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Should i install Home Server or Not


Gadgmeister
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Hello everyone, my name is Mike and i am in the Uk
I am a big fan of Media Center and i have an oportunity to install a Home Server for the first time but i have a few questions

My first question is, do i need a Home Server ??
This sounds stupid to begin with but it is a valid question, i have a dedicated HTPC running from a central location, this runs W7MC only, it is not used for anything other than MC work, it is connected to my TV in my front room via a 5Mtr HDMI, the HTPC holds 2 x 1tb sata drives

i have 2 Kids each with an Xbox360 these are networked back to the HTPC so that they can also access Media Center and the single freeview tuner i have in it, they use it frequently to watch recordings of programs i schedule for them

i use Media Center when the wife is not in the front room to watch programs i enjoy

The Wife prefers SkyTV as it has main stream premium content which is not available on freeview

these are our viewing habits and useages

The whole family has a computer each, my kids have laptops and my wife and i have a Pc each, presently my wife and i have a NAS device that she backs up to but i just stick rubbish on , this device carries 2 500Gb drives and they are arranged in a single drive per person form rather than raid

So do i need a home server ??, what benifits would i find ??, would i be over complicating life by adding a home server ??

My home server if i decide to add one would be my old Pc, it is a 3.2Ghz Hyper threading machine with 2 gig Ram and it has room on the Motherboard for 2 Pata and 2 Sata drives

lots of questions and typing but i am at the threshold of being able to add one, should i bother or should i just give my old rig to my Son to play a few games on and forget about Home server because i dont need one

Thanks for reading guys but without entering into a conversation with peeps in the no , i simply dont no yet what to do

Regards Mike

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Mike

Not sure that we can make the decision for you - only give you some things to think about

The specs of the system you're considering are fine for a WHS

Some pro's to consider:

Automated daily backups for all your clients - that gives you a lot of peace of mind and saves time when a rebuild or recovery is required (and with kids dare I say it probably will be!)

Automatic transfer of recorded TV programmes from Media Center to the WHS - central storage and potentially duplication of the folder means ease of use and peace of mind

If you want remote access or to share photo's and other files with other via the net WHS remote access and addins such as Whiist allow for this

One con

Another PC to run (sorry combining WHS & Media Center on one box is not possible)- more power consumption...

and if you do install WHS I suggest you move at least 1 of the 1TB HDD's to the WHS (preferably both) if you plan to use it as your central storage device - you won't need the storage on the Media Center with the auto transfers to the WHS setup

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Thanks for the reply Bodog

as i type i am continuing to prepare my old Pc for server dutys by way of fully checking everything is backed up to my new Pc and formating the drives that remain within the old one, and all the time i am doing this i am thinking... should i ?? shouldnt i ?? what i dont want is extra hard work , i just need it to work solidly, this then gains the WAF

i was wandering about the drive configurations actually, i agree both Tb drives should be moved to the server, removing the flaky sata drive already in there and i have a raptor sata i could install in the HTPC

My old Pc has a small Pata drive installed, i like to keep O/s drives small if possible so that if the drive dies there is little stored on it except the O/s, will this be ok to run alongside the 2 x Tb drives, the small Pata having the server O/s and the 2 Tb holding the backups

i also very much like the Idea of picture and music backups, currently they are stored on the HTPC, will i be able to point Media Center at the server as a storage location so that is affectively just another location for it to display pictures from and the same for music and Tv recordings , instead of pointing at internal drives i assume i would be able to point at the server locations ??

are there any issues with streaming Tv recordings from the server to Media Center ?? will the kids be able to access the recordings from the xboxs ?? or is the whole thing as easy and useable as it is presently just with the info stored in a different location

sorry about the questions but as it is my first attempt at home sever i need to be sure this will work in a manner that is easy and useable for everyone

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OK - here goes:

i was wandering about the drive configurations actually, i agree both Tb drives should be moved to the server, removing the flaky sata drive already in there and i have a raptor sata i could install in the HTPC

Agree

My old Pc has a small Pata drive installed, i like to keep O/s drives small if possible so that if the drive dies there is little stored on it except the O/s, will this be ok to run alongside the 2 x Tb drives, the small Pata having the server O/s and the 2 Tb holding the backups

WHS will create a 20gb partition automatically during the install process the OS installs on that - the remainder is available in the storage pool - the system drive needs to be at least 80gb

i also very much like the Idea of picture and music backups, currently they are stored on the HTPC, will i be able to point Media Center at the server as a storage location so that is affectively just another location for it to display pictures from and the same for music and Tv recordings , instead of pointing at internal drives i assume i would be able to point at the server locations ??

Yes - you can just have Media Center index the WHS locations and it will appear in the listings. With PP3 of WHS you can set it up so that the Recorded TV is moved automatically from your Media Center to the WHS - set and forget...

are there any issues with streaming Tv recordings from the server to Media Center ?? will the kids be able to access the recordings from the xboxs ?? or is the whole thing as easy and useable as it is presently just with the info stored in a different location

Hmmm...this is going to be interesting for me - 99% of the time there are no issues - however some of us are experiencing stuttering on a few occassion when WHS HDD's are being "balanced" across the storage pool. We've raised an issue with Microsoft to look at this issue. I've got a thread going on these forums (a couple of weeks old now) outlining the issue. I must stress it is realtively rare for it ot be an issue and I certainly wouldn't hold off going with WHS because of it. I assume you have a cabled network? - what speeed GB or 100mb? - even with wireless its possible but my personal preference is for a cabled GB network.

Keep those questions coming...

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If I may add;

If you go with wireless, invest in "N" wireless or better "g" stutters some time depending on router, which in this case would be wired 100mbs or 1 Gbs.

I've seen in some of my old test machines, that the PATA drives can be slow compared to SATA, so try to use SATA drives as the working drives (OS) and PATA for storage. This would be configured via motherboard and configuration (maybe). In your case the machine seems to be newer model, so you may not see this issue at all.

Beside the items mentioned above, Bodog has given you the reasons why you should move forward. I for one believe in the concept of a home server. Many more options with a home server...

One in particular that I like is that I have full access to my data and my PC's when I am away. I also have a family web site working on mine which allows the grandparents a look into what is taking place via pictures and calendar of activities.

There are so many possibilities and we have only just begun to discover WHS. What I have discovered is that I could do so much more, but I simply don't have as much time to discover them all... which the geek in me loves.

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Thanks again for the reply everything you have mentioned so far seems great , i am if i am honest going to do this, i do have 1 or 2 physical issues to deal with before it is fully installed but Technicaly all is well

Aha, i have another question
What is WHS built around ?? an odd question but for us it is important, our present NAS is a simple device that has drivers for XP, with a registry hack it was used on our Vista machines and it also works on W7 32bit BUT i have a 64 Bit machine now and it is a known fact that it will never work on a 64 bit machine, XP,Vista or W7 so once my old Pc ( 32 bit W7) gets turned into a server we will loose access to the NAS, my wife access it through my Pc as a mapped drive the kids have no access to it

Once the old Pc is a server will i be able to access the NAS again, will WHS detect and see the server on the network IF i use the original XP installation disk, that is why i ask what WHS is built around, or is WHS built on 64 bit arch in which case the NAS is destined for the great NASyard in the Sky

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WHS is build around the 32 bit Windows Server 2003. Yes one day; they will have a new 64 bit version code name "VAIL". But when you think of it anything you can do in the time proven Windows 2003 server world you can do in WHS. Many options to discover...

This means that you can run any server based application many more then what you will find on a NAS, which I had used in the past. WHS is a better NAS, much better. Your wife will appreciate WHS for its simplicity of use and sophisticated features.

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i fully understand and thanks for the reply but i am one of thise people that hates to throw out working hardware , i was just wondering if it could be utilised somehow alongside or part of the WHS, and in hindsight i guess that would be counter productive now thinking about it lol

hmm , actually i could remove the drives from it and use them in the WHS i guess !! , although only 1 drive would be used to start with as the mobo supports 2 pata drives, 1 being optical , once istalled i could remove the optical drive and add the 2nd pata from the NAS

that would give me a total of 3Tb or there abouts ... a plan is hatching lol so much for using a small drive for the o/s i may as well use the soon to be retired 500gb pata drives

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"so much for using a small drive for the o/s i may as well use the soon to be retired 500gb pata drives"

correct - dont waste those limited connections on small capacitry disks
but also remember you can add USB connected drives to the storage pool as well do you won't necessarily be limited to 2 PATA and 2 SATA HDD's

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no i wont Bodog , i no full well how quick Tb`s disapear with ripped movies and Tv episode recordings lol

Thanks guys, i am just waiting for a drive to format, then i shall do some drive swapping and more than likely some swearing in the process and then i am good to start

Thanks ever so much for your replys :)

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