Thursday , 24 April 2014
Learn What SSDs Can Do For You:

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!

case

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…

About Deepak Sharma

I am a big PC enthusiast, and avid gamer. If I'm not tinkering with parts, or reviewing products, you can be 100% certain I'll be on Steam playing something. I love learning about new tech, and teach myself as much as I can, so I can present it to every techie out there!
  • gilbs72

    Been planning a project like this – though thinking of running Linux. What do you see are the pros and cons between Linux and Windows? OS price is my main consideration. Support is offered by some companies (e.g. Red Hat) though I haven’t done my research in that area – I’m on Linux Mint and the forums help enough.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      I believe overall Linux will suit you better, but in terms of ease I prefer Windows. Support I find is better for Linux. Keep in mind WS 2012 is new, but if WHS 2011 is anything to go by, solutions are most often offered by forums as you said. Tech support, especially on the MS side, is awful to put it nicely.

      I can also add that WS 2012, while a lot more polished, is just not as well documented. If you run into a problem, chances are you’re on your own.

      If you are comfortable, definitely use Linux. Just remember what you want out of your server. WS 2012 has everything I want, so I went with it. Give Amahi a try and see if you like it. If not, go with WS 2012, or WHS 2011 if you’re worried about cost.

      WHS 2011 is EoL but support will last for about 4-5 years. Just remember it has no Storage Pooling feature.

  • Planetbrian

    WOW….I cannot believe you are advising people to not have a backup plan because you are using RAID 5… ” so we don’t have to worry about backing-up anything as RAID 5 has redundancy (managed by the LSI 9270-8i, or whatever RAID controller you’re using).” That is by far the worst advise that I have heard in a LONG time. Otherwise a good article.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      Hey Brian,

      The reason I said that is because the array was used as the main OS drive, and unfortunately WS 2012 doesn’t allow backups on the main drive. At least in my case, it gave me errors whenever I tried setting it, and would always try and look for other drives to backup to.

      Aside from that though, if you do have extra hard drives, definitely setup a backup. I made it optional, as WS 2012 has some weird backup options. I had to move my backup folder to a separate drive from the array to actually get the backup process working.

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