Recommended hardware for offsite backup at friend's house


Does anyone have any recommendations for a small enclosure/SBC/case/something that can fit at least one 3.5" hard drive and is as small, power efficient and nice looking as possible. It needs to be available in the UK and ideally in the sub-£200 range (excluding the disk).

I use Nebula and ZFS replication (sanoid/syncoid) to back up the key files on my NAS to my friend’s house. I currently have a Raspberry Pi 4 there in a nice case with a 2.5 inch USB portable external drive attached. That has worked pretty well for me for quite some time, but the biggest 2.5 inch drive you seem to be able to buy is 5TB and ideally I would like to back up at least 8TB, maybe 12TB for future-proofing.

I can just replace the 2.5 inch USB drive with a 3.5 inch external USB drive, but that is quite a bit bigger and needs an external power adapter etc. That may still be my best option at this point, but I thought I would see if anyone had any suggestions. I hoped that I could find an old thin-client or something on ebay that would support an internal 3.5 inch drive, but I haven’t seen one so far.

I have come across the odroid H2/H3s, but they aren’t particularly attractive either and are quite a bit more than the cost of a Raspberry Pi.

I am not looking for a work of art, but given I am already being a bit cheeky asking a friend to have this thing in their house, I would prefer it wasn’t a complete eyesore.


Search your favorite seller for SFF computers (Small Form Factor.) The second one I found on Amazon was a " Dell OptiPlex 7020 Mini Tower" and which purports to have room for two 3.5" drives.

Years ago I used a Foxconn about the same size and it could fit 2 3.5" HDDs.

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This is really probably the best answer; you don’t get any hot-swap but the refurb market is permanently flooded with Dell Optiplex SFF computers to the point that you can get them damn near free, depending on how far back you’re willing to go in terms of processor generation.

The small Optiplexes have about the same capacity (in liters) as two monitor-mountable mini-PCs, if that helps get a grasp of the size at all. And they certainly look presentable enough–if it’s good enough for a million enterprise desks, it’s good enough for your friend’s house! :slight_smile:

Thanks both. The spec sheet makes it look like the SFF version can fit a single 3.5", which could be enough for me. Probably not as power efficient as a Pi or thin client, but I’ll take a look around.

I’ve considered one of these at my parents house for offsite backups of my own homelab, although I haven’t yet pulled the trigger.

AOOSTAR R1 Intel N100 Mini PC

Amazon Link:

Two hard drive bays, isn’t ugly.

I followed @mercenary_sysadmin advice from here and did the Odroid. It took a bit of work to get Ubuntu on it with zfs (see here).
But it works great with syncoid! Cost of the Odroid with the enclosure for two 3.5inch drives (I am doing a ZFS mirror) was about $85. More than an rPi, but good enclosure for two drives.

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Ooo… That is a nice-looking option that I’ve never seen before. Thanks.

That looks like a reasonable option for a small-scale home NAS generally. Low power, dual 2.5Gbps networking or WiFi, a 12th Gen Intel UHD that can en/decode nearly anything in hardware if you want to run e.g. Jellyfin. Pretty reasonable price, too, at US$199 with free shipping to the UK.