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Home Server Options (VM, Plex, Windows 8, WHS 2011)


urik
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I had a previously going thread here regarding a home server that I was building. The more I think about it, my requirements boil down to the following:

1. File Server

2. WHS2011 nightly client backups

3. File History Backup of Windows 8 client data

4. Plex media server for remote media streaming to client PC and mobile devices both over-the-network and over-the-web.

 

At first, I decided to base the server on Windows 8 and run WHS 2011 as a VM inside it solely for the purpose of nightly client backups. Everything else, including the data drives, File History, and remote media streaming would be done inside Windows 8. This build is based on Terry Walsh's recommendations (see Wegotserved).

 

Being on a budget (aren't we all!), I had settled on a quad-core AMD chip (like the Phenom II X4 965 or the Llano A6-3650) to run the server. But as I was going through the Plex forums, I noticed a theme - everyone was raving about how Intel's Sandy or Ivy chips (esp. the quad-core i5's and i7's) completely demolish AMD's offerings when it comes to transcoding video. Moreover, they said that the Plex app solely utilizes the CPU, so the A6's added iGPU won't make a difference. (See here and here). Moreover, being that Intel recently open-sourced QuickSync, there's a possibility that Plex can build in further QuickSync-derived enhancements down the road.

 

This made me rethink my entire build assumptions. If I want to run Plex properly, then it seems that I'd have to spend some big bucks on a core i5-3570K with compatible moboard. Now, I currently have a desktop at home that I built like 1 1/2 years ago. It runs a core i5-2500K with a 128GB Vertex3 SSD, 8 GB RAM, and a 1TB Samsung Spinpoint for data. I do use it frequently, but mostly for busy work, browsing the web, ripping DVDs occasionally. I'm not at all interested in gaming.

 

This leaves me with the following 3 options. Really want to know what everyone thinks:

1. Leave the desktop alone and build a kick-ass core i5 server (most expensive)

 

2. Install Plex on the desktop and copy the video files from the server to the desktop. Make sure that the desktop is always on, so the video files can always be streamed from it. Get A6-3650 CPU for the server, since it will no longer be used for remote media streaming. It will run Win8 (as previously mentioned) and run WHS2011 in VM. (less expensive)

 

3. Get rid of the server altogether. Install WHS 2011 VM in the desktop for nightly client backups (like another laptop that I have). Share the data drive with homegroup - this will be a file server. Run Plex like in #2. House a backup drive that will be have the File History backups. (Cheapest...is this even a good idea?)

Edited by urik
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Let me boil that whole long bit into one simple question: is it a good idea to make a dual-use machine - home server and regularly-used desktop?

 

By the way, in case anyone is wondering, I just listened the latest BYOB podcast (see here) and the lead developer from Plex was on. When asked what he recommends for a hardware build, he flat-out said intel i3/i5/i7 if using a mobile-based client.

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I would build a dedicated server for your needs. From what I have read and heard, you don't need a high end i7 processor for Plex. Do you have access to Microcenter store nearby to where you live?

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I would build a dedicated server for your needs. From what I have read and heard, you don't need a high end i7 processor for Plex. Do you have access to Microcenter store nearby to where you live?

 

Well, browsing the Plex forums, it certainly seems like the safest choice would be an i5. Yeah, there is a Microcenter nearby.

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They have good deals on CPUs. I would get this.

 

Core i5 3470

http://www.microcent...Boxed_Processor

 

First of all, based on the two responses above, it appears that my idea of making a dual-use machine - home server and regularly-used desktop - is not a good one. Can anyone answer why?

 

Second, thank you Big Worm for the CPU find. Why do you recommend it over the i5-3570K?

 

Thanks a million guys!

Edited by urik
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One reason to keep the server separate is to help protect data. If a server is not used for web surfing or email, it is much less likely to become infected with malware. Keeping the server malware-free really helps keep the data on it safe.

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One reason to keep the server separate is to help protect data. If a server is not used for web surfing or email, it is much less likely to become infected with malware. Keeping the server malware-free really helps keep the data on it safe.

 

Yeah, you're right. Well, there goes my attempt at being el cheapo. But does the same thinking apply to #2 above?

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As far as data protection is concerned, it could, depending on the value of the video files. If the videos are easily replaced then you may not particularly care if malware trashes them. The more difficult it would be to replace/recover the videos, the more likely it is that the server is the best place for them.

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