Home Server Built - Advice Needed

I have a client that has asked me to configure and deploy a Rackmount Home Server for his residence. Though I am comfortable to build and deploy a Server for a business, since this is my first time to build and deploy a Server for a Home I would like to get some expert advice.

My client is looking to utilize the Home Server for the following main roles:

Media Server- The media server software is the Plex Media Server and maybe in conjunction with XBMC.
Backup Server - For locally attached PCs and Laptop (both windows based and MAC).
File Server

My questions are as follows:


Server Configuration - My initial thoughts on the server configuration is as follows.  Can you please review and give me your thoughts (This is based on what was available at a site for refurbished Servers.  My client has requested that I purchase refurbished equipment in an attempt to keep cost reasonable!):

Chassis:  HP ProLiant DL360 G6 4-Port Chassis
CPU #1: 2.93 GHz Hex-Core Intel Xeon Processor with 12MB Cache -- X5670
CPU #2:       2.93 GHz Hex-Core Intel Xeon Processor with 12MB Cache -- X5670
RAM:     16GB PC3-10600 ECC RDIMM
RAID:      Smart Array P410i 1GB Dual Ports RAID 0-60 FBWC
RAID Level:      RAID 10
HHD #1-4:      300GB 15K RPM 6Gbps SAS 2.5" Hard Drive
Network Card:      Dual Port Gigabit NICs
PSU:       HP 750 Watt PSU w/ Redundant HP 750 Watt PSU
Rails:      HP 1U Sliding Rails without Cable Management
Optical Drive:      DVD-RW
HP Tech Support:  iLo Advanced License – 1 Year Tech Support
***System cost per above: Approximately $3K

OS: Windows Server 2012 R2, 64bit, either Essential or Standard Edition

NAS: Synology DS1815+ NAS.


What other server roles should we consider and keep in mind for home use?
Thanks in advance for all inputs and advice.
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Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Well first off, he's sure he wants/has equipment for a rack mount server at home?  Or is he VPN connecting from home to access this server?  If it's at home, 15k drives can be really loud.  A mirrored pair of SSD's may be a better choice.  I'm also a fan of as much RAM as possible; 16gb should be fine but 24 or 32gb+ is always better.  And a 4-port gigabit Ethernet card would be a worthwhile investment.  Onboard NIC's are a little light at 2.  I mean as long as you're building it, build it to rock & roll.  The extra NIC's are readily available online for under $100

What I'm not seeing is a backup solution.  I'm assuming we'll be talking about terabytes of data (BluRay movies can be huge) but a RAID array itself can still fail or be damaged.  Hope this helps.
esabetAuthor Commented:
My client has an A/V room where all his Home Automation equipment, A/V Equipment and Networking equipment are installed on a RACK.   So the answer is YES, the server will be physically installed in the house in a room in his basement, solely dedicated for these purposes.

That said, do you still prefer to see a solid state drive (SSD)?

As for backup solution, perhaps you missed it in my orgical post.  I was recommending the Synology DS1815+ .  How do you feel about that? Do you thing I should consider a different NAS?
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
What you've described will certainly work; SSD's would still be my choice due to far less noise, heat, energy use, and speed.  

I did see the Synology, and assumed that was where the media files were to be stored since the 4 drives in a RAID 10  as described would only give 600GB array usable space on the server.  I have many times that amount of storage consumed in movies and TV episodes myself, and its not a particularly massive collection.  Plus that doesn't count music, graphic files, software, etc.

This will represent a huge investment both in time and money to cultivate an archive of media like this, and I would highly recommend an off-line backup solution of some kind.  Even if its going to be stored on the server and backed up to the Synology, there should be some kind of regular, off-site backup in case of fire, flood, physical damage, data corruption, or even accidental deletion (which happens far more often than you might think).  Tape drives can be brought in periodically, something like ZOTA or DropBox for cloud storage, etc.  

This data is no less precious than spreadsheets and word docs at the office that have to be protected.

Just my $.02 and I hope it helps.
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esabetAuthor Commented:
Ok, I can see that I wasn't very clear in my post.

The media files and the backups and etc. are intended to be stored on the Synology DS1815+ NAS.  The Synology can handle up to 8x6TB drives which at RAID 10 it gives you 24TB or 42TB at RAID 5.  And If I wto opt to use 8x4TB drives then at RAID 10 it will result in 16TB and at RAID 5 it will result in 28TB. What do you think?

The four (4) 300GB 15K RPM 6Gbps SAS 2.5" Hard Drives were solely intend for the Server and mainly for OS and other core software, not for any kind of storage.  If you still feel that is insufficient I can either increase the size of the server drives or simply change to RAID 5 which will result in more space.  Do you agree?
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
OK that clears it up.  

The 4 on-board 15K drives will certainly work.  If the server comes with them, and the client wont mind the noise because of where they are located in the home, then that set of drives will work fine.  RAID 1+0 is really meant for very high transaction read/writes, like Exchange or SQL, that can bog down other RAID solutions with heavy use.  You pay a very high tax for it (50%) in drive space.  That's really not necessary for media files.  In this case, I personally like RAID5 because it is faster and gives much more storage (an N-1 solution) versus RAID 1+0 (50% of total space).  Run RAID5 and take a backup image of the installation (Acronis, Ghost, etc.) after the apps are installed and configured the way you want.

Something to consider... The 1815+ will do RAID6 which would let you tolerate 2 separate hard drive failures.  Thats a very attractive feature when dealing with the large amounts of storage in question, and the non-server class hard drives these things take.  (Take a look at this:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annualized_failure_rate) That could give 36GB with the 6GB drives, or 24GB with the 4GB drives in a RAID6 array.  

I would still recommend a separate backup solution of some kind to protect against the environmental hazards of the home (what if someone spills a beer on it at a party?  Or there's a fire?)  Client of mine just lost a TON of data that didn't have backups for the large media files, and they are a graphic arts company.  If not backed up to the cloud, then maybe at least an inexpensive USB hard drive enclosure with enough storage to meet the needs.  This could be run quarterly or so, and taken off-site to the office, safe deposit box, etc.  Automated cloud backup would be great but thats expensive.  Just something to prevent against total loss, because although its more robust than a single drive, RAID arrays DO FAIL!  Not just individual hard drives, but the controller data, hardware or the parity data can be rendered unrecoverable

This solution is FAR beyond most home media solutions, and I am a little envious :-)  So please consider these suggestions as minor tune-ups to a great deployment.  Hope it helps.
Gerald ConnollyCommented:
Due to the time it takes to rebuild a failed disk especially 4 & 6TB disks RAID-5 is not considered to be suitable, only RAID-6 or RAID10
Gerald ConnollyCommented:
Note I used RAID10, which is normally accepted to be Striped-mirrors

To me RAID-1+0 is mirrored-Stripes, and 0+1 is striped-mirrors, your definitions may vary, it's for this reason the terms 0+1 & 1+0 are now out of favour and replaced by the term RAID10
esabetAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the WELL detailed reply,  Its refreshing that some people care!!!

I will certainly recommend the off-site backup solutions to my client and think its a fantastic idea.

I also think I will do away with RAID 10 and do RAID 6 on the Synology instead. As for the server I will do RAID 5.  (By the way, I am also considering the Synology RS3614xs as an alternative though it will cost more and am not sure if its worth the extra cost for my client.  May I ask your opinion on this also?)

The server does NOT come with those drives.  There were many options and I picked it.  As I mentioned my client has asked me to look for refurbished systems to keep cost down.  I googled and the first site I came across with was Servermonkey.com.  Please feel free to visit the site as there many other available servers (and options) that I could have chosen but tried to keep cost reasonable.

BTW, if you have a preferred site that you could recommend for purchasing refurbished servers I would love to hear it as this is my first venture with purchasing refurbished servers.  For businesses I do not like to recommend refurbished units for obvious reasons!!!

Thank you and look forward to your post.
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
I usually don't mind returned or refurbished equipment that has a full warranty from the manufacturer, as long as that's disclosed to client and its a significant discount.  I've had good success with that over the years.  You may also want to check out http://www.nautilusnet.com as I have bought from them and sold to them in the past and been treated well.  They have a very good selection also.

The bigger synology really seems like overkill; I personally would spend the $ on an offline backup like we talked about.  Way more value in that imho.

If the server can be configured, go with more ram and Either a pair of slower, quieter hard drives or SSd's depending on the budget.  Remember, this server has much more power than a home user-base requires, so don't apply normal standards of hdd arrays thinking it serves requests from 30 users simultaneously.  It's just the OS and apps on the server.  If a single pair mirror makes you nervous then go for a 3 drive raid5 setup of either drive style.

Finally, have fun and send some pics of the setup in action when it's running!  Thanks
esabetAuthor Commented:
Let me first thank you for all the help and guidance thus far. You have been great resource.
The other day my client asked me a question that I felt may have some merits and wanted to get your opinion on it. He asked me how about doing away with the Synology NES and taking the money to get a server like a 12 or 16 Port DL380 and have a sort of all-in-one solution.

Any thoughts?
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Cost concern would be my first instinct.  The DL360/380 with the 410i/411 controllers will do RAID 6 (May require license, up to 512mb recommended and battery backup on the RAID controller) and HP sells SAS 1.2TB SFF 2.5" drives but they are very expensive.  

Id say do a cost comparison of getting 16 of the 900GB or 1.2TB drives onboard versus a separate appliance that uses much less expensive disks.  Either way (and, as you know, I cant stress this enough :p) you'll still need proper backups with this new proposed solution.

Let us know how this is going.
esabetAuthor Commented:
I see what you mean.  But here is an alternative that I found:

1 x HP ProLiant DL180 G6 14-Port Chassis $300.00
CPU — #1:
1 x 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor with 8MB Cache -- X5570 $80.00
CPU — #2:
1 x 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor with 8MB Cache -- X5570 $80.00
1 x 64GB PC3-10600 ECC RDIMM $620.00
RAID Controller:
1 x Smart Array P410 1GB Dual Ports RAID 0-60 FBWC $320.00
RAID Level:
1 x RAID 5 $15.00
Hard Drive — Option #1:
1 x 450GB 15K RPM SAS 3.5" Hard Drive $180.00
Hard Drive — Option #2:
1 x 450GB 15K RPM SAS 3.5" Hard Drive $180.00
Hard Drive — Option #3:
1 x 450GB 15K RPM SAS 3.5" Hard Drive $180.00
Hard Drive — Option #4:
1 x 450GB 15K RPM SAS 3.5" Hard Drive $180.00
Hard Drive — Option #5:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #6:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #7:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #8:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #9:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #10:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #11:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #12:
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #13:*
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Hard Drive — Option #14:*
1 x *NEW* 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive $245.00
Network Card (NIC):
1 x Additional Quad Port Gigabit Ethernet NIC $150.00
Power Supply Unit:*
1 x Redundant HP 1200 Watt PSU $160.00
1 x Tool-Less Fixed Rails $40.00

The above totals about $4,800. I know it's not a DL360 or 380 but was thinking the DL180 maybe sufficient as a home server. I intend to put the SAS drives as the OS and software drive (i.e. C: drive) on Raid 5 and the rest of the 3TB SATA drives on Raid 5 as a replacement for the NAS.

My initial configuration would have consist of the the DL360 configured as shown in my initial post at the cost of about $3,100 PLUS  the Synology DS1815 w/ 8x4TB SATA drives at a cost of about $2,500. That would equal total of about $5,600.  

Any thoughts?
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
I've never personally used the DL1-series so I can't comment either way.  Just a thought... I think a single quad core 2.93 should more than suffice for what you're doing, but I understand that for $80 it IS hard to say no.  

That is pretty cheap for a server chassis; Is there any kind of warranty offered with that?

Something you may want to look at (if cost is becoming a concern) is the DL320e G8 v2.  I've put several of those in at small clients and they are very good.  Up to 32GB RAM and a simple mirror of 2 3.5" drives.  It's very small (only 16" deep) and doesn't consume much electricity.  You'd be back to an external storage appliance but the starting point would be much less than a DL360.

Hope that helps more than pulls us off topic!  :-)
esabetAuthor Commented:
Thanks for feedback. I am considering your next alternative but I was offered a refurbished Dell PowerEdge Server with 12 ports. Following is the summary of the spec:

Dell PowerEdge R510 12-Port
2x 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor with 8MB Cache -- X5570
Dell H700 6GB/s RAID w/ 1GB Cache (SAS, SATA)
2x 450GB 15K RPM SAS 3.5" Hard Drive
10x 3TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hard Drive
Included Dual Port Gigabit NICs
Redundant Dell 750 Watt PSU's
iDRAC6 Enterprise Remote Access Card
Dell 2U Sliding Rails without Cable Management​

The above will cost about $4900.

I have never worked with Dell servers. How do you feel about Dell? How about the above configuration?
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Dell servers are fine; they had a dip in quality years ago, but I feel they've come back well.  Refurbished from Dell?  With a warranty?  NBD for 3 years?

Are those drives SAS or SATA?  I know that there is a licensed feature of HP RAID to configure and manage SAS drives, so make sure if they are SAS that the server is configured (licensed, in this case) for SAS drives.  If its an option, I would go RAID6 for the main storage array or, failing that, RAID 5 with 1 hot spare drive configured.  RAID6 will let you tolerate 2 drives failing at once.  And since it would take a long time to repair the RAID volume if its degraded and you need to replace a drive, a hot spare would automatically start rebuilding if one failed instead of waiting for action.

Be sure you set up that iDRAC card so you can hit it from the outside.  Then you can remote in and talk directly to the server hardware.  It's invaluable for support.

Id say overall thats a good config variation.  Bit of an overkill for what hes using it for but thats not such a bad thing :-)
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Don't forget up update us!
esabetAuthor Commented:
I finalized as follows.  I know that its a bit of an overkill for its intended use but for the price its well worth it I think.  Also, the fact its an all-in-one, as to Server+NAS, solution, its much easier to manage. Here is the final configuration:

Dell PowerEdge R510 ( 12 x 3.5" Drives )
Dell PowerEdge R510 1x12 2U Rack (U)
DUAL Intel Xeon X5670 2.93GHz/12M/1333MHz 6-Core 95W
Heat Sink for PE R510
64GB (4x16G) DDR3 ECC RDIMM - Optimized
Dell Perc H700 Integrated 1GB NV Cache
RAID 6: 12x3TB 7.2K 3.5" NL SAS Hard Drive (Genuine Dell Enterprise)
Dell Optional Internal Hard Drive Kit
RAID 1: 2x900GB 10K 2.5" SAS Hard Drive (Genuine Dell Enterprise)
Dell iDRAC6 Express and Enterprise Cards with 1GB SD Card
Dual Broadcom NetXtreme II 5716 Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet
Dell/Broadcom 5709 PCI-E Dual Port NIC
Dell 1100W Power Supply
Redundant Dell 1100W Power Supply
Standard Power Cord(s) - Qty to Match Power Supplies
Dell PE R510 Front Bezel
Dell PE R510 Ready Rails
Custom Configuration and Full Testing, Full Firmware Updates
3 Year NBD Parts Only Warranty

The only drawback that I see is that there is a possibility that its not compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Edition and I have to use the Standard Edition instead.
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Looks good; am I seeing that you have 2.5" and 3.5" drives in there, or is that a typo?

What's your eta to get the hardware?

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esabetAuthor Commented:
YES, the 2.5" drives are "Internal Drives".  Meaning that they can only be access like conventional PCs by opening the case/chassis.  So there are total of 14 drives in this Chassis, 12-3.5" drives and 2-2.5" drives.

Three days is the ETA.  

Thank you for all your help and effort.
Chach DalSantoSolutions & Systems ArchitectCommented:
Welcome.  When it gets built and starts up, dont forget to award some points!  :-)
esabetAuthor Commented:
I think you have already earned it.  I may open a new post if I need help with setting up the Windows Server Standard Edition for a "Home Server" use.  Hope to see you there.

Thank you again.
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