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budget storage server

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November 29, 2005 5:42:53 AM

Alright i know some about this but i am calling on people who know more then i do....

I am looking to build a giant storage server....
I have two computers that i would like to acess this storage, i can see upto 4 total computers pulling information from them at one time in the future. I am interested in a SATA RAID5 hardware based solution because it is faster and it allows for the speed i would like for transfers, and also the security of a backup drive.....



1. Should i use software based? am i not going to see much of a gain from hardware based RAID5?

2. What cpu would i need for this? something simple like the AXP 1700+ i have laying around? i have an old compaq that has that and 512MB of PC133 RAM....is that going to be good enough? i assume so but i dont know for sure.

3. Is there a magic number of drives i shuld use? I was thinking maybe 4 with room to grow to 8

4. I know that hardware based RAID5 will rebuild a lost drive when you replace it with new one....but will it rebuild everything if i add drives? going from 4-8 or something like that? From what i have read it seems like it can but i dont know.

5. So my server would be a crappy cpu, crappy ram, crappy mobo, server case for holding the HDDs, a couple case fans, a NIC card(i know its redundant i just think it sounds better that way) PSU, who knows how many HDDs, and Windows XP home(i have a licence for it, it would be nice t be able to use it if i can) Do i need anything else? I mean ANYTHING else?

6. Do i just set it up as a regular computer that just happens to have a TB of space and connect through my router to the rest of my computers? Thats what i am thinking but i could be wrong.



Total budget i am looking around $1000 for a startup but hoping i can add in drives and the hardware will rebuild the new drives into the system as i need.

I am tired of burning to DVD's to save space when i get movies to edit.....i pull them on my HDD, edit, burn to DVD. I would like to have all the movies at my finger tips so i can more easily put together compliations of my friend band durring different shows. I have a bunch of small irritations....just looking for something to make my life easier....and i want to see the look when people find out i have a 2TB storage server :lol: 

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November 29, 2005 8:12:41 AM

Wusy will have a lot to say about this, but to get you started:

1) HARDWARE... Say is with me again: HARDWARE!!!!!!

Do a bit of research on RAID 5 and how the XOR operation is used to calculate parity information. In a software based solution (or a cheap hardware solution), this calculation is pushed to the CPU, causing a large bottleneck. A good hardware based solution will have a dedicated processor to make those calculations itself as the data is flowing in. There's a huge performance benefit from this.

2) For a pure file server, a 1700+ sounds like is should do the job. 512 MB of RAM is a little low though if you're having 2 - 4 connections happening. I'd say expand it to 1 GB

3) RAID5 can be implemented with 3 HDDs, but 4 is definitly better. But more drives will always give you better performance (though the gain per drive will decrease). Also depends on your bus speed and what the bottleneck there is. On top of that, as a server, most of your content will be flowing over e-net (I assume), so there's an even larger bottleneck (unless you got some pretty high-end networking equipment...) Take that as you will to figure out where your optimum lies.

4) I can't imagine a RAID5 solution being able to expand its drive base (will make sense if you learn how RAID5 works). Thus, you'll have to back-up your data, create a new array, and put the data back on the new array if you want to expand the number of drives.

5) This is not a something that standard home machine does, so I'd guess that the support that XP Home provides for this kind of an implementation would be limited. I'd suggest going with XP Pro, Win 2003 Server (if available), or as a third option, a Linux distro. Use it as a learning experience. I've heard good things about Ubuntu.
November 29, 2005 10:02:12 AM

Aggree with emogoch...
#7 you are right depending on how many connections you will be making. I think XPhome and Pro support up to 10 connections per seat, but this can be modded to more in registry making it act like a larger server. I would think Pro would be best, especially if not more than 6 or 8 nodes.
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November 29, 2005 6:49:41 PM

1) Hardware. Either that or an 8-way dual core (=16cores) opteron system to handle the overhead in software. :twisted:

2) Plenty. (that runs at about 1.3g right?) 512 will be enough. More would be necessary if you run the additional security of server 2003, but XP Home will be fine with 512.

3) Sounds fine to me - more = more performance of course.

4) Depends on the firmware. Some controllers will expand, some won't. Don't remember which is which but the reviews I've read this year (Anand? Xbit?, I forget where... :oops:  ) mentioned that some can and some can't.

5) UPS/surge protection? Keyboard? Ok, too far off the path you wanted... :p  I can't think of anything.

6) That will be fine for a small, trusted, home network. Yes, XP Home is limited to I think 5 concurrent connections, 5 PCs *at a time* (i.e., disconnect the shares from PC5 so PC6 can connect) is the limit. Emogoch is right, that's not what XP Home is made for, but it will do it just fine in a limited situation like a home network.

Mike.
November 29, 2005 8:56:55 PM

I have read about the XOR works, and how RAID 5 works....but most of the atricles written are for MASSIVE servers and have nothing to do with what i want.

Mine will be used at home, on a local network, not connected to the internet, with 4-5 people using it at one time MAX. but i doubt it will even get 2 people at the same time.....It would be in my apt and when my buddy came over he could throw new stuff from his band onto the server while i am still doing something on it.

I know hardware is the way to go for high end servers but they are also like $400. 95% of the time its just going to be me using it, and i am using RAID5 for backup options so i can have an insane amount of stuff wihout worring about a HDD crashing. So i was curious ifi could save some money and just us a software based system for just me and maybe on rare chances 1-2 oher people? I will probably end up going Hardware based, but i am just curious.


again, i am not using it for speed....just to safely store my data. i dont care about bottlenecks over my network, or things like that.


I know a RAID5 will rebuilda lost drive once you replace it. And i am ALMOST sure i remember a couple reviews talking about it being expandible....but maybe i misunderstood. I thought i would have a 4drive system and put 4 more drives in and then click some button and the hardware based system wuld redivide the whole storage throughout all of them. there is no reason it couldn't be done, it would take some time but i would be willing to let it write and all that for 3-4 even 10hours to expand my server size.


I know XP Pro or 2003Server would be best....but i already have a licence of XP home...and that means no added cost. If i can set it up like a home computer that just happens to have 2TB of storage i will...i am not looking for speed, but more for a giant place to dump everything so i dont have to worry about HDDs crashing. Maybe if i get to a situation where i have more then 2 people hooked up to it, i would use something better like Server2k3. But i just need to know if XPhome will work.
November 29, 2005 10:11:32 PM

For Windows XP Professional, the maximum number of other computers that are permitted to simultaneously connect over the network is ten. This limit includes all transports and resource sharing protocols combined.

For Windows XP Home Edition, the maximum number of other computers that are permitted to simultaneously connect over the network is five.
November 30, 2005 2:30:56 AM

Thx, Rich.

Hmm, that means its possible for 1 computer to use up more than 1 connection. Could be a problem in some situations.

Mike.
November 30, 2005 9:19:00 PM

bump for more ideas
December 1, 2005 2:33:00 AM

What about an NAS device? I think I saw some multibay boxes for them on sale somewhere... hmmm...

And its getting late and I found something else to go browsing for... No wonder my wife hates computers... :lol:  :? :lol: 

Mike.
December 1, 2005 2:42:07 AM

Wow, the NAS 'frames' I saw weren't worth it. I wonder if you can find someone with an NAS-like Linux distro - DL/Install/forget.

I personally think you should just load up XP home and run with it... but then again, I live dangerously that way. 8)

Mike.
December 1, 2005 3:10:36 AM

I am thinking i'll just run XP home because i see no limitations with it...just preferences about going down a different path.

What controller should i use?
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