I decided to go from software dynamic disks raid on the VM mirror to direct hardware raid. This was relatively painless. I exported the Hyper-V VM’s to the backup server (which took about an hour at a gigabit)..deleted both disks from storage spaces…then using the web interface logged into the raid controller and created the mirror on the controller. Since I have the rebuild on low priority (and the fact these are only 1 TB 7200 RPM disks) I then recreated the volume in storage spaces, grabbed the now single drive and formatted it NTFS and imported the VM’s back to the drive. I am only getting about 50MB/s in sequential reads and writes right now due to the rebuild of the mirror on the controller. That is all I need for now. The rebuild should be done in a couple of more hours.

I wanted to get my 10-gig connection between my primary server and my backup server working again without needing to buy an expensive (and potentially noisy) 10 gigabit switch. I found out that direct fiber connections will work without the need for an interposing switch…:) I ran a fiber connection directly between the fiber nics of the two servers, manually set IP addresses outside of my current internal range (I am using 10.0.0.1 and 10.0.0.2) and fired things up. They both came up chatting nicely. I then told FreeNAS to have SMB talk only on the fiber nic but I left the web interface on the internal network so I can manage FreeNAS via the web interface. Right now, I have seen maximum transfer rates at 5 Gbps. I have manually launched a backup and we will see what the more random I/O patterns of a backup max out at. I should see an average of 1.5 Gbps with a max at 2-4 Gbps once the backup process hits the data mirror. If i do not see at least 1.5 Gbps I’ll start replacing the last 4 HDD’s(disks 2-5) with equivalent capacity SSD’s then I should REALLY see an improvement.

Now my backup strategy has at least two layers both protected against ransomware and corruption:
Layer 1 is the backup from my primary server to the FreeNAS machine. I use the built in Windows Server Backup to send all local backups to the FreeNAS machine. This backup is done once per day. FreeNAS runs the ZFS filesystem which protects against corruption via the scrubbing function (which detects bitrot and file corruptions). If a file gets deleted from the main server or if I should get hit with ransomware here, I can first head to the FreeNAS machine. If the ransomware got into a backup I can use the snapshot function to back off however far I need to, and then use that image to restore any files that are lost or deleted. If for some reason that fails I have my second option.

Option two is my crashplan offsite backup. All files on the vm mirror and the data mirror are sent to the crashplan site every night. A different version is saved for each day and the daily versions are not deleted. The amount of storage available is unlimited. If something REALLY bad happens that destroys the house crashplan is my Disaster Recovery fallback. I have already had to recover a client’s system from ransomware using a similar system so this type of versioning, encrypted, cloud backup has proven its value to me. For $10/month this is cheap insurance.

Future goals: With the latest release of FreeNAS 11.1 a FreeNAS machine now can access BackBlaze B2. This is similar to crashplan but you pay as you go…the more online storage you use the more you pay. This is similar to amazon S3 but Backblaze is half the cost of S3. I have not had a chance to leverage yet but I intend to test it using my FreeNAS machine. If this works out (and has the security features I want and once i get my upgraded fiber connection installed) I may FINALLY be able to resume my secured storage research. I hit a major wall that i was not able to overcome financially due to the massive storage investments that would be required and also due to a security concern I had using earlier FreeNAS replication technology.