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New PC Plus Server or PC and Server in one, budget is ~2,000?


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OK, so I have a 6 year old XP machine that although it runs fine, I am running out of disk space (3TB total) and XP is running out of support. I am looking to build a new PC and maybe a new server. I also have an HTPC running win 7 that runs great. I like to stream mkv movies to it from my PC and would like to store my movie library on a server or a monster PC. Also my family has PC’s/laptops I would like to back up (an additional 2TB or so for their backups)


Here is what I am looking to do:


1)      Looking for RAID disk storage solution and plan on buying 4 x 4TB drives to start but would like to be able to add another 6 or so drives as needed.

2)      Would like to be able to stream those mkv/s

3)      Would like to be able to back up all the family PCs – a PC running win 7, a laptop running Win 8.1, plus kids getting older.

4)      Maybe I would want to store lots of data on the server instead of local PC’s (my wife takes tons of pics/HD videos that filled up her 1 TB drive)


I am a software developer, but have passable server admin skills with  both unix and win servers as needed, but I don’t keep up with the latest trends.


What should I do, build one monster PC or a PC and server? I got a budget of ~2,000 to get started. I have heard good things about Windows Home Server 2011 but would meet my server needs?



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  1. if you can get by with a total of 8 drives, the RocketRAID 2720 should do the job. Otherwise, you could add 2 RAID cards.
  2. stream, or access files on a server using an HTPC and play them with the HTPC? Two different things. If accessing & playing using an HTPC, then WHS2011 does this fine. It can also stream, but you get into CPU and GPU considerations at that point.
  3. WHS2011 can handle all of this if you install the GPT hotfix.
  4. WHS2011 can handle this.

Now, in some ways, Windows Server 2012 Essentials might be even better suited to your needs, in particular for the Win8.1 laptop backup. However, it costs around $400US. If you don't mind that price, and also aren't avers to having a Domain, then you might want to go that route. Otherwise, WHS2011, at $50 or less, seems like a good candidate. Either version of Windows provides an excellent answer for #3.


i don't know of any other home backup solution that works as well as the WHS/WSE2012 ones.

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I would suggest WHS2011 ($40 not $400) and a Gen8 Microserver with a Xeon CPU and extra ram. Get a Intel SSD for the OS and 1 4TB drive to start off your pool. Once you fill up that 4TB then buy a 2nd, prices will go down. Once you have 4 drives in the cage, then check back here to see about adding an internal RAID card and a external drive cage.


You can always upgrade the OS to WS2012R2E later. You do have a 2TB per share backup limit with WHS2011. If you find that a problem, then go with 12R2E which corrects this issue for $400 and adds a domain.

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Thanks for the replies.


Right, I don't really want to stream those movies. I just want to store them and play them through my HTPC. 


Now with that 2TB limit, is that a whole PC storage limit or could I have it ignore some disk partitions on a PC such as my gaming parition?


So can WHS2011 back up win 8.1 pc's ok?


With only 1 4TB to start, isn't that risky if the HD fails? I do like the philosophy of only buying as needed, especially with 6TB drives on the way.


Yes, I like the SSD for OS for both PC and Server as I built my HTPC this way. Is 120 GB enough or should I go for 240 GB SSD?


Is WS2012R2E a lot more complicated than WHS2011 as I always prefer less complexity?

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You can configure the WHS backup to only included those things you want backed up. I only back up the OS drive and use RoboCopy to copy my data to the server. That's how I avoid the 2TB limit.


With the GPT Hotfix, yes, you can back up Win8.1 PC's.


No, 1x4TB drive isn't risky, provided you have a robust backup procedure in place. Many forum members recommend the 3-2-1 technique.


WSE2012r2 is more complicated than WHS2011; not horrendously so, but it does require a Domain which means you have to deal with a Domain Controller and Active Directory.

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Please correct me if I'm wrong. The 2 TB limit  is for each Shared Folders on the server that you want to backup using the builtin Windows Backup option. Not a 2TB limit on PC backups. If you have 5TB on your PC, you should be able to backup that up to WHS2011 as long as you have enough free disk space. Most likely your PC backup drive on the server is a RAID array in this case.

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No, 1x4TB drive isn't risky, provided you have a robust backup procedure in place. Many forum members recommend the 3-2-1 technique.




I though a raid configuration in the server would be my backup solution - no? That's why I was thinking a couple 4TB's to start. A disk crashes and you throw another one in and it rebuilds. 

Edited by javaman
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^^ What he said.


OK, why is RAID NOT a backup? The short answer is that it provides no true redundancy:

  1. if the RAID card dies, bye-bye data (most likely);
  2. if your server gets stolen, bye-bye data (almost certainly);
  3. if your house suffers a calamity (fire, lightning, tornado, flood, etc.), bye-bye data (very likely);
  4. if you accidentally delete some important files from the server, bye-bye data. Mirroring (RAID1) doesn't help this because the copy will be deleted along with the original;
  5. if your server gets hacked, you could lose data;
  6. and other factors.

You should research the 3-2-1 backup strategy (3 copies of all data, on at least 2 different types of media, with at least 1 copy located off site).


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

PHOTOS: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1899-whs-2011-storage-strategy/page-8#entry47628

BACKUP STRATEGY: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4788-what-i-hope-to-acheive-with-your-help/#entry51373

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

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