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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:17 am 
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Hello, I'm looking to build a new home server! I currently have an HP ex495 with an eSATA enclosure attached (about 21 TB total), and I've received significant help and ideas browsing this forum in the past! Everyone involved here seems tremendously helpful, so I thought I'd post a cry for help!

I saw Damian's "Possible New Server Build" article on the main-page back in February, and I've been following the comments looking for insight. I think I'm looking to do exactly what he's talking about, one big, reliable rig with room for expansion... but some of the comments are a little intimidating -RAID this and RAID that! I've built a good gaming rig, and a real nice HTPC, so I'm at least passingly familiar with the components for those types of builds... 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! Something about a hard drive controller card? What's a really good one that can handle 10 - 20 drives? Can I build this rig for around $1,500? I figure I've already got all the hard drives I need to start, so that's probably a reasonable budget for a good server.

I'm, running WHS 2011 and Stablebit Drive Pool and Stablebit Scanner on my ex495 (installing WHS 2011 was a trip for me!). I think I'm happy with this OS 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 MS/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. Plus 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. 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!

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... Between the ex495 and the drive enclosure 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... that Lian Li behemoth of a case Damian's main-page post mentioned, which is an interesting starting point maybe?

The server's mostly used to serve files to an HTPC running XBMC (LOVE me some XBMC eye candy!) across the house (mostly blu-ray/dvd rips, music, photos and HD home video), also looking at running Plex on the server to serve/transcode my full BR rips for some Rokus in other rooms... and room to grow is always a good thing! I'm okay with a little overkill.

I have a love/hate relationship with my current HP ex495 home server -mostly love, it's the attached Rosewill eSATA drive enclosure that causes all the hatin'). I'm TIRED of the eSATA enclosure dropping random drives out of the drive pool. I want something that just works. 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. I've found tips on this, and other forums, but nothing has worked... And so, I'm done. My wife's tired of me complaining and she 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.

But I need help...

Any feedback would be VERY much appreciated. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:13 am 
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Wow, I should have read your post before i started another one. I to am at that point where the mirco servers will do what I need to do for a few more years, but what then.
As yo have stated, moving outside the box with the pool is not really a good option.
I have even thought of turning off duplication and going with external non-pooled drives as a backup. But that's not the best way to go, gaining the space at the price of an easy recovery is not cool.

Raid: I have found an easy option for raid that may be laughed at by the real hardcore raiders, but it is working for me right now and I think even when I find the right new hardware, I may continue to use it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994145

This cool little solid built unit is raid made easy.
You take 2 2.5 ssd or laptop drives, install the software load them in a pc and set it up in raid1 (mirror) and done.
It will fit in the bottom bay of the server and the app has a place to setup email notifications if something gos wrong, like one of the drives dies and will help you rebuild the raid aray without data lose.

I have two ssd's coming for it and will load win2012Essentials on it (testing).
I will be watching because I to am looking for a off the shelf hardware future solution as well, but as far as the raid is concerned, I think this is a option for someone that doesn't want to spend a whole bunch of time tinkering and learning what not to do to break a raid.

Goodluck

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:26 pm 
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My WS2012E has been up and running for a while now, and for the most part trouble free (a few software/setup issues I need to resolve but just haven't had any free time to dedicate). I am using Stablebit as my DE replacement and currently I think I am at about 45TB.

Overall it has been rock solid for me in terms of storage/streaming.

My only issues right now are setting up anywhere access, issues with client backups on one of my PC, and accessing shares with VPN enabled (this is in part related to the anywhere access issues). I still hope to get my writeup posted soon (I actually took a few days off from work next week so hoping I can regroup my thoughts).


In the meantime feel free to hit me with any questions on my build.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:10 pm 
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Gaurdian and dbone1026 - I really appreciate y'all taking time to comment. Gaurdian's icydock ssd setup for the OS sounds like a cool idea!

dbone1026, I'm looking forward to seeing your post! I'm particularly curious to see the hardware decisions... I usually go for a little overkill/futureproofing, but I'm afraid my Newegg Server wishlist takes overkill to a whole new level... and I feel like I'm getting a bit wrapped around the axle. I've been doing a bunch of reading about RAID, and RAID 1 seems like a hardware (supposedly more reliable) version of the data duplication I've been using through Stablebit, and the RAID setup doesn't appear nearly as complicated as I'd feared. But I've just read that some of my hard drives (3 TB WD blacks) are not well suited for large RAID arrays... TLER settings or some other technobabble! Sooo lots of second guessing myself. Ugh.

I think I'll just cool off for a while, deal with my current setup's shortcomings, and wait for your post!

Thanks again to both y'all.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:24 pm 
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jaydash wrote:
Gaurdian and dbone1026 - I really appreciate y'all taking time to comment. Gaurdian's icydock ssd setup for the OS sounds like a cool idea!

dbone1026, I'm looking forward to seeing your post! I'm particularly curious to see the hardware decisions... I usually go for a little overkill/futureproofing, but I'm afraid my Newegg Server wishlist takes overkill to a whole new level... and I feel like I'm getting a bit wrapped around the axle. I've been doing a bunch of reading about RAID, and RAID 1 seems like a hardware (supposedly more reliable) version of the data duplication I've been using through Stablebit, and the RAID setup doesn't appear nearly as complicated as I'd feared. But I've just read that some of my hard drives (3 TB WD blacks) are not well suited for large RAID arrays... TLER settings or some other technobabble! Sooo lots of second guessing myself. Ugh.

I think I'll just cool off for a while, deal with my current setup's shortcomings, and wait for your post!

Thanks again to both y'all.


You are talking to the king of overkill :D

I went with a core i5 Ivy Bridge, you should probably be able to get a great price on one of the Ivy Bridge CPUs not that Haswell was just released.

Ultimately my goal was to future proof (as much as possible) on the hardware side, allow for plenty of expansion, and require as little of a learning curve as possible. Since Stablebit is effectively the same as DE in WHSv1 it was a perfect fit, even though from a space standpoint it is less efficient then some of the other forms of RAID. I also don't have to worry about hardware issues with RAID (such as hard drive size, what happens if a controller dies, etc...). I also like the fact that with Stablebit the data on the drive can be read in any PC. All just personal preference, but as I weighed the pros and cons it just fit best

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:59 pm 
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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 to follow in Damien's footsteps, gonna make the switch from WHS 2011 to WS2012E w/ Stablebit Drive Pool.

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)? Will that make a great bit of difference? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Again, I really appreciate the feedback I've received here. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:14 pm 
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The one thing about the motherboard's SATA ports is can they be configured to run JBOD which is what you will want to run Stablebit Drive Pool. I looked briefly at the motherboard and only saw RAID configurations which you can use with WS2012E but if you want Stablebit Drive Pool and want to use those SATA Ports then they need to able to run as JBOD. Damian ran into that in part with his motherboard and its an easy thing to miss.

As for controller cards there are a ton of them but your motherboard will determine which ones you can and can not run or the compliment of such cards you can install. Your enclosure can handle quite a few drives but if your planning on using the larger capacity drives then you may not need to populate all the bays. So look closely at your expansion slot specifications to see how they work and how the slots actually work together and then you can go out shopping for controller cards that will meet your needs but again just like the motherboard you will want those cards to support JBOD if you want to use Stablebit Drive Pool.

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Migrated from WHS2011 to WS2012E: HIGHLANDER

~ Norco 4220 Enclosure
~ Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
~ AMD Phenom II X4 995 3.2 GHz
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~ 3 Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:35 pm 
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Wow... thanks for the heads up Comp1962!
I guess I'm not attached to any of the hardware choices listed above, but a quick run through of the server motherboards on Newegg doesn't reveal a single one which lists JBOD. Nuts!?
So since I'm unwilling to give up Stablebit Drivepool, I guess the options are to go with a regular motherboard that does support JBOD OR to forego the extra SATA ports on the server motherboard and just use ones from the JBOD controller card(s), huh?
I guess I need to figure out PCI and controller card limitations sooner than I thought. Ha... What a PITA!

Just an aside... all the contributors on this forum (this thread and all the others I've read) are incredibly helpful, thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:33 am 
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Your enclosure can handle quite a few drives and one of the questions you have to answer is will you actually use all those drive bays or not. Lets say you will, then you need to select controller cards then seek out a motherboard which can properly run the compliment of controller cards you will need to run. Maybe you will not purchase all of them at the same time but what you do not want to do is limit your expansion options.

Its not awfully difficult but does require quite a bit of thought. If your building a small system then its a much easier task. With the newer larger drives you do not need as many drives. So its important to review your data storage needs to figure out what you need today and how much you will need down the road. If you need lots of storage capacity then the enclosure you selected will do just fine.

Its always fun when your looking to build your next server solution but it can also be somewhat nerve racking when you think you have everything you need only to end up revising it for one reason or another but the investment is not exactly small change so it will require lots of thought.

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Migrated from WHS2011 to WS2012E: HIGHLANDER

~ Norco 4220 Enclosure
~ Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
~ AMD Phenom II X4 995 3.2 GHz
~ 8 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
~ 3 Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:22 am 
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Yeah, Comp nailed my issue with my mobo. The mobo I went with I think has something like 10 SATA ports but 6 of those are on a separate onboard controller which doesn't support JBOD. I just ended up using one port for my O/S drive and the rest of my drives are connected via my SATA cards

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:36 am 
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Yeah, it was a great catch. I had TOTALLY missed it. You'd think this stuff would be LESS complicated by now, huh?!

I figure that's very much the path I'll wind up taking... just hooking up the storage pool drives through the SATA controller cards and having the OS run from a mobo SATA port. Do you mind me asking what mobo and controller cards you went with, Damian -or anyone who's reading this for that matter? And if not the specific card, is there a particular manufacturer that you prefer for one reason or another? I see Comp1962 and Damians's signatures reference Supermicro cards -is that kinda the consensus?

And another question... in y'all's (I'm from Texas, so that's an actual word) experience are these "server parts" (for the cpu/mobo/memory/etc) I've been focusing on worthwhile? They sound like they're well suited for the always-on home server, I like the sound of that, and ECC memory sounds cool too! I guess I'm okay spending a little more on them for peace of mind -plus, I'm concerned the wife's support of my media center/home networking hobby will dry up if she hears me moaning about the new server crashing or dropping drives or some random data corruption in our music collection! And I just don't think I can go back to photo albums, DVDs and CDs, haha!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:44 am 
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I have 2 of the RocketRAID 2720:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6816115100

My previous server I used the Supermicro SASLP, so this time I wanted to try something different. Cards have been working great, and I actually find much easier to manage (i.e. you can update the driver, etc... from the O/S UI instead of having to do in boot mode)

As far as your wife, once you get everything running and she gets used to relying on she will be hooked too! Your build looks great. I have about 5-6 of those Seagate 4TB drives that have been working great. Really the only major headaches I dealt with were just driver issues when first installing the O/S. Still a few items I am trying to resolve but otherwise my server has been running with very little issues

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Did you read the MediaSmartServer blog today?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:50 am 
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Those cards look cool. Up to 8 drives. Me likey.

Do you mind me pestering you for the mobo you went with? I didn't see it in your article on the main page.
Did you go with an i7 processor?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:59 am 
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jaydash wrote:
Those cards look cool. Up to 8 drives. Me likey.

Do you mind me pestering you for the mobo you went with? I didn't see it in your article on the main page.
Did you go with an i7 processor?


I went with an i5. Got this mobo (discontinued now)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128552

Haven't posted the writeup on my build yet, having some remote access issues which has slowed down my writing

Shoot away with any other questions about my build, I don't mind spilling the beans :D

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Did you read the MediaSmartServer blog today?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:14 am 
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Oh, I'll shoot away then! Haha...

Are you using those PCI-Express 2.0 controller cards in the PCI-Express 3.0 slots on your mobo -I see it has 4 of those 3.0 slots, and 2.0 cards fit into 'em, right? You'd just be limited to the card's speeds?

I ask because this is still the part I'm most confused about.

If that's the case, then I can probably go with the board I chose (or maybe one with one or two more PCI-e 3.0 slots), the cards you recommend and run with it!


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