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Build Advice Help me with my HomeServer/FileServer

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Westovski, 4 Feb 2016.

  1. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    Hi all,

    I was wondering if someone could offer a bit of advice around my homeserver/fileserver.

    I have an existing system which is a generic PC with Windows Homeserver 2011 which has 11 2TB hard drives attached (6xmobo, 4xPCI card, 1xmobo). Whilst functional, it's not great. I mainly use it simply to store files and stream around the house (i.e. to kodi box in the lounge). All of the drives except one are mirrored.

    Currently, the server sits inside a gigantic old PC case in my loftspace, below my networking gear (switch and patch panel) in a wall mounted cabinet.

    What I would like to do is buy a mid sized rack cabinet on wheels and transfer all the networking gear into it, and at the same time, move the server into the rack in a case something like this:

    https://www.xcase.co.uk/rackmount-cases/chenbro-rm23612-2u-with-12-hotswap-caddy-189-00-chenbro.html

    But I would also like to take the opportunity to build a power friendly and efficient server that could run some basic bits and pieces (sickbeard/sabnzb), internal webserver etc.

    Could anyone suggest how I might go about getting started - I don't even know what type of motherboard to look for! (with lots of sata ports).

    Oh and, I'd like to keep the drives mirrored (or pooled and the pool mirrored) i'm very conscious of losing data.

    Thanks in advance :thumb:
     
  2. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    Questions I would be asking myself?

    Any budget indications?

    Any reason why you linked 2U over 4U? (2U's generally dont take normal ATX PSU's so that can add to the cost)

    Sticking with WHS? or would you consider others?

    What are your short / medium / longer term storage needs?

    Do you have the time to fiddle? or do you want something out of the box?
    Do you just serve the share to the Kodi unit or do you transcode at the server end?
     
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  3. IanW

    IanW Grumpy Old Git

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    In my case, take mATX mobo/CPU/RAM/PSU from old PC build, add 16-port RAID card and install in this. :thumb:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Atomic

    Atomic Gerwaff

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    Then combine with a LackRack and you're onto a winner.

    https://wiki.eth0.nl/index.php/LackRack
     
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  5. PegasusM

    PegasusM Stand back, I'm doing science

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    And don't forget to backup. RAID redundancy is not a backup solution. Hopefully you have a NAS or something you didn't mention, if not then consider splitting the drives between the old and the new and have the old pc as a weekly/daily backup.
     
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  6. play_boy_2000

    play_boy_2000 It was funny when I was 12

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    I'm currently running hyper-v with a freePBX (Linux) vm on a Celeron J1900. Storage consists of a 32GB SSD and an Seagate 8TB archive drive for media.

    The J1900 would probably be fine for 2-3 Linux VMs (8GB ram is probably the biggest limit) + your choice of hypervisor. Hyper-v is a pain in the ass to setup outside of a domain, but I was able to hack it for SMB media sharing, in addition to its hypervisor role. ESXi is also free and much easier for standalone setups.

    I've had no trouble using the 8TB archive drive for write once, read occasionally media storage, but as with anything, backups are essential. I use a stack of old drives as cold storage and just pop one into a dock monthly for backups.

    As for a rack server - they are often more trouble then they're worth. A cheap mid-tower sitting at the bottom of the rack is probably a better bet.
     
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  7. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    I can't believe I forgot to include all the information you've all asked for. Thought i'd been quite comprehensive as well, haha. I'll answer in turn.

    Doh! Budget wise, I probably don't want to go higher than about £400, but nothing is set in stone as it were, I just want something that works effectively.

    No reason regarding the case, it was just an example of the style I was after as opposed to being that specific one.

    I would consider Oother Ss. I'm relatively technical but generally more at home with windows. Fairly comfortable with command line but not overly experienced in linux.

    Storage perspective, I ripped all of my DVDs a few years back so have about 6 TBs worth of films, i'd also like to be able to back up the various systems in the house etc.

    Happy to fiddle to an extent, I like to customise my solutions.

    Kodi box does all the transcoding, it's literally a share. I have an acer emachine and various rasp pi's floating about that all decode on the fly quite well. (I think this is what you mean).

    That is exactly the type of case I want - haven't seen the 16 port raid cards, i'll take a look, does raid offer a mirroring solution? (bit of a noob to raid)

    I have considered a lack rack before actually, but as it's in the loft which is quite dusty, i want to keep it in a proper door closing rack, to protect it a little too.

    Is mirroring not effectively a backup? i.e. if I have 16TB worth of space split down the middle so 8TB mirrored onto 8TB - is that not a backup? If not, could you explain why? (I really don't understand RAID, but figured if it was on the client machine, on the server and then mirrored, isn't that effectively triplicated?)

    Thanks for this info, I think most of it is a little 'deeper' into the matrix than I really want to go, I've used hyperv in the workplace a little, but i'm not too interested (at present) in running any VMs at home. I do have a lot of old PC cases knocking around that could home the server, but I just like the idea of one neat and tidy rack with everything in, even if it is a little trickier to deal with.

    Thanks for the responses everyone :thumb:
     
  8. PegasusM

    PegasusM Stand back, I'm doing science

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    Mirroring itself is not a backup, it's redundancy, it would protect against hard drive failure which is good and worth having when you have so many drives in there. I won't protect against fire, flood, theft, power surge taking out all drives, etc.

    If all the data on this server is also somewhere else then yes, it's a backup of that data and should be sufficient.
     
  9. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    Ah I see, in terms of proper terminology:

    Redundancy = duplicated, but still at risk from 'disaster'
    Backup = duplicated with off site copies

    Does that sound about right?
     
  10. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    Crikey, 16 port raid cards are super expensive! Which one do you have?
     
  11. PegasusM

    PegasusM Stand back, I'm doing science

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    Redundancy is about keeping your up time, a hard drive goes down but your data is still accessible due to RAID. Or Power goes down but you've got a UPS so your data is still accessible.

    Backup doesn't have to be off-site but your data is recoverable in some way in case of disaster or the copy on your server/client is deleted or corrupted, even if you're using RAID, the deletion/corruption is also going to be mirrored.
     
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  12. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    OK here is what I would do. (I have been playing with my own internal storage for the last 15 months)

    1) Source 2nd hand HP microserver preferably an NL54
    2) Get 4 x 3TB Disks, a dual nic from ebay like an HP one and a reasonable quality USB stick
    3) Install Xpenology (http://xpenology.com/forum/) is the software synology NAS's run
    4) Configure as a SHR1 array, gives you about 8.2TB usable space and tolerant of one disk failure
    5) Copy all my data across
    6) Sell the 11 2TB disks you have and the other hardware
    7) Buy a seagate 8TB external Archive USB drive and use this as a backup destination for the data on the synology box

    Hopefully after you have sold your old stuff, your actual outlay would be a lot less than you budgeted for.

    You can go for bigger disks but the 3TB is a good price point atm imo.


    As above RAID =/ Backup, alternately to my suggestion of the 8TB External you could backup to cloud storage ala crashplan / elephant drive etc.

    The synology platform has loads of official and unofficial apps.

    My current setup is similar(or getting there):
    Main Media Storage : NL54 2x3TB, 2x4TB in SHR 1 Array, running synology, dual nic card
    Other storage: HP Media Smart EX495, 3x2TB, not decided on a platform just yet,
    Backup target: HP Gen 8 MS: 3x5TB, 1 x 6TB in SHR 1 array running synology.
     
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  13. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    That sounds great in principle, my only concern is storage space really, could I expand fairly easily? I have a *lot* of data. I also have a habit of ripping boxsets and things to my storage to watch later (i.e. I pick them up for next to nothing on ebay, rip them and then donate to charity) that takes space up surprisingly quickly.

    I also like the idea of keeping it in one nice rackmount case, what with it all being in the loft and the microservers don't look very rack friendly.

    I'd never seen those seagate drives before, thanks for the heads up on those, i'm reading about them now.
     
  14. Westovski

    Westovski New Member

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    Ah ok, that makes significantly more sense now. Thanks for explaining :)
     
  15. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    My servers sit on the bottom of my rack, i could put a shelf in but there is no point.

    You can always go bigger than the 3TB, I was just trying to work within the budget constraints.

    Personally I initially went the rack route, hence the cabinet however i ran into some issues:

    1) Noise, my stuff is in the spare room
    2) Cash. Getting the case, controller and disks it all starts to add up!
    3) Custom Rig in a rack case, I just kept hitting little niggles, this wouldnt work, this would overheat etc.

    In the end I went the route I did.

    If you really want to play (and have the cash) there is a plethora of HP ex datacentre gear on ebay, unfortunately as its all in the spare room I had to avoid that route.

    With regards to the 8TB archive drives the general consensus I found on the net was, they work well as stand alone backup target type drives, however most folks steer clear of putting them into arrays, though some have an havent encountered issues yet...
     
  16. IanW

    IanW Grumpy Old Git

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    This one It's the most expensive part of the build (unless you group the HDDs together)
     
  17. PocketDemon

    PocketDemon New Member

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    A cheaper option might be to look out for a 2nd hand SAS expander to pair with a more cost effective low port count hba or (proper) raid card - obviously with proper raid particularly having the advantage if you're looking at parity arrays or are trying to write bunches of high QD random data.

    The other potential cost advantages are -

    (a) upping the bay count in the case - as lots of SAS expanders have 24 internal ports & you only need a 4i or 4e card to drive them

    (b) & being able to add additional cases more cheaply for future expansion - as you can link multiple expanders together using their external ports; up to the max drive count of the hba/raid card - vs having to have buy an even more expensive hba/raid card to have a spare 4i or 4e port to do so.

    * * * * * * *

    Separately, do you actually *need* the server to run separately from every other machine?

    Simply that 'an' option (which is what i now do having rationalised things somewhat), is to have the raid card in my main PC linked to an internal-to-external SAS bracket adapter - & then run an external SAS cable between that & the expander in the server case (these can be up to 10m long)...

    ...so, along with drives, fans & cables, the only things in the server case are the expander, a cheap molex-to-pcie slot thing & the PSU.

    Now, along with potentially decreasing the running costs as you're not powering an additional mobo/cpu/etc, it naturally means that the link speed between the main machine & what's only nominally now the server is much quicker than over Gb LAN.

    * * * * * * *

    &, lastly, whilst i'm not entirely sure what type or scale of cabinet you're after, Orion (www.rackcabinets.co.uk) provided a much better price on a 21U cabinet (+ shelves & whatnot) direct last year than it was possible to get from a reseller or an alt manufacturer... Naturally by asking them nicely & haggling a bit.
     

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