Need build advice for new $1,500 Home Server! Thanks!!!

Hello, I'm looking to build a new home server! I've received significant help from these forums for past builds, so I'm asking for a hand again! I tried to follow the form provided in the Stickies...

I have a love/hate relationship with my current ol' HP ex495 home server -mostly love, it's the attached Rosewill eSATA drive enclosure that causes all the hatin'). My wife's tired of me complaining and is at least somewhat-mostly okay with me going ahead with another build (as my Father's Day gift, I'm told)!

I need reliable!

I rip my movie and music collection to the server, and I've got all our home video and photos stored on it as well. Everything's duplicated via the OS, so there's a pretty significant need for space... I've currently got about 20/21 TB of usable space spread across nine 2 and 3 TB drives, and I'd like it all contained with one system (less to troubleshoot?!) and room for expansion. For instance... Lian Li has this behemoth, which is an interesting starting point maybe, it houses somethig like a million hard drives...

But I need help! I've never built a server, and I'm not familiar enough with the components to make a good, long lasting one...

Approximate Purchase Date: Whenever I'm confident in the component selection! But hopefully SOON!

Budget Range: $1,000 - $1,500 (any left over money could go toward hard drives, so...)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (1) File server to an HTPC running XBMC (LOVE me some XBMC eye candy!) across the house (mostly blu-ray/dvd rips, music, photos and home video) (2) also looking at adding Rokus in a couple of other rooms and running Plex on the server to serve/transcode video/music/photos to the Rokus (3) routine backups of client PCs -both running Windows 7 (4) could see myself wanting to stream server contents to tablets too... and room to grow...

Are you buying a monitor: Not really a priority, will re-purpose one.

Parts to Upgrade: Everything -startin' from scratch! But here's the deal, I've built a good gaming rig, and a real nice HTPC, so I'm at least passingly familiar with the components for those... but I have NO IDEA what's going on when it comes to the components necessary to have a server reliably handle 20 hard drives!

Do you need to buy OS: I have a copy of WHS 2011 and Stablebit Drive Pool and Stablebit Scanner. I think I'm happy with this combination, but I'd be willing to shell out for a new OS if there's a definite benefit -the only caveat, I'd like to stick with Windows... not a fanboy, I'm just familiar with it, and between work and family I don't have the time or desire to learn a new operating environment.

I REALLY like WHS's JBOD-type ease of use and data duplication (with Stablebit's Drive Pool in WHS 2011). Just plop in a disk and add it to the pool. Awesome. It has been easy to set up and worked great (until my less-than-reliable eSATA drive enclosure came along -more on that below). I don't know anything about RAID, etc. other than those options exist and they're very good at what they do. But with my limited free time, I'm afraid they're just not for me... I need relative simplicity!

Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I've used Newegg for prior builds (a gaming rig and an HTPC), I've been happy with their service and prices.

Location: Houston, TX; but I'm okay getting everything online -saving $5 is NOT worth gasoline and Houston traffic!

Parts Preferences: I'd just assume stick with an Intel CPU, since I've had good luck with them in the past. As for other components, I'm pretty flexible.

Overclocking: Nope.

SLI or Crossfire: Nope.

Your Monitor Resolution: N/A

Additional Comments: I would like quality parts, just looking for as maintenance-free as possible -especially the hard drive controller -that's the part I'm least familiar with...

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: I'm currently using an HP ex495 with a Rosewill eSATA enclosure attached. I'm TIRED of the eSATA enclosure dropping random drives out of the drive pool. I want something that just works. And here's the weird thing... whenever a drive gets dropped from the drivepool you've gotta reboot the system, no big deal. But if you try just rebooting, it won't come back up about 50-75% of the time. However, if you unplug and re-seat the eSATA connections then it will come back up and run flawlessly for days before dropping another random drive for no apparent reason. I've tried trouble shooting, and other eSATA cables, and an entirely different (yet identical) drive enclosure, same issue. And so, I'm done.

Just time for something better, more robust.

Any help would be VERY much appreciated. Thanks for reading... Looks like I get a little wordy! And thank you in advance for any replies!
4 answers Last reply
More about build advice 500 home server
  1. really dont need anything too expensive

    spilled all the cash for the 12tb of storage. you can run raid 5 so that if one drive fails, you still have all your data and can quickly pop another one back in to rebuild the raid array. if you dont need such storage, grab only 2 drives and run raid 1. its no nearly as safe as raid 5 but its still ok for the most part.

    i added the intel nic so that you can use both the onboard networking card and the intel card to stream more effectively
  2. Thanks for your suggestions!

    I already have 9 hard drives totaling around 21 TB of space, so I don't need to include any hard drives in the build... but with all my data duplicated I will need room for expansion in the future!

    So I guess my main concern is what kind of hardware (controller card?) can best accommodate up to, perhaps, 20 drives as I expand storage?
    And if there are any case suggestions out (other than the linked to in the original post) there that can handle that many drives and move the associated heat out...
  3. Alright. I guess it's time to take the plunge... thanks for the suggestions so far!

    Here's what I've picked so far... any level of critique would very much appreciated! Some lingering questions pop up at the end too!

    So I think the case definitely gives room for expansion. The thinking behind the motherboard/CPU/memory is they appear to provide more than adequate processing power for now (file sharing and streaming/transcoding -with room for more), with space to expand an extra storage controller card or two as needed, and the components are supposed to be "entry level server" components which are supposedly well suited for the almost-always on home server. Right? Same supposedly goes for the power supply, and I've read good things and am interested to try out these relatively new Seagate "NAS" drives.

    I'm thinking at this point I'll make the switch from WHS 2011 to WS2012E w/ Stablebit Drive Pool. Just no time to learn RAID options, and I'm just familiar with the Windows server product and the drive pool/drive extender functionality.

    The part I'm most unsure about... I think I still need a controller card to add more hard drives than the motherboard can handle on its own -right? Do I need to go with a controller with a PCI 3.0 interface or a PCI 1.0 (the board has two PCI 3.0 slots and three PCI 1.0 slots)? Should I switch to a board with PCI 2.0 (like the card mentioned above)? Will that make a great bit of difference -between PCI 1 2 or 3? Suggestions?

    I really appreciate feedback. Thanks again!
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