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Is WHS right for me?


Cambo357
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Right now, I think it is.

What I would like to do with WHS:

I have a small home based business. It would be nice to have a central spot to share the files that we work with on a regular basis. Files are not huge, usually 200k and less, some a few megs, and on some occasions, multimeg PSD files. Total volume for this is well under 200 gigs. These would be accessed from 3 or 4 workstations, and maybe up to 2 laptops. I plan to just map a network drive on the workstation to this share. Since these are mission critical for business, robust protection is a must. Remote access to these files would be nice, but not a deal breaker.

Does this fall under intended WHS use?

 

Since this is at home, that means we have the typical home users as well. This is basically 4 laptops and that's it. I would like to set these up to back up to WHS. Not the entire system, just user created files.

I know WHS is a decent platform for back ups such as this.

 

Being able to serve up music and movies to either the laptops or maybe an Apple TV or other media player is a priority. I have a significant amount of music and video that I would like to store on it.

Does WHS work as an iTunes server? If so, how does iTunes server work? Do I create one large library and set all local versions of iTunes to point to it? I am not at all familiar with iTunes and network usage.

 

My proposed set up:

I haven't done any detailed research yet, but have a general idea. A fairly typical Intel CPU, consumer mobo, ram, etc. For storage I am a bit more specific. I would like to put in a total of 3 drives, 2tb each, in a RAID 5 configuration, for approx. 4tb of protected storage. This should be plenty (yeah, we all say plenty, for now....) of storage for business use, personal back ups, and media as well. I plan to also to a regular backup of the business files and some others onto an external HDD and store it off site, in case of physical disaster; fire, quake, zombie attack, etc.

 

 

Does this sound like a prescription for WHS? I have used Server 2K for the same sort of business set up before, but really like the WHS take on things for making personal back ups as well as media streaming.

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WHS is perfect for this situation. As far as the hardware requirements, you will see a lot of recent builds revolving around the i530 Intel Clarkdale processor and 4 gigs of DDR3 12880 RAM. MOBO's are personal choice depending on how many SATA connections you need, future availability of USB 3.0, eSata, etc. These specs would be for a home build and would support either version 1 or 2.

 

As far as I know, there are not many (maybe 1 or 2) OEM servers our there yet that will run Vail (v2) successfully without straining the processor. For my money, I would build what I needed to suit my needs.

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"Robust Protection"

 

I think a WHS will be able to fit your needs. I would also consider backing up your working files to an external drive from the server and a nightly cloud based backup. I use KeepVault for both of these tasks. You can get a KV account for as low as $46 a year for 40 Gig of storage.

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One other point, WHS does not use raid. Duplication can be enabled if you have more that 1 storage drive installed (and enough space on both drives). This essentially creates 2 copies of the files so, in the event of a drive failure the data is not lost.

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OK, I had no idea that WHS could not use RAID. I have actually never dealt with it, but was under the impression that it was implemented via the BIOS or RAID controller card, and created the array that the OS would then use.

This does change my perspective a bit. I was going to use RAID 5 to combine a couple of 2tb drives into one large volume. Maybe I will go with say a 1tb for family laptop user storage/back up and business, another to duplicate it, and another for media storage. Though I would hate to lose movies and music, I can always rip/acquire them again. Then combine this with an external 2tb for the business files to take off site on a regular basis.

 

I have no intention of buying an OEM rig, and will build my own. The Clarkdale/4gb route is pretty spot on to what I was planning.

When looking for a mobo, I don't see a ton that will support the Clarkdale that also have on board video. This will be headless, so video performance will mean nothing. Should I just ignore trying to find one and just put in a cheapo video card for installation?

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A few points to consider.

 

1. One of the really cool features about WHS is that each data drive that is added to the server becomes part of the data pool. So, to the average user it appears you have one large drive in your server. As you add drives to the pool your storage capacity increases. If you want to duplicate files you indicate which shares are duplicated and WHS will take care of placing the duplicated files on physically different drives. It is all seamless. I think this means that WHS will provide the flexibility you are looking for (large storage pool) and will still allow you to back up critical business information to an external hard drive to move off site.

 

2. Core i3-540 on board video. Look through the Hardware forums. Here are a few posts where people built systems using the Core i3 processor and the on board video.

 

http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/609-my-core-i3-build-for-whs-sagetv/

 

This one specifically questions using the built in video.

http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1276-home-server-build/

 

And of course Jim's build from the Home Server Show:

http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/929-jim-starts-his-build-finally/

 

You will notice there is a lot of positive comments on the Gigabyte motherboards amongst the people building their own systems.

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That's right, I forgot how it just adds to the data pool when adding drives. This is very similar to what I was wanting to set up with RAID 5. Very slick.

 

Just for my own knowledge I would like to get a clarification. I can create separate shares for each user, only accessible by them, as well as make "open" shares that are available to everybody, right? For instance, one called Music, another Movies, etc. Also, on the "open" shares, can they be set so certain users have only read access while others have write access? The reasoning is that while I trust myself and co workers to not delete an entire music collection instead of just deleting it off of the iPod, the kids, yeah, I don't trust them. And yes, it has happened.

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Flat out awesome. Knowing there is a community like this makes it all so much better. I don't care what they say about you guys, but you are all top notch to me...Thank you.

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