Home Server

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Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:43 am

Is there a site that might list a reliable build specification for a home server? Interesting in building one but would like to see a recommended build. Also curious on software to use for OS?

Any help would be appreciated.
garycooper
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:29 am

On the platform side, my recommendation is to find something with support for ECC RAM, and use unbuffered ECC DIMMs. It used to be that this meant going with AMD since Intel has historically segmented their product line by withholding ECC support from their consumer platforms; however, this is no longer strictly true since AMD's APUs lack ECC (socket AM3+ CPUs still have it), and a few of Intel's non-Xeon offerings also support it now. You need to check the motherboard specs too (download the manual and look at the BIOS settings if the product listing isn't clear on this), since an ECC-supporting CPU doesn't help if the motherboard doesn't also support it. FWIW Asus has historically been the most consistent about supporting ECC for consumer CPUs that are capable of utilizing it.

Run the data disks in RAID-1 unless the cost of the extra drives is going to break your budget. Make sure you have a backup solution regardless.

On the software side, if you have a spare Windows license handy (or don't mind paying for another one), you can use Windows. I use Ubuntu Linux for my file servers these days; there are also free turnkey NAS OSes like FreeNAS. Something like FreeNAS is probably your best bet if you want something free but don't feel comfortable setting up your own Linux server from scratch.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:35 am

What would you be intending to use the server for? The answer to that question will help guide the recommendations. If you want a pure file server then you won't need as much horsepower as if you want, say, a virtual server host. My home server is probably a little beefier than most, but it serves up Active Directory, DNS (also as a forwarder), DHCP, WINS, File/Print Services, and Hyper-V with a VM running WSUS and System Center Configuration Manager.

For what it's worth, I should explain that my home server/network is also used as a testing environment for work related projects at times. :)
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:33 am

curtisb wrote:What would you be intending to use the server for? The answer to that question will help guide the recommendations.

Same deal as the regular rules of SBA: what are your intentions with the computer, and what budget? Or will a NAS style device work?

We got served is a good first place to look.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:35 am

What are your intended uses for the server? No sites are coming to mind immediately, though Ars Technica has some great articles on configuring and running your own web and email servers.

If it's just going to be a file server, you have a lot of options, but the easiest is a few hard drives in a RAID and your preferred OS of choice as your OS (I use Ubuntu Linux on mine, as I run it on almost every system I have). If it's going to be more complex than that, then you might need to specialize some parts.

File server reference:
Pentium G3240 ($65)
H87 or H97 motherboard ($70-$80 ish) (you'll want one of these since it has basic RAID support built-in to the chipset)
8GB DDR3-1333 (2x4GB) ($75)
128GB Crucial MX100 SSD ($80) (for your OS)
3x4TB hard drives (WD RED or similar) ($175 each) ($525)
And a case / PSU to hold everything ($100?) (choose your preference)

You can set up the drives in a RAID5, so you'll have about 8TB of space. You could adjust the above depending on your storage needs - add more drives, or go with smaller, less expensive ones, whatever. But it'll be plenty sufficient for serving up files on a home network, streaming music and video (probably transcoding, too).

If you're going to be using it for a heavier workload (home office type stuff, using it as a working file system) you may want to look into a RAID add-in card. They can be expensive, but provide better performance than onboard RAID will.

Alternately, if it's just going to be a fileserver, you could look into a home NAS device, like Synology's DS414 (just under $500 without drives), as they can be configured to be more than just dumb storage.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:44 am

I no longer recommend RAID-5. Too much chance of a bad sector during a rebuild borking the array, it violates the KISS principle, and (if you're planning to use Windows) is not supported by non-server flavors of the OS unless you get a 3rd party RAID controller. Go RAID-1, or RAID-10 if you need the extra performance. If you're putting together a large array RAID-6 may be a cost-effective option (and provides some protection against the rebuild issue mentioned above), but it does not have any real advantages over RAID-10 until you start talking about arrays with 5 or more drives.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:54 am

deruberhanyok wrote:H87 or H97 motherboard ($70-$80 ish) (you'll want one of these since it has basic RAID support built-in to the chipset)


The bultin motherboard RAID should be ignored in favor of software RAID at that level.

You can set up the drives in a RAID5, so you'll have about 8TB of space.


RAID10 is a better idea given how cheap space is, and RAID10 has better performance over long transactions.

garycooper wrote:Also curious on software to use for OS?


I would vote of Linux or a Unix-like OS, but I use Linux and Unix-like operating systems.

FreeNAS or OpenMediaVault would be good starting spots. CentOS/Scientific Linux, or some other server distro, would be good depending on your *nix comfort level.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:52 am

I got a second-hand HP DL380 G6 from Ebay for my home server/vm needs and cost less than £200. £60 for some 147GB 10K Disks in RAID-5 and away you go.

Goes in the loft with GBe connections so noise is not a concern.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:57 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:
deruberhanyok wrote:H87 or H97 motherboard ($70-$80 ish) (you'll want one of these since it has basic RAID support built-in to the chipset)


The bultin motherboard RAID should be ignored in favor of software RAID at that level.


Why?
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:17 am

bthylafh wrote:
Flatland_Spider wrote:The bultin motherboard RAID should be ignored in favor of software RAID at that level.

Why?

Historically, the problem with motherboard RAID was that there wasn't a single standard for it. If the motherboard died, you could have a very hard time recovering the data without getting another same/similar motherboard. Back in the day, sometimes motherboard RAID arrays weren't even compatible between different versions of the BIOS on the *same* motherboard.

I imagine that this situation has gotten a lot better over the years, but I've avoided motherboard RAID like the plague since the early 2000s so I don't have any recent first-hand experience (nor much of an inclination to get any). I *know* that if I use software RAID the array will be mountable on any system that runs the same OS.

It's not like there's any big performance advantage to using motherboard RAID on consumer motherboards anyway. All they're doing is implementing software RAID in the BIOS and/or device driver.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:36 pm

just brew it! wrote:I imagine that this situation has gotten a lot better over the years,


NOPE! Just tried to move a Windows installed on a Raid 1 from a Gigabyte Z87 board to a Gigabyte Z97 board. No dice. The only ones that I have had that migrated nicely were actually Nvidia based boards moving to another Nvidia chipset.

It's not like there's any big performance advantage to using motherboard RAID on consumer motherboards anyway.


There is a bit of an advantage, first of all, your boot volume can be in the raid and if you dual boot to another OS the raid volume is still seen as a single volume instead a bunch of individual ones.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:47 pm

Pez wrote:I got a second-hand HP DL380 G6 from Ebay for my home server/vm needs and cost less than £200. £60 for some 147GB 10K Disks in RAID-5 and away you go.

Goes in the loft with GBe connections so noise is not a concern.


Nice! And you can get another drive cage and supporting cables/SAS expander to get up to 16 drive slots in one chassis. That model isn't too loud, in my opinion. Better than the DL360's (1U versus 2U) or the G5's (earlier generation).
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:54 pm

Deanjo wrote:
just brew it! wrote:I imagine that this situation has gotten a lot better over the years,

NOPE! Just tried to move a Windows installed on a Raid 1 from a Gigabyte Z87 board to a Gigabyte Z97 board. No dice. The only ones that I have had that migrated nicely were actually Nvidia based boards moving to another Nvidia chipset.

Well, thanks for confirming that my main reason for not recommending motherboard RAID is still valid! :wink:

Deanjo wrote:
It's not like there's any big performance advantage to using motherboard RAID on consumer motherboards anyway.

There is a bit of an advantage, first of all, your boot volume can be in the raid

I thought Windows could do software RAID-1 boot? Maybe I am mis-remembering. If so, that's a limitation specific to Windows, not a limitation of software RAID in general. I routinely put Linux boot/root partitions on software RAID-1.

Deanjo wrote:and if you dual boot to another OS the raid volume is still seen as a single volume instead a bunch of individual ones.

Only if the vendor of the RAID chipset has bothered to provide RAID drivers for the other OS. Unless all of the OSes you want to multi-boot are (relatively) recent versions of Windows you're probably SOL.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:01 pm

Deanjo wrote:
just brew it! wrote:I imagine that this situation has gotten a lot better over the years,


NOPE! Just tried to move a Windows installed on a Raid 1 from a Gigabyte Z87 board to a Gigabyte Z97 board. No dice. The only ones that I have had that migrated nicely were actually Nvidia based boards moving to another Nvidia chipset.


That's disappointing. I just migrated our H67-based mini fileserver from Windows Server 2008 R2 soft RAID-1 to Intel Rapid Storage RAID-1 largely because of a glitch[1] that killed the RAID. I'd rather not ask my boss for an expensive RAID card if I don't have to.


[1] basically: I used Symantec Ghost 11.5.1 to create an image of the non-RAID boot volume prior to upgrading to Server 2012 R2. My Ghost bootstick is based on the Vista version of WinPE, and Vista handles unclean shutdowns on soft RAID volumes... poorly. We're also moving away from Ghost because of this & because it doesn't grok GPT.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:12 am

deruberhanyok wrote:Pentium G3240 ($65)
H87 or H97 motherboard ($70-$80 ish) (you'll want one of these since it has basic RAID support built-in to the chipset)



Rumour has it the Asus H97's can do overclocking now - has anyone done this with that new Pentium?
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:38 am

I must have lost track of the subject of this thread. Why are you wanting to overclock a server???
$165½ will get you an overclockable motherboard and processor combination, if you insist.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:35 am

just brew it! wrote:I thought Windows could do software RAID-1 boot? Maybe I am mis-remembering. If so, that's a limitation specific to Windows, not a limitation of software RAID in general. I routinely put Linux boot/root partitions on software RAID-1.


Windows can boot from mirrored dynamic disks no problem. I have several machines running various flavors of Server running in that configuration, and I'm pretty sure client versions of Windows can do the same. Striping or RAID-5'ing the boot volume is out, however regardless of Windows version.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:50 am

garycooper wrote:Is there a site that might list a reliable build specification for a home server? Interesting in building one but would like to see a recommended build. Also curious on software to use for OS?

Any help would be appreciated.

I built mine on an AMD A6 3500
The server is great and can handle transcode tasks without issue (part of the reason I went the A6 at the time, it is 2.5 years old now)

Biggest issues I had at the time were drivers for the USB 3. I run WHS 2011 and I had to use an oddball Windows 8 driver I dug up.
The consumer mother boards don't want to provide install software that runs on server operating systems. I had to manually did up most drivers.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:58 am

SuperSpy wrote:Windows can boot from mirrored dynamic disks no problem. I have several machines running various flavors of Server running in that configuration, and I'm pretty sure client versions of Windows can do the same. Striping or RAID-5'ing the boot volume is out, however regardless of Windows version.

OK, that's more in line with what I thought I remembered.

Arvald wrote:I built mine on an AMD A6 3500
The server is great and can handle transcode tasks without issue (part of the reason I went the A6 at the time, it is 2.5 years old now)

My only misgiving about using APUs for budget server builds is the lack of support for ECC DIMMs. But I guess I am more OCD about ECC than most other people. :lol:
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:21 am

just brew it! wrote:I *know* that if I use software RAID the array will be mountable on any system that runs the same OS.


Big emphasis on this. Most recently I've been using storage spaces in Windows 8.1. I can easily move the drives to a different system and it just works.
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Re: Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:46 am

Did the OP ever come back and report on what he did eventually?
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