After a year of using my Vista Home Premium box as a pseudo file server I decided to take the plunge into an actual home server. The decision as to which Operating System would support my server was an easy decision. I have been fascinated by the possibilities of Windows Home Server since it's initial release. I had been following the OS through reviews and online forums and made the decision to go forward with the release of PP2.
The next step was deciding on a pre-built server or to build the box myself. This was another easy decision since I have built most of my computers myself. Though the HP servers looked nice, I felt I could build a server with my choice of hardware and greater expandability. So I started researching different builds and to see what hardware other users were having luck with and which would fit in vision of a WHS.
I wanted something that was expandable, power efficient yet powerful enough to do my streaming of my movies, music and photos. The backup feature and remote capabilities of WHS was a great bonus.
Here is a quick listing of what I purchased:
Cooler Master Centurion 5 ATX Mid Tower 54.99
Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 54.99
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e 65.99
G.Skill 2GB (2 x 1Gb) 240 pin DDR2 SDRAM 29.99
Antec Earthwatts EA380 59.99
WD Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB Sata 89.99
WD Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB Sata 89.99
WD Caviar 500Gb 00.00 (drive laying around)
Some of my insights:
I like ordering large items such as the case from Amazon. The price is usually close to Newegg but with the free shipping Amazon offers it usually offers the best deal.
The parts arrived within a few days and I began the server build. First up was unpacking the case. Upon initial examination I noticed the case is extremely light and well built. It features a tool free design for the most part and with plenty of room to work inside of the case. I especially liked the screw-free way to mount the drives; just slide in your drive and then slide a plastic switch forward and setting the lock will secure any drive. One thing I did notice about the case is the front mounted 80mm fan for the drive bay is a little louder than I expected.
Mounting the motherboard was up next. Nothing to far out of the ordinary hear and was easy to mount. Things I liked about this board was the built in graphics which came in handy during the build and the large number of SATA and USB ports. There are two memory slots available and with the 2 gigs of G.Skill installed this seems to be quite sufficient for everything I want to do with the server. I was concerned if the processor was totally compatible since I had a revision 1.0 on the motherboard and the 5050e was not specifically listed. This was not a problem; it installed easily and I mounted the manufacturer cooling fan included. It was fairly quiet and the performance seems quite exceptional considering the price of the processor.
The power supply also easily mounted and is very quiet compared to my other power supplies. I was concerned with it only have 4 SATA power connectors but it is enough for now.
After much confusion and reading I decided on setting my drives up with the 500Gb for the OS (landing zone) and the two 1 TB drives for storage. Though I had read in the past that you should use your largest drive for your install, I did not feel my 3 drive setup would benefit from it.
The install of the OS was quite easy. I do recommend like the other checklist that exist out there that you have all the necessary info available before installing. Server name, network setup, account names, password, etc. are very helpful to have ahead of time.
Since one of my goals was to leave my server powered on 24 hours a day, I wanted an efficient server as possible. I had purchased a P3 Kill-A-Watt meter last year and this was great to use to see what my equipment was actually pulling. Of course, it made me feel that I gained something through the purchase of the new hardware.
The new system is quiet efficient compared to my old system:
OLD VISTA FILE SERVER:
OFF .09 Amp .06 Watt 11 VA
IDLE 1.37 Amp 163 Watt 165 VA
NEW WHS Green Server:
OFF .03 Amp .01 Watt .03 VA
IDLE .58 Amp 52 Watt .54 VA
Hope you found this information of my WHS build helpful.
Now to go learn about all the cool new Add-In’s out there.