Being a Mac user predominantly the decision to move to a Windows Home Server took some consideration and it has been a long journey.
My main requirement for my WHS box was a file server. A file server where I could easily expand the storage available to me, starting with the drives that I had accumulated over the last year.
I initially started like everybody else I assume, sharing a folder(s) on my desktop iMac to share all of my DVDs, music and photos. Being a Mac user, iTunes and iPhoto helped a great deal, but I also had two XBox 360s and a Windows XP laptop in the household that I needed to consider.
The shared folder solution was fine until I ran out of space or my iMac was turned off!
My next move was to a Windows XP box that sat in my loft and was left on 24/7. Again, I found I began to run out of space and I also required a form of access control across all of my computers.
Up comes the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo with a 750GB hard drive. What a lovely little device that is, but again I found the hard drive restrictions a problem. The fact that it only works with 'approved' hard drives and support is refused if you're not using one of those drives proved to be its downfall.
So, I needed easily expandable storage and some form of access control. Another major consideration was that it needed to be silent! The box lives in the loft above my bedroom and I have a very strict Wife Acceptance Factor to consider as well.
I did as much research into the options available to me as I could. My budget was very strict which meant that I had to choose my components very carefully.
However, after much reading I settled on the following:
Antec NSK6580 Case (430W Earthpower PSU) - £86.40
Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 Micro ATX Motherboard - £44.28
AMD Athlon X2 5050e - £52.66
320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue (OS drive) - £37.95
Windows Home Server OEM - £79.63
I already had a couple of 1TB hard drives that I'd tried to expand the ReadyNAS with and had 2GB of Crucial memory laying around from a previous build.
The cost without those bits was around £300 and a few pence.
I chose that case for two reasons, I like the higher end Antec cases and this seemed to incorporate some of the features from the quiet Antec cases. Firstly, the drive isolation means I don't hear the vibrations from the drives at all and secondly the power supply is very quiet. The case is very solid as well.
The motherboard was chosen purely because it had six SATA ports on board. At that price I couldn't not choose it. This led me to the Athlon processor and with energy efficiency in mind I chose one of the 'e' versions. I went with the higher spec version as the price difference was negligible.
Hard drive choice was size vs price. I have no issues with Western Digital drives and it fit my budget. At the time of choosing the drive I didn't fully understand what difference the drive size makes on the OS drive. Now I do and I'm happy with 320GB.
The build process was straight forward, I must have built 100+ PCs in my time. The Antec case was nice to work with and would happily recommend it.
Installing WHS was also very straight forward and it wasn't very long before I was up and running.
I simply replicated my shares from my ReadyNAS, giving a dedicated share to iTunes and DVD ISOs. The rest will be populated with media for the XBox and Windows laptops, mainly being MP3 conversions of my ALAC music and MP4 versions of my DVD ISOs.
Your site helped me greatly in preparing for my home build, so many thanks for the time and effort you have put in to sharing this knowledge.
Frankenbuild? I don't think so, my WHS is a gorgeous looking piece of kit and I would choose it over the HP Mediasmart boxes any day.
What's next? Powerpack 2 and hopefully Connector for Mac OS X!