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Home File Server

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Last response: in Systems
January 4, 2013 2:14:48 PM

I've exceeded the storage space on my MacBook Pro to host my iTunes Library. I then moved it to an external USB 2.0 hard drive and it grew to over 750GB from there. One thing I noticed is that my library became slower to open up. I wasn't sure if this was due to the USB 2.0 interface or having such a large library. After storing the library on another computer and accessing it over the network, the speed of opening my library improved back to the same as if I opened it on the host machine itself.

So this brings me to my question. How can I build a home file server that is affordable, scalable, and fast?

I already purchased 8 WD 2TB Black drives. I have another 500GB I plan to use for the OS. The case supports 8 internal HD's and I plan to get a 5.25 bay adapter for the 500GB OS drive. It supports ATX, Micro ATX, and ITX.
I would be storing iTunes and iPhoto library, documents, program files, etc.

For the OS, I plan on FreeNAS. If you recommend something else, like linux, I won't be against it. I want something easy to manage, has support for email/text alerts, support for SMB and AFP protocols, RSYNC, etc. While not required, I would like the ability for it to integrate with Mozy, JungleDisk, Amazon Glacier, or some affordable online backup service.

I'd like the ability to add/replace drives to grow the size of the data pool if possible. One day when 3TB drives get cheaper, I plan to slowly switch over.

Now the question lies, which mobo/cpu to get? Do I get two 4-port SATA controller cards or one 8-port? How much memory is needed, 2GB? 4GB? 8GB? Will the built in ethernet be fast enough or should I get a dual port and team them for data transfer and use the onboard for management access only? I want to be on the cheap side as much as possible without sacraficing reliability. Meaning, I don't want to pay for an item that has extra features I won't use, when another one that's a few bucks cheaper will do the same thing.

To help you get an idea of my usage to answer and recommend a solution to my questions:

1. MacBook Pro (x1) - access to server
2. Xbox 360 (x1) - would like to view photos and play DRM-free music streamed from server
3. Win 8 PC (x2) - access to server
4. Apple TV (x2) - stream iTunes library
5. iMac (x1) - access to server

At any given time, there may be two Apple TV streams going, and maybe 1-2 computers accessing documents. I run all GbE connections.

More about : home file server

a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 2:17:38 PM

have you considered NAS?
January 4, 2013 2:21:20 PM

AMD Radeon said:
have you considered NAS?

I haven't found any NAS solutions that can scale to my size for under $500 (w/o drives). And if anything comes close, it doesn't offer AFP, or RAID 10, or LDAP/Active Directory support.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 2:38:54 PM


it is hard to find mobo, case, and PSU to fasilitate 8 HDD
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Thermaltake VM100M1W2Z ATX Mid Tower Case ($68.76 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $458.72
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-04 11:38 EST-0500)
a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 2:41:09 PM

^ the mobo has 8 sata port
case has 8-9x 3,5 bay and good cooling from front for HDD
GOLD 750 PSU is a bit overkill but, it is the one is the cheapest providing native 8x sata ports
you can cheap out on it and get regular corsair 600 bronze and use molex to adapter instead
January 4, 2013 3:52:20 PM

Wow thanks! Not sure how good ASrock is but reviews on newegg give it 4 out of 5. So can't hurt to try it out.

Are there any PCIe SATA add-on cards that you recommend as well?