Simple home server spec

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Hi There,

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong section.

I consider myself a moderate PC builder/user and I've been thinking about setting up a home server/file server so people in my house can access their personal files (documents/music etc) from the shared file server.

We have 2 PCs and 1 Laptop in the house connected to a D-Link DIR-655 Wirless Router. Both PC's are connected using cat5e cables. The laptop uses a wireless connection.


I have listed my requirements below:

1. Must be low power (low wattage)
2. Must be able to handle gigabit speeds for transfer of large files i.e. video.
3. Each user's documents will be shared on the file server. Seperate user accounts are not required i.e. each user should be able to access eachothers data on the fileserver.
4. Fileserver must contain 1x2TB hardrive or 2x1TB Hard drives.
5. Files on server must be accessible wired/wirlesslesy.


Questions:

1. What Type and Speed of CPU, RAM, Mobo will be enough for my requirements?

2. Whats the max power I need from a PSU to run the above?

3. Which OS will i be best using?

4. Will I need a software firewall on the server/fileserver?

5. If I simple use windows XP as the OS will windows software firewall suffice? Which ports will i need to manually block off?

6. Is it a good idea to setup VPN on the server or should I not configure it to use the internet at all?

7. Can I use the fileserver to install my bittorrent client on? Is this a bad idea ie. point 6?

8. What other security implications do I need to consider?

9. What other implications do i need to consider?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
Soldato
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Location
N.Devon
Hi There,

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong section.

I consider myself a moderate PC builder/user and I've been thinking about setting up a home server/file server so people in my house can access their personal files (documents/music etc) from the shared file server.

We have 2 PCs and 1 Laptop in the house connected to a D-Link DIR-655 Wirless Router. Both PC's are connected using cat5e cables. The laptop uses a wireless connection.


I have listed my requirements below:

1. Must be low power (low wattage)
2. Must be able to handle gigabit speeds for transfer of large files i.e. video.
3. Each user's documents will be shared on the file server. Seperate user accounts are not required i.e. each user should be able to access eachothers data on the fileserver.
4. Fileserver must contain 1x2TB hardrive or 2x1TB Hard drives.
5. Files on server must be accessible wired/wirlesslesy.


Questions:

1. What Type and Speed of CPU, RAM, Mobo will be enough for my requirements?

2. Whats the max power I need from a PSU to run the above?

3. Which OS will i be best using?

4. Will I need a software firewall on the server/fileserver?

5. If I simple use windows XP as the OS will windows software firewall suffice? Which ports will i need to manually block off?

6. Is it a good idea to setup VPN on the server or should I not configure it to use the internet at all?

7. Can I use the fileserver to install my bittorrent client on? Is this a bad idea ie. point 6?

8. What other security implications do I need to consider?

9. What other implications do i need to consider?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

1. HP Microserver

2. ^ HP Microserver takes DDR3 but comes with 2GB

3. Windows Home Server if you want windows, lots of different option if you want a free solution.

4. Not really.

5. Yes

6. It's fine too have it connected to the net.

7. Yes fine, thats what i do plus my sabnzbd

8. Dunno really

9. If you plan on having the server on all the time a UPS or a plain old surge protector might be adviceable.
 
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Do you want to build your own from scratch?

To be honest when you sit down and work out the total cost ( based on modern(ish) hardware) your better off getting a ready made solution like a 2 bay Synology or QNAP. Quick and easy to setup for a first time/low level user.

:)
 
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OP
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Thanks essex raptor but before i go down the route of buying a pre-built solution I want to have a stab at building one myself..

What spec would you recommend mate?
 
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Ok

You already have a requirements list set out in your OP

Suggestion only - but first decide which OS you want to use and one that you'll be comfortable using and more importantly breaking a few times along the way !

Set aside WHS 2011 for now... it's fine and dandy and I've just switched over myself last weekend. I'm just learning that one but for a self build I think you should consider a Linux based OS. It also saves on splashing out dosh to MS when the Linux based systems are generally free :)

eg.

FreeNAS 7 or 8
Openfiler
Open Media Vault

Loads more out and about

Google them and study them in detail. The reason will soon come apparent. With self builds the main stumbing block is hardware compatibility with the OS. Once you sort through that jungle you'll come up with a parts list.

I've just (literally before I started typing this) knocked up a low level self build myself... based on a ancient Socket A MB and CPU, 3 Gb RAM and a handful of IDE drives. I'm going to load up a 32bit version of OpenMediaVault and play. IF I get good results I'll then up the hardware as I come across it.

One tip I will give you is... only commit a small amount of data to your choosen build and experiment with streaming that to your media and network first. That way if you run across problems you can rebuild and start again quickly without having to backup loads of films, pics and other stuff first.

You will find complete hardware suggestions in this forum section and in the case builds/storage section.

eg.

http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?t=18380793&highlight=server+build

several basket suggestions in tis one

It does not answer your question directly with a parts list... but it's food for thought

:)
 
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I've got a small Mini-itx box that I've built. Although it cost a lot more than the HP miniseries, it has the big advantage of not looking like a big PC which is important for me as it's sat in the AV cabinet under my TV. I'm running WHS2011 and the hardware is a Zotac S775 board with an E1600, 8GB RAM, a 500GB boot disk and two 2TB data disks. It's all in a Bluejour case which has no drive bays or ports on the front so just looks like another piece of AV hardware.
 
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I've got a small Mini-itx box that I've built. Although it cost a lot more than the HP miniseries, it has the big advantage of not looking like a big PC which is important for me as it's sat in the AV cabinet under my TV. I'm running WHS2011 and the hardware is a Zotac S775 board with an E1600, 8GB RAM, a 500GB boot disk and two 2TB data disks. It's all in a Bluejour case which has no drive bays or ports on the front so just looks like another piece of AV hardware.

Whats the power consumption like mate?
 
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Would the Intel D945GSEJT mini-itx motherboard with a 1.6ghz Intel Atom cpu suffice?

I wonder what the file transfer speed is like on a gigabit LAN..
 
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That motherboard only has 2 SATA ports so fails your HD requirement. Also a single core atom CPU is truely gutless and i doubt would have enough power to keep the network connection maxed out, the Zotac NM10-F-E is a better bet. You'll get something like a Microserver but it will cost quite a bit more.
 
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Ok

You already have a requirements list set out in your OP

Suggestion only - but first decide which OS you want to use and one that you'll be comfortable using and more importantly breaking a few times along the way !

Set aside WHS 2011 for now... it's fine and dandy and I've just switched over myself last weekend. I'm just learning that one but for a self build I think you should consider a Linux based OS. It also saves on splashing out dosh to MS when the Linux based systems are generally free :)

eg.

FreeNAS 7 or 8
Openfiler
Open Media Vault

I would tend to go the complete opposite direction with this one. For the USD49 cost of WHS-2011 it really is a great bit of software. It is pretty compatible with most standard PC parts out there (being able to use Win Server 2008 or Win 7 drives for the most part) and has the simple dashboard for simple share setup etc but you can dig in to the server manager if you want to go a bit more adviced (hidden shares for example). If someone is used to Windows when WHS-2011 should be no big challenge for basic setup and there are loads of good sites with info and plugins out there (Drivepool, Lights out etc). WHS-2011 also allows remote access to your files via a web interface which, if you set your home network right, can allow streaming of content to others over the internet and is password protected. It even allows internet accessible remote desktop to any Windows (Pro or above) machines on your network if you configure it. The backup function will also allow you to backup other Windows machines on your network as well as the server and data it holds. I have been running it more or less since it came out on both standalone machines and in virtual machines (ESXi) without any issues.

The various Linux alternatives are generally very good and pretty simple to setup but tend to be more geared to NAS file sharing appliances with other bits added on rather than a full server OS to do with what you like. WHS-2011 is also compatible with lots of Windows software like various BT clients. Windows-2011 is more demanding on resources though.

Hardware wise, 4-8GB ram, i3-2120T (or i3-2100), MSI/Gigabyte H61 mITX board or an ECS H67 board will go well. Something like the Fractal Designs Array R2 mini or Lian-Li PC-Q25 both give lots of hdd slots in fairly small packages. If you drop down to the Linux base appliance route then a G620 and 4GB ram would probably do in order to save a bit of cash.

If you have the cash you could look at the Intel S1200KP mITX server board with an E3-1235 Xeon (4 cores, 8 threads, cheaper than an i7) which would give you access to ECC ram (standard ram also works) and ECC ram is not that more expensive for unbuffered. You could even pair it with an i3 or G620 if you wanted to and still get ECC ram working (knowledge of which is something Intel is trying to keep out of the public arena).

For an alternative all together, build an ESXi5 server and run WHS-2011 or one of the Linux flavours as a VM and then have any other server type stuff run in other separate VMs. You have to be a bit charefull about network chipsets for ESXi but I used to have my WHS 2011 server, a CentOS BT machine, a Minecraft server, a webserver and various play about environments all as virtual machines all on an i5 H67 16GB ram mITX setup. ESXi 5 is free (terms apply) and you can play around with many different software setups before settling on one.

RB
 
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My suggestion was merely to encourage the OP to try a LOW cost build initially before getting the "server bug" ( which so far I have personally found more addictive than overclocking !! ). :) :)

Whilst I'll agree that WHS is relatively low cost at the moment (and OEM and all the added tied to MB issues) add-ins like Drivebender ($40) or Stablebit Drivepool ($19.99) Cloudberry (£29) start to add up. My own experiences running it so far on my HP Micro are positive and I agree with all your points.. Apart from I've found it dog slow with file transfer speeds compared to my old FreeNAS install.

Does the OP need to invest in the hardware you listed for his first dip of the toe into the self built server pond? I suppose at the end of the day it's a personal choice. Alot of pre built small NAS solutions will already do what he is asking and a self build is more of a step up the ladder IMO
 
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My suggestion was merely to encourage the OP to try a LOW cost build initially before getting the "server bug" ( which so far I have personally found more addictive than overclocking !! ). :) :)

Sure, appreciated. Just giving another point of view.

Whilst I'll agree that WHS is relatively low cost at the moment (and OEM and all the added tied to MB issues) add-ins like Drivebender ($40) or Stablebit Drivepool ($19.99) Cloudberry (£29) start to add up. My own experiences running it so far on my HP Micro are positive and I agree with all your points..

Sure, OEM tide to hardware although only contractually (T&C) rather than physically as I have swapped hardware a number of times. According to the T&C, DNS, DHCP and a number of other roles that are available but turned off should also not be used but they still work fine if they are turned on and configured.

I only recently moved to Drivepool and had been running since I bought it just using spanned drives. Luckily I did change as my 1.5TB WD Green drive was starting to get read errors all over the place. The point is reasonable but TBH, drivepool is probably the only other add-on I am likely to buy after the 1 month free trial.

Apart from I've found it dog slow with file transfer speeds compared to my old FreeNAS install.

Down to your hardware and drivers I would guess. I am using an Intel DH67CF board with an Intel network chipset. I can usually, all things being equal, get around 110MB/s transfers on large files. With ESXi I used to get around 60MB/s until I passed the network port directly to my VM using VT-d and then it jumped to around 100MB/s. Other than my motherboard coming from Intel with their network chipset there is nothing else special about my WHS box so you should be able to get decent speeds.


Does the OP need to invest in the hardware you listed for his first dip of the toe into the self built server pond?

There are many different combinations that would work for different setups. A second hand i3 (Gen 1) box would do fine. A dual core cpu would work fine for most. The items I listed were based on a new build with commonly available parts. They were not intended as an exhaustive list by any means.

RB
 
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Appreicate you posting for the OP... after reading many of your other posts in the forum,,, I know this is your day to day work and would have sound advice for him, myself and others :)

:). I get lots of good advice from others here and alternative views as well that I had not myself though of. It is a good place to bounce ideas and get alternative views so am happy to give back too. Good crowd especiall in this subforum for business and server type of questions.

Rb
 
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:). I get lots of good advice from others here and alternative views as well that I had not myself though of. It is a good place to bounce ideas and get alternative views so am happy to give back too. Good crowd especiall in this subforum for business and server type of questions.

Rb

RB and Essex - Many thanks for your advice so far. Few more questions:

1. Isn't 4-8GB RAM too much for my requirements? Why so much?
2. Would you recommend on installing WHS 2011 on a small sized SSD?
3. How much power would I ideally need to power the aformentioned mainboards? (MSI/Gigabyte H61 mITX board, Intel S1200KP mITX server board, Intel DH67CF)?
4. Is it possible to setup a VPN in WHS?
5. Is it possible to install uTorrent in WHS?


My main focus for my requirements is file sharing and very fast speeds over the network. All client machines have gigabit ethernet network adaptors. I understand hard drives are a bottleneck when transferring files over a gigabit network. I have cate5e wiring in my home.
 
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RB and Essex - Many thanks for your advice so far. Few more questions:

1. Isn't 4-8GB RAM too much for my requirements? Why so much?
2. Would you recommend on installing WHS 2011 on a small sized SSD?
3. How much power would I ideally need to power the aformentioned mainboards? (MSI/Gigabyte H61 mITX board, Intel S1200KP mITX server board, Intel DH67CF)?
4. Is it possible to setup a VPN in WHS?
5. Is it possible to install uTorrent in WHS?


My main focus for my requirements is file sharing and very fast speeds over the network. All client machines have gigabit ethernet network adaptors. I understand hard drives are a bottleneck when transferring files over a gigabit network. I have cate5e wiring in my home.

1. 4-8GB is up to you. 4GB would give a fair amount of room for WHS to play with. 8GB gives plenty for the future and anything else you add. Ram is pretty cheap now. I had mine running on 2GB in the VM so it can run on that but 4GB is a fairly good starting place.

2. Not really. WHS 2011 checks for a 180GB install space (IIRC). There are 'work arounds' to get past this but TBH you really don't need to run it on a SSD. Just use a fast hdd. Mine is on a 300GB WD Blue hard drive and runs fine.

3. Depends on your CPU and hard drives more than anything. Hard drive spin up can spike your power usage and if you are using a modern drive then allow for between 10W and 20W per drive. My i5-2500 on a Intel DH67CF board with 5 hard drives, a SAS card and 8GB ram runs easily the 300W PSU that comes with the Fractal Array R2 Mini case. It would probably run fine on half of that. Unless you are adding lots of hard drives you should have no worries with anything 150W and over.

4. Yep should not be a problem. I am sure there are many packages out there like OpenVPN that should run fine on it.

5. Yep, should be able to. I know I had one running on mine for a while but cannot recall if it was uTorrent or some other client.

For transfers you have the sourse and destination hard drives, location of data / space on those hard drives, real network chipset passthrough rate, quality of network drivers, cabling, any devices along the path, other network traffic, file size etc. As mentioned, I have intel chipset NICs, cat6 self wired infrastructure, HP1810-24G network switch, 7.2k rpm drives in my WHS and SSD on my client PC, no other network traffic and can get around 110MB/s with large (bluray or other movie files). The speed is significantly slower for lots of small files.

Oh, one other handy thing you can do with WHS is setup WSUS which enables the server to go and get all the windows patches and then your client machines to patch from the WHS server. Can be handy for new builds and patch control. Imagine installing a few virtual machines and then just patching from the WSUS service rather than them all having to download and patch from the Microsoft servers and tying up your bandwidth. You need to do a registry hack for Win 7 boxes though if you are not running Win 7 pro or above. It is fairly well documented around the internet.

RB
 
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WHS requires a minium of 160Gb to install... although annoyingly when you inspect the OS drive after install the OS (C) partition is only about 45Gb in size and it creates a seperate D partition.... doh!

WHS is 64 bit so use 4 - 8GB RAM as a minimum ... DDR3 is cheap right now to take advantage of it

400W will do it easily... some servers run on small Pico units

don't know

Yes...but it takes a bit of fiddling to do it. Many "how to's" about on the www.
wegotserved.com is one of many useful research and tips sites about

EDIT

Ninja'd...lol
 
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