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what MoBo features for home fileserver?

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February 19, 2004 3:20:53 PM

I am planning to build a fileserver for my home to store large amounts of music, photos, home videos, etc. (Currently I have 300GB of data stored on 3 different PCs and it is getting too confusing.) This fileserver will have 4-6 HDs with ~1TB of storage. I plan to use SATA IDE disks. I may implement RAID on some of the disks but not all. It will connect to my 100Mb network (soon to be 1Gb). I don't plan to spend too much $ on this system so I need to choose components wisely.

What features should I be looking for in a Motherboard/CPU for a fileserver? I would like to keep the Mobo cost under $150 if possible. Graphics and sound are not important. In general, should I look for boards with on-board controllers for RAID and SATA or should I buy separate cards? Processor speed does not seem like it is an important feature here. Correct?

What features would you look for? Any specific recommendations?

More about : mobo features home fileserver

a b V Motherboard
February 22, 2004 12:00:02 AM

What motherboard? How about simply buying a system? My experience with file serving has shown me that nearly any computer built within the last 5 years is fast enough. Just add a PCI drive controller and as many drives as you like.

Why pay $150 for a board when a $150 system can do the job simply by adding a $30 drive controller?

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
February 22, 2004 5:41:56 PM

As crash said, you dont really need a $150 mobo, just get a system and add a decent storage system (A PCI RAID Controller perhaps) and it should do fine.

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February 23, 2004 12:05:33 AM

************* From Crashman:
What motherboard? How about simply buying a system? <skipped> Just add a PCI drive controller and as many drives as you like.
**************

Actually, I thought about that option quite a bit. I would like to hear from someone that has actually turned a retail system into a fileserver. Because when I researched the option of buying a system and adding controllers and drives what I found was:
- most purchased systems don’t have enough space or cooling for another 5 drives.
- most systems don’t have a big enough power supply for all the new drives.
- Most systems spend $ on graphics and sound when I don’t need them
- The cost to build is often equal or less than a retail system

Do you have a recommendation of a retail PC that can support a total of 6 HDs?
Thanks!
a b V Motherboard
February 23, 2004 2:09:07 AM

I'd still do it, I'd just be fussier about what case I used. Hard drives don't use huge power, a midtower with 3 hard drive bays is a good start: Eliminate the floppy drive (now 4 hard drives fit), and use the extra 2 CD drive bays (now 6 drives fit).

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
February 23, 2004 2:11:55 AM

BTW, what I'm suggesting here is a retail USED system. Forget about what you've heard, full sized Gateway Towers (like many universities use) are actually pretty good starting points (PIII processor, full ATX motherboard by Intel or MSI, a 3-drive rack, 3 5.25" bays, and 2 3.5" external bays, lots of room for drives). And they generally cost around $150 for the SYSTEM.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
February 24, 2004 5:08:20 AM

I'd have a lot more faith in the used Gateway full-sized PIII-750 system for $150 as far as quality and stability are concerned. Again I stress I'm talking about their workstation-style PC's with the full ATX cases, etc.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
February 24, 2004 6:44:46 AM

That's a 17" atx case. The mobo uses a sis chipset and the duron is a great little workhorse. Not for ocing for sure, but reliable and easily fast enough, and the big plus is it doesn't have years of unknown usage.
Unless it has been serviced by a quality tech, the gateway is near the end of it's usefull cycle.
a b V Motherboard
February 24, 2004 7:59:37 AM

Definately NOT. I've seen old Pentium 166's still usable with similar construction. Those things last nearly forever, occasionally killing a power supply or hard drive and that's about it. Now, when you buy one, you get a working one, so you know it doesn't have a burned power supply. And those "weak" 200W power supplies live a lot longer under constant load of hard drives than those cheap 350W units.

Basically I'm saying these are as close to industructable as you'll find. They're cheap and about 5x as fast as the fastest PC you'd ever (as in, forseeable future) need to be a home file server.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
February 25, 2004 12:39:45 AM

As far as what storage controller, if you've got 1 TB of files I highly recommend some form of redundant raid, like a RAID-1 or a RAID-5, or possibly a 1+0 (or 0+1 or 10 or 01 whichever stands for "striped with mirroring" I can't remember right now). If you just stripe them then a bad drive will kill it all, and if you mirror them then you lose lots of storage space, so maybe a raid-5 would be best since you won't need to do lots of fast random accesses and you won't need to stream raw video.

I wonder, is it possible to do a "Mirroring + JBOD" configuration? because if you have lots of different sized disks, that would use them most efficiently.
a b V Motherboard
February 25, 2004 12:52:52 AM

Wow, I've never heard of a mirrored "JBOD", but that is an array, you should be able to mirror it...

Anyway, if you're dealling with that much space maybe a RAID5 would be good, since I believe you can support up to 4 storage drives with 1 parity drive and get the redundancy you need.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
February 25, 2004 2:43:38 AM

Are you planning to resuse existing drives?

I like the Tualatin Celerons on an i815 chipset.

Cool running CPUs (ie: easy to make quiet) and a rock solid chipset.

RAID 5 is nice, but you'll have slowish write times (compared to something like RAID 10) but you'll have redundency and good drive usage. Of course on a 100mbit network the write times won't bother you.

I guess it comes down to how fast you want data, and if you want redundency.

Cheapest: Onboard headers. No backup.

Mid range: Cheap RAID 1/0/10 controller card. Can mirror drives for redundency but you'll only be able to use 50% of your total drive space.

Expensive: Six port RAID 5 controller. 6x 200gb drives = 1tb usable (84% usable). Very fast reads, writes should be as fast as onboard. If you're going 1000mbit ethernet you'll want an intel board with intel CSA ethernet or else you'll completely saturate the PCI bus.

It depends on the board, but most RAID 5 solutions will let you use as many drives as you have (minimum three). Well, I think 16 is the limit but I don't think any of us will be buying 16 port RAID 5 controllers.

If you're mainly reading data I'd be tempted to get an old computer, and put a nice RAID 5 array in it. Then in a year when you want to switch to 1000mbit find an old i875 with intel CSA ethernet, drop in a cheap s478 celeron or P4 and off you go.

US$

$275 - <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Promise SX6000</A>
$1050 - 6x <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">WD 200GB JB</A>

*Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.74 i815*
February 25, 2004 3:32:16 AM

Why not 4+ WDJB 250gb SATA drives, 4 gives you 1TB and it goes up from their. $225 a piece. Also, will something like this be able to go to SAS when it comes out? Just wondering for future sake.
February 25, 2004 12:13:58 PM

That is your cheapest option, but four gives you 1tb with no redundency. In RAID 5 four would give you 750mb (the space equall to one drive is used for storing parity information, so the more drives in a RAID 5 array the more cost effective it is).

SAS is completely different. It will be as compatible as PATA and SCSI are right now (ie: the only thing they share is the power connector).

$972 = $162 x 6 WD 200gb JD = 1tb RAID 5
$1075 = $215 x 5 WD 250gb JD = 1tb RAID 5
$860 = $215 x 4 WD 250gb JD = 1tb no backup

So if you want 1tb of RAID 5 then 6x 200gb is cheaper.

The difference between a setup with no backup and a RAID 5 array is ~$110 for the disks, and ~$100 for the controller. The question is do you want to spend extra (call it ~$250) to have your data protected against drive failure?

*Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.74 i815*
February 26, 2004 9:32:24 AM

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