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First Home Server Build w/ Multiple Arrays


tmayne786
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This is my first home server build. I am doing this for a friend so if anyone can please advise me on the parts I've chosen and how I would go about setting it up be appreciated. His uses will be as follows:

- File sharing among 2 computers, 2 tablets, 5 smart phones, over gigabit Ethernet LAN and WiFi AC mixed network
- Media streaming to HTPC and possibly all other devices, possibly 3 - 5 simultaneous 1080p streams
- Would like either the ability to stream 4K content, or have the upgrade ability to add the feature
- Remote access to network and files
- Remote backup of files from office / weekly basis
- Headless, or not, but should be easy to maintain by friend without too much tweaking or running command lines
- As power efficient as possible, will be on 24/7

 

 

As far as the data array, my idea was as follows:

Seagate STEB5000100
Quantity: 3
Size: 3.5"
Capacity: 5TB (15TB)
Raid 5
Purpose: Mass storage of all files/media. Serve files to all devices, possibly 5 users. transfer media to HTPC and other devices 1080p streaming, possibly 2 or 3 live transcodes simultaneously

WD Green WD20EZRX
Quantity: 2
Size: 3.5"
Capacity: 2TB (4TB)
Raid 1
Purpose: Store most important documents [which will also be backed up to another off site external hard drive) + Backup all devices 3 - 7 day intervals + Offsite Backup of office files 3 - 7 day interval

Toshiba MQ01ABD100
Quantity: 1
Size: 2.5"
Capacity: 1TB
Purpose: FTP files/media from shared seedbox server for virus scanning and extra storage before being moved to main 15TB storage array for sharing. Will not require heavy reading or writing.

Patriot Blaze SSD PB60GS25SSDR
Quantity: 1
Size: 2.5"
Capacity: 60GB
Purpose: Server OS Drive
 

 

Looking at the above usage and drives, I wanted to ask the following:

1. Is the CPU/Motherboard/RAM combo good enough to handle the tasks outlined above? If not, please suggest alternative HW
2. Can the motherboard handle 2 different raid arrays at the capacity listed above? Or should I buy a hardware RAID card?
3. What server OS should I install? FreeNas, Windows Home Server, Windows Server 2012 R2? If none, please suggest alternative OS that
4. What file system should I use? Is ZFS better?
5. Should I add in a APC?
6. What software would I use to backup the office computers + backup home computers + remote access to server from phone or computer?

Any suggestions/advice are appreciated and requested.

 

 

The Proposed Build:

CPU: Intel Core i3-4160 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor  ($99.95 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock H97M Anniversary Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($62.10 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Kingston 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($45.90 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Patriot Blaze 60GB 2.5" Solid State Drive  ($39.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Toshiba  1TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($53.10 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Western Digital WD Green 2TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($71.10 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Western Digital WD Green 2TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($71.10 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Antec One ATX Mid Tower Case  ($34.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 300W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply  ($33.30 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $901.49

 

 

Also, as a side note, I made a comparison of this build vs a Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 that my friend was planning on purchasing:
 

Custom_Server_Build.jpg

Edited by tmayne786
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Why not a Drive Pooling solution such as StableBit DrivePool or Drive Bender?

 

Depending on usage, these may be much better about idling the drives, as only the accessed drives should be spun up, where as a RAID will spin up EVERY drive in the array EVERY time it's accessed. 

 

Caveat: I work for Covecube, which is the company that produces StableBit DrivePool, so I'm biased. 

Though, I've never liked RAID for anything but pure uptime. (or speed in situations where SSDs aren't an option).

 

 

As for the CPU, I'd recommend the Core i3-4130T. The "T" in the model number actually stands for "lower power".

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646i34130t

That's a 35W TDP CPU. :)

 

 

As for the motherboard, I'd recommend ASRock RACK instead. Namely because it has IPMI, which lets you access the "console" remotely. Which is sooo very nice (it's like on-board VNC).

Or something by SuperMicro (very much the same).  

They may run you a bit more, but they're designed to be server/workstation boards. 

And most importantly, the onboard NICs will be 100% supported (that board you linked may not have a problem, but other "consumer" grade boards do).

 

 

 

As for Server OS, it depends on what you want to do with it.

I personally love Windows Server 2012R2 Essentials. But I'm not normal. :)

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My thoughts which agree with Drashna:

 

1.Great believer in IPMI, you can install everything from go to wo headless and access the server from a desktop when the OS is kaputt.

 

2.I don't work for Covecube and think Drivepool is a great alternative to RAID especially for someone not so tech savvy and who wants to just leave the server run unattended.

 

3. If the server is going to do some transcoding then maybe i5 or better still Xeon - but it will up the price and power consumption.

 

4. Although 60GB should be fine for the C: you will have to be careful where you load the programs and their data. You will need to monitor what is being written to the C: and make sure as much as possible is saved elsewhere.

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I'd fit a drive cage into the 3 external bays that convert it into more 3.5" drive bays such as this one. You can also get more expensive versions that allow you to hotswap the drives as well such as this one which gives you 5 3.5" bays. You can then replace the laptop drive with another WD Green 2TB and make the setup a bit tidier instead of having 3 different types of drives. You can also add more storage as well. You'll lose the ability to have an internal DVD drive though.

 

If you do want to use ZFS then you're going to need more RAM. ZFS is extremely memory hungry if you want good performance and the general rule of thumb is 1GB of RAM per 1TB of storage you have. It'll work with less but you'll find that the RAM ARC is too small to be useful. If you require high performance then you'll need to investigate SSDs for L2ARC and ZIL. They're optional however.

 

Considering the number of drives you'll have, your best bet is probably to get 1 or 2 LSI 9211-8i cards or the cheaper IBM branded M1015 card. They're proven to be reliable SAS controllers that are popular with people wanting large amounts of storage. Each card will give you 8x 6Gbps SAS/SATA ports internally. SATA drives will work fine on them. You'll need to do RAID or your other chosen data protection mechanism in software.

Edited by GotNoTime
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Considering the number of drives you'll have, your best bet is probably to get 1 or 2 LSI 9211-8i cards or the cheaper IBM branded M1015 card. They're proven to be reliable SAS controllers that are popular with people wanting large amounts of storage. Each card will give you 8x 6Gbps SAS/SATA ports internally. SATA drives will work fine on them. You'll need to do RAID or your other chosen data protection mechanism in software.

I'll second this mostly.  Especially the IBM ServeRAID M1015 cards. They're fantastic, even if all you want to do is pass through disks to the controller.  Though the M1015's apparently have some pretty bad RAID5 performance. But if you're going to go with a solution such as StableBit DrivePool or ZFS, then this doesn't matter.

 

And if you need more than 8 drives attached, don't buy a second (or third) card, like I mistakenly did. Buy a SAS Expander card, this acts essentially as a network switch (or port multiplier) for the controller card.  They run $200+, but you can find them for cheap on ebay (I got one recently for $70).  With the one SAS Expander card, you can get 20 additional drives connected. 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042NLUVE/?tag=extension-kb-20

 

In fact, I have a couple M1015's spare that are already cross-flashed and ready to go (see the buy and sell forum), because I wasn't aware of this when I bought them.  But they've served me very well.

 

 

And if you're curious about performance, the M1015 is a PCI Express 2.0 8x (8 lane) card, which means it's max bandwidth is 4GB/s (which means you can run ~37 drives at 120MB/s at the same time and only just saturate it's bandwidth).

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Also for future expansion if you go the drive pooling route, there are a lot of LSI SAS9200 8e on ebay for under $100. They give you external connectivity for 8 more drives. I just picked up a LSI SAS9200 16e for $100.

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Why not a Drive Pooling solution such as StableBit DrivePool or Drive Bender?

 

Depending on usage, these may be much better about idling the drives, as only the accessed drives should be spun up, where as a RAID will spin up EVERY drive in the array EVERY time it's accessed. 

 

Caveat: I work for Covecube, which is the company that produces StableBit DrivePool, so I'm biased. 

Though, I've never liked RAID for anything but pure uptime. (or speed in situations where SSDs aren't an option).

 

 

As for the CPU, I'd recommend the Core i3-4130T. The "T" in the model number actually stands for "lower power".

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646i34130t

That's a 35W TDP CPU. :)

 

 

As for the motherboard, I'd recommend ASRock RACK instead. Namely because it has IPMI, which lets you access the "console" remotely. Which is sooo very nice (it's like on-board VNC).

Or something by SuperMicro (very much the same).  

They may run you a bit more, but they're designed to be server/workstation boards. 

And most importantly, the onboard NICs will be 100% supported (that board you linked may not have a problem, but other "consumer" grade boards do).

 

 

 

As for Server OS, it depends on what you want to do with it.

I personally love Windows Server 2012R2 Essentials. But I'm not normal. :)

 

So I looked up Drive Pool, let me see if I got this right. It's basically like a RAID 1 config, where all data is redundant. Difference is there is no parity? Also its slower in both read/write?

 

I also seen something called Storage Spaces that are new, any idea how well that works?

 

My thoughts which agree with Drashna:

 

1.Great believer in IPMI, you can install everything from go to wo headless and access the server from a desktop when the OS is kaputt.

 

2.I don't work for Covecube and think Drivepool is a great alternative to RAID especially for someone not so tech savvy and who wants to just leave the server run unattended.

 

3. If the server is going to do some transcoding then maybe i5 or better still Xeon - but it will up the price and power consumption.

 

4. Although 60GB should be fine for the C: you will have to be careful where you load the programs and their data. You will need to monitor what is being written to the C: and make sure as much as possible is saved elsewhere.

 

What does IPMI do? Is that an added card? Also I wont be transcoding that much, maybe 1 stream at a time. What do you mean by where I load program and data? The only thing that will be on the ssd is the server OS. All other data will be on the drives

 

I'd fit a drive cage into the 3 external bays that convert it into more 3.5" drive bays such as this one. You can also get more expensive versions that allow you to hotswap the drives as well such as this one which gives you 5 3.5" bays. You can then replace the laptop drive with another WD Green 2TB and make the setup a bit tidier instead of having 3 different types of drives. You can also add more storage as well. You'll lose the ability to have an internal DVD drive though.

 

If you do want to use ZFS then you're going to need more RAM. ZFS is extremely memory hungry if you want good performance and the general rule of thumb is 1GB of RAM per 1TB of storage you have. It'll work with less but you'll find that the RAM ARC is too small to be useful. If you require high performance then you'll need to investigate SSDs for L2ARC and ZIL. They're optional however.

 

Considering the number of drives you'll have, your best bet is probably to get 1 or 2 LSI 9211-8i cards or the cheaper IBM branded M1015 card. They're proven to be reliable SAS controllers that are popular with people wanting large amounts of storage. Each card will give you 8x 6Gbps SAS/SATA ports internally. SATA drives will work fine on them. You'll need to do RAID or your other chosen data protection mechanism in software.

 

The hotswap drives bays will fit the case I chose? Why do I need the LSI *211-8i cards? Don't most modern motherboards have a RAID controller built in? Also the motherboard I chose has 6 sata ports I believe,

 

I'll second this mostly.  Especially the IBM ServeRAID M1015 cards. They're fantastic, even if all you want to do is pass through disks to the controller.  Though the M1015's apparently have some pretty bad RAID5 performance. But if you're going to go with a solution such as StableBit DrivePool or ZFS, then this doesn't matter.

 

And if you need more than 8 drives attached, don't buy a second (or third) card, like I mistakenly did. Buy a SAS Expander card, this acts essentially as a network switch (or port multiplier) for the controller card.  They run $200+, but you can find them for cheap on ebay (I got one recently for $70).  With the one SAS Expander card, you can get 20 additional drives connected. 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042NLUVE/?tag=extension-kb-20

 

In fact, I have a couple M1015's spare that are already cross-flashed and ready to go (see the buy and sell forum), because I wasn't aware of this when I bought them.  But they've served me very well.

 

 

And if you're curious about performance, the M1015 is a PCI Express 2.0 8x (8 lane) card, which means it's max bandwidth is 4GB/s (which means you can run ~37 drives at 120MB/s at the same time and only just saturate it's bandwidth).

 

What does a pass through mean, does it mean it will just act as extra SATA ports? If I don't do RAID, and use instead something liek Storage spaces, then these hardwares wouldn't be required right?

 

 

Also for future expansion if you go the drive pooling route, there are a lot of LSI SAS9200 8e on ebay for under $100. They give you external connectivity for 8 more drives. I just picked up a LSI SAS9200 16e for $100.

 

Is that basically a card that adds extra SATA ports?

 

Also how is FlexRAID as a solution?

 

 

Thank you all for your help btw. Much appreciated!

Edited by tmayne786
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IPMI allows management of the MB from BIOS level. The SuperMicro boards have a dedicated IPMI ethernet port which allows access (using IPMIview software) to the BIOS from any client on the LAN. This way you can load an OS onto the board without attaching any other device.(no CD, no USB,no mouse & no keyboard)

 

https://www.limestonenetworks.com/support/knowledge-center/6/64/how_do_i_install_an_os_through_my_ipmi.html

 

About the C: drive. I just mean you have to be sure that you do not load anything else on C: as most programs load there by default and use C: as data drive by default.  When I first setup hyper V on my 2012R2E it filled the C: in 2 days slowing it to a crawl as I forgot to tell it to store the Hyper V's elsewhere.

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And if you need more than 8 drives attached, don't buy a second (or third) card, like I mistakenly did. Buy a SAS Expander card, this acts essentially as a network switch (or port multiplier) for the controller card.  They run $200+, but you can find them for cheap on ebay (I got one recently for $70).  With the one SAS Expander card, you can get 20 additional drives connected.

The recommendation for more controllers instead of expanders seems to be advice passed around in the ZFS crowd as they don't like them. One reason I heard was that is less reliable since anything goes wrong with the cabling, the SAS expander or a drive fails badly enough that it causes multiple port resets then multiple drives will drop out. You're hanging it all off a single controller in either case but the SAS expander introduces more potential failure points.

 

The one concrete downside to a SAS expander is that you'd get better throughput with more controllers. It is unlikely you'd notice it though unless you had a large number of drives or if you had multiple SSDs attached.

 

I've got the Intel SAS expander because I wanted to attach multiple drives together with a SAS tape drive to the external SFF-8088 socket on my P222. I bought a 2x SFF-8088 to SFF-8087 bracket and the necessary cables to wire it all up. I'm just trying to pick up a good priced LTO-4 or LTO-5 drive at the moment.

 

The other popular SAS expander is the green PCB (don't get the yellow one) HP SAS Expander. It has 8x internal SFF-8087 and 1x external SFF-8088 instead of the 6x internal SFF-8087 on the Intel RES2SV240. There are two disadvantages to using the HP SAS Expander however. The first is that it doesn't support SATA III 6Gbps and the second is that it has to be powered from a PCIe slot. The Intel card has a standard PC molex socket on the top as an alternative to the PCIe slot which it also supports.

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In your original post, you mentioned that it should be easy to maintain for a friend. If they're also required to do hardware maintenance then you'd want everything in hotswap bays so it is easier for them to replace failed HDs.

 

The hotswap drives bays will fit the case I chose?

It should do. They're designed to fit into generic PC cases that have 3 optical bays free.

 

Why do I need the LSI *211-8i cards?

You'd want the card for more SATA ports.

 

Don't most modern motherboards have a RAID controller built in?

The built-in RAID for these motherboards are all software RAID but with a proprietary driver and firmware. There is no guarantee about quality of the drivers and the ability to move the array to a different machine. As you're doing it all in software anyway, you should just use the software RAID (or other data protection mechanism such as Drivepool or ZFS) in the OS. It'll be tested much more thoroughly and it will allow you to change the motherboard at a later point.

 

Also the motherboard I chose has 6 sata ports I believe

You've got 7 drives but only 6 SATA ports.

 

What does a pass through mean, does it mean it will just act as extra SATA ports? If I don't do RAID, and use instead something liek Storage spaces, then these hardwares wouldn't be required right?

Passthrough means it is acting like a simple SAS/SATA controller. It passes all the commands from the OS straight through to the drives.

 

The reason why you'd want these particular cards is that they're very well designed and implemented with mature drivers that are supported by all major OSes. A lot of cheap SATA controllers have bizarre bugs or design flaws in them. The LSI cards are well proven.

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