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First timer: Microserver with WHS build


benny269
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Hi

 

Building for the first time, I'm looking to set up a HP Microserver N40L as a file server for data, photos, music and video as well as a backup of the 2 other laptops in the house. I'm overloaded with information and need to figure out what to do next.

 

  1. RAM: box comes with 2Gb stock, but can comfortably take up to 8Gb DDR3. Not sure how much is usually required. Should I upgrade the stock?
  2. HDD: I think WD RED drives are the way to go and the 2Tb models have the best bang for buck for me. I'm not sure how much I'll need total but I think I should be able to add more as I need it. Software-based RAID5 seems to be the way to go, so to start, Is it smart to setup with just 2 data drives? 
  3. OS: From what I've read, WHS2011 should be more than enough for my needs, plenty of support/documentation online and cheapest too. The box comes with a 250Gb HDD which seems to be best used for an OS drive. Just need to know here if my thinking is correct. Do I need to consider any other OSs and/or any SSD alternatives?
  4. Anything else I need to think about, pre-install?

Thanks.

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Get an SSD for the OS, use the 250 gig drive in an external dock station for server backups and fill those bays with either 2TB or 3TB drives.  If you Mod the BIOSm you will need a RAID Card, if you plan to RAID or you could use Drive Bender to pool those drives.  DB was on sale for $10, you might check their site.

 

8GB is all the RAM WHS 2011 will see so you might as well max it out.

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Before you do anything, determine the amount of data you have today and try to determine how it will grow.

Remember, RAID and backup are two separate things. RAID is for resilience and performance.

RAID 5 takes a good deal of time to rebuild on a RAID controller, software RAID 5 tends to be very slow to rebuild. You cant do RAID 5 with two drives.

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In general, it sounds like you have some good ideas:) On the memory, I would just try and see how it performs after you install, as your needs sound modest (file server) you can always add more, if need. As it is just as easy if not easier, as to add another hdd.

 

As for the drives, as schoondoggy says, you need 3 or more drives to run raid5, check wiki for more information. I am using solaris, so can't say much about windows software raid5 solutions, I just remember the BYOB guys having a lot of trouble with it dropping drives, so run the server for some time(week or two) before trusting it.

 

In relation to backup, the difference I see between backup and raid, is that most errors are caused by humans and raid will never enable you to recover from deleting the wrong file by accident.

And as always, look at your storage needs. If you end up adding to many drives the power cost of buying lower capacity drives, could end up being quite expensive, since the drives are going to be the primary power consumer at idle. You can safely expect that the drives will consume around 5W at idle, and 10W at start up, for the WD red drives.

Depending on how much you modify/configure your server you might want to consider using raid on the OS drive.

 

Hope the project works out well for you.

Edited by stalni
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You could use RAID 0 or 1 for the OS, but I would never put an OS on a RAID 5 array.  Very few people running a RAID 5 array have had issues, providing it is setup[p correctly. 

 

You can enable a provision with Windows File System called Volume Shadow Copies and even if you were to delete a file, you could still recover it. How far back you can go depends on how much space you allocate to VSS.  Now having said that, you still need a backup plan as follows:

 

3 Copies, 2 of different media types , and 1 copy off site.  Commonly referred to as 3-2-1.

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Thanks for all the advice!

 

I'm new to all this so I doubt modifying the BIOS is a good move for me. Seems like there's a lot of things that can go wrong. What's the big advantage of doing it?

 

I already have external drives that I can use for server backups. I'm in the UK so SSD prices still aren't great but you can get a basic 32Gb drive for around £40. Is the speed bump big enough to be worth the cost?

 

I'm sure I will fill the bays with 2Tb+ drives eventually. What I was trying to find out was whether it matters if you just start out with a couple of drives. I'm guessing the more drives you have, the greater the redundancy you get from RAID but does that mean you should max it out immediately or is the benefit marginal so you could do it over time?

 

So I have <1Tb of data/files/music/movies to move to the server + 2 laptops to backup. Separate OS drive is a must and 3 drives is minimum for RAID 5. If I get 3x2Tb data drives and use VSS (how much?), will that cover my needs for the forseeable future?

 

With server backups on an external drive, I'd have the 3-2, but what do you guys use for the 1 copy offsite?

Edited by benny269
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2 Drives will only allow a RAID 0 or 1. Do your research on the benefits & drawbacks.

 

In your case, an add on like Drive Bender which is similar to Drive Extender might be your best best.  SSD....not saying you wouldn't be able to install the OS on a 32gig drive, but that is so small that the drive will be full and sluggish.

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Hi

 

Building for the first time, I'm looking to set up a HP Microserver N40L as a file server for data, photos, music and video as well as a backup of the 2 other laptops in the house. I'm overloaded with information and need to figure out what to do next.

 

  1. RAM: box comes with 2Gb stock, but can comfortably take up to 8Gb DDR3. Not sure how much is usually required. Should I upgrade the stock?
  2. HDD: I think WD RED drives are the way to go and the 2Tb models have the best bang for buck for me. I'm not sure how much I'll need total but I think I should be able to add more as I need it. Software-based RAID5 seems to be the way to go, so to start, Is it smart to setup with just 2 data drives? 
  3. OS: From what I've read, WHS2011 should be more than enough for my needs, plenty of support/documentation online and cheapest too. The box comes with a 250Gb HDD which seems to be best used for an OS drive. Just need to know here if my thinking is correct. Do I need to consider any other OSs and/or any SSD alternatives?
  4. Anything else I need to think about, pre-install?

Thanks.

 

 

 

Hi Benny269 and welcome to the Forums.  There’s a ton of information available in these Forums – when you get a chance introduce yourself.

While I do not know the specifics of how much data you are planning to eventually have on your Home Server I’ll start off by “assuming” you are looking to protect a few hundred GB’s of data (important documents, photos & family videos) that is critical to protect plus maybe some not so critical music and videos.

 

Right Now You have the basics so all you need is a copy of WHS-2011 and you are ready to roll……..

  • You can start out with your Stock HP MicroServer with 2 GB RAM and the Stock HP 250GB drive
  • Temporarily attach a Monitor, keyboard, & Mouse
  • Put the stock 250GB drive In Slot 1 (It probably came in that Slot anyway) – this is also known as Port 0
  • Power up your Server
  • Install Widows Home Server 2011 onto the 250GB drive (you can do this with a temporary USB DVD reader)
  • Update WHS-2011 – when everything is good and running stable (you will have 2 drives C: and D: on your 250GB drive) shut your server down
  • Insert your 2 new drives in Slots 3 & 4 (this will be Ports 2 & 3) – we are going to leave Slot 2 (Port 1) empty for now – u can also detach you temporary USB DVD reader
  • Power on your Server
  • In WHS-2011 go into the Server Manager then into the Disk Management Application
  • In Disk Management: Initialize the 2 disks and Mirror Them -- then format the mirror  -- this video will show you how to do that: 

 

  • Go into the Dashboard for WHS-2011
  • Move your folder Shares to your Pool Drive E: -- you are now in business
  • Set up SERVER Backup to external USB HDD
  • Connect your Clients to the Server – start their backups
  • Copy data to the Server you want to keep in Server Shares

 

 

Now You are cooking!  Depending on the growth of your Photo’s and family Video’s (your critical data) this could server your needs for some time.  Just be sure to have a solid backup plan in place from the beginning.

 

 

Additional:

  • You should get a book on WHS-2011
  • To improve performance in the future you can add RAM.  WHS-2011 can work with a minimum of 2GB or a maximum of 8GB.  Check the RAM section of Hardware Links  If you decide to go with a RAM upgrade then Go 8GB ECC – to improve performance the RAM is the 1st place I’d start
  • To improve Performance in the future you could also move or reinstall the OS onto a faster HDD or a SSD
  • Another option to Improve Performance: instead of moving your OS to a SSD – for less $ you could use a faster HDD such as a 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor (“VR”) or use 2 x VR’s in RAID1 (Mirror) for greater resiliency or use 2 x VR’s in RAID0 for crazy high performance!
  • To improve Performance in the future when you add additional drives you could install HDD’s like the Seagate  ST3000DM001 that is faster (7200 RPM w/64MB cache) than the Red’s WD30EFRX and they’re cheaper than the Red’s too (at least in the US)

Other Considerations:

When/if you need to increase the storage space on your Server you could move your stock 250GB drive to the ODD bay and attach it to the SATA Port (Port5) on the System Board – with the stock HP 250GB drive you would not need to flash the BIOS to increase the speed of that SATA Port because that HDD is not fast enough to saturate it at the Stock slower speed (i.e. SATA I).  If you intended instead to put a SSD or a VelocitiRaptor or a ST3000DM001 in that space and use that or the eSATA port then you will need to Flash the BIOS-MOD and set the Ports to AHCI so that a SSD can have trim and so the Ports will run at a higher speed (i.e SATA II).   ===>>>  AFTER moving the OD you could put 2 3TB or 2 4TB drives or 2 5TB drives in Slots 1 & 2 and Mirror then and move some of your share folders to that new Pool OR if you had upgraded to a SSD as your OS drive and had put it in the ODD space there would still be enough space in the ODD for a 3.5” drive so you could add a 3.5” drive plus 2 3.5” drives in Slots 1 & 2 and instead of a Mirror you could use DrivePool or DriveBender to create a Pool of those 3 drives and Mirror your Share Folders (Check Drive Extender Replacements)

 

For more info on this "First Time Build" suggestions including NASPT Performance Scores check out:

A First Time Build with Windows Home Server 2011 and HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer -- Part I

A First Time Build with Windows Home Server 2011 and HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer -- Part II

Edited by Joe_Miner
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Joe Miners post should be required reading before anyone and post anything on the Microsever.  Nice work John!  

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