 3.5″ SATA drives in a 1U rackmount enclosure. Just add RAM, HDDs and an OS and you’re running. My build specified Nas4Free as the OS, so all I needed for it was a USB drive, but we wanted a large amount of RAM for the best stability and performance so 32 GB of Crucial ECC ram was installed (2 16GB kits). For storage drives, I selected 4 TB HGST Deskstar NAS drives for their high reliability, performance and value. I ordered 2 spares to keep on-site, as HGST does not currently do advanced RMAs and given the number of drives in this system, failure is inevitable. The 12 drives are configured in a ZFS RaidZ2 for just over 40 TB of usable storage.

The final parts total ended up as:

1 x Barebone Kit @ 1,059.99
1 x USB Boot Drive @ 8.99
2 x RAM Kit @ 183.85
14 x 4TB HGST Drive @ 164.99

That brings the final parts total to $3,746.54 + Tax.


This build didn’t go entirely without a hitch. The original RAM we ordered would not POST in the system, so it had to be sent back and replaced with Crucial. The RAM slots are kinda junky, so getting the memory seated took several tries. For some reason, whenever both LAN ports were connected to the network there ended up being a broadcast loop which actually took the network down (at 5pm on a Friday, but still). We also had a drive fail in the first week, which is pretty much expected with that many.


I’m currently using this system as an FTP server for the existing QNAP’s RTRR feature which is set to run at the completion of the normal backup window. Each of the 2 QNAPs is CPU limited at pushing about 50 MB/sec over to the new backup NAS, and this system hangs out at about 20-40% CPU usage while handling that. Scrubs and Re-silvers happen internally around 500-600 MB/sec, so throwing in a 10GB or Quad Port Gig Ethernet card might be worthwhile if it’s got the PSU power to run one and your network can take advantage of it.

Alex40 TB for $4k