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Windows Home Server new build - suggestions needed

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May 7, 2008 8:47:33 PM

I am going to build a system for my Basement that will be running Windows Home Server. Please make some hardware suggestions. ( I am still learning). I will use this system to stream Video, Audio, as well as back the Three computers in my home- kids and wife. I will need alot of storage 2TB's. Thanks in advance for the help!
May 7, 2008 8:58:54 PM

Get a motherboard with lots of SATA (ie P35-DS3R) ports or get 2* 1TB HDDs.

A E2160/2180 CPU OCed (~2.6Ghz, easy OC on the E2160/2180) will run a WHS fine. Also consider RAID since you will be doing backups and the like, the RAID performance is worth it.
May 8, 2008 12:36:44 PM

Which Case do you recommend? I guess just an average low grade Video card since I wont be using this as a work station? How much ram is needed ? Is much ram used in streaming video or making backups? As you can see I am new at this. Any input would be appreciated
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May 9, 2008 3:10:21 PM

I like the cheap coolermaster cases, onboard video is fine. no need to overclock a the above cpu, WHS doesnt use much cpu power. Your boot drive should be medium large, 250, 320g at least and then data drives should be big. 500g is a sweet spot for price. Drive 1 is where all data transfers land and then get moved to the storage pool, drives 2 and up. WHS does not support raid, but it wont know any different either. it sees logical drives like any other os. WHS has its own duplication system similar to raid but it is much more simple. There is a known bug in WHS and the fix is nearing release. I would wait for powerpack1 to release before putting any important data on it. Theres no need for more than 2 drives unless you need more space or unless you utilize the duplication function which makes the data redundant on different drives automatically. I havent experienced the data corruption issue and I love my homebrew homeserver. the backup feauture alone was worth it for me. It saved my bacon on my wife's pc 2 days ago. restored the image from the server in about 30 minutes and it was back to normal.

If you can hide the case away somewhere dont worry about noise. Onboard video is good, if not find an old pci video card. Once the install is finished, you dont need anything but a power cord and a network cord attached.
May 9, 2008 9:01:06 PM

^ Agreed on GPU power. But most good new Intel chipset P35/X38 based boards don't come with on board video. A 8400GS or the like would work perfectly fine (providing you get it for less than $30, above that is not worth it for a 8400GS)

@OP: Exactly what are the demands on the server? Are there going to be multiple large file transfers at the same time,etc? What is your budget?
June 16, 2008 4:31:03 AM

Make sure you read up on WHS before planning your build. www.wegotserved.co.uk is a really good site, plus there are some Microsoft forums, too.

Avoid RAID for WHS builds.

There are many cool add-ins for WHS that you may want to look at before you plan your build. For example, SageTV (www.sagetv.com) has a WHS edition that turns your server into a really powerful media server. You can use the server box to do your recording and storage of media files instead of your 'main' computer. (side note: if you do this you will want at least 1 drive outside of the managed pool to handle media recordings - see the sage materials and forums for details).

You should get a motherboard with integrated graphics (Intel DG33TLM is a good choice, or Asus M2A-VM if you like AMD). The G33 chipset from Intel has low power usage, as well as the 690 boards for AMD systems. Dedicated graphics boards are power hogs and not necessary in a headless server (WHS is meant to be run headless, i.e., without a monitor - you will always be using a client to access the server).

Western Digital, Hitachi, and Samsung have big yet energy-efficient drives available. WD also has a special "AV" line (Audio Visual) for systems that do a lot of media streaming - these are energy-efficient with a few tweaks to better handle media streaming demands.

I'd recommend an energy-efficient dual core, either 45W or 65W parts from the appropraite company based on your MB. CPU power is not very important for the most server duties, but you don't want to hamstring yourself if you add functions to your box later on. No real reason to OC any parts of your WHS box.

Pick a case you like that fits your space, has good ventilation, and can hold the number of drives you plan on adding. Please DO NOT use a cheap power supply. I highly recommend the EA380 EarthWatts from Antec. These are highly efficient PSUs actually made by Seasonic. Energy efficiency is important for always on servers because of 1) your energy bill and 2) the heat build up inside the case. I recommend using the fewest number of energy efficient parts that meet your needs when planning any computer, especially a server.

Good luck and have fun. It is a very usefull OS.
June 16, 2008 4:44:58 AM

Just curious alterna- why should you avoid RAID on WHS?

Servers are one of the few places RAID is really useful.
June 16, 2008 4:53:40 AM

RAID is recommended against on WHS builds because of the unique data-redundancy feature built into WHS (the managed storage pool). Microsoft says to avoid, and several reviewers have played with it and found difficulties. Of course, some people love their RAID and have found ways to use it anyway!! MS was going for the 'everymans' server OS with WHS, and I think they did a decent job. They created their own basic form of data redundancy to avoid the need for RAID setups. (of course power users hate being given simple, feature-limited solutions!!).
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