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Windows 7: Considering a Windows Home Server 2011 Build


03 Apr 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
Considering a Windows Home Server 2011 Build

So, I'm doing the preliminary work to potentially replace an aging file server that I currently have in my house. A few days ago, I did the research on simply doing a NAS device (like the NetGear Ready NAS Ultra 2 Plus) and am generally pretty happy with what I have found. Now, I am considering the alternative of using something else like Windows Home Server 2011 and giving it a fair shake.

My original goal was to have something
1). Simple...didn't really want to have another system to maintain
2). Inexpensive....I don't need astounding performance
3). Quiet and Low Power Consumption
4). Data Protection is important, although I will back up regularly and keep offsite.
5). Offer DNLA support for streaming to devices like my PS3 and Xbox 360.

I'm starting to reconsider the use of the NAS device, as the RAID 1 will cost me 50% of my usable space. With something like Windows Home Server, I can choose to NOT duplicate some of the non important stuff (Internet downloads, ISO's...all that stuff that I can simply re-download in the event of a catastrophe)...and this means that I will have more disk space usable within my server.

Originally, when Windows Home Server came out, I was very excited about the Drive Extender technology that allowed for easy drive pooling..but then Microsoft decided to discontinue DE for Windows Home Server 2011. From what I have found, there are 3rd party vendors out there, making Add-In support that seems good (StableBit...I tested yesterday in a VM and it seems like it might be a good fit and is only $20).

So, I'm at the point where I am trying to assemble a list of hardware that will work for a Windows Home Server 2011 machine. So, looking for suggestions and thoughts on cases, mobos, and cpu's which will accomplish my goals of keeping costs down. Anybody have any suggestions? I'll likely buy everything from NewEgg, or potentially some hardware from Amazon.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Apr 2012   #2

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon | Win 7 Ult x64
 
 

Y'know - I went down this path 6 months ago. Eventually I ended up on Windows 2008 R2. The main reason instead of WHS 2011 was that I also run WSUS, Coldfusion, Firebird DB Server, and IIS. WHS was not the right choice.

But, I was previously running on Windows XP, and it did everything I needed. The only reason I upgraded to Win 2008 R2 standard was so I could take advantage of more memory.

I have a Technet subscription so cost of the OS was largely moot.

My system has 7 x 2TB WD EARX SATA 3 drives ($400~), though I don't have 7 SATA3 ports, so some of the drives are running at SATA 2.

I settled on an Intel I5-2400 CPU ($177), which is only marginally overclocked, 8 GB Corsair CL7 1600 MHZ memory ($69), on a Gigabyte Z68X-UD3R-B3 mobo. I put in a GTX 450 1GB Video card ($80), because I had it lying around, and there is no Video on the Z68X mobo ($149). The case is an Antec 900 - 2; Only because I like that case, it costs $90 and its easy to keep cabling tidy and with 7 drives I was worried heat would be a problem. As it is, temps are running at 27C most of the time. All fans are set on low speed, and I'm running a stock cooler.

The PSU is an ANTEC Truepower 750W ($132).

The system costs approximately 8 cents per hour to run. (Given that we pay 26.5c per Kilowatt)

The Z68X only has a single Gigabit NIC. On reflection, the only thing I would change is running two NICs. I have gigabit cabling and switches throughout the house, so I could have improved overall performance, but it's acceptable as it is I guess..

Important stuff is backed up to a couple of external 2 TB drives via USB 3. I don't run RAID of any sort, and static stuff is imaged to a Blu-ray Disk monthly. If I were to lose a drive it would not be a disaster, as the contents can typically be recreated without too much hassle.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Has Stablebit gone final? I had tried some beta versions and was only midly impressed.

As for the OS, I'm very impressed. It's almost like an appliance, once the original setup is done. It downloads it's updates quietly, and without my intervention. It's stable as well.

I have my system running on an i3-2100. It's more than powerful enough for the OS. I gave it 4 GB of memory, just because I had the extra sticks. It's running on an Intel H61 MicroATX board, that handles my video out as well. I spent a little extra on a RAID controller card, and have 4 x 1.5 TB drives in it now. However, I had been toying around with doing away with RAID and using a DE-like app if they are working properly now. That way, I can pull a drive to save for a spare, and not loose any space. The WD Green drives I use aren't the most recommended for RAID setups, but they work for me. They are quiet and low on power usage.

I'm using a CoolerMaster HAF912 case, which is cheap and has plenty of space for drives. The fans are quiet, and it offers plenty of ways to neatly cable the inside. It's my third HAF912, and I love them.

The motherboard is a Intel DH61BE, which was cheap, and offers me a way to reuse my 2600 once I eventually upgrade my primary sstem. DDR3 is dirt cheap right now, too. I think I paid $20 or so for my 2x2 GB Patriot Sector 5 sticks. It's an Intel board, so there's nothing fancy about it. It just runs stable, and was very easy to set up. No frills, no worries.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Apr 2012   #4

Windows 7 pro 64bit. (SP1)
 
 

TanyaC setup is overkill for simple storage task and power consumption is relatively high or so i think.
Most simple solution is NAS but i had bad experiences with nas and windows domain network so there may be some problems, and NAS dont really have much of a flexibility of windows server (or any full fledged os server in that regard).
if you dont run heavy tasks itx motherboard and atom CPU (one of the new ones 2cores and with 64bit support) is good for data storage server.
the problem is when you want to connect more HDDs because there will be not enough sata ports.
and on HDD there is really not much difference between sata2 and sata3.. mechanical drive is the bottleneck not port.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

@TanyaC. I too have a Technet subscription, via my job, but usually don't use any of my technet keys and such for permanent use deployments...I was actually planning to buy a copy of Windows Home Server 2011 OEM from NewEgg which is currently $52.

I don't need the extra functionality provided by Windows Server 2008 R2..in fact, I'm planning to retire my old domain controller setup running on Server 2003 as I just don't need it at home. I just want less complexity and I want to be 100% legit with my licensing.

This box will be a 100% dedicated file server. I won't be using it for anything else, running other services, etc. It's a hands-off, always on, 100% available box. So, there is no real incentive (for me) to running anything more sophisticated.

@Deacon: Stabilbit has gone final. I put it through the paces last night and it did everything ok that I threw at it in my VM. I added drives to the pool, took drives out of the pool, removed the drive from vmware so it simulated a failed drive, put it back and it handled everything as expected.



--------------------------------------------
My current plan for a build-out is as follows;

Case: NZXT Source 210 Midtower. $39
Newegg.com - NZXT Source 210 S210-001 Black “Aluminum Brush / Plastic” ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge. $124.99
Newegg.com - Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32100

Mobo: Intel BoxDH67CLB3. $89.99
Newegg.com - Intel BOXDH67CLB3 LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

RAM: 4GB G.Skill DDR3 1333 Dual Channel Kit. $29.99
Newegg.com - G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL8D-4GBHK

PSU: Corsair Builder Series CX430. 430W $44.99 and then a $20 MIR, so $24.99 after rebate
Newegg.com - CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 (CMPSU-430CXV2) 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Hard Drives;
--I plan to use a 500GB SATA drive that I have at home for the OS
--2 x Samsung 2TB SpinPoint F4 Green Drives in my drive pool: $129.99 each ($259.98)

Optical Drive:
--Not going to use one, will install WHS 2011 from USB key

OS:
Windows Home Server 2011 OEM Edition. $52.99
Newegg.com - Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011 64-bit OEM System Builder - Server Software

Video:
Onboard video from the i3 through the mobo. Perfectly fine for a headless server.

All in, I'm looking at about $640 after $20 MIR. This is only about $20 more than I was going to have into the NetGear ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Plus and 2 of the 2TB drives.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2012   #6

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon | Win 7 Ult x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by vaidas3 View Post
TanyaC setup is overkill for simple storage task and power consumption is relatively high or so i think.
Agreed, but as I said, I use the system for a Coldfusion server, wsus server and Web server and database server. Yes, power Here in Victoria, Melbourne, Aus is ridiculously expensive, But then, with 7 drives I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by vaidas3 View Post
and on HDD there is really not much difference between sata2 and sata3.. mechanical drive is the bottleneck not port.
Agreed. But when the cost of a SATA 3 drive is the same as a SATA 2 drive, why not leverage the technology?

I priced a NAS unit for this scneario when I started looking. The cost was significantly greater than the cost I ended up paying. For example, it was not uncommon to see 8 bay NAS storage boxes over $1,200 USD, and you still had to add drives. (Eg Buffalo, Synology)

I was simply trying to give the OP some perspective on things. The unit I run is much cheaper than a NAS unit to do the same thing, and considerably more flexible, and has a far wider scope for use for something other than just storage.

NAS is NAS. And that's all it does. There seems to be as many hassles with NAS as there is for Windows and PCs, so there is no real advantage, at least from my perspective, to limit oneself to using NAS. Hence the direction I ended up going.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Yes, larger NAS boxes do indeed cost a lot more. Obviously, you can add more hard drives to a Windows server (or Linux ) for that matter quite easily. That's why I was only looking at a 2 day NAS setup, as I didn't want to spend the money on the 4-6-8 bay NAS cabinet.

I'm quite intrigued right now with my server build for less than $600. That might really be the way that I end up going. I would have probably bought this already, had I not done nearly $900 of needed repairs to my car yesterday.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2012   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

The beauty of WHS v1 and WHS 2011 is that they can run perfectly fine on very power efficient hardware. There are a ton of people running WHS on Atom boards. I did that for over a year until I decided to beef up my system (I had an ASRock H55M Pro with an i3-530 laying around doing nothing).

I'm not a fan of drive pooling or any of the software solutions that replaced DE, so I put in a Highpoint RAID card instead. I prefer hardware RAIDs over software RAIDs - I don't like taxing the CPU for drive functions when a card can take care of it.

I use my WHS 2011 primarily for media, and I have to say I love it. I have two computers that record TV shows - and they are automatically archived to the WHS, all my computers have access to my DVD/BD library, along with my BD Prime 3.0 player. I can enable DLNA and listen to my music on my Onkyo receiver, too. All in all, it's a great solution for a home media solution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2012   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I prefer hardware raid too, for servers at work and such. For my home server, I won't need the performance. The drive pooling isn't raid, so there should not be much CPU overhead. I like the simplicity of expanding and being able to remove drives from the pool. Plus, I don't have to commit to a raid level with pooling. And if a drive failed, I can plug it in alone, and get data off it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Apr 2012   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I'm about 95% ready to make my purchase. I am going to change out the CPU from the standard Core i3-2100 to the Core i3-2100T which is the 35W version of the Core i3-CPU...which will be just fine for my server needs. I think I will be ordering the parts tomorrow.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Considering a Windows Home Server 2011 Build




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