A First Time Build with Windows Home Server 2011 and HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer – Part I
By: John Stutsman
In the Forum Thread “First Timer MicroServer with WHS Build” I talked about how it was possible to get started with a stock HP ProLiant MicroServer, two large data drives in RAID1 (Mirrored in Disk Manager), and Windows Home Server 2011 (“WHS2011”).
In this paper I wanted to take that basic build with a Stock MicroServer and measure its performance with NASPT.
I started by taking a HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer and returned it to factory (or stock) defaults.
- I flashed the BIOS to the Stock HP BIOS
- I removed all PCIe cards
- I removed all the RAM I had in the MicroServer and replaced it with the factory 2GB RAM that came with the MicroServer
- I installed in slot 1 (Port 0) the 250GB VB0250EAVER that came in the MicroServer from the factory
Next I installed WHS2011 onto the VB0250EAVER using instructions from “How to Install Windows Home Server 2011”. I didn’t need to install any drivers during the installation of WHS2011 but WHS2011 did have a large number of updates that needed installation.
After WHS2011 had completed its updates, I installed 2 ST3000DM001’s in slots 3 & 4 (Ports 2 & 3) on the MicroServer leaving slot 2 (Port 1) empty and using the Disk Management Application in the Server Manager of WHS2011 I initialized the 2 ST3000DM001’s and Mirrored them – this would be a software RAID1. I labeled this Mirror1 and in the Dashboard for WHS2011 I moved all of the Server Folders from Drive D: to Drive E: (Drive E: being my Mirror1). I also created a new Server Folder on Drive E to be a Target directory on Mirror1 for NASPT.
JPLTim has put together an excellent video on how to use the Dashboard in WHS2011 to add HDD’s and how to use the Disk Management Application to add 3TB+ drives to WHS2011.
A RAID1 (or Mirror) provides a high level of resiliency but it is not a part of a backup strategy. You still need some form of 3-2-1 backup strategy to protect your data. One of the things that I like about a software Mirror (or RAID1) is that it is transportable in addition to offering resiliency.
As part of a backup strategy I’d suggest considering setting up and using the Server Backup built into WHS2011. Server Backup in WHS2011 uses the VHD file format to store the backup data which limits the total size of backup source data to a maximum of 2TB. Additionally, WHS2011 Server Backup only supports volumes smaller than 2TB as the source which with my “source” drives being 3TB presented me with a problem. It is possible to at least remove the 2TB source volume restriction as outlined in a TechNET FAQ for Windows Home and SBS Backup.
Figure 1 — Registry Edit needed to increase accepted Source Volume Size
Since I am using 3TB drives I chose to set “MaxVolumeSize” to something substantially larger than what I currently had such as the value for 5TB (5,497,558,138,880) which would allow me to go with 4TB drives in the future without needing an additional registry change.
Here is a table I built in Excel to calculate the number of bytes for different volume sizes:
Figure 2– Calculation of number of bytes in TeraBytes
Additionally, in File Explorer place your mouse on the mirror drive (drive E: in this case) and right click the drive then click the menu item Configure Shadow Copies….
The Performance of the stock HP drive VB0250EAVER being used as the WHS2011 OS drive is:
Figure 3 — 250GB HP Stock Drive VB0250EAVER used as the OS Drive for WHS2011 and Partitioned into Volumes C: & D: by WHS2011
While the Performance of the Mirrored ST3000DM001 drives is:
Figure 4 — Two 3TB Drives (ST3000DM001) Mirrored (RAID1) with OS Disk Management in WHS2011
I next measured the performance of WHS2011 with 2GB RAM and the Mirrored using the Intel NASPT v1.7.1 as described in Performance Comparison of Windows Server 2012 Essentials on the HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer and the HP ProLiant N54L G7 MicroServer. The Specifications of the Client Workstation that NASPT v1.7.1 operated from is the same as described in the above paper except that it is operating from the two Samsung 840 Pro’s in RAID0 VM drive described in Performance Using SSDs for VM Drives in Home Hyper-V Server on GA-Z77X-UD5H.
Figure 5 – NASPT Test Results for Two 3TB Drives (ST3000DM001) Mirrored (RAID1) with OS Disk Management in WHS2011 with 2GB RAM
Figure 6 — NASPT Test Results for Two 3TB Drives (ST3000DM001) Mirrored (RAID1) with OS Disk Management in WHS2011 with 2GB RAM
Note: the NASPT Benchmarks discussed in individual Postings are useful for Comparisons with the specific testing setup, network, and Client Workstation implementation in THAT Posting and should not be considered absolute benchmarks for comparison against results in another Posting.
The above basic configuration would cover most user’s basic requirements to protect critical files and provide a bare metal backup and restore for home PC’s while providing good NAS type performance.
- Consider getting a book on WHS-2011
- To improve performance in the future you can add RAM. WHS-2011 can work with a minimum of 2GB or a maximum of 8GB. Check the RAM section of Hardware Links If you decide to go with a RAM upgrade then Go 8GB ECC – to improve performance the RAM is the 1st place I’d start
- To improve Performance in the future you could also move or reinstall the OS onto a faster HDD or a SSD
- Another option to Improve Performance: instead of moving your OS to a SSD – for less $ you could use a faster HDD such as a 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor (“VR”) or use 2 x VR’s in RAID1 (Mirror) for greater resiliency or use 2 x VR’s in RAID0 for crazy high performance!
- Before anything else – put in place a 3-2-1 backup strategy
- Look at something like StableBit Scanner or Home Server Smart 2013 to keep a constant check on the Health your HDD’s and to warn you before they fail
- Look for some type of Virus Protection for your Server
- Note though if you add on applications you’ll probably need to add more RAM
- Check the Blog Postings Links at Useful MicroServer Links & Reference
- When/if you need to increase the storage space on your Server you could move your stock 250GB OS drive to the ODD bay and attach it to the SATA Port (Port5) on the System Board – with the stock HP 250GB drive you would not need to flash the BIOS to increase the speed of that SATA Port because that HDD is not fast enough to saturate it at the Stock slower speed (i.e. SATA I). If you intended instead to put a SSD or a VelocitiRaptor or a ST3000DM001 in that space and use that or the eSATA port then you will need to Flash the BIOS-MOD and set the Ports to AHCI so that a SSD can have trim and so the Ports will run at a higher speed (i.e SATA II). ===>>> AFTER moving the OS drive you could put 2 3TB or 2 4TB drives or 2 5TB drives in Slots 1 & 2 and Mirror then and move some of your share folders to that new Pool OR if you had upgraded to a SSD as your OS drive and had put it in the ODD space there would still be enough space in the ODD for a 3.5” drive so you could add an additiona 3.5” drive in the ODD space plus 2 3.5” drives in Slots 1 & 2 and instead of a Mirror you could use DrivePool or DriveBender to create a Pool of those 3 drives and Mirror your Share Folders (Check Drive Extender Replacements)
- There are many other idea to consider in the Home Server Show Forums.