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I need some advice about a home server setup

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November 19, 2010 2:17:15 AM

I would like to use a spare computer and to build a new, cheap, system and to use them both as servers. I have an Intel Dual Core 3.16ghz (775) running on Windows 7 Prof. right now. I use it for manually backing up files and running a Vent server for gaming with a few friends. I would like to build a cheap server to run a small website with essentially no traffic except for me and some family members. On this cheap server I would like to move the Ventrilo server program and possible run an old Battlefield 1942 (Forgotten Hope) game server at times.

For the Windows 7 system I have running right now, I would like to use it for backing up data from my other three home computers (1 desktop and 2 laptops). I want to set it up as an automatic backup. I would also like to use it for backing up and playing movies over my home network.

The Windows 7 system has a 320GB and a 1TB drive in it. The OS is on the 320GB drive. I was going to buy another 1TB drive (same model as already installed) and two 2TB drives and set them all up in Raid 1 to protect my data. The 2TB drives would be for the media files. Can I run a backup server off of Windows 7 or should I use a different OS? And what software is best for automatic backing up of data from the other computers over the network? Ease of use is important.

On the web/vent/game server that I want to build, what parts would be adequate for the job? I was going to put 2 HDs (1TB, 64 cache) in another Raid 1 setup on this computer, but I'm not sure what type of motherboard and cpu to get and how much memory is necessary. I was also curious about security. If I leave ports open on the web/vent server, will that open my entire network up too or will the rest of my network be protected?

I've read about Windows Home Server. Is this the safe route to go for someone who has never setup a real server before?

I have been researching this online for a little while now, but I am still confused. When I recently built my gaming system, the Tom's Hardware community was very helpful. I'm hoping that I can get lucky twice. Thank you for any help and suggestions.
November 19, 2010 9:24:10 AM

More than likley Home server is a leymans server system.

Its simple to use and fairly effective for small servers in the home.

I would suggest for a server system, WD caviar greens, very low power on idle, but they certainly rev up when needed.

Mobo, go for an LGA1156 - and processor a quad or dual such as an i3 or i5.
8gb of RAM is probably good for a server of that size, you could probably deal with less.

Use proxys with ports open, or make an impossible path through various proxy servers. Security unfortunatly is an issue with servers and those who don't know how to set it up can find it daunting.

If im wrong about any of this please correct me, I'm saying this off the top of my head and without expereince (just from general research and interest +MCP and MCDST qualifications)
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November 19, 2010 10:54:50 AM

For a home server, I would go with an e3300 dual core celeron cpu. They are being closed out right now for around $40 or less in some places. Then get two identical motherboards to power it. Frys has an msi g31 board for only $30 after rebate in today's ad. You don't need socket 1156 for a server. I used both the i3 530 and e3300, and the performance is almost identical for the uses you need. For the price of the 530 alone, you can get the e3300 retail boxed with motherboard. Newegg also has a combo with this cpu for $100 or less. If you are running in raid, the spare board is worth the price just for the quick recovery time if your board dies. The e3300 can work with ddr2 or ddr3, but the ddr2 boards are cheaper.
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November 19, 2010 12:24:53 PM

I would say scrap the idea of having the same machine as a web server and a backup server - you open yourself to a lot of security risks by running a web server on your own connection that isn't properly secured and especially having all your precious files on the same machine. If you don't know how to setup something like smoothwall with multiple NICS (it actually isn't that hard - you will need another machine lying around for the purpose though, although hardware specs for smoothwall are ridiclously low, and old P3 with like 256mb ram and a 8gb HDD would work) to create a DMZ to properly seal yourself off against the externally accessible web server I wouldn't bother and just use some free hosting somewhere. You may even find you get 50mb of hosting or something with your ISP - then just buy a domain and you're good to go.

The RAID1 sounds like a good idea - however you should aim for this server to have as much RAM as possible, your CPU is more than adequate for the task but think about scheduling the backups for a time for when you're not having the vent or battlefield game server running - you don't want to start hammering the disks and NIC with incoming backups whilst you're trying to game, sure that's not going to help your pings all that much.

Also - is the upstream of your connection capable of supporting a good game server? If there's not going to be 60 people playing i'm sure you'd get away with, I guess just get everyone to join and find out!

---------

I've just written the above and then re-read what you've wrote and now i'm confused, could you just summarise what you want that Win7 box to do? I read it and understood it as you want to

Build a whole new pc for web/vent/gameserver
Use The win7 box just for backup only?
Or the backup on the same box as the game server?

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November 19, 2010 12:47:43 PM

Aparrently I can't edit my own msg so edit here (i had just typed tons and lost it god dammit);

A quad core like the i7 with 8gb ram is serious overkill for what you're needing here, I reckon all this could probably be achieved on one server, XP 64bit, 4GB ram

I don't know what deadjon means when he says "Use proxys with ports open, or make an impossible path through various proxy servers." but with the latter i'm sure sending your game traffic through open free proxies is a sure fire way for the laggiest battlefield game in the world.

Also i'm not sure about what fancy features like automated backup home server has but I also feel that'd be a waste of money to buy that too (i also don't know how much it costs). It might be able to do stuff like incremental or differential backups but i've never really looked into it and everything i've seen about it (not much) i've always thought "...i really see no need for needing to get a copy of "home server" ". All this could be achieved with XP 64bit with a couple of shared folders, and robocopy (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robocopy) running as a scheduled task on each machine which would copy the files from each machine to the shared folders on the backup server whenever you set it to run. If you were concerned about having to have the PCs on all the time so that robocopy would run at an ungodly hour you could always have the PCs automatically switch on (either via autostart feature in bios or via wake on lan running on another machine - smoothwall has a sick mod for this) at a time just before robocopy was due to start and then auto shutdown after robocopy has finished copying. What are you also wanting to copy too? Is it like 2tb of media or just your crucial photos/music/documents etc? Kinda size we talking about here.....
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November 19, 2010 1:06:23 PM

Or whilst thinking about it for these other client machines on your network, the other one desktop and the 2 laptops.

Are you needing the data on the 2 laptops to be accessible when you're out and about? If you didn't, I think the easiest solution would actually be to either use a mapped drive on each pc pointing to a "home" folder on the backup server, or folder shell redirection (redirects "my documents" to a folder located on the network) and not even bother with letting robocopy duplicate files, just have the other PCs directly store and access their files straight from the backup server...
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November 21, 2010 4:58:24 PM

deadjon wrote:
Quote:
I would suggest for a server system, WD caviar greens...

After reading reviews, these do sound like a quality choice and I will probably go with these.

blacksheep101 wrote:
Quote:
I would say scrap the idea of having the same machine as a web server and a backup server

I was going to have two separate systems. I wanted to build a cheap system for the web/ventrilo server and then use my old desktop computer as a file backup/media system. I'm just not sure if the old computer is suited to be a file backup system with Windows 7 installed on it right now. I assume it would be fine for holding videos and such for the home network.

Quote:
What are you also wanting to copy too? Is it like 2tb of media or just your crucial photos/music/documents etc?

Mostly just documents and some audio files. I would assume that any media files would be backed up already in the Raid 1 setup on the server.

Here is a visual of what I am trying to do:


blacksheep101 wrote:
Quote:
Are you needing the data on the 2 laptops to be accessible when you're out and about? If you didn't, I think the easiest solution would actually be to either use a mapped drive on each pc pointing to a "home" folder on the backup server, or folder shell redirection (redirects "my documents" to a folder located on the network) and not even bother with letting robocopy duplicate files, just have the other PCs directly store and access their files straight from the backup server...

The laptops don't need remote access to the files. Redirecting everything on my desktop to a raid 1 file server seems like a good idea. I'm just not sure how to do this, although it sounds easy (I am assuming you just make a shortcut to the server folder where you want your documents/files held?). Or is this more complicated then I think?

While I am curious about some of the items above (redirecting for one), I still have a few questions about my original idea that have come up from reading the above posts.
1. Should I setup Windows Home Server (2008?) to run a website, a Ventrilo server, and also a game server? Or, would I be better off using some sort of free open source server operating system?

2. Can I use Windows 7 to run a 4HDD setup (two raid 1 configurations) for holding and using video files (one raid), AND also backing up my files automatically onto it (the other raid)? OR should I use something like Windows Home Server on this machine for doing these tasks? It just seems like a waste not to use the 8 GBs of memory if I don't use Win7. Are there any programs out there I can install on Win7 that will reach across my network to backup the other computers?

3. [I apologize for this one, since it rather destroys the discussion above...] Another idea I had was to use the current Win7 computer for the Web/Vent/Game Server since it has the powerful resources and then use the newly built cheap server (with WHS) to backup my files and host media content? Would this last choice be the right way to go? If it is, how much memory should I get and should I stick with the Celeron cpu recommended by o1die above?

Thank you for all of your feedback and help. I'm obviously new to all of this server stuff and I appreciate your patience with me.
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November 21, 2010 5:30:16 PM

Nice on the diagram there

Couple quick questions before we proceed

What are the exact specs of That Win7 machine: (Core2Duo 3.1ghz, 8gb ram and?)
What version of Win7 is it? 32bit or 64bit?
Also you've said "seems a bit of a waste not to use the 8gb of ram if I don't use win7", do you understand the difference between 32bit and 64bit OS's and stuff? (not sounding patronising here, just could be interpreted a couple of ways from that sentence!! :)  )

Do you definitely have your heart set on running a web server?

It's all good about these questions, much more interesting that the standard "Is my psu broken?" ones and i'm well up for helping you get a sweet setup here :) 

Quick answer to the dual raid1 setups: yes you can have as many RAID arrays as you want on a controller. An ideal setup for a home PC really is RAID0 for the system and application drive, RAID1 for storage, pretty much sorted with a setup like that (until you go SSD ;) )

Things to think of if you're going to build a whole new machine for the purpose of backup - CPU really isn't important, the motherboard a lot more important - crucial things being required are a good onboard NIC, and RAID capability from the get go.

With regards to having the laptops access files held on the server, I can think of three options (they are easy to setup, I can easily talk you through them) to begin with depending on your preferred setup and perhaps how PC literate the users who are going to be using those laptops are (family? Yourself? etc)

I'll leave it at that before I start to ramble, get those questions answered first :D 
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November 21, 2010 5:32:08 PM

Also my thoughts for "seems a waste to have two systems" are really just from the power perspective - why have one system sitting on all the time that's barely used if you can consolidate into one system (although if we've configured it in a way that the laptops are often accessing files on that backup system and you're playing movies off it a lot and you've definitely got your heart set on a web server, 2 systems may be a better option and you can always tweak them to use as little power as possible)
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November 21, 2010 5:35:25 PM

Also - what kind of router are you running? If you're thinking about running these kind of servers off your own connection that might be something to consider flashing with a custom firmware, of it's really a bag of crap - upgrading
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November 21, 2010 9:22:31 PM

My old system (Originally it didn't have the 4GB of XMS memory in it and it used to run on XP 32 bit)
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core
GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066
CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VXL Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5
Seagate Barracuda ES ST3320620NS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s (OS is loaded on this drive)
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

I do know the difference between 32 and 64 bit. I don't mind you asking though and I appreciate your help. I read somewhere in my research that MS was going to release a 64 bit home server os. I just don't want to wait until then.

I have an Actiontec router that Verizon gave me. I loved my Linksys, but such is life. I needed the Actiontec router for TV services. As for customizing the firmware. I'd rather not mess around there if at all possible. Is this custom firmware upgrade for security reasons?

This comp listed above (I am now thinking) can run the web/vent/game server. There won't be anything vital on this computer and it will not be a part of my overall home network. So hopefully security isn't an issue. It should also be able to handle running a game server better than a cheaply built unit.

As for the laptops, one is mine that I mainly use at work for presentations. At home I use the desktop. The other laptop is my wife's computer. She is not very computer literate outside of MS Office. That was one of the reasons I wanted the automatic backup, so her files could be saved without her having to do anything.

I've been building my own comps for over 10 years. I'm not a novice to this stuff, but I am also far from being an expert. And although I have never set up a raid, I have done research on raid setups - just no practical experience actually doing it. I have lost a HDD in the past with all of my information on it and that is another reason why I want to setup a backup server.

The web/vent server is basically for me to play around. If I can set it up where my home network is safe it shouldn't be an issue. The file backup/media storage server is the one that really is the issue. I want it to backup my files and allow access to media files. I figured 4 HDD in two raid 1 configurations would be sufficient to do this. One raid for backup and the other for the media files. Should I put the OS on the file backup raid or the media raid? Or does it even matter? I also thought of buying a small HDD and using that for the OS while the other 4 HDD were for storage. On a server like this, what would you recommend for a motherboard/cpu and memory minimum? From what I have been reading it seems like Windows Home Server would be the easiest for accomplishing my goals.

Blacksheep101 wrote, "Do you definitely have your heart set on running a web server?" and also:
Quote:
Also my thoughts for "seems a waste to have two systems" are really just from the power perspective - why have one system sitting on all the time that's barely used if you can consolidate into one system (although if we've configured it in a way that the laptops are often accessing files on that backup system and you're playing movies off it a lot and you've definitely got your heart set on a web server, 2 systems may be a better option and you can always tweak them to use as little power as possible)

Do I NEED a web server? No. I probably could use the above machine for backups, media, and ventrilo. If I leave it with it's current setup I wouldn't even have to make it raid 1 since it would be a backup of what I have on my main system. The raid would be redundant (safer, but unnecessary). The movie files would be backed up to an external HDD. Now you've got me thinking if I should even do this. :) 
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