[Guide] Direct Attached Storage (DAS) - Add up to 16 3.5" drive bays to an existing server for less than $300

With JBOD you only use the information on the disk that failed. And yes, if you want to use Windows for your storage, you would need to use Storage Spaces, or another third party solution like StableBit DrivePool, to make the drives show up as a single array.

Have you looked into Unraid at all? Most of us here use it, and love it.

I already use Unraid now and like it. My current cloud plan doesn’t allow linux boxes to backup to it unless you pony up a ridiculous amount of money.

I probably should just setup a second Unraid server and leave it with family, but I was trying to avoid that as I would be using up their electricity to run a NAS.

Hi and thanks for this guide.

I have 2 questions (im completly new to this LSI ).

  1. I seem to have problem with the LSI-9201-card part. I cant find a new card with 9201 in name/description, And the LSI card I do find, is costing from 240$ and up .
    What LSI should I be looking for that will fit your approch or will any LSI do just it have a sas connector (but avoiding those brands you mentioned)?
    …Blush, just now so this list. Is this list alternative that can do the same: [Official] Recommended SAS2 HBA (internal & external) ?

  2. Why cant I just put a SATA expansion card and plug that into the server and just pull all the sata cable directly from the DAS into the server?

To address #2:

You can, but it’s more of a hassle. You have to have a sata card that is reviewed well enough and doesn’t have drop-out problems. 6 Sata cables running out of your server and into the DAS are going to be more difficult to manipulate, and you have to find them to have a lot longer length than is probably made.

The SAS card option offers fewer cables, higher reliability, and more future upgrade options in the form of SAS expanders.

You’re most likely not going to find a brand new LSI 9201-16e, these cards are approaching 10 years old at this point so the new stock has sold out and you’ll need to look for a used/refurb card today. As for which card to buy, in the SAS2 HBA thread you linked, there are a few options with external connectors. Click on any of the card models to bring up a eBay search with relevant results. They aren’t going to be as cheap as they were when this guide was written, but there are still several options available. You could also look into some of the Adaptec options in this thread: [Official] Adaptec ASR series SAS HBA overview

And to your second question, while it might technically be possible to extend a SATA cable outside the case and into another one, it’s not worth the effort. Even at today’s inflated prices, a proper SAS controller with external ports is a much cheaper option overall. The -16e cards get you up to 16 drives natively, or more if you add an expander into the mix. With SATA controllers, each port is one drive max.

I’m currently using the HP SAS expander with the Anniversary NSFW build (Gigabyte GA-7PESH2 dual socket LGA2011). Since the LSI 9201-16e is pretty pricey nowadays can I just use the SAS expander into a DAS following the rest of this guide instead since I have a few extra slots still available?

Yes, you could go that route, but I would recommend looking for an LSI 9200-16e or the Adaptec ASR-78165 instead. They can both be found on eBay for about half the current price of the 9201, and either will work. The 9200 has the same chipset as the 9201 and the same connectors, it’s just slightly longer. The Adaptec is covered here [Official] Adaptec ASR series SAS HBA overview


Thanks! I picked up the LSI 9200-16e for “relatively” cheap, planning on getting the Fractal R5 case since the other cases in this guide and the Rosewill 4U are pretty much extinct in Canada…

Can MegaRAID Storage Manager be installed on a normal windows home installation / non-server systems? It only lists compatibility with server gear / server operating systems on the IBM website.

Yes, you can… but why would you need to? What are you attempting to do?

I’ve been researching on how to build a server and have opted to buy a pre-built for the extended warranty and since I need it sooner than later as researching / building would take a couple a months.

I’ve recently bought a Dell T7810 with no OS and am wondering if I could install Megaraid Storage Manager off of a normal Windows 10 home installation or Ubuntu to flash the external SAS card LSI 9201-16e to IT mode
using MSM’s IBM link either v17.05.06.00 (critical) or v15.03.01.00

I’m just wondering and can install Windows server 2016 / compatible OS if needed.

The bigger problem I’m faced with is that the T7810 has an on-board RAID controller
(either LSI 9361-8I or the 9341-8I still waiting on seller response)

Which I believe would

  1. limit my use for Proxmox as I intend to use ZFS as the filesystem which needs
    full disk passthrough so hardware raid is a no-go

  2. Would I need to flash the on-board RAID controller in the first place
    in order to utilize a DAS connected to the T7810’s PCIE?

    Using the listed External SAS card LSI 9201-16e flashed to IT mode in the guide above

    — Couldn’t I just theoretically store and run the boot SSD through the DAS?

    — Doing so would bypass the problems of ZFS being incompatible with using an onboard RAID controller, since Proxmox boot would be through the DAS connected with the External LSI 9201-16e
    leaving the on-board RAID controller essentially without any storage

But even so I’ve been researching on how to flash the 9361-8I / 9341-8I to IT mode and have found a couple of links doing so but with caveats
link 1 :
— possibility of no smart passthrough
— User states to short a TP12 jumper

Flashing the on-board RAID controller would enable me to

a.) Boot Proxmox running ZFS off the DAS?
If Flashing the on-board RAID controller is required to operate the DAS and its 9201-16e SAS card

b.) Optionally run the Proxmox boot off of internal storage instead with no smart pass through?
— I don’t know if no smart passthrough would come into conflict and affect usage with both the internal storage and storage connected through the DAS

Windows 10 restarts alot and sometimes my drives on the DAS through the 9202 16e arent seen. I then need to restart a few times until the das drives are available or sometimes fully turning off the power solves it. Anyone else have this problem or know how to fix it? If so how would I keep it from happening?

Windows 10 is not a server OS. You should be running at minimum Windows Server, if not a NAS OS like TrueNAS or Unraid.


I finally moved off of my 8 yrs old QNAP and I’ve just recently built this excellent DAS! Thanks for all the hard work that went into it and posting it here!!

Now one thing that I noticed that had me concerned a little is: What is the proper way to turn off the DAS after the attached server is shutdown?

While I’m still tinkering with the system I have to shut off the DAS from time to time and I noticed that the disks are still spinning after the host os was shut down. I know I can either manually spin down the disks from the host os (which is easy to forget) or set 1 to the manage_start_stop property for the disks to have the host os do that on shutdown. But I was wondering if this is the proper way to do it or even if I should setup a udev rule to set that bit?! Thanks

Just turn it off with the power supply switch. You won’t cause any damage to the drives.