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Maintaining my late friend's server

Hey there,

So my best friend of 10 years and I decided to move in together 3 years ago. I'm a dev, and he was a sys admin. A couple years ago he started building a home server to run and manage things like Plex, Home Assistant, minecraft, etc, and I basically just watched in awe as he added to it over the years.


Unfortunately, he passed away about 3 months ago, and that left me with inheriting everything in our home that I usually let him setup and maintain. I'm hoping you guys can maybe help me understand some things about the server so that I can keep it alive.


Overall, I've been able to keep it going and troubleshooting things here and there, updating docker containers and rebooting once in a while when I see the processor kicking into overdrive without good reason. He's running Unraid 6.8.2 on it, and here are my questions:

  • The Cache disk, under "SMART" is showing an error, but I see so many mixed explanations on the internet about what that means. Some people say it's the drive, it's the cable, it can be fixed via a scan, etc. To be honest, I don't even know what Parity means in this context, or why the "health" status is in a column called SMART. Does anyone have any insight on what I need to do to fix the cache disk error? I'd greatly appreciate it

  • Here is what the hardware situation is. Can someone explain to me, what exactly is the device built into the table, underneath the server? I see cables corresponding to various things, but I'm unclear as to why. I'm guessing by the context clues that it's a giant switch, but I don't understand what it's switching exactly, and for what reason. I'm so afraid to touch it because I don't wanna accidentally tinker and change something without understanding how to fix it.

  • There are two flashing lights, one orange blinking "Fault", and another green blinking "Fan". Would these be correlated? Do I need to replace the fan?

  • I've been wondering how to back the server up? I'm more worried about something failing and losing all the configuration within Unraid, with all the docker containers and everything. Is there an easy way to backup the configuration/ setup of Unraid?



These are my main questions for now, and I'd greatly appreciate any help in clarifying how this thing works. This thing is basically my biggest memory of him and our home together, and for the past few months I've been doing a speedrun on adulthood with him gone and no longer teaching me how to basically anything. He was the hardware guy, the builder guy, the bills guy, the random knowledge about any subject ever guy. It's incredibly important to me that I keep this alive.

Thank you in advance.


P.S. If anything, this experience taught me how important documentation is.

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3 minutes ago, Vak said:


Self Monitoring And Reliability Test.

In effect, the drive itself is saying "I'm failing"

You should *should* mind you, be able to remove and replace and let the RAID do the rest, but to be honest, you sound way out of your depth here and we'd need a LOT more info in order to understand how it was set up.

TBH: I'd hire a local IT geek to teach you this sort of stuff, it's way more info you need than we can provide in this forum.

So rise up, all ye lost ones, as one, we'll claw the clouds

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I can help answer the networking questions, the things built into the table are a switch and a patch panel, they are two separate things.

The lower one is a switch. To simplify things a bit, a switch allows you to connect multiple Ethernet devices. If you only had a home router with 4 Ethernet ports, you would only be able to plug in 4 devices. With that switch, you can plug in 23 Ethernet devices (there are 24 ports, but one is used to connect to the router). The switch could be doing more complex things, but you would need to access the configuration for it to find out. 

The upper one is a patch panel, is lets you cable manage lots of ethernet cables. You technically don't need it, but having short 4-6 inch cables going from a patch panel to a switch looks better than just having cables go directly to the switch. 

Thankfully the ports are labeled, so you know what devices plug into which ports. 

As for the blinking LEDs on the switch, you are correct that the Fault light and Fan light are related. The Fault like starts blinking whenever the switch fails its self test, it's a more general error light. The status LED then lets you know what component has failed. In your case it looks like one of the fans have failed, you can find which fan has failed and replace it with a new one. 


Edit: Switches are generally pretty loud, it's possible that your friend simply unplugged one or more of the fans to quiet it down a bit, especially if it was in an open space like a living room or bedroom. Before buying new fans, I would suggest making sure they are all plugged in. 

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