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Researching before buying 1st home server of any kind


mhtrang
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Hi all, pretty new here and with home servers in general.  I've got a vision in my head and wanted to jot it down here and see what people think and if I'm going about it right/wrong.  Pretty much I'd like the G7 N54L to be coupled with WHS2011 to handle all the backups of my machines at home.  I'd like to have 2 HDDs in there as RAID1 for redundancy (not as a backup...I'm learning).  Does the N54L allow for hot swappable drives?  That would make backups for offsite storage a lot easier.  If not, I'll have to figure something out.

 

The second function would be to have it run as a Plex media server.  I don't know if I can get enough storage from the 2 remaining bays for my media (since my DVD rips take up 190GB and that's not counting the TV show DVDs I haven't gotten around to yet).  I'm pretty sure I'll run out of space when I rip my blu-rays.  So my ideal plan would be to add a RAID enclosure device that has 4-6 bays and connect it to the microserver via the eSATA port, unless anyone has any better ideas.  I thought I read that the microserver/WHS will recognize this as one big drive, instead of the individual drives; is this the case?  If it is, not big deal, as I could buy a hardware RAID controller and possibly have redundancy set up that way.   And since I could get a RAID enclosure that has hot-swappable drives, backups would be easier to do.  I could store all of my media on the RAID enclosure so that Plex can run using that.

 

Am I going about this the right way, or am I really off?

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The drives in the N54L are not hotswappable.

 

You could do a eSATA box or you could put in a RAID card and a external drive enclosure.

First, I would get a handle on how much data you really have and how fast you think you will grow it over the next 3-5 years.

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I was just thinking about that and came to the conclusion that I wouldn't need a direct 1080p rip of the Blu-Ray.  A typical movie is, what, 1GB/hr or so?  I suppose I'd be fine with a couple hard drives in the box for running Plex for now.  I was a huge movie collector and have loads of movies that I'd like to be able to store and watch without having the need to pop in a disc every time I want to watch something.  How does it handle 3TB drives?  I was doing some reading, but was confused.  I thought I read that it broke up the 3TB into 2TB and then the remainder does something else.  Was I reading and comprehending wrong?

 

For pictures, I only have about 100GB of RAW data files right now, accumulated over the past 2 years.  I think 2x2TB HDD should be enough for that.

 

I don't want to think too big, but also don't want to spend too much money up front if it's not needed either.

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Hello Mhtrang!

 

I am biased as a owner of a G7 so I just want to get that out there before I talk to much about how great I think they are.  While I believe everything you listed is TECHNICALLY possible with the hardware as stated (with headaches, mark them as removable, unix OS, etc)  I do not think it would be the easiest or best way to handle your needs.  

 

I would not worry about "hot swapping" drives in a home environment.  In my opinion hot swap / hot plug drives are really best used in large commercial environments where downtimes of seconds is big money / lost business and then used mostly to replace FAILING drives / arrays more so then back up purposes.  If I was you I would think about these ideas for a build that MAY better suit your needs.  

 

1. Build a raid 5 or 6 like solution utilizing the space in the N54L with more HDDs based on your expected data needs (expected meaning now & future).

2. Rather then the hot swap idea save time, money, problems, and back up to a external storage device(s) that could then be taken offsite. (Externals HDDs are almost always cheaper then internal HDD's (who knows why).

3. Get the server set up & running well then start looking at adding a external RAID enclosure.( If truly needed in your expected data projections.  a N54L will hold a LOT of data with the right drives).

 

You are doing one thing 110%  the best way possible and that is RESEARCHING & LEARNING before jumping in and buying hardware then trying to fix problems.   So many people do not do this and end up costing themselves both time & money.  

 

EDIT: I see you just posted.  I believe what your think about with the breaking up of 3 TB drives is in regards to some systems using the 3TB drive as A BOOT DRIVE.  For data 3TB are fine on the Microservers.  Your estimate about 1GB a hour is pretty close I would say as I have 1080 rips that look & sound great that range between 1.5 - 2.0 GB each.  More storage space is always better but I see a LOT of people with HUGE arrays and are using 15% of them with no real expectation of EVER filling them up. 

 

I hope to hear (and then see pix!!) more about how your project advances!

Edited by FiLiNuX
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Thanks for the response FiLiNuX!  I was wary of posting, as I know most forums don't want a bunch of new people asking for help right off the bat.  I figured I'd do some preliminary research on these forums first and then ask specific questions, rather general ones.

 

That's great to know about 3TB data drives working just fine....looks like I don't need to go all crazy (as of now...)!  May I ask what bitrate you use for your 1080 rips?  Also, since movies won't take up as much space as I originally thought...can the G7 handle transcoding?  Or would it be better to store 2 copies of a rip, one in 720p and one in 1080p? My only reasoning for this is that 1080p can take quite a bit of bandwidth that might or might not be available, depending on where I am.

 

Since I don't have to worry about a maximum capacity of a disc drive being an issue, maybe it'd be more functional to go with 4x3TB HDD.  Is it possible to set up the 1st 2 drives to be in RAID1 and the 2nd two drives to be in RAID1?  If so, I can put my pictures, SD movies, 1080p movies, and TV shows on the 1st set of drives and 720p movies on the 2nd set of drives.  That way if I'm streaming to multiple devces, it might reduce the use of one set of drives.

 

The advice about hot-swappable drives was very appreciated.  It's crazy how cheap external hard drives are these days.  Just saw a 3TB on sale for 100 the other day but it sold out before I could take advantage.

 

Is it possible to add USB 3.0 compatibility  to it?

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Yes can can have two RAID 1 arrays either through Windows or some additional add-on hardware.

 

What are you planning for backups?

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Ahh the inevitable backup question.  I'm pretty sure it's lacking, but right now I have a copy of my pictures and media on a separate internal hard drive on my desktop and I also make a backup to an external hard drive that I keep at work.  Not the best solution, but that's all I got for now.  I'll probably do the same in the future when I get the microserver, but will need a newer external drive that can hold more than 1TB.  I may have 2 external drives and keep one at work and one at my in-laws' house.

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Thanks ikon!  I've seen those informative posts while doing research on here in the past.  Very thorough and much appreciated.

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