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Any tips for my proposed Home Storage Server

Last response: in Systems
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December 18, 2006 4:30:52 AM

Hi there,

I've been thinking about building a storage server for my mp3,divx,other files for a while. Just wanted put forward what Im considering to see what the consensus is.

Intel Core 2 Duo E 6400 2.13 Ghz
DDR2 Twin2X 2048MB 240-pin DDR2 XMS2-6400 Corsair(2X1024MB)
ASUS P5B-Deluxe Wifi
Antec P180B case
Antec Neo Highly Efficient 2.2 550W Powersupply
4 Silenx 120mm Case fans
LG DVD-RW Supermulti Drive
160 GB Seagate SATAII 8 MB Hard drive for System Drive
and 3-6 ( Seagate 320 GB SATAII 16 MB Barracuda's 7200.10) I'm planning on putting these into a RAID 5 array using the onboard ICH8R chip on the Motherboard.

Just wanting to know how reliable this Controller on the motherboards is for RAID. Eg if the motherboard failed, would I be able to restore the array on another ASUS P5B ?

I'm planning to run Windows 2003 Server (64 bit maybe) and hopefully run some prerelease builds of longhorn server for some testing.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
December 18, 2006 5:14:23 AM

Hi Andrew,

To start off, do you ever plan to use this hardware for something other than a file/media server? Also, how many users are you planning to have?

If you're setting up something like a home media server, then right off the bat I'd say that what you have is major overkill (except for the HDDs). For instance, I built a home media server which I used for mp3 audio and xvid etc. video using an old Celeron 1700 MHz computer with only 128 MB of very old ram. This computer was plenty fast enough to do video streaming using VLC, and I also used it for transcoding (noticeably slower performance than my desktop, but I had the server on 24/7 and set up transcode to work on batches of files overnight.

Anyway, I guess my point is that the media server is not the most demanding of tasks in terms of anything other than hard drive capacity. I'd suggest taking any 3 to 5 year old computer and wipe it clean, install Gentoo, and control it remotely from your home theatre PC. I even had a friend of mine build a webpage hosted on the server where you could browse the files and have them streamed over VLC. If the internet were only fast enough, it would have worked anywhere (like using GNUmp3d, only with videos using VLC).
December 18, 2006 5:54:08 AM

A Home* Storage server??

Use any old machine you have kicking around, hell Athlon XP will do fine.

Buy two PCI RAID5 controllers. Unless you have a PCI-X or PCIe board, in which case buy two controllers for that interface. It doesnt matter much as you are accessing it over LAN and WLAN so the controller speed is not a bottleneck. The reason to buy 2 controllers is to have an identical spare. (much easier than searching for an identical card when it has been discontinued 3 years down the line) Keep #2 in a drawer or something.

Fill it full of hard disks.

Job done

Spending money on a C2D, 2GB of RAM, etc etc is just a waste for a Home* storage server.

* When I say home, I assume it will NEVER have more than 10 users, and most likely less than 5. If your family extends to 100 people or more, well then you will need a C2D system and probably SCSI disks to handle the queue depth. But tbh if your family is 100 strong you probably have more use the cash going to see a counsellor
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December 18, 2006 6:07:45 AM

Why not just get a NAS standalone unit? Then no matter what your current system is, those files will be available.

I believe that THG has a rather good review of some of these.

a potential gotcha for raid on built-in controllers is that the raid information is stored on the controller used. So change MB's, there goes the raid...
December 18, 2006 6:47:44 AM

Thanks for the response guys.

The server is going to be a multi purpose job, web server, SSL VPN, citrix maybe, even a virtual machine or 2 for testing/learning.

I think Croc pointed it out, in that the RAID information is stored on the motherboard. If for example the M/B died, am I pretty much stuffed in relation to my data on the RAID 5 set.

I looked at these NAS standalone units, was only looking at gigabit raid 5 jobs, and the good ones all end up being like $1100 AUD just for the Rig without drives, add drives and I might as well build my own that is more felxible.

I've chosen newer gear, 1 for lifespan on the equipment, 2 power efficiency and 3 quiet. I don't want no noisy server. I also don't have any old PC gear, oldest thing is a P4 Northwood 3.2GHz with 1.5 GB.

Since the server will be on 24/7 in non airconditioning, I'm trying my best to keep it cool and quiet using fans, which can be tough in the Summer here (QLD,AUS).

If a built on Mobo Raid controller dies, your stuffed, but if I get an Addon card one, will replacing the controller, if the first one dies, actually save my data?

Cheers !!
December 18, 2006 7:57:34 AM

If it is a card that you can xfer from one MB to the other, shouldn't be an issue. I personally haven't investigated add-on cards, but I understand that Adaptec makes a good one. Do check out the card thoroughly though, see how the the BIOS is maintained. Backup battery? etc. (got burned a few years back with some Mylex controllers that had a bios battery that wasn't easily replaceable...)

Sydney won't have your heat issues, from all accounts... All the weather reports end with 'two degrees below average' :)  Do I know you?
December 18, 2006 8:53:10 AM

My primary home server is a Barton 2500+ that I've reversed the OC on so it is running at native clock speed, (1.667G), 1G RAM, 1T archive storage + 120G OS drive, a DVD-R and a CD-RW, (mostly to fill the bay I couldn't find a cover for). The archive drives are 250G PATA JABOD on a PATA controller card. B/U is just to wait till I can fill a DVD or two and burn the individual files. It runs 24/7 directly off the perimeter router just so I *can* VPN to it. VPN uses minimal overhead as is the nature of the beast and if you need that much of a webserver what's your URL?

Basically it's just stuff I've u/g'd from, (except 2 of the 250's, got a sweet deal on woot.com). Even if you have to buy new, buy low-end new. Get a combo deal on MB/CPU. U/G the RAM on the P4 and pass the old stuff down. Don't mess with RAID, the daughter can live without her mp3's till you restore after an HD dies. Do the VM stuff on your main machine because no-one else needs it anyway. If you have the budget, go for it. Otherwise you're just dumping a bunch of cash into a system that hides in the basement.
!