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Server Build Advice

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May 2, 2012 5:30:02 AM

I'm looking to build a home server to run as NAS for media and backups primarily. Other possible secondary uses if it has the power to handle it are as a web server, router, and an always on downloading machine for torrents, etc... I intend this to be a learning experience as much as a functional device so I'm not so interested in going with a simple standalone NAS solution.

I have some parts on hand and am interested how much my server will be able to handle considering the parts I'll be using are a bit dated and low power. The low power part is quite important since I don't want to waste money on electricity on a device that might not really get that much use. I don't anticipate a large number of users (primarily me, but maybe my girlfriend or a few friends from time to time).

Motherboard: Via J7F2 (http://www.jetwaycomputer.com/J7F2.html)
CPU: Via C7-D 1.5 ghz
Memory: 512mb, plan to upgrade to motherboard max of 1GB
System HDD: 30gb IDE
Graphics: On board

The board has a built-in 10/100 ethernet port, but I plan to purchase a Gigabit ethernet adapter built for my motherboard (http://www.jetwaycomputer.com/J7F2.html). If I am using it as a router I assume I need at least 2 ethernet ports, but do I need both ports to be gigabit? I imagine I could hook the gigabit port to my LAN and the 10/100 port to the modem and it shouldn't really create a bottleneck. How many gigabit ethernet ports do I need?

For my main storage I'm still debating how much space I will buy. I'd like some redundancy for my data so I'm torn between software vs hardware RAID. I'm quite interested in ZFS and Raid-Z. Software RAID sounds better in general because it seems more flexible for future upgrades or in the case the RAID controller dies. My concern is if my CPU and other hardware will be able to handle the software RAID?

The motherboard has 2 SATA ports that could do a RAID 1, but I'm planning to buy a PCI SATA/RAID controller so I'll be able to add up to 4 more disks. Will I be able to RAID all 6 SATA ports together with the harware RAID controller? Would I be able to RAID all 6 with software RAID?

So before I go out and buy a case and other parts to make the current setup I have work, am I going to be dissatisfied with it's performance? Should I just start from scratch with a newer low-power motherboard and CPU?

Any other advice or suggestions appreciated.

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May 3, 2012 6:08:01 AM

So after thinking about this more my main question is whether or not I can use my current motherboard, CPU and RAM to run ZFS Raid Z on 3 - 6 x 2TB drives? Or is the hardware just too old to stand up to the requirement. Would I be better off spending more money now for a better system from the ground up?
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May 3, 2012 4:16:40 PM

bmather9 said:
So after thinking about this more my main question is whether or not I can use my current motherboard, CPU and RAM to run ZFS Raid Z on 3 - 6 x 2TB drives? Or is the hardware just too old to stand up to the requirement. Would I be better off spending more money now for a better system from the ground up?


Is your current motherboard the VIA? If so, it would be easier to build it from the bottom up considering that a motherboard with an AMD E-350 CPU will cost around the same as a SATA controller anyways.
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May 13, 2012 5:43:08 PM

Ok after more thinking I've decided to go with a newer system:

CPU: Pentium G620 &70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard: ASRock B75 PRO3 $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory: 8GB $43
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD's: Seagate 3TB external x3 (I'm planning to remove them from their external cases and use them internally) $390
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0056YNA1Q/ref=ox_sc_a...

I've got an old ATX mid-case I'm planning to use rather than waste the cash on a new pretty case. I've got some old drives laying around to use as system drives. I also have 2 old PSU's 420 watts and 600 watts. Models are below:

Raidmax: KY-520ATX 420 watts
HIPRO: TOP-600P5 600watts

Both of these PSU's are older and I can't find any efficiency information on them. Should I be buying a newer more efficient power supply? Or will my old ones be good enough?
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