I have been kicking around the idea for a while of building a new server to replace my current WHSv1 server (codename: Shawshank Redemption). I built Shawshank back in August of 2009 and aside from a few hiccups along the way it has been rock solid. Naturally this brings up the question, if it ain’t broke why fix it? Well, right now I have a few reasons for wanting to upgrade:
- Support for HDDs greater then 2TB (I realize there is a hack/workaround for this in WHSv1 but it just seems like too much work, I rather have a solution that just works out of the box)
- Software development/support is slowly fading from WHSv1. A perfect example, My Movies stopped supporting WHSv1 a while ago, which means any new features or enhancements get missed out on
- Consolidate hardware. I ran out of space in Shawshank so I added on an enhanceBox eSata enclosure which has worked well. However, this adds another device to the mix which means one more variable to take into account if a problem occurs. Also, I have run into issues getting SMART data from the drives in the enclosure which leaves me feeling a little unsettled.
- I’m a geek who likes to run the latest/greatest
Now here is the main roadblock. Unfortunately I cannot simply upgrade Shawshank from WHSv1 to another O/S, it needs to be a clean install. This is a bit of a daunting task because of the amount of data Shawshank holds, so I can’t just simply transfer my files over to an external drive, install the new O/S, and then copy the data back. Instead, it looks like I will need to do an entirely new server build, get it up and running (while Shawshank is still running as well) , and then start slowly copying the data over. I don’t know when I will do this as time is at a bit of a premium right now, but I just can’t get rid of the itch to do something soon. Here is what I am thinking:
I am leaning towards Windows Server 2012 Essentials. This is obviously a more expensive solution, but since I have access to a copy for free that helps to lessen the blow. The downside with moving away from WHSv1 is I lose the built in DE functionality. I am not looking to do any sort of RAID and Storage Spaces just doesn’t seem all that reliable, so I will probably look to a 3rd party add in such as DriveBender or Stablebit.
This is where the fun will be had, choosing the hardware. Since I use my server for transcoding duties I will probably go with a core i7 CPU. I haven’t looked at motherboards yet, but if the one I go with does not have an Intel NIC I will add on a dedicated Intel NIC card (which is what I do already for Shawshank, or I could simply move over the Intel NIC from Shawshank once the data transfer is complete).
Probably the most difficult decision right now will be choosing the case. Since I require the ability to utilize a lot of hard drives for storage, this automatically eliminates a lot of potential cases. My server is located in my office at home, so a rack mounted case is not an option (thus eliminating options like the popular Norco cases). I was looking at some of the Chenbro, Rosewill, or Supermicro pedestal cases, but I may just go crazy and get the Lian Li PC-D8000 which can hold 20 3.5″ hard drives internally and has 5 5.25″ external bays that could be converted for additional HDD storage. With the internal drives I lose the hot swap ability, but given I rarely have to move around drives I am fine with. Also, not needing some sort of hot swap backplane just means there is one less component I have to worry about if something goes bad. I am still not 100% set on going with this case (and need to do some measurements as it looks to be a beast as you can see from the pics below).
The last thing I will need to sort out (aside from a PSU which I will definitely go with a modular version) will be what RAID cards to use. In Shawshank I am using the Supermicro SASLP SATA RAID cards, but I am not sure about their compatibility with WS 2012 E. This is something I will need to do more reading on before I make decision.
As of now I think I have a rough outline of what direction I want to move in, and now that I have written about it I am even more anxious to get something started.
Have any of you done a new server build of late (whether new or migrating from another server platform)? If so I would love to hear from you about your build and experience.