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Thread: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

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    CKO
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    Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    Hi folks,
    After finishing my HTPC project, I'm now going after a new project in the form of a home server.

    Initially I thought I will just get a NAS, but looking at the price of 4+ bays NASs, I figured it will be much cheaper and flexible to go for a server.

    My basic requirements are:
    1. Will be used for backup of 4 PCs (I assume incremental daily backups).
    2. Media storage to be used mainly by 1 HTPC and 1 Xtreamer, and the occasional use of any of the other PCs.
    3. Printer Server.
    4. Start initially with 3TB, and expecting to increase storage by 3TB every 6 months.
    5. No requirements for RAID initially, but will go for RAID 5 or 6 once I get to 4 drives.

    So given these requiremetns I though of this build:

    * CPU - Intel Celeron Dual Core E3200
    * RAM - 4GB non-ECC
    * Motherboard - ASUS P5QL-CM or Intel DG43NB. Thought of the G43 chip to get 6 SATA + on board basic graphics. Anyone with experience of these boards? any recommendations?
    * HDD - Start with 2 or 3 1.5TB Samsung F2s. I guess the performance is not that critical so I ditched the F3s option for the bigger capacity of the F2s.
    * Case - ASUS TA-D21. 5 internal 3.5" + 4 external 5.25" will have the potential for 11 HDDs.
    * PSU - Corsair CX 400W
    * DVD - Any plain DVD reader... might not need that if I'll install OS from Flash.
    * OS - Windows Server 2008 R2. I got a free license being a student so thought of going the 2008 R2 way.

    So now the questions
    1. The Celeron good enough for my future plans of 10 drives and using WS2008 R2?
    2. Should I invest in ECC RAM and board or not a big deal?
    3. Any real gain by going with 4GB RAM or 2GB should be enough?
    4. The Intel DG43NB has some bad reviews, anyone used it or the ASUS P5QL-CM and care to comment?
    5. Going with bigger capacity of the F2s rather than performance of F3s make sense for a server?

    Sorry for so many questions, just want to get as much input as possible to make sure I'm getting the right components to do the job

    Cheers,
    CKO

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    Fried Chip Extremist alsenior's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    1. for basic fileserving the celeron will be more than enough. but your plans to upgrade to more disks and higher raid levels may mean you need more processing power. thankfully 775 quad will drop in price soon.
    2. i wouldn't bother the board can't support it
    3. get what you can afford
    4. would not know. but intel boards tend to be stable at the expense of desktop speed.
    5. one f2 alone can saturate a gigabit link. 2 or 3 in raid will be bottlenecked by the gigait adapter. so get the biggest drive
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
    What kind of emergency would need Windows 95? I think you are already in a bad state of emergency when your backup plan is Windows 95.
    Beginners guide to raid Beginners guide to raid post edition Hexus.Social - FAQ

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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    1. Are you planning to transcode/stream videos over your network?
    5. F2's will save you some money on leccy bill big time, 5400rpm's so nice and Green

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    YUKIKAZE arthurleung's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    For purely file serving purpose, even Atom will suffice. Media streaming depends on how flexible you want the setup to be. For just streaming without trancoding, Atom is fine, but if you want to say stream mkv to device that does not support it, then a celeron might not be fast enough for anything higher than 720p.

    For your RAID requirement, it is a very long-winded process to migrate to RAID5, so you either skip the whole RAID idea altogether or go straight for RAID5, in 4/6/8 drives configuration. One possible compromise will be 4x1.5TB now, and add another 4x1.5TB in the future.

    A standalone hardware RAID card such as DELL PERC5/i (cheapest with acceptable performance) will probably give you better reliability than using software RAID.

    With the appropriate RAID card, the performance of 5400RPM will suffice even doing random read/write. Just make sure you do not buy any Seagate drive. Drive quality / firmware problem seems to persist, or retailers still selling old stock.

    If you're running Windows 2008, 4GB ram is recommended. If Windows 2008 R2, 2GB will be fine, due to Win7 having a much smaller memory footprint.

    Note that when running RAID, you cannot set harddrives to spin down, as that will cause RAID corruption. Average power consumption will be higher.

    I'm in the process of building a NAS based on 780G board, PERC 6/i, 4G ram, X4 620 and 8x1.5TB drive
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    If you're mainly looking to run a fileserver with pc backups, I'd suggest running Windows Home Server rather than 2008 R2 - unless you particularly want the newer server OS for a specific reason (e.g. you're getting it free ).

    WHS has some fantastic features. It's based on Server 2003.

    If you stick with Server 2008 R2, and you plan on using RAID eventually, plan on implementing it from the start. Otherwise you'll be rebuilding storage in the future, and that's a pain.

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    CKO
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    Thanks for the feedback guys, it certainly made me aware of things I overlooked...

    I guess I will skip the RAID for now as I want the drives to idle when not in use... No point in 10 drives running 24/7 just for a home file/media server.
    I will just use the Windows Server drive pool option, and duplicate the critical folders on different drives.

    I also thought of WHS, but I get Windows Server 2008 R2 for free so I'm sure it can be configured to do all WHS can and much more.

    So the biggest question I'm left with is the motherboard...
    Any opinions/experience with the ASUS P5QL-CM or the Intel DG43NB?
    I like the fact that they are relatively cheap and come with 6 SATA connectors and the integrated graphics, I guess its better for power consumptions and lower heat, beside the cost of a card.
    I don't care for on-board RAID because it ain't worth it anyhow, so no need to go for the higher specced boards.

    Question is are these boards good for server purposes? Are they reliable?

    I also see the ASUS comes with Realtek Gigabit LAN where the Intel comes with the Intel Pro Gigabit LAN.
    The LAN should be a factor in picking one over the other?

    Thanks,
    CKO

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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    How about I throw a spanner in the works?

    Mini pc - atom/celeron etc etc, whatever you fancy.

    + DAS storage on esata.

    That way your server is not your storage..

    Saying that, I have a E2140 somewhere...if you have >100 posts. I'm happy to deal. (hint it'll be cheap)

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    CKO
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    Quote Originally Posted by abaxas View Post
    How about I throw a spanner in the works?

    Mini pc - atom/celeron etc etc, whatever you fancy.

    + DAS storage on esata.

    That way your server is not your storage..

    Saying that, I have a E2140 somewhere...if you have >100 posts. I'm happy to deal. (hint it'll be cheap)
    Mini PC + DAS is certainly an interesting option, but can you please elaborate what are the advantages?

    From what I see, the cheapest 8 bay DAS I can find is around £250+, add to that £100-150 for the mini pc, and you start with £400 for boxes only and no drives.

    The build listed at the first post comes to £400 and that includes 2 x 1.5TB drives, and case good enough for 10-11 drives.

    The only advantage I see is the ability to move the DAS from one PC to another which is not something I expect doing...

    But please let me know if I'm missing something.

    Cheers,
    CKO

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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    Quote Originally Posted by CKO View Post
    Mini PC + DAS is certainly an interesting option, but can you please elaborate what are the advantages?

    From what I see, the cheapest 8 bay DAS I can find is around £250+, add to that £100-150 for the mini pc, and you start with £400 for boxes only and no drives.

    The build listed at the first post comes to £400 and that includes 2 x 1.5TB drives, and case good enough for 10-11 drives.

    The only advantage I see is the ability to move the DAS from one PC to another which is not something I expect doing...

    But please let me know if I'm missing something.

    Cheers,
    CKO
    Big case and 2 of these?
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    The late but legendary peterb - Onward and Upward peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    I buyuilt a file server recently, using a 1.2GHz low power Via CPU on a mini-itx board - more than adequate for file serving (and it acts as a web server as well). With two 2.5" drives it only takes about 35 Watts. The CPU cooler is passive, and although there is a small case fan, it is very quiet.

    Now while that may not be suitable for your needs, you may want to consider something less powerful to kep the power consumption down, especially if you plan to leave it ruunning 24x7. I quote my spec only to show that you don't need a really powerful processor to do the job for a home server where the use will be light.

    Just something to consider.
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    Re: Building a Home Server - Need Some Help

    Quote Originally Posted by badass View Post
    A17 with 3 x THESE is a win

    @OP

    If you're planning to use WHS ditch the RAID card as it will impose problems and its not supported. WHS works on software RAID with drive pool as backup (terrible idea as you need 50% of your space to be used as a backup...)

    2TB is WHS = 1TB of space and 1TB in backup pool so clearly not very efficient.


    HDD spin down works fine with software RAID tho...
    Last edited by spoon_; 28-10-2009 at 02:54 PM.

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