New Homes server from the ground up..... RRS feed

  • Question

  • Just wanted to update anyone interested in how my Dell 4700 WHS server build is going.  I was out of town last week so I really didn't get started putting anything together until yesterday.  I installed 2 80GB hard drives I found on eBay in the two Vantec Hot Swap trays, connected them to the PNY P-DSA2-PCIE-RF (SATA II RAID controller) and turned it on.  I had removed both the DVD and CD from the system to make room for the Vantec trays so I connected a USB DVD player for the WHS disk, on the RAID BIOS page I selected a RAID 1 configuration for the two HDDs and installed WHS.  I did have to use the internal floppy drive to install the PNY drivers.  


    I simply let the installation proceed on its own and returned fo find a page with a x0000007b error, not sure what to do I simply started over - again I walked away to come back to the same error.  I was sure WHS was somehow unhappy with the RAID configuration so I tried again with only one drive (still connected to the PNY controller) - same result.  Reading over some posts in the WHS Software forum, I realized that at somepoint it must be asking for drivers during the "Windows" installation portion of the WHS installation in addition to that of the configuration phase.  I reconfigured the RAID 1 set, started the WHS install and waited for it to reboot asking for drivers a second time.  Eventually it did, but the window of opportunity to press F6 was so brief I missed it twice, when I was finally able to employ the F6 function and install the PNY drivers for a second time the installation completed without a hitch.  


    Dell does not offer any Windows 2003 drivers for any of the hardware in a 4700, but I was able to install Windows XP drivers for the onboard video, NIC and chipset which seem to be working OK, I also left the modem in the system to conifigure for FAXing at some point.  Only issue I'm having now is that after downloading some 37 updates, something seems to have destroyed my "profile" on the system and it will only log me on in a temporary status.


    The system actually looks quite nice, but I'm not convinced that just buying a new Dell 840 small business server might have been the way to go.  So far with the purchase of the Dell 4700 ($200), drives from eBay ($54), Vantec trays ($88), PNY Controller ($20), WHS software ($160) and cables ($6), the total is $528 - I saw a Dell add for a new 840 for the same price, you would still need software, but drivers shouldn't be an issue with a new system configured as a "server".


    More to follow as I try and connect to my home network and add storage with a Drobo device and schedule backups.



    Sunday, March 30, 2008 3:53 PM

All replies

  • ButteM,


    Did you buy the Rosewill netcard reviewed on NewEgg.com?


    Pros: Works very well and sustained fast speeds. Worked right out of the box on my XP computer with Asus motherboard.

    Cons: Did not work on my WHS based Dell dimension 4700 motherboard. Could easily be the Dell motherboard and BIOS, but something to be aware of.

    Other Thoughts: Dell issue is only reason for not having 5 stars.



    I was considering this card in my standard build, but was wondering if it was going to work with WHS?





    Monday, March 31, 2008 2:28 PM
  • Reading over the requirements for WHS it seems to imply that you can pick any older computer with some pretty minimal requirements and turn it into a Home Server.  Not too sure that's really true for the reasons you mention above.  Older hardware isn't always compatible with newer software and no one keeps up with drivers after the products has hit its peak.


    I purchased the PCIe SATA II controller from PNY (acutally from the PNY web page) - simply because I have always had pretty good luck with their products and they freely admit that this is a new card for them so I figured that support would be good and easy to get - so far they have been very helpful and the card is working great.


    As far as the network adapter goes - nothing in my home network is capable of more that 100Mbs so I simply used the on board (Dell 4700) NIC.  I did have to try a version or two of the XP NIC drivers provided on the Dell Resource CD before I found one that would work with the Server 2003 software, it was an older one, but again it seems to work just fine.  I contacted Dell and asked about Server 2003 drivers for the 4700 MB - there are none, even on the Intel Site - but the XP drivers seem to work great.  I have no issues on the Hardware tab of the "My Computer" page.   I was even able to install the old Modem - thought it also installed audio drivers I can't and won't use.   


    Now I'm down to configuring the whole mess - I have a book entitled "Microsoft Windows Home Server Unleased" (from Amazon) and it's pretty detailed on setting everything up and making it work - so far I've assigned a static IP address to my WHS server and now I'm waiting for my Drobo unit so I can add storage capacity before I start loading the client systems with the WHS connect software.  I want to be able to very specifically tell it to back-up my systems to the Drobo storage unit rather than using the WHS DE concatenated data storage - I'm hoping to aviod the data corruption everyone is talking about.


    Thanks for your comment....



    Monday, March 31, 2008 5:29 PM
  • I installed Windows 2003 OS on Dell Dimension 4700 but the NIC card driver that I used is for XP OS. I don't see the network icon so i'm assuming that the driver is not working. Please send me the driver that you have installed and what could be the problem that i'm having with no network connection.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 3:11 PM
  • Couple of questions: The Windows 2003 OS you're talking about - is that WHS or Server 2003?  If it's WHS I can help, if it's Server 2003, not sure how things will work.


    Do you have the resource CD that came with the Dell?  If you have that CD I loaded drivers for the chip set, NIC and Modem from that CD.  The NIC would not work if I chose the Dell suggested driver from the list of drivers, I picked an older one and it worked.  


    Do you have the Service Tag number on the Dell case?  If you have that number, suggest you log onto the Dell support site, enter the Tag number, then install drivers from their download page.  I have updated drivers from this site for the chipset, NIC, Modem and on board Audio.


    If you can't find any of these let me know and I will forward drivers.



    Thursday, April 10, 2008 3:28 PM
  • I have finally finished building and configuring my WHS server with the arrival of my Drobo unit.  As posted before I have a Dell 4700 configured with a RAID1 array (2xWD800JD drives) and have just added a Data Robotics Drobo external drive unit.  The RAID array is configured in hot swap trays located where the CD and DVD players were originally mounted and I'm using a enclosed laptop DVD drive to load software and RIP music.  I chose small drives for the RAID array as I don't know how WHS wants to manage storage and I want the majority of my files to reside on the Drobo.  40GB SATA drives seem to be hard to get or I would have used those, these 80 GB WD drives are OEM equipment for the Dell 4700 and seem to be readily available.


    The Drobo unit has been loaded with two 160GB HDDs for a storage capacity of just over 145GB, I have room to add another two drives as I need more space, or I can replace these drives with lager ones in the future.  I have added the Drobo to the WHS storage pool - the unit reports itself to WHS as a 2Tb drive and should I exceed 2TB of actual storage it will report a second 2TB partition.  The beauty of this unit is I can now add or delete additional storage space without confusing Drive Extender in WHS, I just add or remove a drive and Drobo tells me which one to replace.


    So far everything has been extremly stable, I have hot swapped drives from the RAID array - WHS keeps on truckin', configured a third drive for the RAID set without loosing data and recoved from one hard kill without loosing the OS.  The RAID controller did report that it was "re-snychronizing drives after an improper shut down", but WHS restared without a hitch.  I have added all my client systems (a little more work to do on client accounts) and so far the system has been very stable and continues to report that the network is healthy and that all storage drives are healthy.


    On to loading services - so far moving my music files from client system to the WHS has been a disaster, somehow the "Move" command in XP took the music files but didn't take the licenses and I cannot play streaming music to some of my newer client systems.  Looks like I have to re-RIP my whole music library .  Follow that posting in the Software Forum.  Back-ups are the next thing to add....!!


    More to follow.....






    Thursday, April 10, 2008 5:55 PM