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Old 05-28-2016, 02:58 AM   #1
screwyluie
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home server

So I'm looking to build my first stand alone home server and I thought I would share the information I've spent hours upon hours gathering. Research is still on going but it's narrowing down so I feel comfortable in sharing at this point.

So home servers are an interesting thing. Build a massive PC and hide it in the closet. It'll power all your computers, storage, firewall, media streaming, hand jobs and the second coming of christ all wrapped in one... or so it would seem at a glance.

The reality is they are very purpose driven and purpose built. The same home server for central multi user storage is not the same as media streaming which is not the same as virtual machines.... etc. They are intended to be built and not modified. If you need to upgrade you'll have a lengthy process ahead of you overhauling the whole system.

For my purposes all of that is unacceptable. I need a one stop shop that is cost effective, flexible, easily upgraded, reliable and reasonably small(not a rack mount system). Turns out that's a tall order and one that is not filled by an off the shelf, inflexible and overly expensive NAS enclosure.

The NAS enclosures like these are as expensive as normal PC and they don't even include the HDD's. They are designed to be filled and setup once. If a drive dies you replace it with the same drive and all is well. If you want to upgrade storage you replace all the HDD's so everything remains the same size. They are not capable of doing much else besides managing the array, although you can install other software on them. To be fair there is the Drobo which can do some of the things I require but it gets terrible reviews and still falls short.

So this leaves me with a DIY project. There's more than one way to skin this cat. Here's a really good build. I don't see anything wrong with it, but at $775 sans HDD's it's still quite expensive even though you're getting a lot more for your money.

The path I'm more likely to take is the Dell T5500 Workstation. I've used this computer in the past for windows based media servers and I've been quite happy with it. In this case I'm looking at outfitting it with dual xeon x5650's and 36gb ECC ram. You can get these systems used on ebay for about $400 all day long. That includes everything you need, some of them even have HDD's though they're typically small and not much use. For this build I'll be grabbing one that has a Perc 6/i Raid card that supports up to 8 hard drives plus the workstation itself supports 4 more.

The advantages are many. I can install just about any OS I want on it, in this case I'll be using unRaid because it gives me the flexibility of adding HDD's on the fly of various sizes which makes acquiring more space cheaper(grab whatever is on sale). The workstation is powerful, I mean you could throw a gaming gpu in it and play modern games. It'll transcode (something other NAS solutions won't do) video on the fly, run virtual machines, and not even bat an eye. I can add just about as many HDD's as I want, if I run out of room I can add another raid card. It's not small for a PC or even for a NAS but it's smaller than a rack mount which is enough for me. It's cheap and flexible well beyond any other home server solution I've come across.

I'm using unRaid because it does exactly what I need. it's RAID without the hassle and restrictions. I get all the perks of pooled storage and data parity without having to rebuild the whole thing every time I run out of room. I don't have to get the same drive as all the other's in the pool, I can get whatever I want or is on sale at the time. The downside? it's slow. The way unRaid works is just plain slow. But that's ok for my needs, I'm not editing 4k video, I'm streaming media and storing user files. I also considered windows home server, freenas, and Drivepool but none fit the bill.

Why do I need all this you might ask? For decades now I've used my main PC as my home server. I just add a couple extra drives and it's all good. Lately I've been acquiring more content than I know what to do with, and serving that content all over the place WAN and LAN. I'm tired of my main PC getting bogged down with transcoding and the like. And I'm tired of corrupted files and corrupted drives. It's all very annoying and time consuming to deal with. So I want the same flexibility without any of the hassle. I'll have a box somewhere in my house with tons of storage(my main PC has 22TB right now just to put it in perspective) which I can just throw more drives at whenever I feel like it, of whatever size happens to be on sale and won't randomly go to shit thanks to RAID parity.

So if you think you need a home server that can run all your programs, transcode your media, stream your files, is easy to setup, cheap and easy to upgrade, run multiple virtual machines, and generally do anything you can throw at it... perhaps the T5500 as described above, running unRaid is the right solution for you too... and besides, it's the cheapest solution as well.
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:38 PM   #2
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You should really check in with Hillary on this. I hear she has experience in the arena!
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:43 PM   #3
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You should really check in with Hillary on this. I hear she has experience in the arena!
Lmao, you got me
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Old 05-29-2016, 05:45 AM   #4
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not interested in running a public mail server or printer... maybe later though, when she's in jail, I'll write her and ask how to fuck up that badly.
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Old 05-29-2016, 09:05 AM   #5
brandonjclark
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I run an ESXi host. I put in a lot of storage of varying speeds and 32GB of ram. I run about 5-6 different servers.

If you don't build a virtual platform you're doing it wrong.
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandonjclark View Post
I run an ESXi host. I put in a lot of storage of varying speeds and 32GB of ram. I run about 5-6 different servers.

If you don't build a virtual platform you're doing it wrong.
no see that's exactly what I don't want it for. I don't want virtual clients or thin clients. if I run vm's it won't be for users.

That being said, someone else making this build could do what you're saying if that is their goal.
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Old 05-31-2016, 06:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by screwyluie View Post
no see that's exactly what I don't want it for. I don't want virtual clients or thin clients. if I run vm's it won't be for users.

That being said, someone else making this build could do what you're saying if that is their goal.
That's why you should run VM's then. Every time you want to stand up a new application server you can just create a new VM. It gives you a much more efficient use of resources than standing up a bunch of physical machines.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:26 AM   #8
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I think maybe you guys missed understood my purpose for the machine, or are just imposing the a-tyipcal uses for one... if I wanted an a-typical use I'd have an a-typical server and it wouldn't be such an interesting build.

this is about something else entirely. I was just sharing the info for others who may want to make a home server and this info may be useful to them and whatever purpose they have.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:45 AM   #9
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I was looking for a new home server solution last year and settled on a Lenovo Thinkserver. I installed Windows Server 2012 Essentials on it and it's been great so far. The server was under $300 at the time, and I have a MSDN account which is where I got the software. Using Plex, it streams stuff to my Amazon stick just fine.

My big thing right now is getting it to back up my home PC's to Amazon. I have the Amazon Drive Unlimited plan, but Amazon doesn't really provide any software that is actually useful for it for backup purposes. There appear to be a few paid solutions, but I'm not sure which one the best to be honest.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:11 AM   #10
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unfortunately amazon's cloud drive is not designed to be used as a backup service, which is why you're paying for things that bring you this functionality. Odrive will give you basic useful backup to just about any online storage for free. as for which is best? seems cloudberry is the goto for this purpose and it makes sense as it's a one time fee.

you're going to have nothing but trouble trying to use amazon as your backup storage.
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:02 AM   #11
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I'll be the next unpopular guy but preface it with a "thank you for posting your research & saving me time, should I want to play with some lightweight NAS".

I'd go virtual with ESXi or Hyper-V if it's an option (usually isn't due to cost).

ESXi is free with limitations.

My question is why wouldn't you want to achieve hardware independence, especially for a home based network where the hardware will certainly be different in a short time frame?

I got the impression that storage and IOPS seem to be the main objective for your setup. And as far as doing something like this, it appears you are on target.

Why not use a VM & host a samba share /w swat or something along those lines? IIRC, you are a bit of a linux guy right?
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:42 PM   #12
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My question is why wouldn't you want to achieve hardware independence, especially for a home based network where the hardware will certainly be different in a short time frame?
good question. I may at some point, but right now it doesn't suit my needs. The kids need a laptop, the wife has a gaming desktop and so do I. Now she might be ok with the virtual client idea, prolly wouldn't notice it. I, however, am VERY picky about my computer experience. I'm not the least bit interested in using a thin client or any kind of remote session. It's completely unacceptable to me. I use them as work and I've installed them for other people and I refuse to use them at home.

I enjoy building computer, I enjoy having it next to me where I can see it, I enjoy spending money on it, I enjoy the aesthetics of it, I just love everything about my computer.

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Why not use a VM & host a samba share /w swat or something along those lines? IIRC, you are a bit of a linux guy right?
I think I addressed that just now, let me know if I didn't. Again, I may do this in the future for the other's in the house. And no, I'm not a linux guy. I use it, I keep a live distro and a VM for screwing around, but I am first and foremost a gamer and linux can not be a daily driver for me. So I'm a linux noob, I can do many things in linux and I'm not afraid to use it, it just holds little value for me.
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:17 PM   #13
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Dude. You are not making any sense. This is 2016. If what you want is a server, build it on a hypervisor. If what you want are end user computing devices, THEN YOU DON'T WANT A SERVER.

What exactly are you trying to build here?
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Old 06-06-2016, 10:46 PM   #14
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I said what I'm building, I said what it's for, I explained what it wasn't for and I addressed everyone's statements.

If you're still confused or are going to split hairs over what a headless closet computer is called, I got nothing for you.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:38 AM   #15
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Based on your initial post you want an application server. Based on later posts you want a second computer for games and other people in your house to use. If your trying to combine the two then, depending upon the computer literacy of your family, you are going to have a hassle.

When I shared a computer with my Wife and kids, I generally had to reinstall every 3 months. After I built a computer for them to share and kept my own gaming rig, life became a lot easier.
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Old 06-07-2016, 06:29 AM   #16
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Quote:
Why do I need all this you might ask? For decades now I've used my main PC as my home server. I just add a couple extra drives and it's all good. Lately I've been acquiring more content than I know what to do with, and serving that content all over the place WAN and LAN. I'm tired of my main PC getting bogged down with transcoding and the like. And I'm tired of corrupted files and corrupted drives. It's all very annoying and time consuming to deal with. So I want the same flexibility without any of the hassle. I'll have a box somewhere in my house with tons of storage(my main PC has 22TB right now just to put it in perspective) which I can just throw more drives at whenever I feel like it, of whatever size happens to be on sale and won't randomly go to shit thanks to RAID parity.

So if you think you need a home server that can run all your programs, transcode your media, stream your files, is easy to setup, cheap and easy to upgrade, run multiple virtual machines, and generally do anything you can throw at it
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandonjclark View Post
I run an ESXi host. I put in a lot of storage of varying speeds and 32GB of ram. I run about 5-6 different servers.

If you don't build a virtual platform you're doing it wrong.
no see that's exactly what I don't want it for. I don't want virtual clients or thin clients. if I run vm's it won't be for users.
Quote:
My question is why wouldn't you want to achieve hardware independence, especially for a home based network where the hardware will certainly be different in a short time frame?

good question. I may at some point, but right now it doesn't suit my needs. The kids need a laptop, the wife has a gaming desktop and so do I. Now she might be ok with the virtual client idea, prolly wouldn't notice it. I, however, am VERY picky about my computer experience. I'm not the least bit interested in using a thin client or any kind of remote session. It's completely unacceptable to me. I use them as work and I've installed them for other people and I refuse to use them at home.
what am I missing here? because that's all very clear with no contradictions on my part. I want a storage server that is not a step above a calculator in application performance with the flexibility to do whatever I might want it to do as well as serve files. I made myself pretty damn clear I won't want the whole virtual desktop, thin client, user VM experience. Was that not clear? I think I explained it at least twice.

still there seems to be confusion. I don't get it.

On another note I wasn't looking for someone to tell me how I should use my own server, I was sharing hours of research information for others to make use of. I already know what I want and what I'm doing, that was never the point of this.
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Old 06-07-2016, 06:34 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Kreigmstr View Post
Based on your initial post you want an application server. Based on later posts you want a second computer for games and other people in your house to use. If your trying to combine the two then, depending upon the computer literacy of your family, you are going to have a hassle.

When I shared a computer with my Wife and kids, I generally had to reinstall every 3 months. After I built a computer for them to share and kept my own gaming rig, life became a lot easier.
no, I want a storage server, it will also run applications. Based on later posts I still want a storage server and staunchly refused to make a typical virtual desktop server so I've no idea what you're talking about wanting a machine for games and others to use, I simply never said that.

and no, I would never make a server and then let everyone else in my house use it as a gaming pc... that's just asinine.

I clearly stated the kids have a laptop because that's what they need, and the wife has a gaming desktop. I have my own PC and I'm using it as the home server and I'm tired of that, so I'm building one to offload all the applications and HDD's that my main PC is hosting for the benefit of the whole house.

anyone else need it explained another way?
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:28 PM   #18
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It appears, APPEARS, you don't understand what a hypervisor is.

If I were you, I'd buy some hardware, install ESXi, spin up a VM with FreeNAS, spin up another 2012 Windows Server for tans coding and applications and then spin up however many other VM's you want.

Virtualization means abstraction. Whether you're talking about application virtualization, storage virtualization or hardware virtualization the concept is the same.

The benefit is PORTABILITY of your resources. You can move them around.

Trust me, it'll make sense. Just build what I said and you'll get it and thank me later.

Just because you have a VM server doesn't mean you need a thin client to interact with it. Just RDP or SSH or console to it.

FYI, I'm a cloud architect for one of the largest companies in the world. TRUST ME.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:39 PM   #19
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To put it another way, in 2016 we hit people over the head for wasting resources by not capitalizing on virtualization.

Why install one instance to run ALL of your application needs when you can fit 5-10-20 servers on the SAME hardware dedicated to running individual chores? This is modern IT infrastructure in its most basic form.

If you want a NAS server, spin up a VM for it. If you want a transcoding server, spin up a VM for it.

Keeping your apps separate is best practice.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:55 PM   #20
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Also, once you learn how quickly you can spin up a VM you're going to want to create more. A lot more.
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