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  • Question

  • I've got a Gateway Pentium 3 866MHz with 256M memory that I got free from work. It has an 80G HD on the internal IDE port and 2 250G drives on an a faster IDE card. I've been using it as a server running NASLite (linux based). But I really like the idea of automated backups and would like to give WHS a try.

    I can up the memory to 512M (hello eBay). Would this be a workable idea?
    - I know that the speed is a little low but there are postings about slower systems working fine. I'm not planning on using it for streaming.

    - I'm assuming because of age that the BIOS probably can't directly handle 250G drives. NASLite didn't care as it handled all the drives directly. Is this going to be a problem or will the fact that they are connected to the IDE card allow things to work?

    - Should I leave the 80G drive as the boot drive or use one of the 250s? I may/may not be able to change this, though, depending on the BIOS. As I recall the BIOS options were pretty limited. I could probably move the 80G to the IDE card which might allow changing the order of the drives.




    Thursday, April 3, 2008 2:55 PM

Answers

  • You really are going to be bordering on the minimum!

    For a start, you need to check if there are any Server 2003 drivers available for your system, as they will be needed.

    If your BIOS will recognise a 250GB drive, then you should at least try to use one of those for the system disk. WHS might not even install on the 80GB drive, as some of them are rated at 80Gb, but are slightly less in practice.

    If I were you, and you intend using WHS long term, then I would spend some money and but something that is more suitable and stable. After alls said and done, this is a server and I couldn't imagine many companies saying 'Oh drag an old computer out' and storing all your most important documents on it.

     

    Good luck if you go ahead, I'm sure, if you have any problems, there will be someone here to help you out.

     

    Colin

     

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 4:45 PM
  • Colin made great recommendations.  If I could add to that, I would increase RAM to 1GB if possible. Also, I would add a 1Gb Network card if you have one laying around.  The CPU is below the minimum requirement and should be increased if possible as well.  Although, I don't believe the low CPU speed will prevent you from installing.

     

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 11:38 PM
    Moderator
  • I'm using the WHS Evaluation software,along with 'low end' components.

    See my signature for the specs. The mobo is a Tyan 1854G. I just through in whatever PCI video card I had in my closet. Works just fine, as far as know, but then I haven't tried WHS on better speced machine, to know what the difference is. The 512mb ram is fact, it would not install with 384mb. Had to 'appropiate' a stick of ram out of another 'closet' computer I have.

    Once my evaluation license it is expired (or close to it it), I need to decide, once I purchase an OEM copy, if I want to keep it on this rig, or first build one with better specs.

     

    HTH, Tom

    Friday, April 4, 2008 3:02 PM
  • I'm using an old white-box with an Asus P3B-F motherboard (circa 1999), 500 MHz PIII, 512 MB ram, 160 GB system disk with three (soon to be four) 500 GB pata drives. I added all new drives, upped the ram by 256 and installed a new 380 watt +80 power supply. The NIC is a 10/100 Linksys and is soon to be replaced with an Intel PRO/1000 GT because I'm having a little trouble with pauses that correspond to the NIC re-starting (TCPIP error code 4201). All but one 500 GB drive are plugged into the motherboard on its 33 MHz IDE ports. The last 500 GB drive is attached to a PCI hard drive controller.

    Note that, though I have four hard drives, I only connected three to the IDE ports on the motherboard and installed an add-in contoller for the fourth. Now, if I ever encounter a problem that necessitates running an optical drive, I can connect that to the open motherboard port. I've had troubles running optical drives from hard drive controllers in the past and would hate to have to remove a hard drive from the motherboard to plug in an optical drive. That scenario seems like trouble.

    The rest of the network consists of a desktop PC (home-built AMD dual core 3800 with Gigabyte GA-MA69G-S3 motherboard and 1 GB ram) running WinXP, three old laptops running Win98SE, Win ME and Ubuntu 7.10 respectively, and a soft-modded Xbox hooked up to the entertainment center. As a test, I simultaneoulsy played three movies on my desktop (with Windows Media Player, WinDVD, and Power DVD) and one each on the Win98 laptop and Xbox. All five played just fine. From my experience, I don't think you need much horsepower in the server for streaming movies.

    My data is duplicated on the server and also backed up on my desktop, and these two computers are in different buildings in case one burns down. I am not too worried about using old hardware w/new power supply and hard drives. This setup drew around 40 watts at idle, 60 watts active, before I installed the PCI drive controller and 3rd 500 GB drive. I haven't checked it since then.

    I did have a problem once when I filled the server a little too full and it warned me that I had less than 5 GB on the system drive. I removed file duplication on some of the folders and that went away. Added another drive, turned on duplication, and never had that problem again. (Thanks to Ken Warren for that procedure.) Otherwise it has been problem free, knock on wood.

    Saturday, April 5, 2008 6:49 PM
  • You probably will not find 2003 Server drivers for this platform, but XP drivers are most likely available and should work just fine with 2003.
    Sunday, April 6, 2008 2:12 PM
  • The more I thought about this, it's not that much more to get a deal on a current lower-level MB, processor and RAM. Currently Fry's has an ECS board with AMD Athlon 64 4200+ for $59 (plus DVD drive which I'd have to get anyway, RAM and a CPU fan). I'm sure there are other deals to be had. I'm thinking that's a better way to go long term.
    Sunday, April 6, 2008 8:32 PM
  • I have a PIII 450MHz with 512MB / 80GB primary drive and 2 x 60 GB other drvies - seems to work OK as a basic WHS setup.

    Mel

    Monday, April 7, 2008 11:01 AM
  • Only just crossed my mind, as it's so long since Gateway was available in the UK. Aren't they similar to Dell used to be: that is, their Power Supply isn't a standard ATX unit, as it has the pins in a proprietary format. If so, it's a good job you couldn't get it in the case!

    New cases aren't very expensive, just ensure you get a power supply that's 80+ rated - most are nowadays, but some of the real cheap ones might not be.

     

    Good luck with what is now a new build.

     

    Colin

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 4:24 PM
  • I've been running WHS on an old Dell P3 1GHz since late 2007 and it works fine.  I backup 3 PC's (5 when the kids are home from college), and stream music from it using Firefly to a Roku Soundbridge.  I have often had backups running while streaming music to the Roku and another PC simultaneously and I have never had it skip a beat (no pun intended).

    I have 512MB of RAM and four drives, all connected to a Promise Ultra ATE controller (the PC is so old the motherboard's controller is only ATA-66 and I am not using it).  I have a USB 2.0 card installed (the unit came only with USB 1.0) and I have a gigabit PCI network card (the motherboard had no network controller built in).   

    The drives are 300GB (system), 500GB, and two 160GB.  I also found that it will boot with no video card, so there isn't one installed.  I also pulled the unit's original sound card.  I did not do a special BIOS upgrade to the system, but I made sure the firmware in the Promise controller could handle large drives (and was Server 2003 compatible).  The hardest part was getting four drives installed and cabling them. I was lucky I had kept all the old drive bay faceplates and brackets, since I took out anything not needed.  I had already installed a more efficient and quieter power supply.

    All in all, I am very pleased.  I have all of our digital pictures on it (also an a PC, and I don't edit on the WHS due to the data corruption issue).  It is fast enough that you can browse pictures and you would not know they are coming from a server. 
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 2:24 AM

All replies

  • You really are going to be bordering on the minimum!

    For a start, you need to check if there are any Server 2003 drivers available for your system, as they will be needed.

    If your BIOS will recognise a 250GB drive, then you should at least try to use one of those for the system disk. WHS might not even install on the 80GB drive, as some of them are rated at 80Gb, but are slightly less in practice.

    If I were you, and you intend using WHS long term, then I would spend some money and but something that is more suitable and stable. After alls said and done, this is a server and I couldn't imagine many companies saying 'Oh drag an old computer out' and storing all your most important documents on it.

     

    Good luck if you go ahead, I'm sure, if you have any problems, there will be someone here to help you out.

     

    Colin

     

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 4:45 PM
  • Colin made great recommendations.  If I could add to that, I would increase RAM to 1GB if possible. Also, I would add a 1Gb Network card if you have one laying around.  The CPU is below the minimum requirement and should be increased if possible as well.  Although, I don't believe the low CPU speed will prevent you from installing.

     

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 11:38 PM
    Moderator
  • The max RAM possible is 512M. No need for a 1G NIC right now as the rest of my home network isn't 1G capable. That said I'm starting to think that maybe I should look for something newer as I'd have to spend $50 or $60 on RAM and a DVD drive just to try this out. My wallet isn't ready for something like the HP WHS, though.
    Friday, April 4, 2008 5:00 AM
  • I'm using the WHS Evaluation software,along with 'low end' components.

    See my signature for the specs. The mobo is a Tyan 1854G. I just through in whatever PCI video card I had in my closet. Works just fine, as far as know, but then I haven't tried WHS on better speced machine, to know what the difference is. The 512mb ram is fact, it would not install with 384mb. Had to 'appropiate' a stick of ram out of another 'closet' computer I have.

    Once my evaluation license it is expired (or close to it it), I need to decide, once I purchase an OEM copy, if I want to keep it on this rig, or first build one with better specs.

     

    HTH, Tom

    Friday, April 4, 2008 3:02 PM
  • I'm using an old white-box with an Asus P3B-F motherboard (circa 1999), 500 MHz PIII, 512 MB ram, 160 GB system disk with three (soon to be four) 500 GB pata drives. I added all new drives, upped the ram by 256 and installed a new 380 watt +80 power supply. The NIC is a 10/100 Linksys and is soon to be replaced with an Intel PRO/1000 GT because I'm having a little trouble with pauses that correspond to the NIC re-starting (TCPIP error code 4201). All but one 500 GB drive are plugged into the motherboard on its 33 MHz IDE ports. The last 500 GB drive is attached to a PCI hard drive controller.

    Note that, though I have four hard drives, I only connected three to the IDE ports on the motherboard and installed an add-in contoller for the fourth. Now, if I ever encounter a problem that necessitates running an optical drive, I can connect that to the open motherboard port. I've had troubles running optical drives from hard drive controllers in the past and would hate to have to remove a hard drive from the motherboard to plug in an optical drive. That scenario seems like trouble.

    The rest of the network consists of a desktop PC (home-built AMD dual core 3800 with Gigabyte GA-MA69G-S3 motherboard and 1 GB ram) running WinXP, three old laptops running Win98SE, Win ME and Ubuntu 7.10 respectively, and a soft-modded Xbox hooked up to the entertainment center. As a test, I simultaneoulsy played three movies on my desktop (with Windows Media Player, WinDVD, and Power DVD) and one each on the Win98 laptop and Xbox. All five played just fine. From my experience, I don't think you need much horsepower in the server for streaming movies.

    My data is duplicated on the server and also backed up on my desktop, and these two computers are in different buildings in case one burns down. I am not too worried about using old hardware w/new power supply and hard drives. This setup drew around 40 watts at idle, 60 watts active, before I installed the PCI drive controller and 3rd 500 GB drive. I haven't checked it since then.

    I did have a problem once when I filled the server a little too full and it warned me that I had less than 5 GB on the system drive. I removed file duplication on some of the folders and that went away. Added another drive, turned on duplication, and never had that problem again. (Thanks to Ken Warren for that procedure.) Otherwise it has been problem free, knock on wood.

    Saturday, April 5, 2008 6:49 PM
  • You probably will not find 2003 Server drivers for this platform, but XP drivers are most likely available and should work just fine with 2003.
    Sunday, April 6, 2008 2:12 PM
  • The more I thought about this, it's not that much more to get a deal on a current lower-level MB, processor and RAM. Currently Fry's has an ECS board with AMD Athlon 64 4200+ for $59 (plus DVD drive which I'd have to get anyway, RAM and a CPU fan). I'm sure there are other deals to be had. I'm thinking that's a better way to go long term.
    Sunday, April 6, 2008 8:32 PM
  • I have a PIII 450MHz with 512MB / 80GB primary drive and 2 x 60 GB other drvies - seems to work OK as a basic WHS setup.

    Mel

    Monday, April 7, 2008 11:01 AM
  • The plot thickens. It turns out that the back panel ports and connectors on the new MB are different than what's on the old Gateway. No real surprise there. Unfortunately the GW holes are punched through the chassis, there's no removeable panel that can be replaced by the one that came with the new MB.  

    So now I have to look for a new case. My "low cost" upgrade path just got more expensive.
    Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:42 PM
  • Only just crossed my mind, as it's so long since Gateway was available in the UK. Aren't they similar to Dell used to be: that is, their Power Supply isn't a standard ATX unit, as it has the pins in a proprietary format. If so, it's a good job you couldn't get it in the case!

    New cases aren't very expensive, just ensure you get a power supply that's 80+ rated - most are nowadays, but some of the real cheap ones might not be.

     

    Good luck with what is now a new build.

     

    Colin

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 4:24 PM
  • I've been running WHS on an old Dell P3 1GHz since late 2007 and it works fine.  I backup 3 PC's (5 when the kids are home from college), and stream music from it using Firefly to a Roku Soundbridge.  I have often had backups running while streaming music to the Roku and another PC simultaneously and I have never had it skip a beat (no pun intended).

    I have 512MB of RAM and four drives, all connected to a Promise Ultra ATE controller (the PC is so old the motherboard's controller is only ATA-66 and I am not using it).  I have a USB 2.0 card installed (the unit came only with USB 1.0) and I have a gigabit PCI network card (the motherboard had no network controller built in).   

    The drives are 300GB (system), 500GB, and two 160GB.  I also found that it will boot with no video card, so there isn't one installed.  I also pulled the unit's original sound card.  I did not do a special BIOS upgrade to the system, but I made sure the firmware in the Promise controller could handle large drives (and was Server 2003 compatible).  The hardest part was getting four drives installed and cabling them. I was lucky I had kept all the old drive bay faceplates and brackets, since I took out anything not needed.  I had already installed a more efficient and quieter power supply.

    All in all, I am very pleased.  I have all of our digital pictures on it (also an a PC, and I don't edit on the WHS due to the data corruption issue).  It is fast enough that you can browse pictures and you would not know they are coming from a server. 
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 2:24 AM
  • Well I bought an Antech case with Earthwatts power supply. WHS is installed with the first drive on the MB IDE connector. I have to load the driver for the Adaptec PCI EDI card to keep the second drive working. But so far so good.
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 3:35 AM
  • Spoke too soon. The PCI connected drive is recognized, with drivers, during the first phase of the install. After one of the reboots the driver isn't found so the install fails. Installing with just the MB connected drive worked fine. With WHS installed and running I haven't been able to get the PCI drive recognized though.

    Update:
    Used disk management to partition and format the second ide drive. WHS now sees it. Based on previous comments I'm not going to add it to the pool and just used for additional storage, folder duplication and/or system backup once PP1 comes out. I did go out and get a big SATA drive and add that to the pool.
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 2:16 PM