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  • At the end of HP MicroServer N40L Build and BIOS Modification from March 22, 2012, I concluded that the MicroServer is a great little file server for the small business and the home. I’ve found it to be very reliable and easy (and fun!) to work on.


    I’ve experimented with a number of OS’s as host’s on the MicroServer and as VM’s in Hyper-V. Recently, after experiencing some problems with my WHS-V1 (EX-487), I decided it was time to move to the next step and rebuild my MicroServer specifically to be a low cost WHS-2011 machine.


    Parts List


    · MicroServer N40L


    · 8 GB RAM


    · Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD


    · WD PCIe USB 3.0 Card


    · 5 * ST3000DM001 Barracuda 3TB Drives


    · Windows Home Server 2011


    · Stablebit DrivePool


    · Stablebit Scanner


    · Allway Sync


    Installation of the OS


    Before following the instructions detailed in the article How To Install Windows Home Server 2011 I went to the article Installing WHS 2011 on SSD or SATA Hard Drives smaller than 160GB for directions on installing WHS-2011 on a SSD smaller than 160GB (the default minimum size hardwired in the WHS-2011 installer).


    Using Keller’s article as a “template” I followed the steps below to install WHS-2011 on a 60GB SSD in my MicroServer:


    [Disclaimer: This is what worked for me with my MicroServer as it has been configured by me with the modified BIOS and other modification/additions that I had written about earlier. Your experience may be different with a different setup or a MicroServer from a different production run.]


    1. Removed all hard drives from the MicroServer except for the 60GB that will be my WHS-2011 OS drive. (The SSD is attached to the SATA II port on the Mother-Board and is positioned below the ODD bay and above the 4 drive cage – held in place with blue electrical tape)


    2. Formatted a NTFS USB Flash Drive, and create a file on it using notepad in the root called cfg.ini. (Insuring there is nothing else on the USB)


    3. Opened the cfg.ini in notepad.


    4. Cut and Paste the following into the cfg.ini file below:







    NOTE: If the SSD is bigger than 104GB you will have to change “WindowsPartitionSize=” from “MAX” to a number less than 104132 – “MAX” will not work if your SSD is bigger than 104GB!


    5. Closed the file and save it on the USB Flash Drive.


    6. Insert the USB Flash Drive with the cfg.ini file into an empty USB port on the front of the MicroServer.


    7. Attached my external DVD burner/player into another empty USB port on the front of the MicroServer with the WHS-2011 install DVD in it.


    8. Powered up the MicroServer.


    9. Hit the “F10” repeatedly to go into the BIOS setup for the MicroServer.


    10. Check the Boot Order of the MicroServer (It took a lot of fails for me to figure this out) and make sure the order is: SSD, DVD drive, USB – before starting I had removed both volumes from the SSD -- I assigned the USB Device Boot Priority to [Low] in the BIOS


    11. Once the Server had booted off the install DVD the Installer read the CFG.ini file and began the automated install process. NO User Input was required. If it asks if this is a New Installation or Repair an Existing installation – something is wrong.


    12. When the “Installing Windows” screen was displayed and “Copying Windows Files” said that it was about 5% done -- I pulled out the USB Flash Drive.


    13. From that point on the install went like any other.


    14. The installer did not need drivers for the MicroServer – Once the installation was done the NIC was already active.


    NOTE: If for any reason the install fails be sure to check the cfg.ini file and be sure it only has the instructions above (if the installer had already processed the ini file it will add a line of code, “Processed=true” at the end of the instructions that you will need to remove before trying again). If the install did fail I would guess it is most likely the BIOS boot order or your tried a SSD bigger than 104GB without changing the “WindowsPartitionSize” variable.


    Other Software Installed


    Because of my experience with Stablebit Scanner on my WHS-V1 there was no question in my mind – I installed Stablebit Scanner onto my WHS-2011. I was looking for an alternative to software or hardware RAID 1 that would have relatively high performance/reliability. I’ve found that Stablebit DrivePool met my needs and it’s performance, as you’ll see later was outstanding.


    Additionally, I installed Allway Sync onto my WHS-2011 in order to keep my files synched between my WHS-V1 and WHS-2011. Later I will install Acronis 2012 True Image Home.


    Installation Pictures




    Installing the OS onto the SSD. The SSD is laying loose in the ODD bay – later it will be taped down onto the platform below the ODD bay (behind the light). This picture was taken shortly after the flash drive had been pulled. The Samsung external DVD drive is visible in the lower right.




    The MicroServer with 5 3TB Seagate ST3000DM001 drives and the Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD – the blue SATA II cable from the Mother-Board to the SSD is clearly visible.




    The back of the MicroServer. The US B 3.0 ports of the WD PCIe card is visible as is the eSATA to SATA cable that is run into the case to the HD (3TB Drive H:) in the ODD bay on top.




    19TB of Storage – 15TB in the MicroServer plus 4TB in the attached Seagate GoFlex. The 1.5TB WD Green drive is also attached for Server OS Backup.






    System information of the MicroServer




    The performance of my OS drive – Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD. The Corsair Performs substantially better on a SATA III port but none are available in the MicroServer. For a SATA II this is good performance for the Corsair and is substantially better than the Crucial M4 128GB I used earlier in HP Microserver N40L Build and Bios Modification.




    The performance of Drive D: -- Drive D is one of 5 Seagate 3TB ST3000DM001 in the MicroServer (4 in the main drive cage and one in the ODD drive – Drives D, E, F, G, & H). The Seagate ST3000DM001 has amazing performance.




    Pool statistics. Drives E & G were recently added to the pool.




    The performance of DrivePool (Drive J:). The performance of the DrivePool is better (slightly) than the individual ST3000DM001’s that make up the Pool.


    Network Performance




    This is my network performance from a folder in the WHS-2012 StableBit DrivePool (Drive J: on my MicroServer) to a folder on my WHS-V1 running on a EX-487. When I was running WHS-2011 in a Hyper-V VM last Spring on the MicroServer the performance was lower.




    This is the network performance from a folder in the WHS-2012 StableBit DrivePool (Drive J: on my MicroServer) to a folder on my HTPC.


    For Reference


    HP Microserver N40L Build and Bios Modification Revisited


    Updating My Windows Home Server 2011 Installed on the HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer


    Moving my Windows Home Server 2011 to the HP ProLiant N54L G7 MicroServer


    Useful MicroServer Links & References


    MicroServer Hardware Links


    Performance Measurement of the HP ProLiant N40L and N54L G7 MicroServer and Other NAS Devices


    A Look at Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex 4TB External Disk Drive & Western Digital’s USB 3.0 PCIe Card in a MicroServer


    Network Performance -- MicroServer to EX-487


    Installing WHS 2011 on SSD or SATA Hard Drives smaller than 160GB


    How To Install Windows Home Server 2011


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Hi. Nice mods there. I'd like to keep the OS (WHS) on the supplied 250Gb drive but add 3x3Tb drives in the other three bays as well as another 3Tb drive in a cage in the DVD bay using a SATA cable making 12Gb of storage aside from the OS drive. Will this work? Some are saying that each bay will take a maximum 2Tb and others say that the whole total drive capacity must not exceed 8Tb. WHS can address way more than 8Tb so what's the truth here? I'd also have thought that external USB drives could be added using the USB ports as well as at least one eSATA drive using that port. I'm still not clear about storage limitations or if there are any. Help appreciated. Thanks.
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    Thanks for the comments. Your config should work as far as I can tell though the supplied 250GB drive is somewhere between a half to a fourth of the speed of a SSD. Since my configuration works the 2TB and the 8TB sayings by some is obviously not correct. Join us in the forums at http://homeservershow.com/forums/ and http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum... and tell us about your system and plans for input/feedback from a lot of folks who use MicroServers and/or WHS.
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    Joe, thanks for posting this, I installed a 128GB OCZ Vertex 3 drive in a bespoke WHS2011 I have built. Its been running on the SSD for 3 weeks now without any issues, I did have a couple of challenges to start with as I don't have an external CD drive, I had a bootable image of the WHS2011 on a USB key which I have used several times to re-build the server over the past couple of months whilst I was playing around with it before I made it my production box, needless to say that didn't work wth the 2 USB Keys in place, so I ripped a CD drive out of another PC and tried again, no luck, so back to your instructions to ensure I hadn't missed anything and then I read your note saying the file is updated with “Processed=true”, opened up the file, removed the statement and from there on worked seemlessly, thanks for adding that piece of info, probably wouldn't have checked the file had been modified.
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    Wow, ive just purchased a N40L and was wondering about placing an extra drive in the ODD bay. my concern with having the box "loaded" is heat. Have you had any issues? I was also wonder about power usage?
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    It has been running Continuous since setup in July and looking right now at Crystal Disk Info -- all 5 of my ST3000DM001's are between 33 and 34 degrees C. The 60G SSD is at 30 degrees C. Stablebit Scanner is reporting the same results. If you're in the Indianapolis Area on Oct 20th I'll have another N40L at the HSS Meetup that I plan to take apart and "fiddle" with. Right now I have on it 3 ST3000DM001's, a 128GB M4 SSD, 16G RAM, USB 3.0 PCIe Card, and a Intel 2 NIC PCIe card. Running Server 2012 Storage Server Std on it with NIC teaming just for fun. http://homeservershow.com/almost-here-the-2nd-ann... Be sure to also join us in the forums to ask questions and tell us about your setup http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum...
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