Advice for a new server build

I am looking to build a new server and want some input/thoughts from the community here.


My current build is running unraid with 5x 4TB hard drives (1 drive parity).

Running some containers like:

  • adguard
  • plex (and supporting apps)
  • backups (scripts I wrote using rsync)
  • file server
  • game servers
  • and some other various apps…

I am interested in going the barebones route this time either using Ubuntu Server 20.04 with the Houston UI or Ubuntu Server 22.04 with the latest release of Cockpit.

I am also planning to purchase an HL-15 (barebones/barebones with psu) as well as new hard drives for this build. (Build new server, transfer data, decommission old server once I confirm everything is working)


  1. I am currently looking at getting 3-4 Seagate Exos X20 20TB hard drives for this build. (I would like to do raidz2 this time, 2 drives parity, 1-2 drives data for now)
    Reason for getting these drives:
  • Low cost per GB
  • Lower number of drives should mean less power consumption (this point might not even matter in the grand scheme of things)
  • Raidz2 instead of a mirror for the ability to expand in the future once the raidz expansion feature comes out.

Main concern is rebuild time with 20TB drives. Any thoughts on this?

  1. I think I want to split my server into 2 separate servers. 1 storage server that will host only file sharing (and maybe GitLab) and 1 hypervisor which will run all of my apps, services, and ability to spin up VMs if needed) Are there any consideration I may not have thought about on whether this is a good or bad idea?

  2. For now I would like to simply reuse hardware I already have for the cpu/motherboard/ram/etc. Will there be any issues with ZFS if I ever want to upgrade the hardware in my server? (I haven’t used ZFS yet but from what I know I think this will be fine?)

  3. Are there any issues with running nvme ssds for boot drives specifically if I do a mirror/raid1? The main purpose for this over SATA ssds would just be availability of SATA ports on the motherboard. This might be a non-issue I just feel like I’ve always seen sata ssds used for mirror/raid1 boot drives.

Hi @bstrozyk And welcome the the Forum

To answer your questions:

  1. Rebuild time with 20TB drives:
  • Rebuild times can be a concern with larger drives, especially in RAID configurations. Using RAID-Z instead of mirrors can help reduce the rebuild time. RAID-Z has the advantage of not having to mirror every write operation.
  1. Separating storage and hypervisor:
  • This is a good approach, especially for ease of management and resource allocation. It allows you to scale and upgrade each server independently based on its specific needs.
  1. Reusing hardware with ZFS:
  • ZFS is generally hardware-agnostic, but keep in mind that some features, like deduplication, may benefit from more RAM. If you upgrade hardware, make sure the new components are compatible with your chosen OS and ZFS version.
  1. NVMe SSDs for boot drives:
  • Using NVMe SSDs for boot drives is perfectly fine and can offer faster boot times. Just ensure your motherboard and OS support NVMe. It’s not uncommon to use SATA SSDs for boot drives, but NVMe is becoming more popular for its speed.

Hi @Hutch-45Drives, thanks for the response!

I did manage to purchase a couple of 20TB hard drives so I’m going to move forward with the storage server for now. I just have 2 more questions.

  1. I’ve heard of preclearing drives, is that something I should do in this case with the new 20TB drives? If yes, do you have any suggestions on how to do this?

  2. I am eventually going to purchase an HL15 soon but I was wondering how the drive connection would work. I would be using a consumer grade motherboard with traditional sata ports. Is there anything special I would need to purchase in order to hook up the backplane in that case?

(I have heard about HBA cards, I just don’t know enough about them or what to look for. Ideally with reasonable cost and power consumption in mind.)


Hi @bstrozyk I have not heard about precleaning a new drive before and have not heard of any other customers doing it so you shouldn’t need to do this. if it were a used drive yes but new drives would come blank.

It would all depend on how you want to connect it and how many SATA connectors are on your motherboard, when you check out with the HL15 it asks what kind of backplane connectors you want. In your situation, I would suggest getting 2 sets of SATA connectors for the onboard SATA on your motherboard and then for the other half, you would need an HBA card, depending on your HBA card you would need a different end on the cable. we use LSI 9305-16i cards in our servers but if you plan on using the onboard SATA connectors a 9305-8i would also be enough to connect the other half of the backplane

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