My Homelab

28. February, 2021 4 min read Homelab


I'm a data hoarder; that's nothing new to people who know me. This year around, I drove my passion a little bit further and streamlined my setup. The following articles will be a multi-part series introducing various areas such as:

A brief history

I started off storing data on CDs and later DVDs back in the days (you know, before the Y2K problems 🤦🏻‍♂️). Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions were still in their early stages, and hard drives expensive. At some point, I switched to external USB drives and created mini raids for the most critical data like digital documents or photos. Though I still held onto the mountains of DVDs piling up.

About ten years ago, I decided to switch to a NAS setup and choose to build my own. It had about 1 TB of total storage, which was ample to hold all my data. I extended my hardware with a Mac mini in 2012 to create my first Homelab using Plex, Couch Potato, Sick Beard, Headphones and SABnzbd to manage my continuously growing library.

In 2015 my NAS and Mac mini failed me due to a power surge, and I decided to migrate all of my data to a Synology DS1815+ with 12 TB of total storage. I switched from Couch Potato to Sonarr and later from Sick Beard to Radarr. Headphones were replaced by Lidarr sometime later.

All new homelab

I’m continuously looking for challenges as a developer and decided, at the end of 2020, to overhaul my setup completely this year. I started by looking for a powerful server to host virtual environments for my services, an expandable NAS solution for my data and a good rack to store all my hardware.

I settled buying a Dell PowerEdge R820 with 4 Intel Xeon E5-4650 CPUs (32 cores, 64 threads), 768 GB DDR3 ECC Memory and a total of 3 TB SAS HDD space. Furthermore, I extended it with a 1TB NVMe and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. The VMs will be hosted on the NVMe drive, while the SATA drives serve as a backup. The graphics card will provide hardware-accelerated streaming for Plex.

I ended up buying a QNAP TVS-1271U-RP with 12 x 8 TB Seagate HDDs as my NAS solution. It was a good fit for the setup and extendable. I upgraded the hardware to include another 2TB of NVMe storage for cache acceleration and switched the shipped Intel® Core™ i3-4150 for an Intel® Core™ i7-4790S and upgraded the RAM from 8GB to 32GB. The upgrade provides me with ample power to manage QNAPs services and use it as an alternative for my VMs as a failsafe.

Both servers include a 4-port gigabit NIC as well as a 2-port 10 gigabit NIC each. All of that gets connected to my existing Ubiquiti network hardware (Unifi Security Gateway Pro, Unifi 48-port switch, CloudKey Gen 2). The hardware will be mounted in an APC NetShelter SX 24U that I got for nine bucks 💎.

The last piece in my setup is a Powerwalker VI 2200 for power failure management. The USV can handle up to 1320 watts (overkill), which is ample to secure the hardware. I still have a smaller APC left that provides up to 400 watts additionally.

I got most of the hardware or upgrades either through Ricardo, Tutti or AliExpress. It costs me less than 5000 CHF in total, which is a bargain (including everything, network hardware, cables etc.).

So what’s next

Everything is installed and running so far as expected. Next, I’d like to write up on how I installed and configured everything—providing tutorials on setting up ESXi, VSphere, QNAP, Plex and all the other services I use to make my digital life run on autopilot.

‘Till next time!