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Microserver for media and storage in 2019


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I've recently decided to put together my first home server, and after looking at a few options I ended up buying a good condition secondhand Microserver locally. The combination of low power usage, decent storage capacity, quietness, and moderate grunt (mine came to me with an i5-3470T) seems to be everything I need for a Plex/NAS local media and storage server.


I've been doing a lot of reading over the past few days and the server doesn't seem to be without complications: from the difficulties in booting from an ODD HDD to fan speed problems with the B120i controller, there seem to be lots of tips and tricks necessary to get things working. My difficulty has been in finding out which problems are still relevant: were 2013 posts complaining about high fan speeds addressed by the 2014 posts talking about new B120i firmware? It doesn't really seem clear. So, with that in mind what is the state of the Microserver gen8 in 2019?


My gen8 has come with Windows 8 preinstalled, and the previous owner says that it was working well for him. My requirements are a bit different, and I want to set up a system with the following attributes:

  • Quiet. This will be running in a home, and so I want to avoid the B120i-associated fan issues if at all possible.
  • High storage capacity for a miscellaneous collection of HDDs with some capacity for redundancy. I'm currently running 1x 500 GB HDD (boot drive that came with the gen8, old Seagate), 1x 2TB WD Red (new, previously connected to an RPi), and 2x 2TB old Seagates. I plan to slowly replace all of them with shucked 8 or 10 TB Easystore drives over the long term, so I'd like to run them all with Snap RAID for redundancy + efficient storage + ease of future upgrades (unless there's a better option). I feel that this means AHCI mode on the B120i and all the attendant fan problems: is this true?
  • Ability to serve music and video with Plex.


My only prior server experience has been running debian-based SBCs at home. My instinct is to try something similar here, and directly install OpenMediaVault or Ubuntu to the gen8. But, I've read quite a few old posts about the poor driver support for this hardware on Debian.

An alternative would be to install some sort of hypervisor (CentOS? SUSE? Exsi?) with one or maybe two guest VMs, with the HDDs passed through to one of them for snap raid. This seems like overkill, but would provide some flexibility and perhaps have better driver support? I don't know, it's all new to me. I'm also only running 4 GB of memory, which may not be enough for VMs.


For those of you who've been running these machines for years, what would you recommend for someone setting one up as their first home server?


Edited by contena
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Hi, I’ve been running mine for several years with CentOS 7 installed. From memory, I had no issue with drivers but my memory could be misleading me, because it was many years ago now (2015).

I’ve not bothered with the ODD bay, and simply have 4 x 4Tb HDD in the main chassis. I have upgraded the CPU to XEON E3-1270 and the RAM to 16Gb. I didn’t do anything extra to the CPU cooling system, as the server was maintaining good temps.

So far, I’ve been very happy with it.

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My experience ... from a Windows perspective.


If your Windows 8 copy is genuine and you have/can recover the 25 digit key then it would be useful to upgrade the G8 to Windows 10. This trick might still work https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/

Even if you do not plan to use W10, a valid software license is now worth more at resale than the hardware! e.g. W10 Pro is c120. In command prompt:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey


I suspect the G8 has an old BIOS version … there was a problem with Windows 8.1 for which HP released a new version … so you are possibly stuck in the past at 8.0 (2014 sounds about right). I posted a resolution on that subject herein, so it is possible to get round the same. Gotta do that BIOS update before attempting to install Windows 8.1 or 10 else the install will stall near the end when it comes to the network driver.


I would not tinker with booting to the ODD initially … since the i3 CPU is rated at 35W you should not have fan noise problems if the machine is near factory state. Boot up to verify the previous owner's claims and see the lie of the land.


The G8 is a BIOS not UEFI machine so hang on to those 2TB HDD's since they are maximum boot disk size.

All your 2TB disks and a W10 license would be valuable to any Windows user: you might get more for your machine than you paid!


Guess you have been reading  https://www.servethehome.com/wd-wd100emaz-easystore-10tb-external-backup-drive-review/

Before you start shucking, the G8 has 2 valuable USB 3 ports on the rear: plugging in external disk drives can be useful for machine upgrades (holding data while the main disks are reconfigured)  or carrying backups offsite (your backup strategy is …).


Don't feel obliged to do RAID (the B120i only supports RAID 1 anyways) … but do play around with HP's disk administrator before committing data - it calls a simple disk RAID 0 by the way. Also there is no need to use iLO unless you want to (later maybe?). Apart from the elaborate post sequence the G8 is just a PC … but load Windows from a USB stick in one of the USB 2 ports, not a USB 3.


Something like:

1. Boot asis. Hopefully no fan noise.

2. Extract Windows license key.

3. Buy 8TB external drive and plug into rear USB 3 port. Copy data from all existing drives as backup. Detach.

4. Upgrade BIOS.

5. Reboot with Windows 10 install media + B120i driver in rear USB 2 port. Hopefully activated W10 machine.

6. Remove all disks. Reboot using HP Disk Admin. to configure old Seagate 2TB in bay 1, new 2TB in bay 2, (as simple disks I.e. RADI 0), other old 2TB Seagate as cold spare. Reinstall W10. Plug in the external drive and restore data.

7. Having confirmed the machine as a Windows box … now you can try UBUNTU etc. with some confidence.


I've had UBUNTU running without driver problems.


Edited by JackoUK
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