Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Affordable File Server

Tags:
  • Homebuilt
  • File Server
  • Systems
  • Product
Last response: in Systems
Share
June 27, 2007 3:13:15 AM

All the topics around here seem to be about gaming rigs or there are a few about media center pcs. I am interested in getting the forums opinion on an affordable and upgradeable file serving solution. Does it really pay to go for server grade motherboards and processors? Any suggestions on system specs are welcome with a focus on motherboard, processor, and hardware RAID 5 solution which supports later expansion of the RAID.

More about : affordable file server

June 27, 2007 4:40:25 AM

Hey Umbra, My server is just an old AMD 3500+ 64, 1 GB Ram, 80GB O/S drive and 2x 160gb drives for storage, running server 2003. mines a dedicated game server/ media server.
so it dosent have to be spectacular as mine shows.
cheers
Dano
June 27, 2007 5:59:03 AM

my file server at home is my old amd64 2800+ underclocked to 1Ghz and undervolted to 1.2V with 1 Gb DDR400 RAM. I started it with 2x250GB on linux software raid 5 and grew it one disk at a time. its running fedora core 6 with samba shares to our windows machines over a Gb LAN.

now the array has 4x 250Gb on the array. and will be adding a 5th one probably by next month.

i'd suggest you stick to software raid just coz it would be one less link that could break on you and you won't be tied to any hardware. ie you can replace your whole mother board and as long as at least all (-1) of your HDs are there, most recent distros will be able to detect your array and acces your data.

as for performance, with only 2 disks i was able to sustain around 40MB/s over our LAN at around 40% CPU utilization. i haven't tried to push the envelope since i added more disks tho.

all this is with 3-4 year old consumer grade parts - including mobo, cpu and disks. alot of ATX size boards today can support around 6-8 sata disks with a couple of ide's to boot and it doesnt even have to support any sort of raid to use software raid so you can probably put the funds you'd use for a raid controller to larger/faster disks.

i don't know what you'll be serving with your system but my current setup currently supports streaming divx video to 6 clients PCs without using 100% CPU utilization and without the video skipping.

so with that as a point of reference, i probably wouldn't need a server board sooner than i need a larger switch. :) 

hope it helps. :) 
Related resources
June 27, 2007 5:19:39 PM

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. The server will be used mostly for streaming media files just as you said, but I don't know what I might use it for in the future that's why I was concerned with there being an easy upgrade path.

A couple questions about the software raid, as I have always used hardware... I seem to recall someone saying software raid was less reliable, i.e. more prone to failure than hardware and not to mention slower. So if I wanted the server to encode video at the same it was streaming would it pay for me to get a raid card?

From what I gather... server grade components seem to be a waste of money for my application. That being said would an E4300 and P965 motherboard be advisable? Is there any advantage to going with a 650i?
June 27, 2007 6:20:05 PM

Quote:
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. The server will be used mostly for streaming media files just as you said, but I don't know what I might use it for in the future that's why I was concerned with there being an easy upgrade path.

A couple questions about the software raid, as I have always used hardware... I seem to recall someone saying software raid was less reliable, i.e. more prone to failure than hardware and not to mention slower. So if I wanted the server to encode video at the same it was streaming would it pay for me to get a raid card?

From what I gather... server grade components seem to be a waste of money for my application. That being said would an E4300 and P965 motherboard be advisable? Is there any advantage to going with a 650i?


my file server currently holds 2.5 terabytes of storage, raid 5, 6 x 500 gig western digital wd5000ys, upgradeable to 11+ terabytes.

amd processor, asus board with two pci-express slots, 650w power supply, big ass case.

voila
June 27, 2007 6:24:39 PM

Sorry, I disagree about the RAID. Software RAID puts more load on CPU and is tied to the type of RAID controller on the motherboard. If you cannot get the same controller, your array is gone! Hardware raid, you can move the controller to a new motherboard. It is also possible to get controllers that do not require drivers to work with OS.

Mike.
June 27, 2007 10:40:10 PM

Valis--
Your setup as far as space and the ability to upgrade to 11 terabytes is what I am looking for. What type of RAID solution are you using?

Mike99--
Thanks for the input. I was leaning more towards the hardware solution. Do you have any recommendations for RAID cards?

Thanks,
Umbra
June 28, 2007 12:38:06 AM

Quote:
Sorry, I disagree about the RAID. Software RAID puts more load on CPU and is tied to the type of RAID controller on the motherboard. If you cannot get the same controller, your array is gone! Hardware raid, you can move the controller to a new motherboard. It is also possible to get controllers that do not require drivers to work with OS.

Mike.


i think you were referring to software raid implemented in hardware. which are the types they advertise as "hardware" raid built into consumer boards like the one in p965-s3, in which case, yes you are correct. this happen to me a couple of times already on my windows installation and i got screwed big time.

i was referring to the software raid implemented in the linux kernel which is handled by the os, not any specific hardware. no driver is even necessary as the os needs them to be no more than block devices to run them in a raid configuration.

as for performance, yes the software raid i use does eat up cpu cycles. in my case, since it does no other cpu intesive task it works for me. as for OP who will be encoding video as well, it may or may not make sense depending on how much time he wishes to dedicate to encoding or if the encoding work is time critical.

that said, if that was my case, i'd still rather invest that money into a faster CPU or faster/more RAM. as for _true_ hardware raid, i haven't had much experience with it that i can compare easily to consumer-level solutions. all i can say is that 3 15k cheetahs on hardware raid 5 in the opty server i'm handling at work flies like zooooom. :) 

tho that might just as well be the raw disk speed or the other enterprise-level hardware.
June 28, 2007 11:44:42 AM

Quote:
They can be very expensive, but this http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProdu...
is pretty cheap.


Yes this is a great card and I use the 5 port version in my game machine with 5 160 GB drives connected to it. The only problem is the company that made and developed NetCell's Revolution Media Storage Processor, Netcell Corporation, seems to have disappeared from the face of the planet. I can’t find any info on what happened to them. I suppose if XFX has the rights to the technology and keeps selling the card you can always get a replacement. I’ve had no problem with the XFX card I have, it’s fast, and as far as any OS is concerned it looks like one great big SATA drive.
June 28, 2007 5:46:04 PM

Quote:
Thanks for the input. I was leaning more towards the hardware solution. Do you have any recommendations for RAID cards?

Thanks,
Umbra


They can be very expensive, but this http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProdu...
is pretty cheap.

Mike.

Do you know of any US retailer that carries these cards? I can't seem to find it at any of the usual place, i.e. newegg, zipzoomfly, and tigerdirect.

And does anyone know of any charts comparing RAID controller cards?
June 29, 2007 12:06:06 AM




HOLY CRAP!! At that price, I didn't see how I could pass that controller up... Then I noticed according to the specs it doesn't support RAID 5. Although, one of the reviews mentions using it??? Thanks for the link BadDad. I am going to have to keep that card in mind if I can't find a controller that supports RAID 5 that I like.
June 29, 2007 1:02:50 AM

How much storage do you need exactly? Have you thought about just buying a used server? Fileservers generally don't need super fast processors. Seems to me something like a Dell PowerEdge 2400 tower would make a great server and 36GB SCSI SCA drives are pretty cheap.

Seems you can get PE2500s for about $200 shipped with SCSI RAID arrays already in place...
June 29, 2007 2:26:01 AM

Quote:
How much storage do you need exactly? Have you thought about just buying a used server? Fileservers generally don't need super fast processors. Seems to me something like a Dell PowerEdge 2400 tower would make a great server and 36GB SCSI SCA drives are pretty cheap.

Seems you can get PE2500s for about $200 shipped with SCSI RAID arrays already in place...


The primary use will be as a media file server for movies and music. I would like to start out with a TB, so SCSI drives are not the way to go for me. What do you guys think of this card?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Performace probably isn't stellar but it's cheap. I am just looking to get the best price/performance ratio.
June 29, 2007 10:15:19 AM

I have a 1640 in my game server and have had no problems with it for three years. It has four 80 GB drives, 2G memory, and uses a 640 processor.
!