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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:33 pm 
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I have a friend who owns a real estate business, and she wants a solution that will back up all the computers in her office, and also provide the ability for me to support them remotely. All of their PCs are Windows 7, so Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials seems the logical choice here. It also gives my friend Melanie the ability to access her work computer remotely.

I haven't done a DIY server in a long time, so I was hoping I might be able to query this community for suggestions.

I don't want to propose something that is ridiculously expensive, but I also want to build her something that's robust. The server would function as three primary roles -- a domain controller for user accounts, group policy, etc.; backups and remote access. They have a LOT of data.

The server won't need to be a powerhouse of processing power. It's not like they'll be streaming or doing media transcoding. So it doesn't need top of the line memory or CPU; I'm guessing a decent i5 and 4GB of RAM will meet their needs. Especially if I make the system drive an SSD. But then I was thinking of 4 x 2TB hard drives in a RAID-5 configuration. This would give 6 TB of usable storage, and provide fault tolerance. In order to keep costs lower, I was thinking of using Windows built-in software RAID-5 capability. Yes it'll be slower because it's software RAID, but this is going to be used for backups, not high performance media.

That said, would it be wiser to buy a pre-built tower, and then just upgrade it? Or would I be better off building the whole thing from scratch?

Not including Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, do you think this could be done on a budget of $1000? I'm open to suggestions.

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HP EX490, 4GB, E5300, 15TB - Server 2012 - Sharing and Streaming
HP EX487, 4GB, E5300, 13TB - Server 2012 Essentials - Backups


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:55 am 
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Matt,

Just the hardware you can build a fairly decent server for $500-1000. Some motherboards have 6-8 SATA ports so if your looking at say RAID5 which would in most cases with those not quite be hardware RAID you would save quite a bit of money by not purchasing a RAID Card. I personally do not use RAID in my servers because I really like Stablebit Drive Pool which I know you did not like but can not remember why.

Most of my builds have been AMD builds and they have performed quite well but if your preference is of Intel then so be it. I do have one server that is an Intel Build that runs a Q9400S that runs well but I am not quite happy with the Intel Motherboard because the x16 slot is only for a Graphics Card and I wanted to use it for one of my Supermicro MV8 cards but its dedicated to graphics so no go there and the Rocket Raid Card I chose well it sort of drops out drives so that proved to be useless so I am sort of at this time limited to the 5 SATA Ports on the motherboard.

Personally after starting out with the MSS I got addicted to backplanes so the majority of my builds have backplanes but that adds cost to the builds.

I still think if you build a server you will end up with something more robust then something already built by an OEM and will be able to take advantage of the longer component warranties. Also you can chose an enclosure which has good air flow and filtration and noise level.

I would seriously look at a build where you could factor in things like what is needed today and allow for some future growth down the line. Interestingly enough Cooler Master has a line of enclosures called a Stacker so if you wanted to expand you just buy another section and stack them.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:52 pm 
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Thanks, I found a Lenovo ThinkServer online for $330 on Amazon. It doesn't come with any disks, so I'd need to get 3 x 3TB plus an SSD. That would easily handle what Melanie wants. A fellow member here also has an EX495 he's selling for just under $200. I just apprised him that I want to buy it, regardless of whether I ultimately use it for Melanie or keep it for myself to stand up a WHS v1 box for testing. If she is really budget conscious, then I might just hook her up with that one. I'd still get her an SSD plus 3 x 3TB (if an EX495 will support them). Again, that should be more than adequate since she's just looking to do backups and remote access. I've got an EX487 doing backups and remote access here and I don't tax the resources of that box hardly at all. It's running 2012 R2 Standard + Essentials feature. In Melanie's case, I can just get her Essentials and she'll be good to go.

Regarding StableBit, it's not that I don't like it. I just had bad luck with it when using it with a hodgepodge of SATA and USB 2.0 disks. It just didn't seem to handle the "mix" as well as Drive Bender. StableBit did just fine with all SATA or all USB, but when you mixed them, it didn't do well.

I thought about hardware RAID, but a good, quality RAID card can be pretty pricey. If Melanie was looking for a high-performance box, I would tell her hardware RAID is the way to go. But for just backups, I think software RAID-5 would be just fine. I haven't decided whether to use a Storage Space or the software RAID-5 that's been available in Windows since Windows 2000. Like I said, since it'll just be for backups, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to invest in a high-end RAID card.

They have a Dropbox they share, so there is a fair amount of "duplicated" data across many people's computers. Since the backups are performed very similar to WHS v1, they use single-instance storage. So while there may be an aggregate of several terabytes of data across all of the Realtor's computers, in reality they only have about 1.5 TB of data when considered in a single instance. So a storage solution that provides 6 TB of data should serve them well. Should they require additional storage capabilities, the ThinkServer has several USB 3.0 ports. I would just add a 4-drive bay in that case, and they could keep going.

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HP EX490, 4GB, E5300, 15TB - Server 2012 - Sharing and Streaming
HP EX487, 4GB, E5300, 13TB - Server 2012 Essentials - Backups


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:49 pm 
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I saw that you inquired about the EX495 this morning when I was reading posts. Now that you mention the mixed enviroment with USB and SATA I now recall your posting about it. If I ever mixed my drives it would of been throut an eSATA Port Multiplier but I do not recall if I did that within the same storage pool or not. Otherwise all my drives are just connected internally using the same controllers.

I am running a bunch of 4TB drives now for over a year (knock on wood) they are working out well for me. I am anxious to use 6TB Drives but have not purchased one yet but in time I will.

Good Luck helping your friend.....

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~ 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: Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:51 pm 
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With the EX487, there's just the single eSATA device capability. In the EX490/495 it's a port multiplier, but the EX485/487 it's a singleton. I use my 487 for the backups, which is where I had the hodgepodge of SATA and USB drives. StableBit works fine, as long as you don't have "fast" and "slow" drives together. Because USB 2.0 is so much slower than SATA, I think it was causing timeouts in StableBit. I haven't tried SB with SATA + USB 3.0.

I bought the EX495 today. Whether that winds up going to Melanie or becomes an extra box for me has yet to be determined. Either way it'll get put to good use! :beerme:

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HP EX490, 4GB, E5300, 15TB - Server 2012 - Sharing and Streaming
HP EX487, 4GB, E5300, 13TB - Server 2012 Essentials - Backups


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:15 am 
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I have been seeing some ($300-$400) Dell optiplex selling cheap that could make a good little server with some 6tb drives.
www.woot.com

I have been tempted to get one to replace my heavy lifter ripper/scanner/media PC.
I would say Gen8 and couple 6tb drives, but HP is doing some weird stuff with their remote access stuff and upgrades and warranties I hear.

Goodluck, my 510's are purring along, no drive loss yet with the reds. Knock on wood :-)

P.S. SMART saved me on my heavy lifter, when I installed it it went red, the ssd had 0 life left, I changed that out quick, thank you again for that awesome program. (That was my first ssd, 3-4 years old)

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[X510 CPU/RAM/All 2 TB Red's] [X510 CPU/Sync'ed Backup/All 2 TB Hitachi's]
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