Upgrading SAS Controller Card in TrueNAS File Server

Upgrading SAS Controller Card in TrueNAS File Server

Every year I clean up my TrueNAS file server and figure out what I need to replace or upgrade. This year I wanted to replace a 1TB hard drive with a 2TB hard drive and expand my storage from 5TB to 6TB. I wasn’t able to find 2TB hard drives on sale at a price I wanted to pay for.

And the dust bunnies put up a fierce fight.

My FreeNAS/TrueNAS File Server

If you’re new to my channel or haven’t seen my previous videos, here’s a brief overview of my file server.

In 2015, I built a new file server for FreeNAS. Six 1TB Western Digital Red NAS hard drives divided into three mirrored virtual devices (or vdevs). Storage pool was 3TB.

In 2017, I bought a 3Gbps SAS controller card for $15. I moved all the hard drives off the motherboard to the controller card.

In 2020, I replaced all the case fans and added two 2TB Western Digital Red Plus NAS hard drives. The new mirrored vdev expanded the storage pool from 3TB to 5TB. I also implemented a daily script to delete old files that I don’t need and reduced my storage needs.

In March 2022, I switched from FreeNAS on mirrored 16GB USB drives to TrueNAS on mirrored 120GB SSDs. TrueNAS was the replacement for FreeNAS and could no longer boot off of USB drives.

In May 2022, one of my SSD drives failed but I thought it was one of my 1TB hard drives that failed. After replacing a 1TB hard drive with a 2TB hard drive, I had to replace the failed 120GB SSD. Since the other hard drive in that mirrored vdev was 1TB, only 1TB of the 2TB hard drive was in use.

2023 Hardware Upgrade

My upgrade plan for 2023 was to replace the other 1TB hard drive with a 2TB hard drive. I haven’t seen a 2TB hard drive on sale for under $70 for a long time. I’ve seen 4TB hard drives on sale for the same price as 2TB hard drives. Since my 3Gbps SAS controller limited hard drives to 2TB, I started looking at the prices for 6Gbps SAS controller cards.

During the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and 2021, 6Gbps SAS controller cards cost $300 or more. When I looked at 6Gbps SAS controller cards last year, Amazon and Newegg had them for $100 or more.

This year I bought a 6Gbps SAS controller card for $40 from Newegg. A drop-in replacement for the 3Gbps SAS controller.

I had to rearranged the SAS-to-SATA breakout cables from the back of the old card to the top of the new card. I used a 1mm waxed cotton cord to lace the breakout cables. That looked cleaner than using plastic ties or Velcro straps.

Cable lacing was a technique I learned when I studied electronics at the community college in the early 1990s. That’s how cable management used to be back in the day.

What’s next for my TrueNAS file server? I still need to replace a 1TB hard drive with a 2TB hard drive and expand the storage pool to 6TB. If I can find a 2TB hard drive on sale.

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