Temporary placement of a fan in front of the internal drive bay resolved the heat problems (which I’ve let run for over a year; stupid me).
When I also had to replace the power supply (it’s suspect in the lockups, not yet proven) I removed the temporary fan (mounted with double-sided tape), and had it come apart in my hands and stop spinning when powered (it was old, it was a test). (Another lockup factor is that it wasn’t getting assigned the right IP address; that made it look like it booted locked, until I logged in from the console.)
And the new modular power supply (200 watts bigger than the old) required me to replace and hence re-route all the power cables. So I messed with the rest of the cables as well (6 flat SATA cables can block some air!).
Temps are back within bounds–but not as good as before, there are two drives up close to 40. Not sure what the difference is from the test state! These darned analog, even physical, things are a lot of trouble.
The order of the gallery is kind of messy. First the photos I uploaded were added in reverse order, and then the light table on which I can drag them to arrange the order is a bit weird, and finally there’s no way short of going into edit mode to see the photo big enough to be sure what it is. So after a while I got annoyed and stopped improving it.
Completed, over about 3 days last week, upgrading the last of the 400GB drives in the file server. These new ones are Toshiba 2TB drives (which I paved the way for by buying a 2TB hot spare drive last time I upgraded).
Everything went fairly smoothly, though I messed up one command that dropped the redundancy at one point. No actual data loss, and I had two complete current backups at the time.
If I were doing this from scratch today, I’d use an AMD motherboard (because it’s much easier to find consumer-price AMD motherboards that will support ECC memory) and a 5-in-3 hot-swap cage (fits in the opening where 3 5.25″ drives are supposed to go, holds 5 3.5″ drives in hot-swap trays). That would mean a much cheaper and smaller case, plus I wouldn’t need an additional disk controller card (most such motherboards have 6 SATA ports).
And I’d put FreeNAS software one it. That’s FreeBSD-based rather than Solaris, but still supports ZFS. ZFS is absolutely wonderful for this sort of use. It supports many enterprise-level features that you won’t get in any other cheap approach to building a home fileserver.
I’ll stick with mirrored pairs rather than parity, though. I can upgrade in place very easily with this setup. Five drives is perfect for two pairs of data disks plus a hot spare. The hot spare is useful in emergencies, but also is vital to upgrading the disks in a mirror without reducing the redundancy. I’ve upgraded the current server in 5 steps from 800GB usable space to the current 4TB. A file-server built to this outline (just 4 data drives) would support 8TB of usable space today, far more than I need.
And I’ll boot it off USB thumb drives inside the case rather than from a real disk (the current server has a mirrored pair of 2.5″ disk drives for the system disk; that’s an expense and use of controller slots that’s not really necessary).
I’ve speced out parts at various stores a couple of times; I can build an empty FreeNAS file server of this sort for $300 to $500 depending on details (largely how much memory; the current server ran fine in 2GB, runs fine in 4GB, but FreeNAS documentation suggests it’s memory-hungy; but I suspect that’s for deduplication, which I don’t need).