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.
· 8 GB RAM
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.
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.
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.