Jump to content
Covecube Inc.
  • 0
iceaura

Time to build a proper server

Question

Well, I've been contemplating this for years but I've only just now come across DrivePool, which is exactly what I've been hoping for! I got a little excited when Windows 8 was released and Storage Spaces looked like what I was after, however I discovered its (unacceptable) flaws after some research, then stumbled upon DrivePool!

 

First, my current system started as a large gaming/CAD workstation and has since ballooned into an always on media server too. Now, I'm really struggling for space and SATA ports (I have installed PCI to SATA adapters, PCI to USB and then to USB to SATA adapters, HDD docks, etc etc). The system runs fairly well and performs fine but I've decided to build a dedicated system with plenty of space, room to expand and lower power consumption.

 

Just for interest, the current system is:

OS: W7 Pro 64

CPU: Core i7 920 with Noctua NH U12P cooler

MOBO: ASUS P6T-Deluxe

GRAPHICS: Dual Radeon HD 5850 (running 4 screens, 3x23", 1x42")

CASE: Silverstone Raven case

RAM: 6GB triple channel RAM

An SSD for the system drive

About 10-12 mech drives ranging from 2 to 4TB - a range of brands and speeds (Seagate, Samsung, Hitachi, WD).

 

I have a 10 Gb switch running to several devices, including PC's, gaming consoles and an IP camera, wireless router (for laptops and mobile phones)

 

I've built a few PC's in the past (including this one) without any issues, but I'm no IT guy - well, nothing formal anyway, just tinkering. The idea of a server has always seemed "too professional" for me, but after some research over the past few days, I reckon I can handle it.

 

I don't like the idea of hardware RAID due to the drive limitations (I have a very multi-cultural collection of drives), which is where DrivePool will fit my needs perfectly.

 

This is my current plan for my build:

OS: W7 Pro 64 (Maybe W8 Pro 64)

MOBO: Asus H97-Plus

GRAPHICS: Use the onboard

CPU: Intel Corei5 4590

RAM: 16GB kit (2x8GB) G.Skill Ares DDR3 1600

CONTROLLER: Highpoint RocketRAID 2740 16ch

CASE: Norco RPC-4224 in a 12RU cabinet

PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W

NETWORK: 24 port managed switch

UPS?

HDD: I've got a spare SSD that I'll use for the system, then transplant my mech drives over onto the controller using breakout cables

 

If I need to add future drives I will add in Highpoint Rocket EJ340 expanders - which I have a question about. Can I just keep daisy chaining EJ340's together? What happens to speed performance?

 

Also, I briefly saw something on a "landing spot" or something, where files are initially copied to an SSD before being re-distributed to the pool. This is an awesome idea and will probably end up taking advantage of this. Is there any way to kind of do the reverse? i.e. select a few files or folders in the pool and "mark" them for the landing zone because I know I will be transferring them to an external drive later or streaming them later?

 

Another question and a reason why I've been hesitant to put up a server; is there any decent "network recycling bin" type software around? I don't like the idea of deleting something over the network and then that file is gone forever.

 

So that is my build plan, what do you guys think? I've done some research, but I really don't want to have made some fundamental mistake, buy the parts and THEN realise I've messed up. Any input is appreciated, also any suggestions on a cheaper solution would be great!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

  • 0

Yeah, I had a read around and that is the case - there are 24 ports but you will have to use up at least 4 of those ports for the input, leaving you only 20 ports for HDDs. You can use up another 4 ports for input to increase the throughput but then you'd only have 16 ports for HDD's. That's another point of confusion; do you say ports for the SATA connections and lanes for the SAS connections - what is the terminology here? Here is a link I found useful for seeing where all the LSI cards sit: https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/lsi-raid-controller-and-hba-complete-listing-plus-oem-models.599/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I have installed W7 64 Pro and have not had a single crash! I looked in the event viewer and I am still getting some errors relating to the 3ware driver BUT it has not crashed and it has been 3 days now. Does this mean that I could maybe build my server around W7 and not have any problems? What do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

How long did it work before it started crashing before though?  And is this 3 days on 24 hours a day or on whenever?  I typically do a "burn in" for a solid 24 hours before I start messing around with other stuff.  That's what I did with my new server build.  I haven't had any issues.  Have you considered getting a copy of Windows Server Essentials?  You can get a free 180-day (6 month) no obligation trial from Microsoft.  I went that route since OS's like Windows Home Server and even Windows 7 support has or is ending soon.  Where as WSE 2012 R2 will be around for a while.

 

I truly hope your system continues to be stable!  That's all you need is somebody not rooting for ya!  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

The longest I had it on before (W8 & W10) was under 2 days without crashing. Often I'd have it running for several hours with no problems, then do a restart and leave it and it would crash in less than 30mins. So I have done a few manual restarts to see if I could trigger a crash but still no problems. It is on 24/7 with 8 hard drives running (no programs) and it has been 4 days now :) . So I'm thinking the driver for this card doesn't agree with W8/W10 (even though it does have a W8 driver).

 

I'm not worried about support ending for W7 and I don't want to fork out for Windows Server Essentials (I don't think I'll need all the features anyway). The only issue is that I don't have a spare key for W7, so I'd have to buy another copy.

 

I have already gone over budget but it looks like the cheapest solution from here would be to purchase a new W7 key and then I'm good. However, if for some reason I want/need to go to W10 in the future, I'm going to have to update the controller anyway...

 

I guess I just need to make the decision now. At this stage, I'm thinking I'll stick with W7 Pro. I've had nothing but issues with W10 so far, even though I really like it, I can't justify using it. I upgraded one of my PC's to W10 and it is having fits with the graphics card, audio card and onboard audio. I have my workstation PC running W7 but it is also doubling as my current server until I can get the new one running. I might experiment with W10 on it once I migrate to the new server but I don't know if it is going to be worth the headache. <_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

This is typical symptoms whenever Microsoft comes out with a new OS.  It's one of the big reasons why I never upgraded to Windows 8.  I'll never get Windows 10 though because it doesn't have Media Center, which is the primary reason for my computer.  They "think" they've worked out the bugs, but there is always the unknown when it comes to 3rd party hardware and their drivers.  Windows 7 has been around long enough that it's rock solid stable for the most part.  Same can be said about Windows XP. 

 

I think your decision to stick with Windows 7 using your current hardware is a good idea.  It falls back on what I was saying in another forum... "If it's not broke, don't fix it."  In my particular case, my server was severely outdated.  Running Windows Home Server v1 (2007!).  My components weren't capable of supporting WHS 2011.  So I upgraded.  Then it crashed and I had all kinds of driver issues like you did.  Then I learned about the free trial from MS about the MSE 2012 R2 and thought I'd give it a try.  The system was extremely stable, but I couldn't do anything more with it.  I was maxed out on expansion slots and drive bays.  So I decided I needed an upgrade, and thought the best way to do it was just to "start from scratch".  So once I'm fully up and running, I can at least say my system was "almost" top of the line as of 2015.  The only thing I'm lacking is the latest and greatest CPU's, but for the cost, I can't justify spending the money required for those E5 Xeons, with TRUE server builders getting 2 CPU's on their boards, each costing $2.5k.  That's just crazy.  I'm settling with a little more waist room.  In my case, the processor is going to be the most expensive part.  The case was 2nd.  Before, the cpu and case were left over basement spares.  I went back and read your first post and Chris's response.  It really does help to go big and spend a fair amount of cash to get something good, rather than settle.  I waited and bought my parts as I could afford them, rather than settle for something cheaper (although I did settle temporarily on a low end Celeron CPU so I could at least have a working system with the other main components while I save up for the Xeon).  I couldn't be happier with where I'm at.  I'm just waiting for the funds to get my HP Expander and more SAS cables!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I must admit, I think I did jump the gun with W10 - it was a free upgrade, so I thought, why not? I'm guessing this is part of their plan to have many people go through the upgrade, then iron out the bugs later. Usually, I wouldn't upgrade OS's so soon after release - I sat on Windows XP for ages, then went straight to Windows 7. I completely skipped Vista and W8 (other than my latest purchase, which was only so I could upgrade to W10 anyway). I figured my W7 experience went really well, so jumped into W10.

 

I would prefer server parts, but I don't think I really need them. I have survived for about 7years on a Workstation build PC that has doubled as an always on 24/7 server with no major issues - I'm just running out of HDD space (managed to stuff 12 of them in there on various SATA cards and USB to SATA adapters) and then there is power consumption - dual high end graphics cards etc. My other reason is that I have NO back up system in place (naughty, I know). I have been lucky but recently my luck ran out and I lost a 3TB drive that was almost full.

 

For all the systems I build I trade off cost vs. performance and have come out on top every time. I always try to factor in some future proofing too, so I concentrate money on the components that will do the job for longer without needing upgrading, leaving room for upgrading parts that will become obsolete (or become ridiculously cheaper and better). In hindsight, I should've just gone with the IBM controller and Intel expander card, but if my current controller (LSI chipset) didn't have these driver issues, I would've been just fine. I was just trying to preserve PCI slots - my current controller will allow 16 drives, then I could add an expander later, whereas the IBM controller only allows 8 drives and I'd have to get the expander now.

 

Seems like you've got a lot more experience with servers, I envy your set up but I need to prioritise my spending away from these toys -_-

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Heh actually, this is my first true server I'm building now.  I had a spare computer in the basement under the steps collecting dust.  I read the system requirements to install Windows Home Server v1, and thought to myself "I can do that".  I liked the appeal of having a daily backup and a file server so I could stream media from it and not have my primary computer cluttered with lots of files.  With a server, its ok because that's what it was built to do.  All I needed was to plug in a drive, then another as that got filled, and another and another until I was up to like 12 drives.  Then I just ran out of room.  No more PCI slots open for Sata controllers, all the Sata ports on the motherboard were used, I had to upgrade to SAS.  Chris sold me one of his cards, and that opened up more expandability for me.  Got a few good uses out of it then decided it still wasn't enough and went for the Norco RPC-4224 case (same you have!).  Then I just did a bunch of asking in forums (like here!) and looking around on the internet at other people's builds and reading reviews, and checking out sites like Amazon and NewEgg at what was available and reading reviews from buyers, and asking more questions, etc.  All the while, saving money to make the purchases.  I settled on the motherboard that suited my needs.  I knew I needed something that would give me the PCIe ports for the Expander card (since the old system's board didn't have the right slots).  That was my bottom line.. 2 PCIe slots for the controller and expander.  Everything else, like 4 lan ports, onboard USB jack, IPMI, USB3, Xeon processors, etc, all came from researching what they were, deciding if I would ever need them, what my upgrade options were, etc.  It just turned out that the one I liked the best of all the options, was the same one Chris suggested to you in his first reply.. the ASRock Rack E3C224-4L! 

 

As for priorities...  I'm in a bad situation.  Because of mental health issue, I only work part time.  Can't cope with stress and anxiety.  So because of that, I get very minimal pay.  I just learned I'm topped out for part timers, which is only $9.90/hr after I've been there 6 years.  Going on 7 now and I'm not getting any more raises until next fall, where our new contract goes into effect, and then I'm guaranteed a $1.50 raise over the next 5 years.  Because of that, my weekly paychecks only average me about $170 a week.  So I can't afford to live on my own.  I live at home, with my dad and his new wife that I can't stand.  I stay locked in my room if I'm not at work because I'm not comfortable around them.  I pay them $60 a week for rent and half the utilities, use their water when I do laundry or go to the bathroom, and eat if they cook me something.  If not, I buy Hot Pockets or something at work.  That's my life.  So in a way, I can afford these things simply because I can't afford anything else.  I can save up and not buy anything, but it would take longer than necessary to move out.  Cheap living isn't cheap when you're on restricted work hours from your doctor.  I could get a room mate, but it'd still be the same as living at home, only more expensive.  So yeah, I should prioritize my spending towards other things, but it wouldn't do me any good.  Thanks a lot, now I'm depressed again.  :(  lol  But seriously, with my depression and anxiety, those little moments of excitement I get when something new comes in the mail is about the best thing I got to look forward to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Damn, that's rough. You're a lot better at saving than me then, lol. I've always found my anxiety more of a social hindrance and inability to develop professional connections but not as severe as yours, sorry about that, it sucks.

 

I've recently decided to severely limit my spending on "stuff" so that I can save for a house deposit and move out of my Mums place. Luckily, I managed to buy all the parts for this server before I cut myself off, but now it's looking like I may have to break the budget a bit - no point in having a nearly-complete non-operational server sitting there, especially when I'm in desperate need to expand storage and set up a back up system.

 

I understand the excitement when I get new tech in the mail, trust me, but so far I don't miss it. I figure I have plenty of stuff around me to play around with without having to buy anything new and shiny, haha. And then, there's the fact that I have close to 50TB of data including movies, TV, games etc, seriously, I could not buy a single thing for the rest of my life and still never get through it all, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

@IceAura:

 

It definitely sounds like the drivers are not compatible for the older OS versions. That doesn't surprise me, but it's sad to hear.

By "doesn't surprise me", it's a 3ware card, and the company was acquired by LSI a while ago (which was acquired by Avago somewhat recently). 

 

Alternative here, if you can find it, look for Windows Home Server 2011, or Windows Storage Server 2008R2 Essentials (or SBS2011 Essentials), as these may be cheaper than Windows 7. And get you the home server stuff. 

 

Another option? HyperV Server 2008R2, pass through the disks, and then run the specific OS you want. 
The other option is see if it runs ESX (as that supports SMART passthrough, as well). It's an option, though, I'm not sure if you're willing to do that much work. 

 

And as for the amount of data, Yeah, pretty much. :) 
I'm the same way. But it's the option to have it. That, and a large majority of my stuff, I have watched. It may have been 15+ years ago, but it's hard to find stuff. 

 

 

@hansolo77:

 

I definitely know what you mean.  I've had (have) issues with depression and anxiety, so I definitely understand. Probably not as bad as you, but that's not really a contest you want to win...  Though, it's part of why I love my current job. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Thanks Chris, it SHOULD be compatible with W8 as there is a driver for it, but it may be that compatibility is limited and unfortunately doesn't work with my hardware.

 

I'll be honest, I don't understand/not familiar with Server OS's at all, what are the benefits/features of WHS 2011 say over W7?

 

Yeah, with the data, I am a data hoarder, so I have stuff from 15+ years ago too. I pretty much keep everything I get, just in case someone wants it one day, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

The benefit to me with server OS is the stability and automation.  It's very easy to setup for automatic computer backups, and the use of storage space is a breeze.  The only reason I didn't stay with WHS 2011 was because after finally getting everything installed, the OS started corrupting my system files and registry.  Not sure what caused it, probably a Windows Update or something, but I was essentially locked out of modifying anything.  Whenever I would try to access the registry, it would give me an error saying the registry was in read-only mode because I was connected remotely.  Of course the first thing I then tried was connect a monitor/keyboard/mouse directly to the server, and it STILL gave me that error.  I couldn't perform any administrative jobs either, like system restore, to try and fix the problem.  The only solution was a complete reformat and reinstall, which I was unable to do because of the current condition of my drive/folder structures.  This was before I got DrivePool.  If I formatted my OS drive, I would lose what Microsoft called "Tombstones" that stores the location of the files.  Lose those files, and you're basically SOL on getting your files off any of the pool drives.  My ultimate solution was to go for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which according to Wikipedia (link) was the next upgrade after WHS 2011.  I've had to reinstall it twice because of my misunderstanding of how the system works, but now that it's running it's great.

 

Something else you might consider, though I have no experience with, is something like FreeNAS.  From what I understand, it'll do what you're looking for.  The OS can be installed on a tiny little USB drive, and then all your drives are pooled.  You access the interface for configuring through a built in website, and then access the storage pool through a standard Explorer linked network share.  The downside I think is that there is no built in backup solutions.  The only reason I didn't go this route is because I'm not good with Linux.  But my new understanding is that you don't even SEE Linux.  The OS installs and sets everything up automatically.  The only downside you might experience would be drivers for your controller (which is also the problem you CURRENTLY have).  If you're still in the experimentation phase of locking down an OS, I'd at least recommend giving it a try.  I for one would love to know how you get on with it if you do, since it sounds a LOT easier to set and have running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Thanks Chris, it SHOULD be compatible with W8 as there is a driver for it, but it may be that compatibility is limited and unfortunately doesn't work with my hardware.

 

I'll be honest, I don't understand/not familiar with Server OS's at all, what are the benefits/features of WHS 2011 say over W7?

 

Yeah, with the data, I am a data hoarder, so I have stuff from 15+ years ago too. I pretty much keep everything I get, just in case someone wants it one day, lol.

Well, There is Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. They are not the same. While driers may work most of the time, that's not a guarantee.

 

And if you are having issues with driver stability, try contacting Avago (who owns LSI, 3Ware). 

Maybe they have a fix.

 

 

 

As for the Server OS. WHS2011 specifically provides the automated backup, client monitoring (security/update/antivirus status), and provides a remote access website (and SSL/HTTPS certificate), and can be configured to act as a VPN rather easily. 

And the dashboard. Easy to manage the server, create users and shares, and set permissions for the users.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Yeah, I tried contacting Avago, no response (typical) and I tried Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 with their Windows 7 and Windows 8 drivers.

 

For the server, I don't need automated backups (I'll use Drivepools duplication), Windows does an acceptable job of security/update/antivirus (I'll use AVG, spybot and Malwarebytes too), I'll use remote desktop and/or other applications for remote access (not a compulsory requirement of mine), VPN is something I am not currently using and can do without, although it would be nice and at this point I don't need control over users etc. So, I don't think I want to risk buying WHS 2011 only to find out that the drivers don't agree with that OS too, whereas I know W7 will be fine (been running 6 days now I think, 24/7 with no crashes).

 

I've looked at FreeNAS briefly, I don't think that is where I want to go either. So it looks like I'll be buying a new W7 key and setting up the server on that for now. Down the line, I'll probably ditch the 3ware card and use the set up Chris mentioned earlier and either go W10 or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials but for now, I need to get the server up and running as soon as possible with as little expenditure possible. I still have a lot of things to do after that to have everything running where I want (Drivepool etc).

 

Thanks for the help and suggestions guys, I have finally decided on the path I will be taking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...