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Old 02-03-09, 07:17 PM   #1
einstein_314's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Victoria, BC
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Default Home Server Recommendations?

There are two things I wish to get input on in this thread, what OS to use for the server, and what kind of a hard drive arrangement I should use in the server.

So here's the scoop. I currently have 4 computers connected to my network: my desktop, laptop, HTPC, and Windows Home Server. The server I use as a file server (99% media related - music and video) and as a backup repository using Windows Home Server's backup stuff. I use both the HTPC and desktop to stream movies and music from the server (the video ranges from being low res downloaded tv shows to 720p .mkv tv shows to Bluray rips (~30GB each). I also use the server as a place for school mates who are working on projects with me to store data related to the project. Right now WHS has an excellent web interface that works perfectly, we can access everything from anywhere.

Okay so first off, I'm considering switching to Windows Server 2008. I have a license for it (from my technet subscription) and I think it might be a better product than WHS. Sure it's not as fool proof and easy to use, but it's far more customizable. I would like to set it up as a VPN (so we can access files from anywhere - for school projects and the like) and file server. I'm going to move all of my documents to the server, rather than storing them on desktop and laptop and backing them up to the server. I'll probably using windows' sync feature on the laptop so that when I go offline I can still get them and then it'll sync up when I get home. What do you guys think? Smart move? Or just stick with WHS. Oh and I don't own WHS yet, I'm still using the trial edition....so if I keep it I'll need to shell out ~$150 CAD for it....

My second question is how to arrange my hard drives if I were to move to Server 2008. In WHS it lumps them all together using it's special file system (just add a hard drive, add it to the "pool", and storage space increases). Since this won't be an option with Server 2008 (or will it? is there something I can use to do this?) I'll need to set them up properly. My main concern is my videos. Right now I have ~500 GB of video files and over time this will increase. As of right now I have a 500GB drive, 2x 320GB drives, and a 250GB drive in the server. This is fine since it pools them all together. But by themselves I wouldn't be able to put all my videos on the same drive, so they'll be split up and I'll have to share multiple drives and it will not be neat. I'm going to pick up a 1TB (maybe 1.5TB) drive soon, but I want this to be really future proof, so should I use spanned volumes? Or just stick with a big drive and hope I never fill it up. I don't want to be stuck it one drive fails (which will happen if I'm using spanning....) and I don't really want to go to RAID5....since I'll need at least 3 big drives...and that will be expensive..So any ideas? What's the best way to do this? Is there a way to make a single folder refer to multiple drives?

Oh and I just thought of another question. Lol. Is there a way to perform a server side file operation (like cut and paste) from a client computer? Right now if I browse to my server and want to move files around in their folders, it copies the folder through the network to my computer then sends it back to the server to the new spot. Is there a way to get the server to just move them without sending to my computer? (other than using remote desktop....that works but is just a bit of a pain)

Sorry for the long winded post....hopefully you guys have some ideas/answers...

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Old 02-03-09, 07:36 PM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,809
Default Re: Home Server Recommendations?

WHS is the only Windows product that allows disk pooling. You'll need a ZFS file system from Solaris, Linux, Snow Leopard in order to do disk pooling. With your current storage situation, WHS looks like your best bet. Especially since it looks like you're only planning on spending around 100-150 on hard drives. Soft RAID 5 is not going to give you decent IO performance for HD media. You'd need 3 1GB drives and a real raid card. You're going to be looking at over $500 for all of that. I'd stick with WHS personally.

I'm a big fan of WinSSHD/Tunnelier combonation for remote access (Secure RDP, SFTP). FreeSSH will do just as well as long as you configure it properly and Tunnelier. The SFTP client with Tunnelier will let you move directories remotely without copying to your machine first.
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