In part three of this series I’ll be covering how to configure and use your unRAID Server. If you haven’t yet read parts one and two, be sure to read an introduction about how I decided to use unRAID and then how to install unRAID.
Accessing the Server Management Utility
unRAID is usually managed via a web browser on a separate machine. By default, TOWER is the name given to the server and can be accessed via this name or its IP address (http://Tower or http://IP_ADDRESS).
Access the Server Management Utility via a different computer by opening a web browser and navigating to http://Tower (or http://IP_ADDRESS). You should see the “Main” page that will be mostly blank.
Navigate to the “Settings” page on the top menu.
While you are on this page, you should double-check your network settings. The DNS server is usually the same IP address as your router, but I like to use the Google DNS settings as displayed. Also, if you are running a windows workgroup on your network for sharing, you should add it on this page.
Select “4k-aligned” under “Default partition format.”
Select your Time Zone and accept defaults.
Your settings page should look something like this:
Adding Drives to the Array
After accessing the server, click on “Devices.” The display below shows the first two disks as they are assigned to the system. Notice the names of the disks and the device mappings. It’s best to have the parity disk mapped to the first disk (sda).
Click the drop down box next to parity device and select a disk to assign to this position.
Repeat this process for each additional disk in the array by adding them under disk2 device (sdc), disk3 (sdd) device, etc.
After all drives have been added to the array click “Main” on the navigation bar at the top of the page, then click Start to start the array. The below shows the first two drives added. You do not have to add all of the drives at once in case you are migrating the disks from a different system.
After you start the array, the data drives will show as “Unformatted.” Before you can use the array you must format the drives that you have assigned to the array. Click the “Format” button at the bottom third of the screen. Formatting typically only takes a few minutes per drive if they have been pre-cleared.
A parity sync must be performed the first time the array is started. You can use the array during this initial calculation, but performance will be degraded (see tradeoff # 2).
Creating User Shares
Shares (SMB/CIFS) are the primary method for accessing data on your unRAID server. Shares created by a user can be configured to write across all or a set of disks (but not striped). These share all show up under \\Tower by default.
The migration to your unRAID server is a perfect time to organize your media under a single share. I created a top level share called “media” and followed the recommendation of MyMovies. I structured my library like this:
\media\Movies\Movie Title\Movies Files.
For example, \media\Movies\Pulp Fiction\Pulp Fiction.iso.
In our example, the “media” share will span all of the data disks.
By default, each disk drive is shared out (\\Tower\disk#). These device shares are like C$ or D$ shares on Windows.
Our “media” share can be access in three ways:
\\Tower\media (comprised of disk1 and disk2)
Writing to shares can be confusing because the location of the files must take into account the free space available on each disk. There are several ways to fill disks, but the ideal outcome would be to fill each disk at about the same rate, but never split the files for the same movie. The concept of “Split-level” is the way unRaid handles this splitting. This value identifies the directory level of the share where files will not be split between disks.
In a typical environment, we don’t want anything below level “2” (/media/Movies) to be split between disks, so the ideal split level is “2”.
In this scheme, any new directory that is written to “media” or “Movies” will be split between disks as needed, but the Movie files themselves will remain together on the same disk. This is important in order to avoid stuttering because a different disk would have to “spin-up” during the movie.
As disks and shares are added to your unRaid server, a mix of directories can show up on the disks. unRaid keeps up with all of this so that you no longer have to keep up with disk management. In the example below, these disks contain all types of directories and shares that are spread between many disks, but to the client there are only two shares that will be used (\\Tower\bakckups and \\Tower\media):
Now that we have our terminology and scheme for writing to shares, it’s just a matter of configuration on the server.
- On another computer (not your unRaid system) open a web browser and navigate to the Server Management Utility (http://Tower/)
- Click on “Main” and then “Stop”, this will take the array off-line
- Click “Shares”
- Set “User Shares” to enabled, then click apply
- Go back to “Main” and click “Start” to start the array
- Go back to “Shares” to edit the shares properties
In the above example, I have created two top shares, “backups” and “media”.
- Set “Allocation method” to “High-water” Basically, this setting fills up the disks with the greatest amount of free space first in a step-wise manner.
- Set “Export” to “Export read/write”. After installation, you can come back and create users so that you can set access levels.
After you’ve finished setting things up, it is a good idea to secure your server.
Firewall: The most important security tool is a firewall that blocks access to your unRAID Server from outside your network. Most people have this set up on a router by default, but it is critical that you double check your network access.
Passwords: By default unRAID leaves the root password blank. This allows easy configuration, but it also makes the system vulnerable after install.
To set a root password:
- Log into the Server Management Utility and click Users.
- Enter the new password in the Password and Retype password boxes for root and click apply.
If you want to run your server “headless” (no keyboard or monitor), you should install a telnet client like Putty onto your client PC.
Configure the connection to your unRAID server using port 23 and the IP address of your server.
This will give you a shell on your server where you can install software or preform actions that are not available via the web interface.
unMENU is a collection of web-based tools and reports that go far beyond what is available on the default Server Management Utility. You must have access the Internet for the install.
Log into your UnRAID server as root via a telnet connection or at the console using your keyboard and monitor, and type the following commands.
cd /boot/unmenu ./unmenu_install -i -d /boot/unmenu
The script will download the files needed and place them in the appropriate location.
To start UnMENU, type:
To enable UnMENU to run on reboot, at the prompt type:
echo "/boot/unmenu/uu" >> /boot/config/go
You’ve now completed configuring your unRAID server. From your Windows machine, you should reference your unRAID server as \\Tower rather than mapping a drive. I currently have 6 drives (5 data + 1 parity) installed on my server. Between reusing disks and reorganizing my media, it has taken me about two weeks to completely migrate approximately 7 TB from my Windows 7 PC to my unRAID server and I’m extremely satisfied with the results.