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I am looking to buy a small server for my home office. I do video editing, and currently using USB3 external disks is slowing me down, so I need a fast file server that I can use to store my live projects. (Note: I won't be editing using the server itself as I have my own workstation. It will only act as a file server)

I have two main questions about the hard disks. The first one is the difference between the 3.5" and 2.5" SAS drives. I am getting mixed opinions about the 2.5" ones regarding how they might affect the I/O speed and the performance. When I contacted the company that will provide the server for me, one representative told me to stay away from the 2.5, as they won't fit my needs. Another one said that it is okay to get them.

The other question I have is about the speed of these drives. Currently, I have enough budget to get the 3Gbps disks. I am not sure if that should be fast enough, or should I save a bit more and go for the 6Gbps ones. I read on some forums that the difference shouldn't be noticeable unless I am running a big server. Is that actually true?

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Its extremely unlikely that a NAS or home server's going to be faster than local storage. You're better off getting fast local storage first if external disks are slowing you down. Your file server would be bottlenecked by your network. As such, the extra speed of 2.5 inch enterprise drives or SSDs are unlikely to be of much benefit, though your representative might not have addressed this well.

Typically 2.5 inch drives have smaller capacities but tend to be faster (smaller platters) or SSDs. 3.5 inch drives are often nearline drives and have similar internals to SATA drives with the SAS interface.

However over most common household links - say gig-e your bottleneck is the network, not the drives. Even on 10GBe its probably less of an issue.

Taking that into account, you probably don't need SAS. Regular sata drives would probably be just as good.

I'd suggest however that you see if your system supports thunderbolt (which essentially is the fastest external storage interface you can get currently) and/or upgrade your workstation and server to 10GBe. Its slightly costly (though there's good second hand, or new-low end options) but either option should get you better performance than what you see now.

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  • Thank you very much @journeyman-geek. Problem with both thunderbolt and 10Gbe is that I will need to upgrade my motherboard, which is currently out of my budget. My motherboard doesn't support thunderbolt, and I have no more PCI-e slots for a 10Gbe as I have used all of them for other things that are important for my work, so I won't be able to take them out. Also, my household network might not even support 10Gbe. I was hoping, maybe for the time being, that using dual or quad ethernet cables might give me a little bit extra speed. Do you think that could work? – Abdelrahman Said Mar 29 '18 at 11:00
  • Just go with sata drives then. – Journeyman Geek Mar 29 '18 at 11:02
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    Chances are your house network won't even properly handle a read of 1Gb/s, depending on distance. I also don't recommend "shotgunning" your home connection, as this can lead to other problems. SATA drives should do the job fine. There are PCI-E expansion sets that turn one slot into 4 slots. If you go PCI-E, I recommend an M.2. connection and drives for it; as you definitely won't have speed problems. – CDove Mar 29 '18 at 12:04
  • Thank you very much for your help guys. I guess I might look into the PCI-E expansion, as there is no point in spending hundreds of dollars if I am not even going to get the best of the gigabit ethernet. – Abdelrahman Said Mar 29 '18 at 12:37

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