Build It: The Ultimate Windows Home Server

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JohnP

I went the whole WHS 2003 route with an HP Media Smart Server a while ago and I found out that I REALLY HATE WHS! It was a pain to set up, a pain to get backups to run, not being able to directly access the info on the drives, hard to stream stuff without tweaking, and a totally failed recovery attempt of one of my backups made it worthless. I gave the whole thing away.
Win7 does EVERYTHING you need to do with WHS but with so much more ease and simplicity. Backup? Clone the drives occasionally (no need to RAID). Streaming? piece of cake. All sorts of Codecs and transcoding are available. Plus you can use it AS A COMPUTER, no need to waste the build for something that is, in the end, just a bunch of files on disks.
Home Servers are for those who love to build useless complexity into their networks. Skip the mess and go with a Win7 computer/HTPC.
PS. Drive Extender was the worst thing Microsoft put onto the market. There is a reason why they removed it from WHS2011!

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EV42TMAN

RocketRAID....eww my opinion of maximum pc just went down a little bit. for $40 bucks more you could have used an LSI 9240 RAID card. the main difference is that the 9240 is a REAL hardware raid card where anything from highpoint is a Host Bus Adapter (meaning it still uses CPU cycles to manage the RAID). Also i've never seen a sucessful RAID recovery on a RocketRaid. So with the price of hard drives these days i'd spend the extra $40 for an LSI card

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haboh

This seems like massive overkill, at least for anything I could think to use my server for. The XT drives are 7200 rpm aren't they? "Green" drives are more than good enough and will save money, noise and heat. 

The i5 also seems a bit much. Any tests on what the minum need is too transcode 1080p? Do you really need an i5 for that? (I don't do it so have no idea). 

Well if you got the money do it I guess. I was aiming to spend about $300 on my server, using a spare boot drive, ubuntu, and black friday deals on case ($25) and PSU ($20, Antec 380W). On hold now due to HDD prices though.

A server for the 1%? :P

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scat14

After researching diy and off the shelf, I chose the Proliant ML110 G6 that came with 2 gigs and a 250 gig OS drive.  It has the I-3 3.06 dual core and has no problem processing video.  I did add 2 gigs of memory for $18 so total before storage drives was $545 with WHS OS.  That included dvd drive, KB, and mouse for setup.  Have added 2TB WD black for storage.  Been running since June non-stop and totally happy with it.  Is not a 6 drive system and will add more storage when the price for drives comes down again.  Dell does have a similar box and priced closely to this one.  I still run an old WHS2003 upstairs on a converted amd box for the last 3 years.  As for a Media Server used on PS3, the new one runs just as fast as the old AMD 1800.  It might have an advantage on the web, but I am not streaming video there.   

I also have set up a Proliant micro for business back-up service, but I do not recommend for WHS as it might be underpowered.  Had to add everything to it and probably spent half a day just adding drives, memory and setting up hardware.  USB kb and mouse only and not included.  The above ML110 is a better box with better access.  Both are well designed for their jobs.

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Geran

Could your next build be a budget version?  Something to handle maybe only 2-3 HDDs?

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cionfsb

Your parts list is great and the fractal case is awesome looking.  The big debate is whether to use RAID or not and how to do it.  There are tons of builds built around this motherboard and RAID controller over at homeservershow.com forums.  I'm not trying to spam but there is serious discussion on each individual part that goes into a server build whether it has RAID or not.

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miles267

Nice looking case, but those Highpoint RAID cards are hilarious.  Only worth about $30.  Been running a solid WHS2011 box since RTM made up of spare parts.  Quad comes in handy with video transcoding/streaming features of WHS2011.  upgraded from WHS (ws2003) and drive extender not missed.  Those stuck on WHSv1, I feel for you.

Intel Q9550 quad CPU, 8 GB RAM, Adaptec 5805 8-port RAID card (w/ battery backup), 4 x 1.5 TB Seagate 7200 RPM HDDs (RAID5 array #1), 4 x 2 TB Samsung F4 5900 RPM HDDs (RAID5 array #2), Icydock 2.5 in. HDD RAID enclosure, 2 x 250 GB (2.5 in.) HDDs in RAID1 array for OS, No video - headless, Fractal Design Define XL case (full tower), Seasonic PSU.

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miles267

Nice looking case, but those Highpoint RAID cards are hilarious.  Only worth about $30.  Been running a solid WHS2011 box since RTM made up of spare parts:

Intel Q9550 quad CPU

8 GB RAM

Adaptec 5805 8-port RAID card (w/ battery backup)

4 x 1.5 TB Seagate 7200 RPM HDDs (RAID5 array #1)

4 x 2 TB Samsung F4 5900 RPM HDDs (RAID5 array #2)

Icydock 2.5 in. HDD RAID enclosure

2 x 250 GB (2.5 in.) HDDs in RAID1 array for OS

No video - headless

Fractal Design Define XL case (full tower)

Seasonic PSU

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Gumby

Everyone who has multiple Windows computers at their house should have one of these.  I built mine as a VM on a Hyper-V box and it is wonderful.  The backups alone would make it worth the price of entry.  But when you add in the streaming and remote file and computer access, it is a really great thing to have.  I do think you guys  may have gone overkill on the hardware on this build though. I think most people could get by just fine with a much cheaper CPU and less storage.

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NH3MAN

So whats the advantage of moving to WHS 2011 from WHS 2003.  Is media serving that much better? ... Are the backups more dependable?... is it much faster?... and is backing up the OS easier? ...
I really need to build a new server as mine is long in the tooth and is an old dual Opteron board that slays my power bill every month.  Plus I've been given (2) brand new 2 TB SATA III 6GBps Barracuda XT drives from a friend who couldn't find a use for them (go figure?)...  I really like the ease and functionality of drive extender but I have had backup corruption issues and will move on if its more dependable.

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Lampjefe

I am using an old 3.06GHz P4 machine with 2-1.5TB HDD's and 1-3TB HDD for my WHS.  I have been temped to upgrade to WHS2011 and less power-hungry hardware but I still am not clear on the storage usage.  The build in the writeup shows the main Libraries being given their own 2TB partitions of the RAID but where do the client backups go?  How does the system determine what drive gets them and if they are assigned to one of the 2TB partitions, will it fill up and take away space from the assigned Libraries?  The Drive Extender was pretty cool so these matters were handled automatically.  I like the RAID idea for redundancy but it's the file handling that I am still not clear about.

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ShyLinuxGuy

I'm looking at a new server project in the future. Right now, I have an ancient Dell Optiplex from 1999 (if it helps you envision what it looks like, it's big, it's beige and it has a funny-looking floppy drive at the top of the tower that looks like someone's mouth) with a 250GB hard drive and a SATA card, and boots from a 80GB (?) IDE hard drive with Ubuntu Server 8.04. It does its job well, but it is definitely time for an upgrade. I'm looking at maybe 3TB of storage, and an Atom or AMD Vision-series CPU is sufficient, since all it will be doing is performing over-the-network backups of my desktop and laptop. I won't be building this until 1TB hard drives come below $100, which may be a while *if* the HDD manufacturers don't fix their prices.

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praetor_alpha

I built a server in this thing at the beginning of the year:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146051

Very spacious, quiet, good airflow.

I recently had to upgrade a bit (hard drive controller went bad on board). Athlon X3, 16 gig RAM, Linux. Hopefully by the time hard drive prices fall to sane levels, BTRFS will be ready for prime time with RAID 5/6 modes.

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pastorbob

The 3 TB Seagate Barracudas will run you a cool $400.00 each on Newegg these days. They don't offer the 1 TB but I suspect it would more than double in price. So the price of the server just jumped by about 65%. Of course you could always wait a few months for hard drive prices to come back down.

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heavy21

Love the project concept.

Using an ASUS P6X58D Premium MB vice the sekected MB, should I expect the same network adapter driver issue you identify and is the stated fix "...then Network, then RLT8111." applicable?

On another note, how about a review of the DriveBender (http://www.drivebender.com) replacement for the Drive Extender technology dropped from WHS with the release of WHS 2011?

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heavy21

Love the project concept.

Using an ASUS P6X58D Premium MB vice the sekected MB, should I expect the same network adapter driver issue you identify and is the stated fix "...then Network, then RLT8111." applicable?

On another note, how about a review of the DriveBender (http://www.drivebender.com) replacement for the Drive Extender technology dropped from WHS with the release of WHS 2011?

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alexinchains

Just wanted to say that I built a server with this case and 6x3TB hard drives (I'm using FreeNAS) and it gets way too hot in there. 

Edit: I'm using a mini-ITX motherboard with an atom processor

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livebriand

Why do you need an i5 CPU? I'd get a cheap board with an AMD E350 CPU, 4GB RAM, a 320GB HD or something for booting (since you need 160GB or something for the OS), and then a few 2TB drives for the storage in RAID. Or dump the 320GB and just use the raid array for the OS too. Remember, HD prices have risen quite a bit since the floods.

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Cregan89

WHS has video transcoding built in, so you can load hundreds of 1080p MKV files on it and they will transcode in real-time to the highest quality codec capable on your Xbox360, PS3, or any DLNA compatible device.

But you definitely can't transcode blu-ray in real-time on an AMD E350. That's why he put in a Core i5. 

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zepontiff

Does it stream the audio in 5.1 though or stereo?

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hades_2100

While the hardware is really really nice that you've built, I'm not budging from WHS2003. The lack of the Drive Expander makes WHS a useless piece of software for my fileserver.

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JohnP

Err, it is called Drive Extender. I am sure it was just a miss on your part...

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MastaGuy

This would be much cheaper before the flood in Taiwan

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mattatooski

The hard drives alone would cost me at the moment $2370 in Australia. And thats at a pretty damn cheap online computer store. $439 each for the 3tb seagate xt drives. Ouch !!!!!

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praetor_alpha

What flood in Taiwan?

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JohnP

well, Taiwan and Thailand both start with a T, heh. Now I wonder if the poster can find either one of them on Google Earth.

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aarcane

Case is a little small, drive count a little low.  6 HDD is a minimum for entry level storage.  I'd love to see a 24 drive build in a norco RPC 4224.

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Cregan89

Most RAID cards have a maximum of 6 connections. RAID cards with more than 6 connections are generally considered enterprise cards and are exponentially more expensive.

The alternative would be to get 2 cards and create two seperate RAIDS, but then you would have to worry about splitting your data between the two RAIDS, and in a set-it and forget-it home server, this is a definite no-no. Not to mention the massive amount of power running 12 hard drives all day every day would require.

And could you really make good use of 12TB of storage at home? I'm sure you could fill 12TB if you just rip hundreds of Blu-Ray images to it, but would you actually watch even a fraction of them, could you actually consume 12TB worth of media in a year?  

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somethingelse

nevermind my comment, nice build :)

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