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Can I use any old PC that meets the HW Requirements? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a 10 year old Dell XPS in my basement that is currently my "server".  I have two Western Digital 1 TB drives connected to it via USB and was wondering if I could install the Windows Home Server 120 day trial on it and go from there?  The second part of my question is probably in the wrong forum but it continues my first question so I'll post it here...  If I start an account with the 120 day trial and setup the my domain name will I be able to activate the trial and continue using everything I setup in the trial?
    Friday, December 26, 2008 7:44 PM

Answers

  • If it meets the minimum specifications for WHS (512 MB RAM, 1 GHz processor, at least one HDD of 80+ GB installed in the case rather than as a USB drive) then yes, you could repurpose old equipment. For testing Windows Home Server, that's probably a good idea. However, if you're contemplating the possibility of using this server as a "production" server, I would recommend against it. Computer hardware will wear over time; fan and hard drive bearings wear out, capacitors may dry up or leak, etc. A 10 year old computer is well past the point at which I would want to use it for any mission critical application, and Windows Home Server is likely to be "mission critical" for your home.

    Regarding the custom vanity URL, yes you will be able to continue using it after the trial if you want. It's tied to a Live ID, not to a particular installation of WHS.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike Devenney Sunday, January 4, 2009 12:58 PM
    Friday, December 26, 2008 8:02 PM
    Moderator
  • Mike,
    Welcome to WHS.

    If your 'old' PC meets the hardware requirements, then there should be no problems, however it's not clear, but are the 2 WD USB drives your only drives? If so, then it's likely that the WHS won't install unless these drives are mapped as bootable drives. If these 2 drives are just extra drives, then there should be absolutely no problems and you can either add these drives to the server storage pool, or can be kept outside the pool for backups etc.

    Regarding your second point, then any name you create during the trial period will still be available to you afterwards. However, you cannot 'just upgrade' the trial to a full version, you will need to install the full version when you get it, (if you decide to do so), this is done as a 're-install' and therefore will retain all your backups and data.

    Good luck,

    Colin


    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    • Marked as answer by Mike Devenney Sunday, January 4, 2009 1:09 PM
    Friday, December 26, 2008 8:03 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • If it meets the minimum specifications for WHS (512 MB RAM, 1 GHz processor, at least one HDD of 80+ GB installed in the case rather than as a USB drive) then yes, you could repurpose old equipment. For testing Windows Home Server, that's probably a good idea. However, if you're contemplating the possibility of using this server as a "production" server, I would recommend against it. Computer hardware will wear over time; fan and hard drive bearings wear out, capacitors may dry up or leak, etc. A 10 year old computer is well past the point at which I would want to use it for any mission critical application, and Windows Home Server is likely to be "mission critical" for your home.

    Regarding the custom vanity URL, yes you will be able to continue using it after the trial if you want. It's tied to a Live ID, not to a particular installation of WHS.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike Devenney Sunday, January 4, 2009 12:58 PM
    Friday, December 26, 2008 8:02 PM
    Moderator
  • Mike,
    Welcome to WHS.

    If your 'old' PC meets the hardware requirements, then there should be no problems, however it's not clear, but are the 2 WD USB drives your only drives? If so, then it's likely that the WHS won't install unless these drives are mapped as bootable drives. If these 2 drives are just extra drives, then there should be absolutely no problems and you can either add these drives to the server storage pool, or can be kept outside the pool for backups etc.

    Regarding your second point, then any name you create during the trial period will still be available to you afterwards. However, you cannot 'just upgrade' the trial to a full version, you will need to install the full version when you get it, (if you decide to do so), this is done as a 're-install' and therefore will retain all your backups and data.

    Good luck,

    Colin


    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    • Marked as answer by Mike Devenney Sunday, January 4, 2009 1:09 PM
    Friday, December 26, 2008 8:03 PM
    Moderator
  • Besides what Colin and Ken already said - using USB attached storage as part of the WHS storage pool has proven to cause trouble in many configurations. Too much depends here from the enclosures and the USB ports.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Saturday, December 27, 2008 6:07 AM
    Moderator
  • My thoughts are that a 10 year old computer wont have usb 2.0 or SATA interface and may not have enough cpu. Those interface abilities can be added with pci cards. I agree that external drives are too risky for data in a WHS machine, except for the server backup function which only requires it to be turned on and connected when backing up the server or restoring it. If you are determined to use the old computer, get a pci SATA card, they have been discussed in previous postings, removed the drives from usb enclosures and mount them in the case and give it a try. Dont put anything too important on it until you can trust it. Just dont assume the data installed in old parts will be as safe as running on newer parts. ALthough new parts can fail too.  Im using a very trustworthy amd socket 939 motherboard that proved its reliability as a former gaming rig.
    Tuesday, December 30, 2008 10:09 PM
  • My first NAS box was a pentium3 1.2g running windows 2000 and for file transfers the cpu seemed to be able to keep up with 100mb network and ide drive speeds. It worked very well for a couple of years and then WHS was released. I first used an athlon xp 1800 which seemed to be plenty speedy for my needs but I never tried HD video content streaming either. it worked fine for dvd images to my HTPC.  I now use an amd x2-3800 since the athlon motherboard died very suddenly. Luckily the reinstall function went without a hitch onto the newer hardware with same drives. But if you arent a real hardware enthusiast/expert I wouldnt really recommend too much experimentation with old parts for WHS. If this old computer is new to you, definitely not. If it has run problem free for years in your home, then maybe. But as others have already stated, dont place your important data on the oldest, cheapest parts in the house.
    Tuesday, December 30, 2008 10:29 PM
  •  

    Hello my name is Paul..

    I’m a computer geek, with computer degree from Mercyhurst College city of Erie PA.

    Got hand-me-downs from former employer. It is a SUPERMICRO AS-1020A-TB 1U Rackmount Server. It is in good working order. Web address is: http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/system/1U/1020/AS-1020A-T.cfm

    Can I use it as a Microsoft Windows Home Server?

    Currently it has an 8GB RAM and 4 (RAID 1+0) 500GB hard drives and for CPU are two AMD Opteron Socket 940 275 two way Processors. Running Windows 2003 Server. Is this good platform for the Microsoft Windows Home Server? In my home we have 5 PC’s I order 120days trail from Microsoft. If any one have any suggestions please e-mail me soroka69@hotmail.com

     

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 8:19 PM
  • Hi Paul,
    I assume you could use that system as Windows Home Server, since there are Windows Server 2003 drivers. But the disks should not run in RAID mode (which is unsupported by Windows Home Server) and 8 GByte of RAM is overkill (Windows Home Server is a 32 Bit OS and therefore only supports between 3 and 3.5 GB of RAM natively.
    Also check, if the noise level and the power consumption are not too high for a system running all the day at your home.

    Best greetings from Germany and a happy new year 2009
    Olaf
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 9:37 AM
    Moderator
  •  

    Hello Olaf.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    A 32 Bit OS support only 3GB – 4GB of ram per CPU depends on hardware configuration.

    This server has two dual core CPU’s.

    So this is should be a maximum native support for 4CPU X 4GB memory = 16GB of memory.

    On the CPU box it written that it has a “memory extension”.

    I have one major question: how many CPU’s on motherboard Microsoft Windows Home Server can support?

    For the power consumption is not a big deal.
    My kids leave their computers on for days without our electric bill going up mach.

    The other thing my serve is in the basement of the house, it always cold there and I can’t hear the noise from the running fans.
    Any and all help will be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Recht schönen Dank!

    Thursday, January 1, 2009 3:08 PM
  •  Hi,
    you are wrong, since the OS has also an influence on how much memory is supported as maximum (which not is bound to any CPU for any Windows OS, as far as I know).
    Windows Home Server is based on Windows Small Business Server 2003, and the limit for this OS is 4 GByte, as you can see here. That article states also, that not more than 2 physical processors are supported by that OS, which should be valid for Windows Home Server as well.
    Windows Server 2003 itself supported more than 4 GByte of RAM in its 32 Bit versions only with the Enterprise and Datacenter editions, as you can read here.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 7:25 PM
    Moderator
  •  

    Hello Olaf.

    Please don’t be annoyed by my questions.
    If I cannot use my hardware for this project (Windows Home Server) I’ll let eBay have it.
    And go for some cheep Intel MoBo with ci7 Intel CPU.

    This is what I don’t understand from Microsoft web page:

      

    The following are the recommended hardware requirements to install Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition:

    • A Pentium III 550-MHz-or-compatible processor
    • 512 MB of RAM (maximum RAM supported is 4 GB)
    • Two or more mirrored 5-GB hard disks

    Is this mean that it is a RAID -1 (mirrored disks)?

     

     

    And the other that is a Dual-Core AMD Opteron™ 200 Series processor count as one processor or is this count as two processors (because it is a two processors on one physical stamp).

     

    A lot of people will appreciate if you can answered this question because if I want my Windows Home Server to be based on Intel® Core™2 Quad processor dos this tip a limit on one processor?
    Because this CPU is a 4 processors on one physical stamp.

    Please forgive me for disturbing your time.

    Thank you in advance for all your help.  Paul.

    Friday, January 2, 2009 3:41 AM
  • Hi,
    mirrored disks are RAID 1, but this is not supported (follow the link to get more explanations) in Windows Home Server (so this requirement is lowered). This does not mean, that RAID does not work for the main OS, but the Windows Home Server components on top of it have difficulties to handle the specifics of RAID, since they bring their own methods to mirror data.
    A dual core Opteron counts as one CPU. (The site it linked states: "Windows Small Business Server 2003 cannot use more than two physical processors", and the subsequent lines explain, that multi-cored and hyperthreaded processors are recognized and supported as logical processors.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Friday, January 2, 2009 5:39 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Ken!  Sorry for the delay in replying, my alerts seem to be going off into the nether... 

    The old HW is just for testing purposes and will be moved to something a little more up to date once the trial ends.  I just posted another question about data preservation through the upgrade path but I'll follow that in the other thread.
    Mike Devenney
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 12:57 PM
  • Colin,

    Thanks for the welcome and the reply!  The WD drives are USB (attached through a USB 2.0 PCI card) and will be used solely for data storage (to expand the pool as I've read other users calling it).  There are two drives in the machine attached in the "standard" way on IDE Channel 0 (or 1... I always forget which is which). 

    Just to clarify your point about backups and data being retained through the re-installation of the full version, as long as it's on the same hardware I can re-install when I get the full version and I won't lose any pictures, music, etc... ?

    Thanks!


    Mike Devenney
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 1:08 PM
  • Hi Mike,
    you should be aware, that some users had heavy problems using USB attached disks in the storage pool in the past. There depends to much from the USB enclosure, it's electronic and the quality of connection to recommend such a solution as reliable.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 4:10 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Olaf, I'll keep that in mind.  It may prove too tempting to add the 2 TB of space I have on USB 2.0 drives to my pool though.  Can't say you didn't warn me if there is a problem down the road...  :  )
    Mike Devenney
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 7:41 PM