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HP N54L Noob


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Hi guys, been researching my brains out about home servers and still so much is a mystery lol.


At present I am focusing on getting my home network Gigabit Ethernet cabled but in 6 weeks a friend is bringing a N54l I ordered back in the UK (live in thailand at moment), so want to learn all I can. My wife has given me the go ahead so I won't say no lol


We have the following needs:


My wife is an architect and has over 1TB of very import files. She currently uses an iMac for all her work. We need a solution where this data is securely stored periodically but preferably regularly to not only minimise loss of old files / work but also to backup current projects as much as possible. She currently keeps old important files on an external USB3 Drive.


We live in Thailand and as you can imagine there is little good TV over the air so we rely on our Acer ER1402 eMachine to act as a HTPC to my HDTV. I have Win 7 installed and although bit clunky use a Keyboard and Mouse and mainly torrent constantly and watch HD movies on it. It is starting to lag up on HD 3D movies however. I have a Samsung UA46F7100DKXX LED TV that has wireless connection, not sure if that can access networked HD movie rips?


I personally use a Mac Air for most of my work and I would like to safely keep all my pictures, and documents some place that can be shared with the wife. I would also like to be able to store my vast MP3 collection centrally so I can play it on iPad, computers etc and not have to rely on a larger HDD being plugged into the laptop like I do now.



  • Backup important work files
  • Backup current files being worked on iMac, preferably automatically (Time Machine to N54L?)
  • Central storage for Music, and HD Movie Rips
  • Shared Access to Photos
  • Ability to stream HD content to HTPC
  • Always on torrenting which can be easily accessed to add new torrents to download etc.
At present my HTPC works well with Win7 and it is nice having the familiarity of the Windows OS. I tried XBMC and although looked nice it was a pain to pull in all my movies, episodes correctly and automatically etc and as it was on top of Win7 wasn't as responsive as I wanted. I would be open to trying something again though if I fixed the niggling naming / scraper issues.


Through work I have access to the following:

  • Win 8.1
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 (Datacenter, Essentials, Standard, Storage Server and Foundation?)
Could anyone advise on my best approach to meeting as many of these as possible with my current setup?


My main questions are:

  • What physical setup would you recommend? (Add RAM?, Which RAID?, HDD Size and brands that work well, is largest best?)
  • What OS would you recommend? (Win 8.1? Windows Server 2012? Which Distro?)
  • What software would meet the needs of secure backups, and regular automatic backup of current projects from the Apple iMac?)
  • Can I setup RAID 0 / 1 without having to buy hardware controller?
Thanks in advanced guys, I am IT literate and learn fast but just thought this might give me a bump start and put me on the right track. Edited by Bmouthboyo
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Welcome and I can sympathize with your entertainment choices.


First of all what is your backup plan?  For an OS, I would start with WHS 2011 as it will handle all of your needs of backup, file storage, and accessibility (Remote Access).  Max out the RAM for your needs which would seem to indicate 8 gigs would be plenty.


The OS can handle the redundancy requirements all the way up to RAID 5 but you might want to consider a controller.  Those are my thoughts.

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Backup plan we are still trying to figure out. We have been looking at online solutions for cloud backup of our most important data like pictures, document scans etc.


The wife has about 1TB of work related files that she currently keeps on the USB3 drive, with current work files in use on the iMac itself.


I would say current files in use are critical to earnings and current job so need good protection, we were thinking hosted on iMac backed up on server and online such as crash plan.


The older 1 TB of files almost semi archived on the home server but easily accessible if need be and preferably secured in the cloud as well. The iMac has limited storage and not expandable so NAS may be good idea.


Pictures are critical and we would never want to loose all them so maybe placed on the home server but also backed up online.


Media like movies etc not huge issue if lost, mainly want easy to manage large storage space to store rips for XBMC or similar on HTPC.


The online backups we were looking at something Iike crash plan. I assume it would be incremental uploads for changes once the I titian sync is done? And hopefully scheduled say overnight so we don't notice bandwidth loss (can only get 3Mbit).


We were thinking having files like pictures, important files we want regular access to, and the contents of mentioned USB3 on a mirrored RAID for 2 drives, say 2 x 3TB so 3TB usable. Then look at options for 2 drives to suit the HD movies, music etc I will stream to the HTPC.


Can I ask what the benefit of a physical controller for RAID is over the OS handling it? Also I have access to a legal Windows server 2012 essential, standard etc. would they not be suitable?

Edited by Bmouthboyo
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The advantage of having a controller handling the array is that if the OS crashes, so does the array.  With a controller, you could take the card and drives to a new box and continue.  Now having said that, since you are mirroring, you should be okay as the data is duplicated and not spread.


You might want to start out with the OS mirror and then decide if you want to upgrade,

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I highly recommend a online backup as well.  I currently use crashplan.  Its very relieving knowing that if my house was destroyed at least my most critical data is available in the loud. 


It may take a while to get your data up there but once it is up there only the differences are uploaded.


Its worth the price.

As for XBMC, I run it throughout my house.


However I always found that an external media manager worked best.  I never liked the scraping built into XBMC.  Once you have an exteran manager create all the xbmc files then whenever xbmc scrapes the folder all the data is just imported properly.


You may also want to check out plex.  Extremely easy to setup and use.  Its based on XBMC.  You may have better luck with the media scraper.

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This could get you started with ideas http://homeservershow.com/a-first-time-build-with-windows-home-server-2011-and-hp-proliant-n40l-microserver-part-i.html


There are lots of useful links & ideas at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/3506-more-interesting-microserver-links/


There are links to 2012Essential's builds on that page also --


And also check the links & builds at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5190-microserver-hardware-links/


I have no experience with Time Machine but there are posts in the 2011 Forums like http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4954-time-machine-backup-to-whs-2011-working-in-mountain-lion/  -- you will also want to check the 2012 Essentials forum.

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Bmouthboyo, as I started reading your post, I got a very nervous feeling, basically that "these guys are living on borrowed time". IMHO, your backup situation is horrendous. Please read up on this site about 3-2-1 Backup. Given the nature of your wife's and your data, I really don't think you should have less than 3 copies of all data, and preferrably 4 or more.


Here are some links to my backup setup. They can serve as a framework:


SERVER SETUP PHOTOS: http://homeserversho..._140#entry47628

BACKUP STRATEGY: http://homeserversho...1373#entry51373

BACKUP SCRIPTS: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5197-robocopy-backup-scripts/#entry56498



I urge you to do something about your backup situation ASAP.

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Thankyou for this advice I will be reading up on backup solutions over the next few weeks.


If I wanted to make 2 HDD appear as one with non critical media likes movies etc would I set it up as RAID 1? If the OS crashes with this stripped method would I loose of the data? or are the location spreads indexed on one of the drives?

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RAID1 is also referred to as a MIRROR -- the data is duplicated (thus mirrored) on two Hard Drives.  It provides a high level of resiliency/fault tolerance.  


With a Software Mirror you can take either one of the drives to any other Windows machine and read your data off of it -- If you lose everything except one of the Mirrored drives you can recover your data by inserting it into another Windows machine.  RAID1 and Mirroring is explained in the links I gave you earlier but here's another http://www.buildegg.com/bewp/?p=44


and here's a video



With Stripped (RAID0) you have no resiliency -- you lose one drive and you lose everything.  Don't do that with anything you don't want to lose forever.

Edited by Joe_Miner
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