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N40L Build: Which OS and onsite backup solution


jdilay
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OK today is the day I actually finish my N40L setup.  I purchased all the hardware in the summer of 2012 and I've had all sorts of excuses for not having this server up and running.  I am now down to just two things holding me back...what OS to use and should I backup over USB 3.0 or gigabit LAN.  Any suggestions are welcome.

 

Server purpose: host all my data (primary purpose) to my network devices (desktop, laptop, Boxee, HTPC, iPad), uTorrent, headphones, sickbeard, a VM or two.

 

Pretty standard setup that I have seen on these forums:

1. 5 data drives (5 x WD RED 3TB) (D: drive)

2. 1 system drive (1 x Intel 120GB SSD) (C: drive)
3. Icydock for the 5th RED drive and the SSD
4. A HIGHPOINT ROCKETRAID 2720SGL (to allow for the 6 drives and upgrade the N40Ls SATA II to SATA III).  I'm not going HW raid 5 so lets not turn this thread into that debate.

5. Modified BIOS with recommended changes (Even though I'm using the rocketraid card and not the onboard SATA)

6. Stablebits Drivepool to pool the 5 red drives

8. 16GB RAM

 

Which OS?

To keep me sane and make things as simple as possible would it be easier to stick with Windows 7 64bit (I know it isn't a server OS) as the OS over Windows Server 2012 Essentials?  I'm not really sure which Server 2012 features I would need/want that Win7 doesn't offer.  I'm also worried about software compatibility and adding unnecessary complexity.  My setup and purpose is pretty straight forward...why complicate it with Server 2012?  What am I not thinking of?

 

Backup strategy?

I plan to backup to Crashplan for offsite backup once everything is ready.  I am thinking of using my HTPC as a backup location for critical data rather than attaching a USB 3.0 drive to the N40L.  If I went the USB 3.0 route I would need to purchase a USB 3.0 caddy (i already have a 3TB drive) and a USB 3.0 adapter card.  If I use my HTPC I can toss the 3TB drive in it and backup over the network.  The HTPC is always on.  Any issues that I am not seeing with this method?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Dont discount WHS2011 as an alternative OS. For much cheaper (around$50) than either W7 or WSE2012, you get a rock solid little server and access to a lot of add-ins you might find useful.

 

On the back up issue, I prefer your HTPC option, or even a hybrid solution attaching the caddy to the HTPC. Then you could remove it for offsite storage periodically.

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I agree about WHS2011. It seems a lot of people want to avoid WHS2011 simply because it's discontinued. The reality is, it will be supported for years to come and is a very reliable OS. The cherry on top is the price: it's actually the lowest priced OS MS makes.

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I appreciate these recommendations. Can you guys provide some details on what features whs 2011 will be useful to me? Or is stability it's standout benefit?

 

I have an available Windows 7 license I can use. I also have access to server 2012. I do not have a whs 2011 license but I will purchase one if its a better option. Thanks!

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Let's see: reliable; stable; bare-metal backup & restore of client computers; ability to share files, photos, videos; live internet streaming, with or without transcoding, and so on.

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Thanks for the list.  The bare-metal and client backups are a feature I definitely want.  I've done a lot of reading and it sounds like Windows 8 can do a lot of the things that WHS can do but those two features are missing.  People have gotten around this limitation by running a WHS VM on their Windows 8 home server to do these backups.  Nice bandaid solution but not ideal.  I don't want to buy and maintain two operating systems.

 

The 2TB backup limit WHS has is a little disappointing but I think it provides me with everything else I need.

 

Home servers are so popular now.  it is really disappointing that there won't be a WHS 2012 or a Windows 8 Home Server.

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The 2TB limit can be a limitation, but there are ways around it. Here's a link to my backup strategy: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4788-what-i-hope-to-acheive-with-your-help/page__p__51373#entry51373

 

The major point is that I use the WHS2011 Client Backup facility to only back up the OS on the client computers, so I can later do bare metal restores. Since I'm not backing up the data, there is no possibility that I'll break the 2TB limit.

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Thanks for the list.  The bare-metal and client backups are a feature I definitely want.  I've done a lot of reading and it sounds like Windows 8 can do a lot of the things that WHS can do but those two features are missing.  People have gotten around this limitation by running a WHS VM on their Windows 8 home server to do these backups.  Nice bandaid solution but not ideal.  I don't want to buy and maintain two operating systems.

 

The 2TB backup limit WHS has is a little disappointing but I think it provides me with everything else I need.

 

Home servers are so popular now.  it is really disappointing that there won't be a WHS 2012 or a Windows 8 Home Server.

 

While Server Backup in WHS-2011 is limited to 2TB's total you can back up data off of Volumes greater than 2TB as long as the total data that you're backing up is less than 2TB.

 

I'm using Server Backup to regularly backup my critical data as well as some not so critical data (i.e. just about everything except video rips) using the technique outlined in Here:

 

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/4427.faq-for-windows-home-and-sbs-backup.aspx

 

Hope this helps.

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