Questions about building a home server

I made a post in the New System Build area, but then after looking around I found this Server area, so I think this might be a better place, but I'm not sure since my questions are more for building a home server so I can learn about them, and not building one for professional purposes. But I really want to learn about servers, and I figure the best way to do that is build one from scratch and learn it the trial and error way. As a student, I get a free license for Windows Server 2008, so I was thinking about using that as an OS, but Ubuntu is always a solid option (and would force me to get more familiar with Linux beyond simple user use.)

Since I have never built a box to be used as a server, I am hesitant on what to purchase. I am wanting to use the server for File Sharing/FTP and Web Hosting.

I already have a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 RPM 1.5 TB SATA 32 MB Cache, and I was thinking about picking up a second one.

As for a motherboard and Processor, I was thinking:

E5200 - 2.5GHz and a GIGABYTE GA-G41M-ES2L


AMD Athlon II x2 3.0GHz with either GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H or GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P

I want to go with 2GB ram for now, I haven't found anywhere that recommends going to 4GB for a home server.

Even though the CPUs are both low watts, I plan on getting about a 600 or 700 watt to make sure I have enough power for my HDDs and room to grow.

The Antec Three Hundred looks like it has enough bays for growth.

Anyone have an opinion about using Intel or AMD over the other, or any issues that anyone has come across building a home server with any of that hardware? Or any other suggestions that anyone has?

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More about questions building home server
  1. The Athlon II X2 3.0GHz will:
    1. Perform better
    2. Socket last longer & more upgradeable
  2. Alright, then I think I will go with the Athlon II X2 3.0GHz. Now just deciding on a motherboard. Thanks!
  3. Best answer
    I am wanting to use the server for File Sharing/FTP and Web Hosting.

    Anything else? Even if it only interests you.

    Anything LGA775 or DDR2 is a certainly a no-no, so for budget your best option is from AM3. Cheaper RAM and more processor options in the future if you start with Athlon II X2 and 2x2GB now.

    2yrs ago as a student virtual machine software weren't as fully developed as they're today. Today with that option now available and working in the industry, almost anything can be tested/experimented in a VM, on top of running the usual bunch of housekeeping VMs. Basically what that means is more cores and RAM. And in my case picking out a mobo to take all the NICs & storage controllers for which I went with MSI 790FX-GD70.
  4. Quote:
    Anything else? Even if it only interests you.

    I'm not really sure yet. This is my first venture into Servers. After thinking about it, I might go with Ubuntu to get more familiar with Linux and the command line. I can't think of anything else that I would use a server for except maybe streaming media to a PS3 or 360.

    Being that this is my first time into this, I don't want to go too heavy into it, but I also don't want it to be a dinosaur. That is why I wasn't on planning to go with DDR3 Ram. Although I haven't looked at DDR3 prices lately, I figured I could get up to 4GB of DDR2 for a decent price.
  5. Production of DDR2 is already scaling back while DDR3 keeps ramping up. Today DDR3-1333 and DDR2-1000 2x2GB kit are already the same price. In 1yr+ time 4GB DDR3 modules should be more common and affordable than they're today and 2GB modules will become dirt cheap. The other thing is Athlon II without L3 cache relies on faster RAM to make up potential speed loss under some conditions.

    Small list of my 'housekeeping' VMs:
    -Asterisk server (I switch between Trixbox and Elastix distro)
    -pfSense (occasionally takes place of Vyatta)
    -Soon, a NAS distro
    -Server 2008 R2 + Exchange 2010

    You get the idea...
  6. Adding the ability of a NAS would be nice.

    Im not sure exactly what Vyatta is used for, but it seems pretty interesting. I'm going to read more about it.

    Reading more into the Raid options, I'm not sure that I will be setting up anything right now. I will only be running one 1.5TB drive at the moment but will be expanding to two 1.5TB drives, but until I get a third drive to do a Raid 5, I would rather just have more space since this is just my first build, and when that time comes, I would start a new one and get a serious Mobo.

    This changes my motherboard options.

    The Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P has support for 16GB DDR3 w/ 1 year warranty
    The Asus M4A78LT-M LE has support for 8GB DDR3 w/ 3 years warranty at $65.00.

    Neither have the Raid options the MSI board you showed me has, but by the time I have enough drives to do a Raid 5 or 6, I could just rebuild into a new Mobo. I have used alot of Asus Mobos for desktops and I have been really satisfied with them and the warranty when I had to use it on a video card.

    Would 2x 1GB be enough DDR3 Ram or do I need 2x 2GB DDR3?
  7. If you want RAID w/ parity (5 or 6) for a storage array then absolutely no Intel Matrix RAID or AMD RAIDXpert (or any host-based). Pick either a true hardware RAID controller with BBU or go for a *nix distro that can do ZFS (for RAID-Z).
    I picked up a used Dell PERC 5/i for $110. There's four LSI MegaRAID 8408E (same card) that's cheap on fleaBay currently if you want to get it.

    The only advantage I found of using a controller over *nix software RAID is storage pool/array can be shared and concurrently accessed by all other VMs, the controller gets virtualised. While with VM'd *nix only itself can access the data, otherwise sent over NIC.

    2x2GB DDR3-1333 is ~$110 now. Best $/GB atm. 2x1GB is very 2008. ;)
  8. Hardware virtualization, is very usefull when trying to learn about servers. It's a good reason to have more then 2 GB of RAM. I would go with 4GB if it's in your budget.
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