Lockdown fiddling

From: william (WILLIAMA)12 Apr 2020 13:52
To: ALL1 of 76
NJ, not that sort of fiddling. I have this old, but not ancient, laptop that used to be Mrs WmA's. Now that I've upgraded my Plex/backup box, I also have a couple of spare 1TB HDDs. So after sitting down with pencil, envelope and computer to work out costs, I've rejected Odroid-H2 and Pi4 solutions and decided that the cheapest way to a bit of NAS goodness is to combine the laptop and drives.

The laptop only has 100Mbit Ethernet and one USB 3.0 hole, so I'm thinking of adding a cheap USB 3 powered hub. This would have the two HDDs and a Gigabit Ethernet adaptor plugged in.

I've done a lot of reading and come across lots of opinion, much of which sounds like guesswork presented as fact, but no definitive answer. Before I spend my beer tokens, it would be nice to know whether two HDDs and a network adaptor via a hub, plugged into a laptop, will compromise speed to the extent that it's a waste of money.

The theoretical bandwidth of USB 3 is 5Gbits/second. In the real world, that's a bit unlikely, but even so, I would have thought that there was sufficient oomph available for one port to manage a gigabit LAN puffing away at rather less than gigabit speeds, and a couple of drives. It would have been nice to find somebody doing this, although the nearest thing I've found is the recommendation to do something similar using the Pi4 as a LAN. I have seen a number of posts where people say it will slow things down, but none of these are accompanied with any evidence. I have a suspicion that people are guessing here. 

As teh forum is a repository of the greatest minds in IT, any thoughts?
From: ANT_THOMAS12 Apr 2020 20:31
To: william (WILLIAMA) 2 of 76
Is there anything you'll be accessing on the NAS that will require full Gigabit speeds? Can the hard drives even saturate Gigabit Ethernet? (possibly), but will you need that ~120MB/s transfer speed?

The only reason I ever need the high speed is to copy data to my server (also running some USB3 HDDs but onboard Gbit ethernet). That can often be from an SD card, which is slower than the connection and HDD speeds anyway.

Apart from those large one time transfers, I honestly don't think you'll notice it.

That's not me saying use 100mbit, definitely not. Just a bit less than Gbit will more than do the job.
EDITED: 12 Apr 2020 20:32 by ANT_THOMAS
From: william (WILLIAMA)12 Apr 2020 20:59
To: ANT_THOMAS 3 of 76
I haven't got any need for gigabit speeds, but it's nice to have files move around fast if possible. I hate twiddling my fingers while things crawl, but I doubt the drives can max out the LAN; when they were connected via SATA I was getting 95 to 110 MB/sec typically, depending on other traffic. 
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)12 Apr 2020 21:22
To: william (WILLIAMA) 4 of 76
My project is installing Win7 Jim Edition on my old xp pc in multiboot so I can run steam on it. I did a test virtualbox install and it improbably accepted a jim#, so next step is bare metal. If that goes south, I have MrsD.'s old wga Win7 pc to play with which I could maybe upgrade with a gpu.
EDITED: 12 Apr 2020 21:25 by DSMITHHFX
From: william (WILLIAMA)12 Apr 2020 22:16
I would imagine that if 7 runs OK from a partition, it will run OK if you give it the whole machine to play with. You're going to put Steam on it, but what kind of graphics has it got?
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)12 Apr 2020 22:40
To: william (WILLIAMA) 6 of 76
hd4650 AGP It ran steam fine until steam dropped xp support meaning steam won't launch, and neither will any steam-installed games.
From: Lucy (X3N0PH0N)13 Apr 2020 04:09
To: william (WILLIAMA) 7 of 76
Out of interest, when working out costs did you take running costs into account? Cos I *assume* the pi would use (significantly?) less power?(?(?))

From: ANT_THOMAS13 Apr 2020 09:10
May as well go to Win 10, considering MS have now dropped Win 7 support.
From: william (WILLIAMA)13 Apr 2020 11:00
To: Lucy (X3N0PH0N) 9 of 76
No, I didn't - which is a good point. It's actually a bit tricky to work out because some of the figures aren't easily available and the comparisons aren't like for like. For instance, the Odroid H2 which I priced up a build for, is based on a Celeron J4105 which is a SoC type of solution, as is the Broadcom BCM2711B0 quad-core A72 on the Raspberry Pi. That said, the SoC on the Pi covers more functions, so where a wattage is available for both the Celeron and the A72, there will be an additional unknown amount to be added to the Odroid. The Toshiba laptop is based on the AMD Quad-Core A8-4500M. It is much more of a conventional CPU and the separate graphics chip, AMD Radeon™ HD 7640G has the same wattage (TDP) as the CPU. That said, it is likely to be 100% idle and although I couldn't find an idle wattage, similar chips idle at around 10W. I assume that the disk costs will be similar in each arrangement and I would be using the same software etc so I've omitted that.

There are problems using TDP figures for wattage. I anticipate that the systems would probably be at least 80% idle. The Pi suffers very slightly because of this as its SoC has a very low idle consumption of 3.4W whereas the figures are based on TDP.

I haven't shown my workings, but my guesses, based on my present power plan, are:

Odroid. Complete build including a case and all accessories £188 
1 year of running £12
Total cost for 1 year = £200

Pi 4. Complete build but excluding a case £125
1 year of running £8
Total cost for 1 year = £133

Toshiba laptop. Powered hub and cables excluding a case for the drives £28 
1 year of running £54
Total cost for 1 year = £82

Edit: copied wrong figures over for Toshiba
EDITED: 13 Apr 2020 11:03 by WILLIAMA
From: ANT_THOMAS13 Apr 2020 12:22
To: william (WILLIAMA) 10 of 76
I was going to mention power consumption as Drew did, but was thinking it would have the result you've shown. Equipment cost being higher than power saving. I'd say your laptop figure is a bit high on power too, but I may have done my maths wrong.

And if we're thinking environmental about these things it is surely better to reuse than buy more equipment.

Also, depending on how you'd be running the SBCs, if they're off an SD card, the laptop will likely perform better being off a HDD or SSD.

I keep considering going down a low power route of some sort to rebuild my storage/server setup, but my current server has lots of stuff running on it that I just can't remember how to config it all again. I used to enjoy the prospect of a fresh build and configing all that, now I just hate the idea of it. But, I would like to simplify it all. It just feels like such a time consuming job to effectively just get to where I am now.

I do have a HP Chromebox which would be a good option, though the CPU is maybe a bit weak (Intel Celeron 2955U), otherwise it is 4GB RAM, 16GB SSD (easily upgradeable, but should just be enough for OS), Gigabit ethernet and 4xUSB3.0 ports. Was previously being used as a media center for around 5 years running LibreElec, but now I've got an more modern Android TV box (S905X3 based) running CoreElec (Amlogic branch of LibreElec) that supports 4K stuff after I bought a 4K telly a few months ago.

But can I be arsed? Probably not at the moment.
From: ANT_THOMAS13 Apr 2020 13:44
To: ALL11 of 76
I'm now down an Unraid, Freenas, MergerFS + Snapraid rabbit hole. I should be working.
From: Lucy (X3N0PH0N)13 Apr 2020 13:46
To: william (WILLIAMA) 12 of 76
Hmm. Given that the Pi and the Toshiba would be about even in terms of cost after the second year and the Pi has 2 x USB 3 a gigabit port I just realised, eliminating the problem of things potentially fighting with each other, I think I'd go for the Pi.

But that's not what you asked so I'll shut up.
EDITED: 13 Apr 2020 13:49 by X3N0PH0N
From: william (WILLIAMA)13 Apr 2020 13:46
To: ANT_THOMAS 13 of 76
I think the laptop figure is a bit high as well. It comes down to the fact that it's based on all the TDPs I could find for individual parts - which are misleading. 

As for actually doing something with the bits and pieces I've got - not sure I can be bothered although I would like a way of backing up Mrs WmA's laptop better than at present. She's got all kinds of work and research stuff plus she makes clothes and knits so there are loads of patterns etc. At the moment I've got it set up with Windows File History writing to a backup drive on the PC that houses my Plex server. That works well, especially since she doesn't like leaving the laptop on overnight and it all happens without her even noticing. The problem is that her backup folder is now over 200GB even with regular purging (which is a pain on such a large folder) and quite minimal settings on how often changes are copied. I also suspect that at some point File History might disappear from Windows 10. Apparently there's no more development or fixes on it and OneDrive is the current MS recommendation.

I know people don't like File History. It's true that it feels like a feature MS never finished and it can be a real PITA when it suddenly can't find the backup drive for instance; but when it's set up right I think it's great. When my wife got her last laptop, it was so easy to just get everything back as she wanted. It's an app crying out for just a bit more work, which I suppose will never happen now.

From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)13 Apr 2020 14:02
To: ANT_THOMAS 14 of 76
Jim has only rated my worth @ 7/10.
From: william (WILLIAMA)13 Apr 2020 14:17
Why rely on Jim? Just download the Windows 10 iso from MS and use the Windows 7 key to activate it. If the key will activate Windows 7 then it will activate 10.
From: william (WILLIAMA)13 Apr 2020 17:10
To: Lucy (X3N0PH0N) 16 of 76
I like the Pi 4 as well. And the mathematics does make sense. 

There's a 4 x SATA pi hat for the Pi 4 that uses the USB 3.0 bus, but I'm not sure of the wisdom of putting a circuit board immediately above the SoC, even with a fan fitted. If I went with the Pi 4 I'd still need to plug the drives into a powered hub, but the gigabit ethernet would definitely reduce contention.
From: william (WILLIAMA)13 Apr 2020 18:38
To: Lucy (X3N0PH0N) 17 of 76
And after a bit of searching for better prices, it looks a lot more reasonable at £90 up front. 

There - you've talked me into it. I believe 'silver-tongued' is the epithet.
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)13 Apr 2020 21:47
To: william (WILLIAMA) 18 of 76
I'm improbably forumming from my spanking new Jimbowin on a ca. 2008 K9mm-v muvverboard with working ATI gigabyte video driver for the saphire hd4650 agp (AMD don't even do this shit no more) in 1920x1080 res., working Asus DG audio card (which does have official drivers). Steam discovering games I installed under xp now... Harrumph.  LOL
From: Lucy (X3N0PH0N)14 Apr 2020 06:05
To: william (WILLIAMA) 19 of 76
I eagerly await my commission.

The SATA hat is something that's probably worth getting later if you feel the need rather than starting off with. I can't see the USB 3 being a limiting factor with the kinda use you describe (especially if the drives are spinning?). All a total guess of course.

From: Lucy (X3N0PH0N)14 Apr 2020 06:05
To: william (WILLIAMA) 20 of 76
Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of "I've got an old laptop and I really want to do something useful with it."