tldr: Don't use Umbrel to store important data like photos, docs, media etc
As noted in other SN posts, Umbrel have just released their new hardware which we must admit, looks pretty sick. Is it good value for money... well that depends on how good you are with building your own PC's. For us, we've been building PCs for literally decades now so we could absolutely build something better for the price tag. We're very aware that many don't have the skill or time to deal with it though, so a "premium" plug-and-play node is totally fine too. Each to their own πŸ™‚
For now though, let's put the "value" aside and just look at the system as a whole. To begin with, we're BIG Umbrel fans. Have run their software for years on multiple hardware platforms, it's amazing. But. We had to write a small warning for those that are not as technical and who might be looking at getting one.
Our main concerns revolve around using an Umbrel Home as a "home server". A place to store all your documents, media files, family photos etc. Essentially, using it exactly as Umbrel advertises you can use it. These are our main concerns:
Data Storage It has a single 2TB drive. That's it. That's 1,862GB of usable space after formatting. After you subtract the OS, Bitcoin, Lightning, Electrs apps it's 1,197GB. That's about... 200 4K movies. If you're really using this for an "ultimate home server" then it needs proper amounts of storage AND clear paths for upgradability. Sure, you can plug in USB 3 HDD's... but now you have multiple folders, multiple things to backup, things hanging off your node... it's not very elegant and a huge PITA trust us. The NVMe is great... but we would have expected at least two slots, possibly even 4 to make it an NVMe NAS!
Data Redundancy There's literally 1 NVMe... and no other slots. Super simple photo, docs and media apps are great, but what happens once you've "deGoogled" yourself, have all your family photos, tax docs and media on this (assuming you have less than 1.2TB of that stuff) and then.... the NVMe dies 😡 Game over. They're pushing self-sovereignty (which we 100% agree with and encourage) but aren't making their customers aware that part of taking responsibility for your data is managing drive failures. There's no software (or hardware really) for this that we can see. Modern NAS have multiple drives that are combined with RAID for proper redundancy. When a drive fails (and it WILL fail), you just swap it out. No down time. No lost data.
Data Backup Back is different to Redundancy and there's also no 3-2-1 backup solution with Umbrel Home. They need something like Synology's Hyper Backup to allows users to properly manage and automatically backup all their data across all their apps. They need snapshots, ransomware protection etc. While they say they have system settings backups coming later this year, backing up of your data seems to be completely ignored at this point.
Security According to their GitHub Repo, "Umbrel is currently in beta and is not considered secure". They note multiple concerning security holes and while it's good they're not hiding them... this new product feels like it shouldn't really be a "beta". If you're just mucking around with umbrelOS for fun, sure, no problems. If you're buying custom hardware storing TB's of private user data and who knows how many sats on it... it starts to get a bit sketchy.
As a Bitcoin Node, it's super simple and something we'd highly recommend as it helps your privacy and security immensely. But while it has the software apps for things like Plex, NextCloud, PhotoPrism etc... the underlying management of all that user data is essentially non-existent making it VERY dangerous to use, especially for less technical people who aren't aware. Also trust us... you're gonna need more than 1.2TB of space!
We really hope Umbrel address these issues fast as otherwise users will be the ones suffering. Loss of data like family photos, business files or access to your sats is not fun!
Stay safe and sovereign πŸ€™
Mixing a BTC/LN node with many other shity apps and file storage is a BIG MISTAGE. A simple NAS like Qnap or Synology or even FreeNAS is much better solution for your other crap to store, than mixing with your node.
I have personally a Qnap NAS, that I use it for many years as my personal server with:
  • web server for my self hosted personal webs
  • email server for my personal email domain
  • file server and backup server for my other computers and devices, including my mobile device with bitcoin apps that sync all the time backups to my NAS and even send pictures to it, so I don't have to store them on my mobile, or if I am threaten, my files are already remote.
  • password manager, multi platform
  • media server, download torrent server, etc many more apps
  • my LN node also is making backups to my NAS
  • 3 fast disks in RAID 5 that never get fucked. Even if get corrupted, I can replace instantly with a new one and data is safe because of RAID 5.
Also another aspect to keep in mind:
  • these bundle nodes come with many apps for your node, like BTCPay, LNbits, Thunderhub, RTL memepool etc
  • Some of these apps like mempool will take huge resources that are more necessary for the LN node. Why do you need a mempool explorer on the same machine with your node? Just for consulting once per month a tx you've done? That's insane of wasting resources. You could consult your tx privately from any other explorer. Or if you really want it, install it on another dedicated machine and point it to your local node. DON'T KILL YOUR NODE!
  • LNbits is a wonderful accounting app, but works much better separately from your node. Why? Because if your node get fucked, also your LNbits get fucked. But if you have it separately you could immediately change your funding source in LNbits until you fix your node.
  • Thunderhub also is quite hungry in resources and could be installed on a separate machine and pointing to your node. Same for Lightning terminal and RTL.
Great tips. Well said. Uninstalling mempool explorer now :)
Great info. What do you think of the Start9 server products?
Another great (and very similar) project... but has the same general problems as listed above. You can get them with a 4TB NVMe which helps a bit with Data Storage... but as many NAS enthusiasts will tell you, that's never enough lol
Sure, but StartOS offers one-click encrypted backups to a physical drive or another device connected to the LAN. Also, you can use it with a drive of any size, 16TB HDD if you wanted to. StartOS also has SSL for the LAN, WiFi, and a ton of others features Umbrel lacks.
Well technically you can install Umbrel on anything, so could also install it on a 16TB HDD (we once synced it on a NAS with HDDs... don't, it's a bad time πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) but all that other stuff does absolutely help, especially SSL ✊
2 points I really agree with that you made:
  • Backups are not good with Umbrel.
  • Security with Umbrel is not good. They even don't offer https support, and are kind of against it github issue. https is a basic feature that any webapp should have; issuing a self-signed cert is easy.
However data redundancy, 2TB not being enough, the umbrel hardware not being expandable, all of these are just a matter of how much do you want to spend.
If you have good backups you don't need data redundancy for a homelab. If a drive fails and your server is down, so what, it's your home server, you don't need three 9's. Just take the downtime, replace the drive, restore backups (you tested your backups, woot) and be on your way.
I'd bet for most people 1tb of storage (after using 1tb for a btc node) is enough for family photos/videos/docs/etc. If you want to host 4tb of movies/tv shows, sure you need more, but unless you are a professional photographer, your family photos/videos aren't going to take up 500gb+.
Again this is all my opinion and at the end of the day if you have money to spend sure you can get data redundancy, bigger server with room to grow, multiple server, etc, etc, etc. You could also save your money and stack sats, which IMO will be a better investment.
Question for OP (or anyone really) What is some hardware you would recommend for a single, small server for home use? It's rare to find a device as small as the umbrel server, start9 servers with lots of expand-ability. Here is what I found:
What is some hardware you would recommend for a single, small server for home use?
Given we're talking about Umbrel and their very slick, super simple user interface we'd likely recommend Synology. Synology is a little pricier than QNAP, but their software is chefs kiss and every bit (and better) than Umbrels. App stores, Docker containers, wizards, support communities you name it.
If they have <10 TB of data, then a small, 2-bay NAS like the DS723+ would do well. Buy 2 x 12 TB Seagate IronWolf drives, put them in SHR and that'll give you about 9TB of usable, fully redundant storage. If you ever out grow the 2-bay one you can buy a bigger NAS and keep using the old 2-bay one as an off-site backup.
If they have >10 TB of data, then probably step it up to a 4-bay NAS like the DS923+. Buy 4 x 12 TB Seagate IronWolf drives, put them in SHR and that will give you about 30TB+ of usable, fully redundant storage. Will do you for YEARS of fun!
FYI, probably best to steer clear of Western Digital NAS drives....
I have had a couple Synology NAS units and even one of their NVRs, their UI is awesome I agree. Synology DSM (their OS) is not open-source though :(
We would love to see Synology DSM go full blown FOSS. Would be amazing as it's such a good OS
Have you been able to successfully connect umbrel to a NAS?
I have solved remote backup by myself. Its just few bash lines...
100% agree with what you're saying. Having no redundant backups for things like files or photos should be a no-go.
However, wouldn't it be possible to create an automated script that can copy the relevant data from an Umbrel node to the Synology NAS?
Something like this? rsync -avz --delete /path/to/umbrel/data/ synology@<NAS-IP>:/path/to/NAS/folder/
Just set it to run as frequently as you wish. Having this as an Umbrel app where we can specify the path to the server and set the backup frequency would be a nice addition to their store.
They have Syncthing which basically does what you're saying. But it's miles away from something like Synology Hyper Backup and if you already have a NAS... why not just use that instead for photo hosting / storage?
I can highly recommend BTRFS RAID multi-volume modes. I couldn't figure out how to get the bootloader to enable searching for the volumes but my data is on a raid stripe with duplicated metadata, and the backup of that data on a jbod with duplicated metadata, replicating with lsyncd.
Degoogling and generally being a custodian of your own data is a very important thing. Those big corporations are centralised and thus prone to sudden dramatic failures.
When combining a BTC Lightning Network node with apps of other cryptocurrencies on the same device, there can be potential problems:
1. Software Interference: Apps from different cryptocurrencies may conflict if they use shared libraries or dependencies. This can lead to compatibility issues and impact the performance or functionality of the applications. 2. Security Vulnerabilities: If one of the applications has a security vulnerability, it could compromise the integrity of other applications on the same device. It’s important to keep all applications updated and follow good security practices to mitigate this risk. 3. Resource Consumption: BTC Lightning Network nodes require significant resources such as storage and bandwidth. If multiple cryptocurrency applications are running on the same device, there may be resource competition, affecting overall performance. 4. Configuration Complexity: Setting up and maintaining a Lightning Network node can be technically complex. When combined with other cryptocurrency applications, managing different configurations and their interaction may require deeper knowledge and additional time.
It is advisable to exercise caution when combining different cryptocurrency applications on the same device and ensure understanding of the risks and technical requirements of each. Keeping all applications up to date and following best security practices can help minimize potential problems.
Appreciate these insights 🫑🫑
Thanks for the info. I have a semi related question that I think people here may be able to answer. I have an Umbrella node running on a Pi4. Currently I have a 2TB SSD. Since there are multiple USB ports, can you simply add more space later on with additional SSDs or does that not work. Additionally, if you can add multiple SSDs, within Umbrel can you specify where data is stored? Obviously not close to filling up my 2TB SSD just yet, but curious for the future. Thanks in advance.
You can destroy the whole hardware business model by posting a similar machine that is cheaper on Amazon and giving someone the prompt for chatgpt on step by step to flash umbrel os on it
Thanks I’ve been looking into this topic and so your post is timely. More research needed on my part. πŸ˜„
Good info.