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What should be my first rung on the ladder?


Masquerade
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I do not use a server but am looking to start. I see WHS as being a core service and so am looking for the first rung. So - what am I after? I need a central server to provide:

a) automatic backups of the various PCs

B) archives (standard files: documents, photos, etc) - secured so that viewable only by their owners

c) SQL server as back-end to such as MS Access running on the client PCs

d) Web server

e) Home automation

f) Security

 

From what I've heard on the PodCast, I believe that I should be using a server running W2K8 with VMs - e.g. one for WHS, one as a network file server (for archives), one for web-server, one for pfSense and a general one. Does this make sense?

 

I am not into video editing, though I see a need to do so once a year or so to edit holiday video. I also do not use video DVDs or download films, TV programs. That said - I may in the future and I need this server to last 3-5 years (possibly longer). I would consider a separate HTPC should I enter the 21st century <grin>.

 

With this as a basis, I suspect that I'm looking for an i5 with 16GB RAM. As for disks, I'd buy a RAID card supporting two RAID 5 configurations - one for the WHS, the other for the file server which would include the database files. I'd envisage four 2GB disks for each RAID set, probably the green disks for the WHS, but am willing to go faster for the file server. For the system drive I'd go for the icydock with two laptop drives in a mirror. [i may go for SSDs here if recommended.]

 

I've not looked at cases at all, but would prefer hot-swap or at least front-access drives. The case is important since it will probably outlive the contents. So - well built, doesn't mind being taken apart a few times. By the way - I love LEDs showing me that the disk drives are working OK - and I'll have at least eight drives!

 

Headless for starters, I could see a need in the future for a three-head system.

 

Ideas please?

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WHS can server both as a Web Server (albeit limited) and a file server so unless you have other needs more dedicated than those, WHS should do just fine. Your choice of processors will ultimately decide upon how much transcoding you will do. If not much, the i3 2100 should be just fine.

 

The virtual route should suit you just fine.

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I agree with jmwills in the sense that you don't need a separate file server: WHS is designed for that. An i3 probably would do what you need, but that SQL Server part makes me want to lean towards an i5; might not be necessary, but it is a dB server so......

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WHS can server both as a Web Server (albeit limited) and a file server so unless you have other needs more dedicated than those, WHS should do just fine. Your choice of processors will ultimately decide upon how much transcoding you will do. If not much, the i3 2100 should be just fine.

 

The virtual route should suit you just fine.

 

If I understand this correctly then, if I was to have a single RAID 5 array, I could then partition it into (say) four network drives (F: -> I:). Each PC user would then be given access to "their" drive and they wouldn't even see the other drives. The E: drive would be used by WHS for backups and for shared directories such as those required for household-wide access to photographs. (C: is system drive and D: the DVD - I tend to use X, Y, Z for external drives). This would cut back my immediate need for two RAID 5 arrays.

 

The web-server would be simple - but need access to such as PERL and databases. At the moment I have the main web-site delivered by my ISP. This is fine and so I don't envisage changing in the near future. I mentioned it just because it may be useful to have a local, home-based site to provide access to the local environment (e.g. IT, security, utilities).

 

Chris

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I agree with jmwills in the sense that you don't need a separate file server: WHS is designed for that. An i3 probably would do what you need, but that SQL Server part makes me want to lean towards an i5; might not be necessary, but it is a dB server so......

 

Yes - I was interested in a recent podcast where the i3 was seen as fine unless one was doing heavy video work or transcoding. The database work is small but growing and needs more memory and cpu speed than it currently has. I will look at the motherboards and ensure that, as far as is possible, it is future proof (at least 3-4 years). I will look at the i3 / i5 pricing and buy the i5 if I can since I don't see upgrading for a few years.

 

It would seem that RAM is an issue since one should buy matched modules. So - buying 8G now and upgrading to 16GB in a year would seem problematic.

 

Chris

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You would not need separate partitions on the array. Folders locked down with File Permissions will work just fine. The User's data can be redirected from the local machine to the server as the default location.

 

If you are going to have local data and also serve up external data via a web hosting portal, you might want to consider separating those into different arrays as a way of quarantining the data. In SharePoint, we call those Application pools.

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You would not need separate partitions on the array. Folders locked down with File Permissions will work just fine. The User's data can be redirected from the local machine to the server as the default location.

 

If you are going to have local data and also serve up external data via a web hosting portal, you might want to consider separating those into different arrays as a way of quarantining the data. In SharePoint, we call those Application pools.

 

The problem I've had with locked-down folders in tha past has been that the higher folder structure has been visible. However, if I have the users' private folders at the top level (e.g. e:/users/Doe_John or even e:/Doe_John) then it wouldn't be an issue.

 

Thank you for the thought on separating internal data (e.g. LAN) from external (e.g. WAN or Internet) - I will certainly do that.

 

So to date I have:

a) case & PSU - to be considered

B) CPU: i3 (i5 if I can afford it)

c) RAM: 8GB (hopefully 16)

d) Highpoint 2680 RAID card with two RAID arrays - a RAID 5 for the WHS & file server, and then a two-disk RAID 1 for external data (will use my current 2TB "greens").

e) W2K8 with VM (which one): WHS, security, file server, "miscellaneous" (to be thought about).

 

Chris

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The problem you mention is easily fixed by changing a permission to "List Folder Contents" or simply called traversing. User A can get to their folder; user B can see the folder but cannot open it. Only an Admin would be able to get in other than the user.

 

A simple folder structure could be obtained by creating a parent folder named "Home" with Admin having full control. Users would be granted access to "List" and the Owner would have full rights.

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Just my two cents. Since the price and power difference are small in comparison to the the entire system, I would stick with i5 base on the SQL/Web server needs. You do not need two raid cards as one 8 drive card should do the trick and you can create 1 or 2 arrays from the one card based on you needs. There are only a few cases around that hold that many drives so you search will be short, LIan-Li and Fractal come to mine and I believe neither has hot swap front loaded bays which on a RAID is not very useful anyway. One last point, you can run VM or you can run a single machine based on you describe but if it was me I would put pfSense on a separate machine. Just pick up a small atom based unit with two NICs and you are good to go. As for the RAM, if you go with a WHS 2011 solution only, it will only access 8, but you run it as VM on R2, you should get the 16 gigs. I agree with jmwills on the security and access points.

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Just my two cents. Since the price and power difference are small in comparison to the the entire system, I would stick with i5 base on the SQL/Web server needs. You do not need two raid cards as one 8 drive card should do the trick and you can create 1 or 2 arrays from the one card based on you needs. There are only a few cases around that hold that many drives so you search will be short, LIan-Li and Fractal come to mine and I believe neither has hot swap front loaded bays which on a RAID is not very useful anyway. One last point, you can run VM or you can run a single machine based on you describe but if it was me I would put pfSense on a separate machine. Just pick up a small atom based unit with two NICs and you are good to go. As for the RAM, if you go with a WHS 2011 solution only, it will only access 8, but you run it as VM on R2, you should get the 16 gigs. I agree with jmwills on the security and access points.

 

I was only going to have one RAID card anyway.

 

Thanks for the tips on cases. The reason I prefer front-access is that the case is likley to be in the corner of a room and surrounded by junk with cables intertwined with those for the printer, router, iPAD charger, camera charger, etc, etc. If I need to replace a drive then I'd prefer not to have to extracate the case, place it on a desk top and take it apart. That said - if I need to then I shouldn't be too lazy <grin>. I also need to look at very low noise since it will be in the up-stairs study close to were "the boss" sleeps. I think I'm looking at a roomy case with excellant air flow and big-diameter fans.

 

As for pfSense - thanks - that is may I well need to do. My current set up is a DSL ADSL2+ wireless router with four switch ports. I think I'm looking at this atom-based pfSense connected to the router and a new switch (ADSL -> router -> pfSense -> switch) then have a separate Wireless Access Point off the switch to provide secure access to the home computers (unless I can find a WAP/switch combined - I've not yet looked). I need to look at the detail as to how this all works together.

 

Thank you.

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