What Should I Do With My Raspberry Pi 5?

I preordered a Raspberry Pi 5 8GB, excited about using a PCIe RAID controller with NextCloud, then I read around a little on these forums. Apparently, RAID is not the magical solution to data safety that I thought it was. After throwing the idea of RAID 5/6 out the window, I thought about RAID 1. It was a perfect 1:1 realtime backup of my data without RAID array issues. Then I read the valid point of “90% of data loss is from accidental deletion”. RAID 1 out as well then. It looks like I made a bit of a mistake purchasing a Pi.

So, what configuration of drives and data backup should I use with this? Still clinging to the idea of PCIe, should I buy a SATA card and do backups via software? Should I still go with RAID? Would USB be enough for a decent NextCloud experience? Needless to say, I’m totally new to NAS.

Go for the pimoroni nvme adapter and then add an ssd.

Pci-e is 2x so be aware if you get a card. Raid is not a backup solution, so worth considering a regular tower pc instead with sata ports.

Or use Ubuntu with open zfs along with the raid card

So if I understand correctly you’re saying to use the NVMe drive for boot and attach a couple of HDDs via USB and set up snapshots to mirrored drives? I guess I should have mentioned that I need at least 6 terabytes of usable storage space. I wanted to use the Pi as I have already sunk $100 into it, but I do know I would find another use for it.

What would the benefit of OpenZFS be?

I read on some other forum that you can force PCIe Gen 3, still one lane though.

Sorry, because this becomes way too much for a casual conversation.

Yes, because Nextcloud performs much better.

No, I would actually skip usb hard drives altogether because they are much slower than nvme.

In this game that is nothing. Unfortunately, even the $6tb mirrored disks will cost you around 300 - $400.

In that case I would ditch the Pi. Sell it to someone for what you paid for it.

That is not good. And the Pi 5 simply cannot compete with a regular server, especially once you want to add disks of janky usb to be used in production. (I have done exactly this over many, many years).

OpenZFS is designed for disk mirroring and data snapshots. It is designed to do exactly what you are seeking, but it is still contingent on hardware, as a successor to RAID.
Ubuntu now natively supports it, but so do nas platforms like Truenas.

Use the Pi 5

Spent another $30 on the nvme adapter and buy an nvme disk (2tb is $110).
Now you are at $140 - $240, but the Pi 5 will run at maximum speed over a 1gb connection.
Add a 6tb disk for $100 - $150 more for backups, but now you’ve spent close to $400.
This is really all you can ask for.

Don’t use the Pi 5? Ditch it for a proper server

Correct, if your goal is mirrored disks…

  • Sell the Pi 5.
  • Buy an old tower machine off Craigslist
  • Buy an ssd, of an ssd within a usb 3 housing, of 32gb ($10 - $20) to boot Truenas Scale
  • Shuck your hard disks, by removing them from the enclosure.
  • Install in your tower pc over proper sata
  • Add 6tb to Truenas as a mirror pool

It can run Nextcloud, and you simply select the pool you wish to use for your data.

  • I recommend buying somemore ram, at least 32gb to comfortably run Nextcloud on top of Truenas.
  • Add as many more disks and pools as you want
  • Snapshots and backups are all supported through a friendly GUI.

Now your sata disks will perform at maximum speed and you can expand at will.

^^ If this is your goal you should get proper hardware.

Otherwise, I recommend the nvme adapter and one nvme disk.
You can add a usb disk for backups, but at that point… consider whether it is time for the much stronger Truenas!

One PCIe 3.0 lane (with a ssd “on the other end”) should be fast enough for all stuff you could probably do with NC on a Pi (even Pi5). Just make sure the db resides on it and the main data folder with the most volatile data too.
The volume storage can easily be on two mirrored 8TB HDDs (you need 6TB net, right?) as long as they use CMR and not SMR.
Why use ZFS? Because you love your data.
Good article by Jim Salter, even if nearly ten years old; very worth the reading time.

It is Jim who inspired me to use Truenas. I hope you find a solution that works for you OP, but good news is you are at least now more aware of the limitations of the Pi 5. You can learn more about ZFS on Jim’s forum - https://discourse.practicalzfs.com/

He also has an excellent podcast for the aspiring sys admin - https://2.5admins.com/

If you decide to use the Pi + external disks, as you come to the limitations of that setup consider moving to a more robust server. It is what I would recommend to anyone in your situation, because it is more or less inevitable as the data piles up and you want more disk + more backups. Cheers!

Also listen to Linux After Dark (a podcast network which Jim is a part of), where they explain why all of them found a $30 used Dell Wyse thin client off ebay kicks the crap out of the Pi 5 in power usage and performance. All of the hosts had the same experience.


I agree with most of what @just said, but I’m not sure if I would go with TrueNAS Scale for Nextcloud, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be an old tower with old power-hungry hardware.

I would look at some of the N100 ITX boards, as for example the AsRock N100DC-ITX. I think they make much more sense than a single board computer for a file server / storage platform.

The two biggest disadvantages of a RaspberryPi in this regard are the lack of SATA and of course no decent case to put the storage in. And at the end of the day, you don’t save much power (compared to e.g. an N100 platform with 6W TDP) and not much space either, because you have to put the disks somwhere.

With the board I linked as an example above you get:

  • 2x SATA3,
  • 1x M.2 (PCIe Gen3x2)
  • 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (x2 mode) that you could use for additional M.2 storage, or a HBA with additional SATA or SAS ports.

But once you add the HBA… you are at Truenas. :person_shrugging:

You didn’t recommend a particular distro, but:

  • Manually setting up Ubuntu + OpenZFS
  • Debian Linux + OpenZFS + full featured webui = Truenas Scale

Both accomplish the same thing, but one is purpose built to cover this exact use case. :heart:

If I would use Nextcloud on a TrueNAS box I would probably put it in a VM, and not use their app :wink:

Truenas Scale is designed to run Nextcloud in a VM though…

The reason this is worth mentioning is because any similarities between Truenas the the Pi end here.

You gain monitoring of disk health, a friendly ui, ability to add any number of physical disks, snapshot those disks at will, and generally scale the system until you run out of hardware + it officially supports Nextcloud as a container or virtual machine in addition to any other virtual machines. And you could use a tower machine you already have to hold everything.

Good luck with it.

Well, you can run VMs on TrueNAS Scale, but the apps in Scale are actually Docker containers deployed via their own customised K3s environment, which I’m not a huge fan of, but it is of course a valid option to use Nextcloud. :slight_smile: https://truecharts.org/

However, I would probably use Proxmox, then install it manually in an LXC instead of a VM on the particular HW I recommended.

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Lol. Both are running zfs on the backend and accomplishing the same goal. The advantage of truenas is it is designed to function as a multi-disk NAS and run Nextcloud as container or virtual machine. It is baby stepping into a large world.

@bb77 I do agree with you on promoting either platform, which we notably lack documentation for. That is another discussion I suppose.

I’m just not a fan of those all in one solutions and I’m particullary not a fan of how TrueNAS Scale integrated the apps. There is actually a hole lot that you can do wrong when using them. Just becuse it has GUI, doesn’t mean evecerything is easy and self-explanatory. :wink:

Btw. I have two TrueNAS Core instances, one virualized for serving media, and another one on bare metal, which is my main backup target.

But yeah, if you only have one machine, then I guess you could go with TrueNAS scale. They are continuously working on and improving the integration of the apps, but for me it all still feels kind of beta.

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Thanks for all of the support guys! I also probably should’ve mentioned that I don’t actually have the Pi yet, it’s still in a preorder queue. I think I’ll either buy an old Optiplex or something or buy a case and a N100 as @bb77 suggested.

I’m completely new to virtualization, the only experience I’ve had with that is a Windows VM on my Linux PC. What would the benefit be of containerizing everything? I do like the idea of easy scaling offered by TrueNAS, but would that be the only benefit?

It is all of the above

Where the comparisons to the Pi end is where it gets interesting to use proxmox and truenas

I completely agree. This is exactly the point that AIO does better imho – it only exposes actually needed config options and tries to set all of them to a reasonable default by still offering a GUI for the most improtant things.

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What about managing multiple disks and system snapshots?

I dont disagree that truenas has its purpose but I agree with @bb77 that their implementation of Nextcloud is not well designed.

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I agree with that is well. Still, truenas and proxmox offer the underlying filesystem and disk management which the user is interested in. Nextcloud does not handle that.

The issue is keeping everything in the same box, including a raid like disk structure.


Actually there was a plan some time ago to integrate AIO into Nextcloudpi (or rather rewrite Nextcloudpi to be a wrapper around AIO). Then Nextcloudpi could possibly offer a GUI for those needed drive configurations and stuff which would be a good way forward imho. Lets see how it evolves in the future :slight_smile: