Rebuild home desktop pc to home file server


I've read lots of posts before on this forum. Today, I became a member to ask for some advice on this project. It's my first project where I'll build the system myself.

I have a NAS which I want to replace by a home desktop server. The main purpose will be downloading and storing media files. It will also be used for backups of other data. I plan on using Ubuntu Server.

What I have now is a five year old gaming config.

Case: Thermaltake Armor
Motherboard: Asus Maximus II Formula
CPU: Intel Core2 Quad Processor Q9300
GPU: AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870
RAM: 8,00GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 399MHz (6-6-6-18)
Storage: WD Black 1 TB SATA Hard Drives ( WD1002FAEX)
PSU: Corsair TX650M

Approximate Purchase Date: this month, a.s.a.p

Budget Range: about 400 or 500 euros (i.e. 550 - 680 USD)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: File server for media files, backup for other files, downloading through torrents

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: I'm looking to replace the motherboard, CPU, RAM, Storage

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I'm going to order on this site:

Location: Ghent, Belgium

Parts Preferences: I want the system to be low budget where possible and I want it to be energy efficient.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: I'll configure the file server using a Full HD monitor

Additional Comments: I'd thought to use a mirroring raid1 volume for the backup volume using an extra SATA RAID controller. For other storage I was gonna use loose disks because the data is replaceable. The system will be running on an SSD. I already have some disks, the others I will purchase later, probably WD Reds.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: See top of this post.

My "upgraded" parts thus far
I was planning on keeping the case and the PSU, ditching all the rest.

Motherboard: MSI B85-G41 PC Mate
CPU: Intel® Pentium® Processor G3220
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper212 Evo
GPU: Intel Graphics Chip on CPU
RAM: G.Skill 8 GB DDR3-1600 Kit
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V300 SV300S37A/60G, 60GB SSD
SATA Raid Controller: HighPoint Rocket 640L
Hard drive bay: Cooler Master 4-in-3 Device Module

Any remarks/advice?
If there are any questions or things that I haven't made quite clear, do not hesitate to ask. All kinds of feedback are welcome!
10 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about rebuild home desktop home file server
  1. For a Ubuntu Server configuration, if all parts are working properly, the only thing I would look at switching out would be the storage - save your money on the mobo, cpu, cpu cooler, GPU, RAM, RAID controller....

    My build would be the following:
    1) Optional SSD for operating system - $119
    2) WD Black 4TB Drives - $219 each

    If you purchased two hard drives and one SSD, install the OS on the SSD, make one drive the primary data drive, and utilize the second for backups.

    RAID is great in large installations where uptime of 100% is necessary, in most home installations, the benefits of RAID diminish greatly, and RAID is not a replacement for a good backup.
  2. You can setup an incredibly efficient and useful server on a Raspberry Pi. I wouldn't mention this alternate route if I hadn't tried it, and coming from an old PC server - this works out perfectly.
  3. Hi ronintexas,

    Thanks for your feedback. I know that RAID is not a replacement for backup. I would use the RAID1 as backup for data that's stored on other computers, like I'm doing now with the NAS.

    I actually wanted to get rid of the gpu which consumes too much - unneeded - power. So I replaced the current system by a less consuming system. Any ideas on how to accomplish this without the "upgrade"?

    I already have 6 2TB hard drives which I'll be using for the moment and I'll buy the 4TB drives you recommend in the near future.
  4. Hi p4nz3rm4d,

    I've tried the raspberry pi as well, using raspbian. It is now in my closet, it's not powerful enough to be used for torrents.
    What do you use yours for? Solely as file server then?
  5. I agree with the torrent performance, but I use mine as a NAS and personal cloud using OwnCloud. This is a decent guide on what you can do with it.
  6. Best answer
    I use this card in multiple machines where onboard graphics aren't available:

    It is cheap, efficient, doesn't use a fan, and runs cool. Supports 2 monitors as well....

    In my personal systems at home, I am running 4 computers (mine, my wife's, my 2nd computer and an HTPC). In my personal computer, I use an SSD for OS, a WD Black 1TB for data, and a WD Black 4TB for backing up all 4 PC's. I use Synchback Free ( to backup the data drives in the other PC's.

    My 2nd computer I use for downloading updates, drivers and other stuff, store it to a shared volume, and install on the other computers when needed. I run the backups of the data drives and browser settings daily. Synchback Free only backs up changed files, so it is quick on the average day - plus if you delete a file, it is retained on the backup.

    I never use RAID at home - not worth the risk, and the cost to mirror drives is high and inefficient for home use. The real power of RAID is in servers where you have many users (25+ simultaneous) or large databases. An example is my SQL server has 14 300GB drives in RAID 5 (mirrored/striped) to give me a high speed array (they are all 15k SAS drives). If a drive fails, I replace it with one of my spares, and it rebuilds quickly.

    RAID will give you a performance boost, but not much, and mirroring drives actually slows down the system a touch.

    So at home, if you make a server with 6 2TB hard drives, you can have 6 shares allocated for backups and/or data storage. Since you aren't using it by drive letter most of the time now, it is transparent in computers (you map libraries to go to the drive/folder you want and programs are installed - you just click an icon). The old DOS days where you had to remember which drive things were installed on is gone with Windows Vista/7/8.
  7. p4nz3rm4d said:
    I agree with the torrent performance, but I use mine as a NAS and personal cloud using OwnCloud. This is a decent guide on what you can do with it.

    Thanks for the tip, I'll be checking out that guide as a side project, looks interesting!


    I think you copied the wrong link pointing towards the video card you use.
    It would be the cheaper solution indeed.

    What if I want to connect more disks? After the SSD, the eight SATA ports on the mobo will be occupied. Is the SATA controller any good?

    I'll have a similar setup like yours, so the file server will be used for streaming purposes and backups as well.
    In the past I've worked with SyncBack as well, thanks for reminding me! I'll be following your advice and invest my money in the better SSD and an extra hard drive. Why are you using the black disks for backup and not the red variant?
  8. WD Black are the most reliable disks for desktop and entry level servers - you can't get better performance and reliability without going to enterprise drives. I typically utilize a drive for 5-6 years before banishing it to the "backup drive". If you have two drives, the theory is it is almost impossible to have multiple hard drive failures at the same time (it can happen). Usually by the time you get to 5-6 years, the price of new drives, and the sizes available make it an easy choice just to replace them (they are then reallocated to my "emergency drive" pile).

    You can pickup sata controllers cheap - less than $50 (I have seen them as low as $10).

    The video card is the ASUS GT-210 Silent
  9. You can always get an external hard drive enclosure on the cheap as well (no need to worry about internal power supplies or additional heat:

    An adapter card is cheap - $10
  10. Okay, so I've bought the video card and the SSD you recommended. I haven't bought the SATA controller yet. I'm gonna test the system first with the disks that I have.

    I'm gonna start replacing/adding the hardware and I'll let you know once it's up and running!
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