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n54L RAID recommendation


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Hi all - wondering if you can save me some experimenting and headaches and recommend a good setup for what I'm after


setting up windows 2012 essentials on my g7 N54L

just using it for mostly hosting roaming profiles and other windoze type stuff for my small graphic design office. It may have some light duty as a secondary file server when we have 2 projects running simultaneously and need to take some heat off of the main fileserver.


I'll be using essentials run as a VM because I have a license of 2012 standard, but that's (probably) irrelevant.


I have planned the stock 250gb drive for the system and then 4x2TB WD red drives for the RAID.  have the modded bios and a drive dock in the optical slot.


This is my first windows server and I'm not totally sure the best way to go.  I would expect I'd want RAID 5 to get a certain level of redundancy and safety (and speed) without cutting storage space down as much as RAID 1 would do.  Is RAID 5 even possible with the built in controller or would I need to add a RAID card?  sorry if that's documented somewhere but for some reason when I google it I'm coming up with no specs on the RAID.


or would some sort of software RAID be decent enough or smarter somehow?


Thanks for any tips.

Edited by djbills
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As I mentioned in your other thread, I believe you will need CALs to be legal. IOW, I don't think it's irrelevant that you're asking about running Essentials as a VM. Windows Server 2012 Essentials basically comes pre-CAL'd if you want to look at it that way. WS2012 does not. And, only WS2012r2 grants the rights to run Essentials as a VM.


You may want to get that sorted out before looking at the hardware config.


I can't help wondering if you would be better suited by running WHS2011? It's available for less than $50, and it sounds like it would suit your purposes very well.

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WHS is something I was thinking of experimenting with at home when I saw it pop up on Newegg for $30.  That's pretty great for some of the problems it might solve, might help me clean things up on my little 5 machine network at home.


but nope, won't work for my purposes at the shop, I don't think.  we are 12+ users and I really want all the domain and management tools that Essentials gives you access to.  I agree, it's quite a price jump.  you can see why I'm trying to use this license of 2012 standard that came with my microserver!

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To address the original question, for RAID-5, you will need a RAID controller - the onboard only supports RAID-0/1.  You will need a controller with a low-profile bracket.


Usable options include the following:


HP SmartArray P212/P410 - Previous generation SmartArray controller, easily found at a reasonable price on eBay.  Cache options ranging from 256MB-1GB.  The P212 has a single internal channel, the P410 has two. 3Gbps controller.

HP SmartArray P222/P421 - Current generation SmartArray controller.  The processor is a little faster, but in an N54L, the extra expense isn't worth it (it is in the Microserver Gen8 as it integrates with that server's iLO/Intelligent Provisioning options, and doesn't raise fan noise).  The P222 has one internal channel, the P421 has two.  Cache options range from 512MB to 2GB.  6Gbps controller

Adaptec and 3Ware have several controllers that will work as well.  However, you're going to have to hunt to find pricing you'll like, and cache is usually fixed (you'll probably find the Adaptecs have a 128MB fixed cache).  The most economical of these are probably the Adaptec 3405 (one internal channel) or the Adaptec 3805 (two internal channels) which are now discontinued but still available.  3Gbps, replaced by the Adapted 6405/6805.


I ran a P410 in my N54L, which worked well, supporting both a 4 x 2TB RAID-5 array, and a 2 x 80GB (WD Velociraptor) RAID-0 array for boot.  As for your shop, if you could pick up an SBS 2011 license, that would be another option.  I'm still sorry Microsoft discontinued SBS in favor of Essentials.

Edited by LoneWolf
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