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Where to start?


SoapCreek
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Looking for suggestions on where to start. I would like to setup a network/server in my home.

 

My goals are;

 

1) Backup 2 laptops (Windows XP,Windows Vista)

2) Central Location for shared Microsoft docs & media (Movies, Pics & Music)

3) Stream Media to TV via PS3

 

Questions;

 

1) Any suggestions on some good sites to read and educate myself (outside of homeservershow.com ;O)? I can work my way through technical docs but dumbed down versions would be appreciated.

 

2) Is a home built machine the best value/dollar spent or should I look at an out of the box solution like HP EX495 MediaSmart?

 

3) If home built is my best choice would an old Dell Dimension 8100 be a good starting point to build one? It hasn't been in service for 3 years mainly due to the convenience of the laptops.

 

The specs are;

Windows ME

Pentium 4 (1.3 Mhz)

128 MB Ram

40 GB HDD

1/100 MB Ethernet

 

I'm assuming I would want to update the ethernet card, add more memory (512 minimum) and add an external eSata port for an ICY Dock or similar external device for additonal hard drives. I haven't done much research on what the limitations of the board are so don't know if these upgrades are possible.

 

What other considerations do I need to think about? Any and all advice is appreciated.

Edited by SoapCreek
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I'd definitely avoid using that old Dell. A single-core Atom is more powerful than that. Other than that, I can't tell you one way is better than another - build or buy. It comes down to what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. But you're in the right place if you want suggestions.

 

If you build your own, there are a couple of approaches to take depending on your requirements. If all you need is a file server and something to stream from, an Atom-based (dual-core) WHS will work for you. If you need more power, look at an i3-based build. There's plenty of posts in the forums about those.

 

For me, I have an EX495. And if I had to do it all over, I'd buy it again. Once I read about it, and after hearing Dave talk about his EX495 on a podcast, I bought mine from Newegg. But not before spending some time trying to piece together a comparable system in terms of size, looks, capacity, and processing power. I couldn't.

 

If you're not in a rush, you'll find some great deals on EX490/EX495 on Newegg that will save you $150 or so. Which will pretty much cover a couple additional 2 TB drives. If money is not a problem and you like OEM, those are good units.

 

Backups and streaming won't be a problem, but I'll let others talk about streaming to PS3. The other big thing is to have a gigabit network. You'll appreciate the greatly increased file transfer rates over a 100Mb network. If need be, you can upgrade your network with a gigabit switch. Or just buy a new router with built-in gigabit switch.

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I find streaming to the PS3 the best experience in my house. It certainly handles high bit rate HD content very well. That's from the EX495.

 

I think you sound like a prime candidate for the HP or Acer. Personally, sell the Dell and build ome of the boxes that Jim or I built.

 

Sounds like good stuff for the next podcast. Keep the questions coming.

 

Dave

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The best resource for Windows Home Server is the forums you are reading right now (ok, maybe I am biased a little because I like this group).

 

Other resources:

 

http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/ - This is a great site created by Andrew Edney. Dave will have Andrew on the podcast occasionally to talk WHS. Good Friday Night articles written (or video) by Tim Daleo.

 

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/ - Primarily focused on the HP Mediasmart servers, this site is also very helpful. Site owner is Alex Kuretz and Dave has him on the podcast occasionally as well.

 

http://www.wegotserved.com/ - Expanding out into more digital devices but started with WHS and still has a lot of good information available.

 

Hope those help. BTW - I have an EX485 and it works great for what I need (automatic backup). I used to use it for video streaming and recording using a version of SageTV for WHS but I know do that in a separate PC.

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Bottom line up front..unless that 8100 has a SATA drive as the primary drive, it is not going to work as that is one of the primary requirements for WHS to install. Secondly, since WHS transitioning from Version 1 to Vail, you can find some very good deals on Atom Processor based servers with the software and a 2TB for around $350. Try NewEgg and start your search there.

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Looking for suggestions on where to start. I would like to setup a network/server in my home.

 

My goals are;

 

1) Backup 2 laptops (Windows XP,Windows Vista)

2) Central Location for shared Microsoft docs & media (Movies, Pics & Music)

3) Stream Media to TV via PS3

 

Questions;

 

1) Any suggestions on some good sites to read and educate myself (outside of homeservershow.com ;O)? I can work my way through technical docs but dumbed down versions would be appreciated.

 

2) Is a home built machine the best value/dollar spent or should I look at an out of the box solution like HP EX495 MediaSmart?

 

3) If home built is my best choice would an old Dell Dimension 8100 be a good starting point to build one? It hasn't been in service for 3 years mainly due to the convenience of the laptops.

 

The specs are;

Windows ME

Pentium 4 (1.3 Mhz)

128 MB Ram

40 GB HDD

1/100 MB Ethernet

 

I'm assuming I would want to update the ethernet card, add more memory (512 minimum) and add an external eSata port for an ICY Dock or similar external device for additonal hard drives. I haven't done much research on what the limitations of the board are so don't know if these upgrades are possible.

 

What other considerations do I need to think about? Any and all advice is appreciated.

 

 

For starters, I agree with DVN, loose the P4. By the time you upgrade you RAM, NIC card, Hard drives, it will not be worth it. As for the buy/build question, it really is personal choice. DVN stated he would by the EX again, for me I would only build. It is not that I do not like the HP EX as they are great units but I fine them a bit too limiting. Specifically it can only hold 4 drives, and at last count I have 12, I want to be able to choose the RAM and CPU for the build so I can a bit more power if I need to. All in all there is no wrong way and if is your first server, you might want to go the HP route to test waters, but if opted to build, build with a bit more expansion and a bit more power in mine.

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As everyone else has mentioned, it would be better to ditch the Dell. I would look into an HP or Acer solution if you want to buy, or build your own with a core i3 setup like some have on here or a more budget minded atom D525 setup. If you watch deals and rebates you can get into a nice setup for a reasonable price, all with the joy of building it yourself.

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Thanks for all the comments. I'll let you know which route I end up going with but in the meantime it looks like plenty of research in my future. I like the idea of building my own just for the sake of learning something new and the added flexibility of knowing exactly what went into the machine but have to admit the convenience of prebuilt is tempting. Just curious if anyone has any other sites besides newegg.com they trust? I usually use newegg but I'm always open to other possibilities if it helps the pocketbook not empty as quick.

 

Thanks Again;

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Newegg is hard to beat on price when they have a sale. It used to be you could get get more money off through Bing Cashback but that has been discontinued. If you decide to buy from Newegg, use the link on the front page of Homeservershow.com and a little bit of cash comes back to help fund the site.

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I find streaming to the PS3 the best experience in my house.

 

What types/formats of content do you stream to your PS3? I might be doing something wrong. When streaming recorded TV, for example, the PS3 playback resolution seems very inferior to both my HTPCs and my SlingCatchers.

 

I have 3 PS3s and would love them to work the way it sounds like yours has...

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