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Recommendations for the right type of box to put this on


Rod at home
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This morning when I got up to log into my 4-year old HP Pavilion Elite desktop, I heard a disturbing sound. I'm sure it's the hard drive making a grinding sound. Now, I've seen HD's like this last for months, so I might be lucky, but I've also seen them come down ASAP. Man, this sort of thing never comes at a convenient place.

 

I've been a professional programmer for many years, and have owned desktop PC's for 20+ years. Prices on desktop PCs have come down significantly, so I might just replace this thing with another. But I'm also considering just replacing it with a home server box of some sort. It was when I first started listening to this Home Server Show podcast that I become aware of the concept of a server in the home. At work such systems normally start at $5000, which is way beyond reasonable for an individual, but a home server, which is scaled down for a home, or possibly a small business, is much more like what I'd want. Plus I've got a relatively new laptop (a Sony Vaio which I purchased in December of last year) that has my development environment on it. One way or another I'd need that development environment installed, either on a new desktop or a home server.

 

I've been listening to the Home Server Show podcast for over a year, maybe 2. When I first started listening the darling of HSS was Windows Home Server 2011. However, that's been replaced with the Windows Server 2012 Essentials, which admittedly is significantly more expensive, but still is cheaper than getting Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition (or whatever it's called). What I'd like to know is what does 2012 Essentials come with? I assume it come with Active Directory, and possibly SharePoint. Does it also come with Exchange Server, and if so what version? How about SQL Server, and if so what version? I need a "server" type of machine for hosting Intranet websites I write in IIS. Also it has to host some SQL Server databases for both the websites and WPF apps that I've written.

 

While I'm asking about this, what sort of box should I get to run 2012 Essentials on? In listening to the podcast I know that there's a lot of excitement for the HP ProLiant MircoServer N54L, and so I've looked at it on Newegg's website has 2 GB of RAM and only a 250 GB HD, doesn't seem to be to be sufficiently large enough. On the other hand, I suppose I wouldn't be using this thing for watching videos on or anything like that, but even so, from my experience the more RAM a server has, the better off you are. And I'd want to have at least a half a terabyte HD.

 

I look forward to your guys recommendations/feedback.

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I would suggest the N54L since there are now deals available. And WHS2011 as the OS. For $40 it's a solid choice. If you need Active Directory try SBS2011 Essentials.

 

Windows Server 2012 Essentials has been out for 1 year and is getting replaced with R2 don't get non R2. And R2 Essentials is still buggy as far as I'm concerned. It will only be finished in October. Then you have a new OS that will have growing pains. WHS2011 is solid and running Server 2008 at the core which is a mature choice.

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Nothing against moving to an N54L or G8 MicroServer, but have you considered just updating your existing box? An SSD or 2 would likely put a lot of zip back into it.

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@ikon, I haven't considered updating my existing box, no. Interesting idea. Right now I've got Windows 8 Pro installed on it. Are you suggesting that I get an SSD or 2 (I believe there'd be enough room in it) and reinstall the OS onto that? Or is there a way of making an image of my current HD onto an SSD (that would be ideal)?

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I just checked on Newegg for 1 GB SSD, and WOW, are they expensive! I might as well just buy a new system for that price. (I've got more than 500 MB of used storage currently on my old HD.)

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You could use something like Acronis True Image 2013 to clone your OS drive to another drive -- either SSD or traditional Spindle HDD.

 

If you're moving it to a drive that's the same size or bigger you could do a windows backup (already in the OS) and restore it to the new drive.

Edited by Joe_Miner
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I don't know exactly what type of development environment you have on the Win8Pro box, but maybe start with that and let us know the specs and whether it's working for you.  Aside from the grinding drive, was it doing what you wanted?  If so, I wouldn't reinvent what you have -- I would use Joe's solution above and get a similar or larger drive to replace the bad drive.  If it solves your issue for another year or two at <$100 then I think that's the way to go.

 

OTOH, if you are dissatisfied with that box, then we might be able to make some recommendations.  You said your development environment is also on your laptop -- what else are you looking for the server to do?

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Joe and BSR, you are right, the current HD isn't too bad. It is slower than it used to be, which I could attribute to the HD's deterioration. But other than that it's working OK. I do development in Visual Studio, ASP.NET, XAML, SQL.I also dabble in PowerShell.

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Not sure if I'm answering your question correctly, but my PC is a HP Pavilion Elite. Do you mean something else, as far as model number goes?

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