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Amahi Home Server Upgrade

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July 21, 2011 8:06:47 PM

Looking at some of the awesome builds, I feel a little funny asking, but here goes. I'm currently running Amahi on the following build (go easy on it):

CPU: AMD Athlon X2 240
MB: Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H
Crucial 2x1GB DDR2 800
2x Samsung HD154UI 1.5TB hard drives
1x Samsung HD204UI 2TB hard drive
PSU: Corsair CMPSU 400CX 400W
CASE: Rosewill FE-A010

Really, I just use the server as NAS with one 1.5TB drive being used to store music, the 2TB drive used to store video, and the other 1.5TB drive as a boot drive plus any document, picture, etc. storage. I'd like to also use the server to fool around with designing some non-production web pages, but that won't be happening anytime soon. Anyways, I don't have any real need to upgrade, but I always like to upgrade just for fun. So, would there be any value in adding a SSD as a boot drive to the system or is it just a waste on a server? Or should I look into adding a RAID card to go RAID 1+0 or RAID 5 (I know I would need more hard drives). Is there some other upgrade I should be looking at?
July 22, 2011 12:00:44 AM

At this point, a SSD would be a waste in your server however, if you want better performance, look into a SMALL boot drive (i.e. 320GB or less). That will greatly increase performance if you have anything much over 500GB of just "stuff" already on your 1.5TB boot drive. I never use anything bigger than 500GB as boot drives because they often tend to just not work right. Too much stuff trying to happen at the same time.

Also, if you are looking to do a RAID, you will want drives that are ALL the same size in order to build an effective array. Using software RAID it will work with your setup but, hardware controllers wouldn't like it all that much. (They should still build it but, performance won't be what you expect) Also, web-design shouldn't require anything too extreme. File sizes will be relatively small so that shouldn't be of a concern for the time being.


[digress]
Server note: A SSD isn't a waste in professional/enterprise servers because it allows the OS to essentially be "ouy of the way" however, on these consumer servers, a SSD will cost more than you will receive by it's use. I've got SSD's in servers I run/maintain and it is simply great but, those are also pretty big budgets so it's not a concern.
[/digress]

With your hardware, you also won't notice an improvement (on average that is) by using an SSD. This is not being mean to your server, just explaining it's limitations. As long as it is working well for you (which it sounds like) then you are perfectly fine. I've seen plenty of P3 servers still being used and they are working well...apparently. I wouldn't touch one though. You'rs on the other hand still has plenty of merit. But, if you're ambitious, spec up an x4 on eBay and see if it's in the budget, and another 2GB of matching RAM.

July 22, 2011 1:53:16 AM

Quote:
At this point, a SSD would be a waste in your server however, if you want better performance, look into a SMALL boot drive (i.e. 320GB or less). That will greatly increase performance if you have anything much over 500GB of just "stuff" already on your 1.5TB boot drive. I never use anything bigger than 500GB as boot drives because they often tend to just not work right. Too much stuff trying to happen at the same time.


I don't think I even have 50GB of stuff on the drive. I always wanted to add a boot drive so I never stored much on it so it wouldn't be a pain to transfer files off later. Would it be worthwhile to get an enterprise drive as a boot drive? Any recommendations?

Quote:
[digress]
Server note: A SSD isn't a waste in professional/enterprise servers because it allows the OS to essentially be "ouy of the way" however, on these consumer servers, a SSD will cost more than you will receive by it's use. I've got SSD's in servers I run/maintain and it is simply great but, those are also pretty big budgets so it's not a concern.
[/digress]


I figured that was the case, but wasn't sure since my experience with "server" hardware is limited to my own.

Quote:
With your hardware, you also won't notice an improvement (on average that is) by using an SSD. This is not being mean to your server, just explaining it's limitations. As long as it is working well for you (which it sounds like) then you are perfectly fine. I've seen plenty of P3 servers still being used and they are working well...apparently. I wouldn't touch one though. You'rs on the other hand still has plenty of merit. But, if you're ambitious, spec up an x4 on eBay and see if it's in the budget, and another 2GB of matching RAM.


I completely understand; when I put the build together, I was just looking for something that would be similar to the prebuilt WHS they sell, but with a little more power. I salivate at some of the builds I've read on the forum, but they are entirely overkill for what I use my server for. Maybe some day.

Anyways, is there much benefit of going over 4GB for a home server? Meaning if I want to upgrade should I just buy 2X2GB and lose the 2x1.

Any suggestions for a RAID card. I know zero about RAID card brands. Are any of these worthwhile?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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July 23, 2011 1:51:49 AM

Going over 4 GB of RAM wouldn't benefit you all that much, 8 would be WAY overkill and it's not worth having mis-match memory creating 6GB.

RAID Card: For a home server, you could get by with one of those cheap RAID controllers. (I know, $150 for cheap!? I just bought an Intel CHEAP Controller for $300 to put in a spare server...basically a burn server so yeah, those are cheap) If you feel it necessary to set up an array, yes, high point should work ok. I always buy Intel controllers (Based on LSI chips so it's actually more of an LSI controller with Intel's name) but, for your server, stick with the cheaper ones. You won't need the $$ benefits you get with the enterprise controllers. (i.e. FAST read/write, 24/7/365 reliability, bat. backup, etc...) so, these would be a great way to introduce yourself to RAID.

Enterprise hard drive as boot: Well, A) You would be looking into an SAS drive (Enterprise SATA are not worth the premium over standard, SATA is SATA) and that would be worth looking into IF you wanted to buy an SAS controller. I would recommend NOT because, when you add another controller to your system, it adds one more thing to go wrong, and you REALLY don't want your OS reading through a controller, that can get ugly fast.

Although you "don't have more than 50GB" the failure rate for that drive will be higher thus, the risk of losing your configuration. An SSD might be worth looking into if you honestly do know you can keep your boot drive/prog. files to that limit. (Limit meaning, getting a small, cheaper SSD)

Finally, It is very uncommon to find people on these forums who have reasonable experience in TRUE enterprise server hardware. I don't claim to know everything but, I seem to be one of the few whom discuss it. Reason most don't learn and work with it is because it is REALLY expensive. A GOOD server BOARD costs around $400 plus a GOOD RAID controller at about $500, you haven't even got half of a system to boot from there. I won't detail how/why I know servers and work on the forums but, I am glad to offer assistance to those in need. Also, it is VERY impractical for most consumers/users to have enterprise servers. They are simply just too powerful in a different sense then most of the gamers use/learn about.

Sorry if I didn't answer your questions as you wished, please feel free to again, quote parts you want explanation from and I will gladly follow up. If you need more personal service, PM me and I can give you business information to reach me.



July 23, 2011 6:55:30 PM

Quote:
Sorry if I didn't answer your questions as you wished, please feel free to again, quote parts you want explanation from and I will gladly follow up. If you need more personal service, PM me and I can give you business information to reach me.


Thanks for allowing me to pick your brain, I really appreciate it.

Quote:
RAID Card: For a home server, you could get by with one of those cheap RAID controllers. (I know, $150 for cheap!? I just bought an Intel CHEAP Controller for $300 to put in a spare server...basically a burn server so yeah, those are cheap) If you feel it necessary to set up an array, yes, high point should work ok. I always buy Intel controllers (Based on LSI chips so it's actually more of an LSI controller with Intel's name) but, for your server, stick with the cheaper ones. You won't need the $$ benefits you get with the enterprise controllers. (i.e. FAST read/write, 24/7/365 reliability, bat. backup, etc...) so, these would be a great way to introduce yourself to RAID.


When I went searching, I gathered that you have to spend at least $400+ for a quality RAID card. Wasn't sure if the ~$150 were just junk or were usable. Nice to hear that they would be sufficient for my needs.

Quote:
Enterprise hard drive as boot: Well, A) You would be looking into an SAS drive (Enterprise SATA are not worth the premium over standard, SATA is SATA) and that would be worth looking into IF you wanted to buy an SAS controller. I would recommend NOT because, when you add another controller to your system, it adds one more thing to go wrong, and you REALLY don't want your OS reading through a controller, that can get ugly fast.

Although you "don't have more than 50GB" the failure rate for that drive will be higher thus, the risk of losing your configuration. An SSD might be worth looking into if you honestly do know you can keep your boot drive/prog. files to that limit. (Limit meaning, getting a small, cheaper SSD)


I've seen that SAS is a enterprise controller, but the difference between SATA and SAS is lost on me.

I feel I should clarify a bit. As I said, the server was built to be a more "powerful"/customizable WHS, except without WHS. When I did the build I had no idea what I was doing or if it would work. Overall, I find the system surprisingly snappy despite what I would normally consider budget parts, so I'm not necessarily upgrading to improve performance. Rather, I want to have a boot drive so that as you mentioned, if it fails, I can just drop in a new boot drive, reinstall the OS, and remount the other drives. My reasoning for an SSD was that even a quality low capacity mechanical drive is around $50, so why not splurge a little and get an SSD since I won't be using all the space anyways. My fear (even though I think worrying about writes to an SSD is blown out of proportion) is that a consumer SSD will get chewed up quickly in a server environment. I'm also not sure what SSD (write) optimizations are possible because my knowledge about Linux is very small, and the nature of having the Amahi platform on top of the Fedora OS could make certain optimizations less than straight forward. Of course, without really knowing what I'm talking about, I could be completely off base.

Also, I'd like to turn the server into more of a true on-site backup system by adding a RAID card (at least I think a RAID setup would give a better backup solution). As it stands now, I keep originals on an originating computer, and then backups on the server. Nothing on the server is critical data, but data loss is a pain in the butt whether you care about the data or not. Eventually, assuming I can get a RAID setup squared away, I'd like to have the server then backup to some off-site cloud service. All of this is probably farther into the future though.

I don't know that there is much to comment on above, but I think my upgrade priority centers around adding a boot drive first (I was thinking the Crucial M4 64GB but maybe something smaller and cheaper would be better) and then adding a RAID card and 4 hard drives to go with it with a memory upgrade to 4GB fitting in somewhere since memory is relatively cheap right now.

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July 25, 2011 2:03:17 AM
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I use Intel SSD's in all my server environments and they work wonders. You're talking some really serious dough for those though. (How I wish MY computers could have such toys) but, I've got a server running on a cheap Kingston SSD essentially setup as a www media server (stream media throughout various places I travel/visit) and haven't had any problems with it. That is constant read write and that server also plays role of a backup server for daily images if several machines in my home/office. If you are looking for a learning experience and can afford a "splurge" on a smaller SSD, I would say, hands down, go for it. I waited a long time to put a SSD in any of my workstations and am kicking myself I didn't do it sooner. That goes doubly for my server as it increased the speed of most every OS intensive tasks.

Sorry for obsessing about the RAID controller, in my environments, we are all about quality, reliable controllers so I'm super paranoid about anything else however, as long as you find good reviews from knowledgeable people (newegg reviews are usually decent enough) you can make the call on whichever affordable card you want to go with. No worries, those cards aren't complete junk, I just can't use them due to speed/performance/a lot of other restricts.

Finally, you're boot drive size is totally up to you. 64GB seems a tad on the high side for what it seems you are doing so, you may look at some smaller sizes and watch for good deals. Normally I discourage small SSD purchases however, your set-it and forget-it operation is a perfect candidate for such drives. That way it is MUCH more cost effective for you as well.

I know I didn't really answer anything with this post, I just want to make sure you know that you aren't thinking in the wrong with anything you're bringing up. And as for the SATA/SAS stuff, no worries. It's a heck of a realm to start comprehending them...and watching how the prices rise...
July 26, 2011 2:24:57 AM

puttsy said:
I use Intel SSD's in all my server environments and they work wonders. You're talking some really serious dough for those though. (How I wish MY computers could have such toys) but, I've got a server running on a cheap Kingston SSD essentially setup as a www media server (stream media throughout various places I travel/visit) and haven't had any problems with it. That is constant read write and that server also plays role of a backup server for daily images if several machines in my home/office. If you are looking for a learning experience and can afford a "splurge" on a smaller SSD, I would say, hands down, go for it. I waited a long time to put a SSD in any of my workstations and am kicking myself I didn't do it sooner. That goes doubly for my server as it increased the speed of most every OS intensive tasks.

Sorry for obsessing about the RAID controller, in my environments, we are all about quality, reliable controllers so I'm super paranoid about anything else however, as long as you find good reviews from knowledgeable people (newegg reviews are usually decent enough) you can make the call on whichever affordable card you want to go with. No worries, those cards aren't complete junk, I just can't use them due to speed/performance/a lot of other restricts.

Finally, you're boot drive size is totally up to you. 64GB seems a tad on the high side for what it seems you are doing so, you may look at some smaller sizes and watch for good deals. Normally I discourage small SSD purchases however, your set-it and forget-it operation is a perfect candidate for such drives. That way it is MUCH more cost effective for you as well.

I know I didn't really answer anything with this post, I just want to make sure you know that you aren't thinking in the wrong with anything you're bringing up. And as for the SATA/SAS stuff, no worries. It's a heck of a realm to start comprehending them...and watching how the prices rise...


Thanks for the points. Good to hear that you've had some heavy use with an SSD an it's running fine. I think I might take your earlier advice and buy some RAM while I shop around for a SSD boot drive. Maybe I can wait out a price drop for an Intel 320 40GB since they have a 5 year warranty. Just checking Newegg, I didn't realize how many of the ~32GB drives were around $80 or less.

I'll probably be back asking questions again about a RAID card before I make a purchase, but I'm glad to hear the sub $300 cards aren't complete junk. $300 plus for my uses just seems overkill. Thanks for the info and help.
July 28, 2011 4:32:27 AM

Best answer selected by scuzzy1.
July 28, 2011 4:07:43 PM

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