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WHS Replacement: Microserver vs. Dell


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So as many others before me have experienced, my trusty EX495 is failing. It's been my storage server and has grown from a measly 750GB to 4.75TB. It's my main storage for my photography business so storage size is a huge issue for me. Right now it's up and running but it's constantly getting a voltage error and after replacing the power supply and performing a factory reset on a brand new main drive, it's still there which leads me to believe it's bad sensors on the MOBO. With those being in short supply (didn't see any on e-bay) and feeling like it's about time to put the ol' girl down, I'm starting to look for alternatives.

 

Until today I didn't know the Microserver existed and after doing some research, I've narrowed it down to a G8 2TB Xeon Microserver or a Dell T320. There's a huge difference between the two but the prices are very nearly similar. The G8 comes with 2 1TB drives which isn't a concern since I want to replace everything with either 2TB or 1TB drives. The OS isn't an issue as through school I have access to Server 2012 R2. The Dell is configured to have a case that holds up to 8 hot swappable drives and a PERC 320 RAID controller. The physical size and power consumption are going to be much higher on the Dell.

 

What I need is storage space and reliability. I easily have 1.5 TB of photos and going from a main camera that could do 300 images on a 4GB card to one that can do 300 on a 16GB card and shooting more and more events and weddings, I can blow through some storage. 25-50 GB for a wedding is not unheard of. I also want something that will last as long as my WHS if not longer. I believe it's about 7 years old.

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After checking the very good question of backups I would say it is a clear desicion. The only really spec you have for your new storage server ist space ... if you compare 4bay to 8 bay machines the desicion should be quite obvious.

 

If I were you I would search the forum for the 3-2-1 backup strategy first.

 

Even if you do not fill all 8 bays at the beginning you still have possibility to add more drives.

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I have a couple 320s at work and for home and personal use would recommend the Gen8,   the louder fan noise alone would be the reason for the gen8 which with the P222 we have shown can hold 4 spindles and 5 SSDs internally.   The Dell T20 might be an optional choice or the HP ML310V2 which takes back to a mid tower 4 hot swap and 2 full height bays. 

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If this were my business I would do something like this.  Use the GEN8 are your primary storage and server needs and then use a Synology or Similar box for the backups pushing the backups from the GEN8 to the Synology.  With the relatively cheap of of drives, I would go with at least 3TB drives, possibly three for the GEN8 and two for the Synology.

 

RAID5 for the GEN8 and a RAID1 for the Synology.  This way you have redundancy on both and the time to restore a critical lost file is minimal.

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"So as many others before me have experienced, my trusty EX495 is failing.​"

Did I hear violins?

 

"4.75TB

​storage size is a huge issue

I have access to Server 2012 R2

I need is storage space and reliability"

Gotcha.

 

"narrowed it down to a G8 2TB Xeon Microserver or a Dell T320​"

OK, an inexpensive machine specifically designed for a single prosumer or SMB ... or an expensive piece of kit designed for 20 users. In no way comparable.

I vote for the purpose-built machine for one user.

 

Here's why I wouldn't get a T320

- very expensive: I'd like to see a quote for an equipped 8-disk T320.

- you won't use the XEON CPU power: storage is lightweight (no Photoshop or Lightroom on the server - right?)

- you don't need hot-swap: yes its nice ... but that's all

- you don't need a big electricity bill

 

The only thing you might want on a storage server is faster network bandwidth for copying files. Well the Gen 8 MS has 2 network ports, assuming of course your workstation also has 2.

And if your workstation doesn't have 2 NIC ports then no amount of server power is going to get you data faster!

 

In the UK the low end MS is less than £110.

http://www.serversplus.com/servers/tower_servers/hp_tower_servers/819185-421​

You already have the OS ... but I'd recommend one other mod, installing a small SSD (say 128GB) in the optical disk bay.

http://homeservershow.com/windows-server-2012r2-installed-on-my-gen8-microserver-odd-sata.html​

NOT because a storage server needs a fast disk ... but to free up all 4 HDD bays.

Now you can have a RAID 10 array with 2TB disks (for 4TB) or 4TB disks (for 8TB) ... or 8TB disks (for 16TB).

 

You want more disks ... buy 2 G8's.

You want 3-2-1 ... buy more G8's.

 

A G8 box  with ECC memory and ReFS in Windows Server ... is pretty much it.

Edited by JackoUK
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Another G8 is not needed for 3-2-1, respectively speaking.  More space means planning up front to use larger disks which is why I said to start with 3TB.  You could go with 3 x 4TB disks in a RAID 5 which would yield 8TB of usable space.

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"So as many others before me have experienced, my trusty EX495 is failing.​"

Did I hear violins?

 

"4.75TB

​storage size is a huge issue

I have access to Server 2012 R2

I need is storage space and reliability"

Gotcha.

 

"narrowed it down to a G8 2TB Xeon Microserver or a Dell T320​"

OK, an inexpensive machine specifically designed for a single prosumer or SMB ... or an expensive piece of kit designed for 20 users. In no way comparable.

I vote for the purpose-built machine for one user.

 

Here's why I wouldn't get a T320

- very expensive: I'd like to see a quote for an equipped 8-disk T320.

- you won't use the XEON CPU power: storage is lightweight (no Photoshop or Lightroom on the server - right?)

- you don't need hot-swap: yes its nice ... but that's all

- you don't need a big electricity bill

 

The only thing you might want on a storage server is faster network bandwidth for copying files. Well the Gen 8 MS has 2 network ports, assuming of course your workstation also has 2.

And if your workstation doesn't have 2 NIC ports then no amount of server power is going to get you data faster!

 

In the UK the low end MS is less than £110.

http://www.serversplus.com/servers/tower_servers/hp_tower_servers/819185-421​

You already have the OS ... but I'd recommend one other mod, installing a small SSD (say 128GB) in the optical disk bay.

http://homeservershow.com/windows-server-2012r2-installed-on-my-gen8-microserver-odd-sata.html​

NOT because a storage server needs a fast disk ... but to free up all 4 HDD bays.

Now you can have a RAID 10 array with 2TB disks (for 4TB) or 4TB disks (for 8TB) ... or 8TB disks (for 16TB).

 

You want more disks ... buy 2 G8's.

You want 3-2-1 ... buy more G8's.

 

A G8 box  with ECC memory and ReFS in Windows Server ... is pretty much it.

 

 

 

The T320 with discounts is within about $150 of the G8.

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Does anyone have a working link for the Microserver page? I've tried with three different browsers and when you click on the Microserver it loads a page with all of HP's products.

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One thing to bear in mind is that the G8 is probably coming towards the end of its production. There are cashback every other month in the UK, which suggests they are selling off stock for something newer.

This could affect the ability to get parts once out of warranty.

 

Whilst I don't work on the photography front line any more, I was previously a motor sports event photographer, running through thousands of images a day, so can appreciate your workflow. Did a few weddings but the bridezillas put me off :)

 

Personally, I would wait for a newer model of microserver to get some longevity in the system or if you need it sooner, something like the ML310e v2.

The ML310ev2 has 4 PCI slots, so allows you to future proof your storage (e.g. eSATA cards for external drivebays, thunderbolt card readers etc), and 32gb max memory should be enough for a while yet.

The other advantage of the tower form factor is dual 5.25" bays allows extra internal drive bays (e.g. Icydocks) or DVD writers for client media or backups.

 

From what I'm reading, you won't need an Xeon either; if you do go for the ML310ev2, there is an i3-4xxx option.

 

Whilst the G8 micro server is very nice, I don't think its the right choice for your needs in its current incarnation.

Edited by snapper
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