Building a Home Server – The Complete Guide

Server Inside - LSI MegaRAIDOver the past few years, The SSD Review has enjoyed a fairly smooth ride with little to complain about. It wasn’t until our readership explosion that we realized how important backups were.

There is nothing worse than a site crash, other than a site crash which also contains a Forum of course.  The sudden loss of days, weeks, months and even years worth of data cannot arguably be equal to that of valuable Forum members who hate seeing their threads gone. It happened.

Even worse was the fact that our hosting company was receiving premium monthly payments for daily backups, the last of which they had completed some two months prior.  It was only for the odd feeling that we had prior to leaving on Christmas vacation that we physically downloaded backups, minimizing our information loss to two weeks.  Although website material resulted only in the loss of our Acer S7 Ultrabook Review, the loss of forum posts could never be equalled.

In sitting down for our first team discussion of 2013, our ideas immediately coincided with one thought; building a server. For the most part, the concept of servers is daunting. Most people think they are made only for IT professionals and big name companies. We thought the same, and had no idea what to do going into it. To our surprise, it was one of the easiest projects we have undertaken.  Eventual thanks will be attributed to those that have helped, but throughout, enjoy the pictures as well because this server does have some of the finest equipment many could ever imagine, all the while also making use of materials we had laying around which needed a use.

LSI Dark Background

LSI MegaRAID SAS MegaRAID 9270-8i at Amazon.

We now have a 24TB server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials – capable of not only backups, but created to do literally anything we want, including gaming, storing massive amounts of media, and even live-streaming/encoding on the fly. The best part of it all? How simple the entire process turned out to be!

You can make it as basic, or as advanced as you want it to be, and the build process is no more harder than that of a PC – It really is that simple. We went in completely blind, with few resources to guide our path; we came out successfully with a 100% functioning server.

HDD Front 3

 8 x Toshiba MG03ACA300 3TB 7200RPM HDD = 24TB at Amazon.

This isn’t to say it was smooth sailing the entire way through. We ran into quite a few conundrums  but managed to steer clear. One of the major concepts that you must thoroughly understand however, are the differences between Non-UEFI BIOS Vs. UEFI BIOS. If you require more information on this, we have got you covered in Section IV.

Aside from that, follow the guide chronologically, making note of the red highlighted text and cues. Whether you’re new to servers, or just looking for a helping-hand, we devised this guide from start to finish, tracking our every step throughout so you can follow without stumbling. TSSDR’s definitive ultimate home server guide will help you build, configure, and manage the machine of your dreams!


Rosewill RSV-L4411 Rackmount Server at Amazon.

We will get to the acknowledgements later, but just some quick shout-outs to LSI, Rosewill, Toshiba, Terry Barker (TSSR), and Les Tokar (TSSR) for their respective contributions to the guide.

Let’s get started…