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Scavenging vs selecting hardware for WHS build RRS feed

  • Question

  •  

    Hi all-

     

    I'm new to this forum and would like some advice.  I am considering building a new computer for myself and using parts from my old box to build a server for home usage.  My wife does a lot of video and photo work, and the server would be used as a data repository for videos, songs and photos.  It would be used for remote access, as well as to stream music and videos to an xbox360 and a roku.

    My old box has an asus av8 MB with an AMD X2 4600+ and 2GB RAM.  It only has 2 SATA I headers.

     

    Option 1: Use the above hardware with 2 SATA I drives.  This option would be the cheapest, but I would be limited to running only 2 HDDs.

     

    Option 2: Buy a RAID controller card so that I can plug in multiple HDDs with the same MB, CPU and RAM.

     

    Option 3: Buy a new motherboard- they're cheap enough and I could probably find one that could use my existing CPU and RAM but provides headers for more SATA drives.

     

     

    Thanks in advance to anyone out there considering similar choices or who has any advice to offer...

    Sunday, June 1, 2008 8:06 PM

Answers

  • A computer built with "parts from my old box" can be a lot of fun to assemble, but I wouldn't use it for a server. Old parts are near the end of their useful life; anything mechanical (disk drives! fans!) is especially suspect.
    Monday, June 2, 2008 4:05 AM
    Moderator
  •  

    The basic hardware spec is good for a WHS box (look how low a spec the off-the-shelf systems are) as they don't work hard in processing terms. The age may be a concern but we have all seen PCs 5 yrs plus which work fine but are just slow. The imminent PP1 release covers secondary backup options soon anyway.

     

    Microsoft do not recommend the use of RAID for the file stores as the system mirrors the important areas anyway. If you do want to implement hardware RAID choose an option that will allow you to offer at least two virtual or real drives to the O/S  of the capacity you want. This will allow the data mirroring function to work with WHS over the two drives. I used a Promise TX4310 controller which allowed me to create two containers which the O/S sees as two separate disks. You do however have the option of some pretty big drives on just the two onboard SATA interfaces.

     

    If you are worried about the possibilty of the motherboard failing I effectively emulated that when I moved my system over to a new (old) PC. Athough the hardware was too different to allow the O/S to boot I just re-installed using the repair option which did mean that I had to recreate the users but the more important file store were all there.

    Monday, June 2, 2008 3:50 PM
  • The thing to remember, is would you trust a company/supplier you rely on, if you found they were building their servers out of their old spares box?

    As far as I'm concerned, my data is just as important, if not more so, therefore there is no way I'm not going to use 'Server Grade' components; I've managed to persuade my paying Customers of this up 'till now, with no ill effects.

     

    Colin 

     

    Monday, June 2, 2008 4:59 PM

All replies

  • A computer built with "parts from my old box" can be a lot of fun to assemble, but I wouldn't use it for a server. Old parts are near the end of their useful life; anything mechanical (disk drives! fans!) is especially suspect.
    Monday, June 2, 2008 4:05 AM
    Moderator
  •  

    The basic hardware spec is good for a WHS box (look how low a spec the off-the-shelf systems are) as they don't work hard in processing terms. The age may be a concern but we have all seen PCs 5 yrs plus which work fine but are just slow. The imminent PP1 release covers secondary backup options soon anyway.

     

    Microsoft do not recommend the use of RAID for the file stores as the system mirrors the important areas anyway. If you do want to implement hardware RAID choose an option that will allow you to offer at least two virtual or real drives to the O/S  of the capacity you want. This will allow the data mirroring function to work with WHS over the two drives. I used a Promise TX4310 controller which allowed me to create two containers which the O/S sees as two separate disks. You do however have the option of some pretty big drives on just the two onboard SATA interfaces.

     

    If you are worried about the possibilty of the motherboard failing I effectively emulated that when I moved my system over to a new (old) PC. Athough the hardware was too different to allow the O/S to boot I just re-installed using the repair option which did mean that I had to recreate the users but the more important file store were all there.

    Monday, June 2, 2008 3:50 PM
  • The thing to remember, is would you trust a company/supplier you rely on, if you found they were building their servers out of their old spares box?

    As far as I'm concerned, my data is just as important, if not more so, therefore there is no way I'm not going to use 'Server Grade' components; I've managed to persuade my paying Customers of this up 'till now, with no ill effects.

     

    Colin 

     

    Monday, June 2, 2008 4:59 PM
  • I appreciate the advice!  I guess I am just cheap and have a hard time throwing away components that are working extrememly well.  The AMD 4600+ CPU is only about 16 months old, and the motherboard and RAM are only 4 years old.  I replace HDDs regularly but am not experienced enough in system building to know how risky it is to reuse these components to build my server.

    Monday, June 2, 2008 5:11 PM
  • There is nothing wrong running the hardware you have now unless you are losing faith in the performance/reliability in it.  I have been running WHS since last year on an OLD Abit KA7-100 Slot A motherboard with a 750MHz Slot A AMD processor with absolutely no problems.  The motherboard and cpu and ram I have had since the year 2000.  The only mods I have done to this motherboard has been capacitor replacement.  So if you feel comfortable with your older hardware use it.

    Have Fun
    John
    Tuesday, June 3, 2008 2:22 PM
  • John, it really comes down to a question of attitude, I think. My attitude is the traditional IT one: I want the most reliable possible hardware, even at a premium price, because TCO (factoring in time spent figuring out why the server just crashed this time) is likely to be much lower. In addition, I want to protect my data. If my server is failing in subtle ways because of e.g. leaky electrolytic capacitors (the replacement of which is not for the faint of heart, as you can ruin a PCB trying to unsolder/resolder caps), I know there are failure modes that will corrupt data on it's way to the disks, or on it's way to the home network. That "most reliable possible hardware" isn't going to be something out of the parts bin.

    If you enjoy that sort of tinkering, I think that's great. (I enjoy it too.) I think you'd be better off saving it for the kid's gaming PC, or that fire-breathing, R-134a breathing monster under the desk in your office. But if you're comfortable with more risk than I am, go for it. Smile
    Tuesday, June 3, 2008 2:48 PM
    Moderator
  • I agree with Ken,

     I used an older Dell Dimension 4700 for my Beta testing and it worked so well that I put my OEM install on it only to have the cooling fan for the power supply quit after a month or two. So now I am removing the two new harddrives and building something from scratch using all new parts. I am going "Green" for this one using a low power mobo and CPU. I think it is called a mini ATX form factor and ATOM CPU. ( Still in the research phase so I may have it wrong )

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008 8:00 PM
  • To me the bottom line is how much you value the data stored on your Home Server, wereas I used old hardware for the Beta versions when I bought the OEM I built a new computer out of new parts knowing I was doing my best to preserve the data I was storing, obviously some parts are more likely to fail and take your data with them than others if money is a big issue, but you pays your money and you take your chance.
    Wednesday, June 4, 2008 8:26 PM
  • The idea of new parts or not all came down to issues for me:

    1. how important is the data to me?

    2. do I mind dealing with a hardware failure?

    I like building and fixing computers and I did build my own from retasked parts and for me so far it has been great. There's nothing wrong with that cpu but you wont find a new mobo for it if its socket 939. Ram can be tested easily enough. I would recommend new drives and good stable PSU. If youre worried about data loss, get fanatical about redundant independant storage methods including off-site and plan on fixing it when it breaks.

     

     

    Friday, June 6, 2008 11:12 PM
  • I did build my original test server from an old desktop PC I had.  Can't say I was disappointed.

    What I did do when the time came was to by a nice solid motherboard, with SATA2 & built in graphics

    I also bought branded ram vs cheapy unbranded stuff I had been playing with

     

    Felt it was worth it as the thing would be running 24x7 etc

     

    My biggest disappointment for home servers are the cases available.  I look at the HP Media server its small and neat

    Compared to that my case looks the size of a fridge

    Saturday, June 7, 2008 2:44 PM
  • A couple of my customers have opted for the Chenbro ES34069 it's a smaller case with 4 external hard drive bays and uses an ITX board. Although it small, it has a lot going for it.

     

    Colin

     

    Saturday, June 7, 2008 5:01 PM
  • You might want to take a look at that case Colin has recommended. It's quite small (though it takes only a mini-ITX MB). Or for a larger case with a great deal of exapandability, there's the Apex Supercase LX-800.
    Sunday, June 8, 2008 12:19 AM
    Moderator