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best practices when setting up new home server


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egardiner

Hi,

 

I am in the process of migrating my home network from several disparate PCs, each sharing sharing media/backups/etc with each other using SyncToy and scheduled tasks, to a proper home server.  I am hoping to tap the wisdom of this community to answer some basic questions and to (hopefully) avoid rookie mistakes.

 

My current setup includes two client machines:

  • HTPC - runs Win7 64-bit; primary use is to record TV and play movies via WMC; also runs FTP server for a few IP cameras; stores recorded TV and movie content on local 2 GB HDD
  • Office Desktop - runs Win7 64-bit; primary uses include MS Office and Adobe Lightroom; photos, videos, and documents stored on local 2 GB HDD

As noted previously, I use SyncToy to back up content between the machines.  I am not currently backing up recorded TV, movies, or IP camera images, as I either don't care that much about the this content or I have the source material (DVDs, in the case of the movies).

 

I'd like to move away from this approach and consolidate the shared content on a home server, and my current plan is to use Server Essentials 2012 R2.  I considered just using the client OS, but the IP cameras need NFS or FTP, and it seems like a server will be more flexible over the long haul.

 

Regarding server HW, so far, I've purchased two 3 TB HDDs for data.  I am not planning on using HW RAID, but I would like the ability to mirror the important data.  Having briefly looked at the available SW-based mirroring options, my initial plan was to use MS storage spaces with 2-way mirroring, but from reading the forums, there seems to be some informed opinions against this choice.

 

My questions:

  1. Given the use cases I've described above, what solution would you recommend for pooling drives, etc?
  2. If I want to mirror some types of data (important documents, photos, etc.) but not others (movies I have the DVDs for, etc.), do I need more than two physical drives?  Or can the various pooling solutions handle this?

I have several more questions, but I'll start there.  Thanks a ton for any help!

 

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Joe_Miner

-snip-

 

My questions:

  1. Given the use cases I've described above, what solution would you recommend for pooling drives, etc?
  2. If I want to mirror some types of data (important documents, photos, etc.) but not others (movies I have the DVDs for, etc.), do I need more than two physical drives?  Or can the various pooling solutions handle this?

-snip-

 

Hi Egardiner and welcome to the forums.

 

1.            StableBit DrivePool is what I use (Along with StableBit Scanner)

 

2.            No.  In StableBit DrivePool just keep Folder Duplication off for those Folders that you don’t need to duplicate and select Folder duplication for those folders you want duplicated on two different drives.

 

I would also suggest looking at WHS2011 to see if it meets your immediate needs at 1/10th the cost of S2012R2E it’s a pretty good deal.

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egardiner

Thanks Joe_Miner for the quick response.  Stablebit DrivePool looks like a great option.  I've already got a license for Server 2012 R2 Essentials, so I think I'll go with that unless there are other compelling reasons to pick WHS 2011.

 

Comparing StableBit DrivePool to Windows Storage Spaces, from a feature perspective, is it at least possible to use Storage Spaces to mirror some files but not others using only two physical drives?  From what I can tell, this should be possible by creating a storage pool using the two physical drives and then creating two storage spaces (one with mirroring, one without) on top of the pool.  It seems like this would accomplish the goal, but maybe I'm missing something?

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jmwills

The cost of the OS is more than a compelling reason to stick with WHS 2011.  Like JM Said, 10x but if you already have the license.

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Joe_Miner

You'll want to start learning about S2012R2E by listening to Dave's podcast -- he's in the process of moving to S2012R2E http://homeservershow.com/move-windows-home-server-2011-server-2012-essentials-r2.html

 

Yes, you can create Logical Mirror Resiliency and Simple Resiliency virtual drives in the Storage Spaces Pool and I've done some testing with those:

http://homeservershow.com/creating-and-measuring-the-performance-of-a-storage-space-pool-in-windows-server-2012-essentials-r2-preview-part-2.html

http://homeservershow.com/creating-and-measuring-the-performance-of-a-storage-space-pool-in-windows-server-2012-essentials-r2-preview.html

http://homeservershow.com/storage-spaces-performance-in-windows-server-2012-essentials-on-a-hp-n40l-proliant-microserver.html

 

I've had a number of issues with SS but for example: I've found it very difficult to remove Physical HDDs with Mirror Resiliency and it will be impossible with Simple Resiliency and if you lose a drive or one goes out of sync for some reason your Simple Resiliency is toast.  With StableBit DrivePool if you lose a drive you don't lose anything except for the files on that drive that were not in folders with folder duplication turned on -- files on other drives (even those without folder duplication turned on) can easily be recovered.

 

Storage Spaces is interesting to play with but I keep my data on Stabebit DrivePool.

 

Got to http://homeservershow.com/ and search on Storage Spaces for a number of postings on it.

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egardiner

Storage Spaces is interesting to play with but I keep my data on Stabebit DrivePool.

 

Got to http://homeservershow.com/ and search on Storage Spaces for a number of postings on it.

 

Thank you again for the advice, it's extremely helpful.  I found this forum via a google search, and somehow I missed the fact that there was a wealth of information already available via the podcast and articles.  Thanks to everyone for this great resource.  I'll have a listen to the podcast and check out the articles, and I'll follow up with questions as necessary.

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Al_Borges

Concurrent completely with Joe_miner's assessment of stable bit drive pool versus storage spaces

 

A critical feature is that drive pool leaves the drives "readable"

 

You won't lose the data on the drive if you have a Motherboard failure or decide to move the array to another system

 

Great customer support also

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Drashna Jaelre

Yeah, I love their customer service "dept". ;)

 

Also, as for the domain stuff, there ... is a bit of a learning curve too.

 

Definitely listen to that podcast about R2. Also, listen to the BYOB podcast #139 as well:

http://homeservershow.com/byob-episode-139.html

 

Paul also has some good info on how to run R2 without using the domain:

http://www.tinkertry.com/how-to-make-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials-client-connector-install-behave-just-like-windows-home-server/

Personally, I'm in love with domains (though .... I may be a bit on the crazy side, because I do this at home, for no reason or profit, other than because I think it is fun), but I know not everyone wants to use a domain at home.

 

Oh, and if you do use the client computers joined to the domain, please Please PLEASE make sure you have a working backup solution for the server. Or you WILL be sorry (if/when the server fails and has to be replaced/reinstalled).

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Joe_Miner

In addition to Paul's excellent links above -- You may want to review these links on Managing DNS AutoDiscovery in Essentials:

 

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Essentials-2012-Manage-DNS-e659261c

 

http://titlerequired.com/2014/02/14/essentials-2012-manage-dns-autodiscovery/

 

An these instructional Videos on Essentials are worth studying http://www.mswhs.com/2014/02/learning-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials/

Edited by Joe_Miner
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egardiner

Yeah, I love their customer service "dept". ;)

 

Also, as for the domain stuff, there ... is a bit of a learning curve too.

 

Definitely listen to that podcast about R2. Also, listen to the BYOB podcast #139 as well:

http://homeservershow.com/byob-episode-139.html

 

Paul also has some good info on how to run R2 without using the domain:

http://www.tinkertry.com/how-to-make-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials-client-connector-install-behave-just-like-windows-home-server/

Personally, I'm in love with domains (though .... I may be a bit on the crazy side, because I do this at home, for no reason or profit, other than because I think it is fun), but I know not everyone wants to use a domain at home.

 

Oh, and if you do use the client computers joined to the domain, please Please PLEASE make sure you have a working backup solution for the server. Or you WILL be sorry (if/when the server fails and has to be replaced/reinstalled).

 

 

In addition to Paul's excellent links above -- You may want to review these links on Managing DNS AutoDiscovery in Essentials:

 

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Essentials-2012-Manage-DNS-e659261c

 

http://titlerequired.com/2014/02/14/essentials-2012-manage-dns-autodiscovery/

 

An these instructional Videos on Essentials are worth studying http://www.mswhs.com/2014/02/learning-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials/

 

I am sold on starting with Stablebit DrivePool instead of Storage Spaces.  Thanks everyone for the feedback.

 

After listening to the WHS --> R2 migration podcast and reading dozens of threads here and elsewhere, I'm firmly on the fence as to whether or not I should go with WHS2011 or 2012R2E.

 

Overall, WHS2011 seems much more aligned to my use case.  I am primarily interested in consolidating storage for the purpose of file sharing (especially music, photos, videos, and recorded TV) and for enabling a clean backup solution for my home office PC and HTPC.  I also need an FTP server and/or NFS sharing for a few IP cameras.  From what I can tell, WHS2011 can serve all of these needs without the burden of domain management, workarounds, etc.

 

On the other hand, I like being on the latest tech and future-proofing, and I like to tinker (to a point).  So from this angle, I'm attracted to 2012R2E.  If I go this route, I think I'd start by mimicking the workgroup experience as closely as possible (i.e., not joining clients to the domain, etc.), just to ease the transition.

 

In general, what is everyone's opinion on WHS2011 vs. 2012R2E for the use case I described above?  I am an MSDN subscriber, so the license costs are not a concern.

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