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Newbie seeking configuration help


Rolfeo
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I have just received a HP ProLiant Gen8 G1610T MicroServer that I shipped from the UK to Cape Town (where I've emigrated to) and would like to use it as a home media and storage server.

It has 16GB RAM, a Samsung 120GB SSD and 3 x WD Red 3TB drives.

I need advice on the best configuration for my needs.

I need a storage server as I want to do regular backups for my business and my wife's studies.

I also want to run Plex to use through my Xbox 360.

I am a complete newbie with servers but am adept with PCs so I don't mind doing things a beginner may not want to.

I have a few questions:


What RAID would be best to use?


Which OS should I use? (I can't buy WHS 2011, but have downloaded a Windows Server 2012 torrent, I'm also fine with Ubuntu and FressNAS, all I want is ease of use).


Which is more reliable for the OS, a USB stick or the SSD?

Could i run the OS from a stick, use the SSD for my business/docs backups and use the 3 x 3 TB drives for my Plex server?


Thanks for any help guys.

This site has an abundance of information and I feel a little overwhelmed by it all.

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Unless you're running an OS that doesn't write to the system drive, such as ESXi, I would use an SSD over a USB stick. Definitely do not run a Windows Server from a USB stick.

 

If you do run a Windows OS, I would recommend looking at DrivePool or DriveBender for pooling the data drives instead of using RAID.

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I'll second the DrivePool suggestion (I'm biased though).

 

As for the OS, if you go windows... Do yourself a HUGE favor and grab this instead:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials

Official ISO with a 180 eval period. You can activate to retail/OEM if you do decide to purchase it.

(also 2012R2 has some improvements).

 

 

You can use Plex on the 2012(R2) Essentials as well. Requires you to login, or find alternative ways to load it.

 

As for storage, it really depends on what you want here.

For most people, StableBit DrivePool or Drive Bender should be fantastic for what you want. They allow you to pool multiple disks into one virtual drive, so it appears as one drive. Also, it allows for per folder duplication of the data (good for those business docs, as long as you're backing them up elsewhere... regardless of the storage solution you decide one).  And both are file based pooling solutions. Meaning that if something goes wrong, anything that can read NTFS can read the pooled disks.

 

However, if speed and uptime are huge factors, then RAID may be better. 
And I do mean speed and uptime. You can get very fast speeds out of HDDs with a RAID. And ... RAID is best for up-time, so long as you are periodically swapping disks out of the array.

If you need redundancy or integrity, then it may not be the best idea.

 

 

Worst case, you could go with ESX or HyperV. Both are great bare metal hyper-visors and will allow you to use both, if you desire.

 

 

 

Though, as for linux, are you familiar with it? If not... then sticking to Windows may be your best choice.

 

 

Also, unless you plan on using the backup, client connector, or website/remote access features of WHS/Server Essentials, then you may be better off with Windows 8.1 Pro (which would get you HyperV still, as well as potentially Windows Media Center).

But since it does sound like you need the backups, the Server Essentials (aka, Windows Server 2012/2012R2 Essentials) may be the best choice for you. 

 

Also, yes, Server Essentials is expensive... but so would be finding an alternative backup solution (there are a number of them out there, but they start off rather expensive).

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Hi!

 

Myself I´m running Server 2012R2 standard as Hypervisor booting from SSD. I just got my system up and running a couple of weeks ago. I have 4 3TB WD red disks in a raid 10. With three disks you might look at storage spaces instead (included in win 8 and server 2012R2 and pherhaps earlier versions). 

Otherwise you might be able to use two disks as raid 1 and the third disk as raid 0. If data is critical I would advise you to get one more disk and make a raid 10 (needs four disks). 

 

For plexserver I´ve tested it running both from a virtual Ubuntuserver and virtual server 2012R2. Both are easy to setup. I chosed to stick with server2012R2 since dynamic memory in Hyper-V tends (at least for me) to work better on windows machines. Not sure if your Xbox are able to direct access contents without having Plex transcoding on the fly. The shipped CPU might be a throttleneck. I upgraded to a Intel Xeon E3 1265L2. It gives plenety of CPU-force for transcoding. As for filesharing I´m running server 2012R2 virtually. (Server2012R2 is indeed expensive). I have tried owncloud and freenas on other fysical servers before and they works well. Linux is a great OS but have some learning curve. I´m more comfortable running windows.  

 

Skärmklipp.PNG

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Wow, thank you both so much for the replies.

 

I will indeed go the Windows route (the 180 day evaluation is great) as it is what I know best.

 

Can I run an external HDD from the server as a way of backing up my really important stuff?

 

What is better, Serviio or Plex?

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As for filesharing I´m running server 2012R2 virtually.

 

Your set up is very much like I'm aiming for. Just a quick question about your file server, how are you presenting the disk space to it. Have you just created a vhd(x) "disk(s)" on your raid 10 array, and then attached it to the file server VM, or have you done it some other way.

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I have two whdx-disks. The primary is created on the SSD-disk with 30 GB in size for the virtual guestOS to boot on. The second is created on the raid10 array with 3000 GB in size and contains all shares. Both dynamically expanding.

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Sounds like you are aiming for something similar to what I have, although I am "faffing" with my setup at the mo.

 

I have 2012r2 with just Hyper-V role added at the minute. (Hyper-V is available, for free on its own, check MS for Hyper-V Server 2012 R2) then build the rest of what you want on VM's (2012r2 Essentials, Plex Server, Torrent box, could be worth looking into.


Sounds like you are aiming for something similar to what I have, although I am "faffing" with my setup at the mo.

 

I have 2012r2 with just Hyper-V role added at the minute. (Hyper-V is available, for free on its own, check MS for Hyper-V Server 2012 R2) then build the rest of what you want on VM's (2012r2 Essentials, Plex Server, Torrent box, could be worth looking into.

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Just a word about licencing. If you're running any 2012 version of Windows Server, except Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, the EULA states that you have to buy CALs for every server or every client that accesses the server. Whether you choose to ignore this requirement is, of course, up to you. I only mention it so that you are aware of it.

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