47-Hours: Finally I Have Backups

47-hours is the amount of time it took to complete the backup of my media library, and it was worth every second for the peace of mind.

Among my hobbies and passions are movies: watching, discussing, collecting.

Currently, I run two Plex Servers to manage my collection of roughly 730 movies at the time of this post. If you’re wondering why I’m saying roughly when I should have an exact count, it’s because I have a few movies in the original black and white, as well as colorized.

As my collection has grown, the ability to back up my collection was overtaken by the storage needs, which lead to an even bigger cost dilema: How do I backup my collection as it grows even larger, with limited budget. Quite simply, I just could not afford a complete digital backup — graduate school loans at the majority of my after basics bills. Well, I finally found myself in a position to obtain a full back and after a lot of deliberation and research, I went with a new NAS.

I chose the Synology DS1520+ (5-bay) NAS with three new Seagate IronWolf 12TB NAS drives and two (existing) IronWolf 10TB NAS drives running the Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR-1), giving me 40TB of usable storage with redundancy.

With the drives loaded, Iset up the native Link Aggregation for two of the four gigabit ports on the NAS, then began the multi-day process of setting up copying of my media collection (movies and TV shows) to the NAS over gigabit Ethernet.

To my fellow enthusiasts, data hoarders, and geeks, I know there may be a comment/complaint/questions: Why would you spend the money on a pro’sumer level NAS, when you could have built a FreeNAS or Unraid box… I considered these options, but there are a few factors that pushed me to make the choice I did:

  1. The global market for electronics is still in shambles with availability and pricing and I’m not too keen on buying used equipment, I don’t begrudge those that do, it can be very cost effective, but it’s not for me in this circumstance
  2. I have family running a Synology NAS to store their photography work and to serve as a home backup, so this makes supporting them easier, since I’ll have more active familiarity
  3. Simplicity, this is a smaller appliance that requires little management, muss, or fuss

A smaller factor was the Synology’s ability to support various packages natively, as well as VMs and Docker containers. This lead me to loading Plex so that I have a backup server in the event one of them goes down while I’m away from home, I won’t lose access to my library.

I may replace my Pi-Hole with a Docker image since I still have two unused ports on the NAS, but I’m holding off with wanting to keep the maximum resources available for Plex.

Next on my NAS shopping list is an additional UPS to allow for graceful shutdowns. As I live in Austin (TX), I have to accept the occasional brownout and blackout. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has not kept their list of approved and tested UPS devices current, nearly all the models they listed are discontinued, but a quick test with the more current models in my home shows they seem to work just fine, so perhaps this Christmas Santa will be lugging a UPS down my chimney…

As for the nVme caching drives, based on my reading, they will provide little to no benefit to me with my current use case. I am rarely accessing large single files, not pulling numerous small files from random locations across the disks. When I transferred the files from the server, I was hitting just short of 125MBps (the max for gigabit Ethernet), so there’s no headroom for increasing transfer speeds unless I also upgrade NICs along the way, and that’s just not necessary for me right now.