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Resilient System Question from the Microserver Podcast


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Hi All,


First time poster (I think, I joined a long time ago and might have asked a random question).  Looking at all of the mod discussions, I am similar to Zimmer who posted recently in that I am interested in more HW type modding (adding more RAM, SSD as OS drive, etc.) and wary to get into 3rd party BIOS mods.  Since this will be a production machine and not a test machine to play around with, I will be keeping it at 8 GB RAM and not try to pump it to 16 GB (per the podcast recommendation).


Here's my situation:

I've had a Mediasmart ex495 that recently just crapped out on me and am in the market for a new home server, and based on what I've read here and other places, I'm thinking about the N40L or N54L and running Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

I plan on taking the four 1.5 TB drives from my Mediasmart and putting them into the cage for data using the 1 2-way Mirror (w/5 drives) in Storage Spaces approach that Joe Miner described in his great Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer post, except in my case it would w/4 drives and my total capacity would end up being 3 TB.


My specific question comes out of the Microserver dedicated podcast at around the 1:26:30 mark, where the speaker talks about having a more resilient system with two 2.5" SSD (128 GB) drives where you have the OS mirrored on those two drives in the ODD area and you still have the 4 drive cage for data.


Based on the web searching I've done, it looks like this icydock product (http://www.icydock.com/goods.php?id=150) would fit the bill in terms of how to hold it in that space.  Among the things needed outside of the 2 SSDs themselves are:

‧ 3.5” to 5.25” front bay converter kit x 1
‧ 2 / 4 ports PCI-E x4 SATA RAID controller card x 1


My questions are:

  • Is this overkill in terms of mirroring the OS?  I'm coming off my Mediasmart ex495 dying after 4 years so I'd like to have the peace of mind that mirroring both OS and data offer.  I've got around 4-5 PCs at any one time at home (mix of desktop and laptops), including my work PC that I'd like to have backed up on a regular basis (that the Mediasmart did so great) as well as look into using it as an HTPC (I've also got an xBox 360).
  • Does the N54L already have that controller card or would I have to get one?  If I have to get one, anyone have a recommendation?
  • Any recommendations on the 3.5 to 5.25 front bay converter kit?




2 Bays Solution
ToughArmor MB992SK-B 2 x 2.5” SATA Mobile Rack for 3.5” Device Bay
Drive Fit:
2 x 2.5” SATA Hard Drive or SSD
Tray compatible with MB996
(Supports 7mm & 9.5mm height drive)
Uses 2x high speed 2.5” SATA hard drive or SSD in RAID1 for OS for maximum OS / data protection
Things You Need:
‧ ToughArmor MB992SK-B x 1
‧ 3.5” to 5.25” front bay converter kit x 1
‧ 2.5” SATA hard drive or SSD x 2
‧ 2 / 4 ports PCI-E x4 SATA RAID controller card x 1


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Welcome....actually welcome back.  It looks like this is actually your 2nd post in our forums.


I will try and hit on all the things you mentioned.


1. Bios - There is no need to use a modified BIOS.  The modified BIOS just opened up a few things that are otherwise unavailable.  If you don't need those features then you definitely want to stick with stock bios.


2. RAM - I think we mentioned on the show that a few of us (myself included) have put 16GB of RAM in the N40L.  As mentioned by John Stutsman it is recommended to stick with 8GB on a production server.  That is the maximum as defined by HP and works reliably.  We are not recommending anyone go to 16GB of RAM for anything except tinkering around.


3. Mirrored OS drives.  The specific device being discussed was the ICYDOCK MB982SPR-2S.  This device can fit 2 drives and does the Raid Mirror itself with on board hardware.  There is only 1 SATA connection to make and 1 power connection.  You would not need the extra RAID card to use this device.

Note: I am in no way advocating using this device.  I have not used it but others have.  If you look around on the forums the reviews are mixed on the device and mirroring the OS drives in general.


4. Adapter bracket - you could use something like this bracket from BYTECC or this one allows room for the drive and a slim ODD.  There are a ton of them out there.


That is a start....I am sure others will chime in.

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I used the ICYDOCK enclosure for some time before I broke it by mistake.  Wish I hadn't.  It's a great little box.  Would recommend it.


We have used the Bio mod in the community long enough to consider it stable.  I would use it for sure.  It gives some really nice options.


I think you are on the right track here.  


Who said the home server was dead?



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Thanks for the quick responses.


I checked out the ICYDOCK MB982SPR-2S and it looks like a nifty piece of hardware.


A couple of follow-up questions...

  • One of the things I read was that you should make sure that your SSDs are RAID-able.  Is it safe to assume that most SSDs that are out there are?  Samsung Pro 840, the OCZ Vector, Crucial m4?
  • The bracket from BYTECC that you mention has an open hole, is that necessary/recommended if the icydock is an internal enclosure?  Would I just use the faceplate that came with the Microserver (assuming the BYTECC faceplace is detachable)?


Getting closer to pulling the trigger,


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