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Windows Server 2012 -- how much space and single vs multi-servers?

Posted on 2016-09-13
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I'm fairly tech savvy, but am very new to the server environment.  I have an HP ML110 with WS 2012 R2 installed.  I have 3 TB HDDs, with two of them in a RAID 1 (the third is just hooked up but no recognized because it hasn't been added to an array.)  I'm not married to this configuration, it's just the way I did it when I started.

My end goal is to have a home server that runs AD DS, DNS and DHCP and also acts as a file server.  I don't have any processor-intensive applications (SQL db, etc).

I wanted to know what is best practice regarding:

1. RAID configuration.  Is it just best to take all my physical disks and create 1 large array?  
2. 1.5TB at RAID 1 or 3TB at RAID 0?
3. Is it ok (for performance purposes) to have AD DS, DNS and DHCP on the same server?
4. Should I use Hyper-V and create multiple virtual servers to run the above services?

If there are any other broad rules of thumb that I should be aware of please let me know.

Thank you
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Question by:Michael
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 83 total points
ID: 41796066
1) that is *very* workload dependent. But in this case, I'd strongly consider storage spaces and a good backup for type system drove without raid.

2) you'd need a 4th drive for RAID 1. so that 495 idea simply won't work.

3) yes, that's usually fine for small workload environments.

4) Hyper-V? Maybe. For DR, it can be useful, but may be overcomplex for a home environment. Multiple VMs? Probably not, given your description above. Most likely overkill.
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by:paulmacd
paulmacd earned 83 total points
ID: 41796068
1)  Which RAID configuration you choose depends on a number of factors - do you need speed, fault tolerance, or some combination of the two?

2)  RAID 1 will give you some fault tolerance (you can lose a drive), also, it would be 3TB, not 1.5TB; RAID 0 will give you speed, but you'll lose everything if you lose a drive.  Despite what [Cliff Galiher] says, you don't need a fourth drive.  You can do RAID 1 with two drives.

3)  Yes, especially for a home server.  That said, if you lose the server, you've lost all your services so plan on performing backups.

4)  This isn't necessary, and whether or not it would be "better" would have a lot to do with how powerful the host server is.
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Lee W, MVP earned 251 total points
ID: 41796085
1. RAID configuration.  Is it just best to take all my physical disks and create 1 large array?  
You can use one as a hot spare since you have 3.  Not a bad idea. Which means even though you have 3 drives, you end up with ONE in terms of usable space.

2. 1.5TB at RAID 1 or 3TB at RAID 0?
Never, EVER, use RAID 0 on a server unless it's data you really don't care about.  RAID 1 should be more than fine for your purposes.

3. Is it ok (for performance purposes) to have AD DS, DNS and DHCP on the same server?
Absolutely, all are low resource services in most environments so it shouldn't come close to being something you even give a second thought.

4. Should I use Hyper-V and create multiple virtual servers to run the above services?
ABSOLUTELY use Hyper-V - but I'd still run everything on a single VM.
See my article on whether you should virtualize:
https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/27799/Virtual-or-Physical.html
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 41796087
I never said he couldn't do raid 1 with two drives. I said he won't get to 1.5TB with three 1TB drives as he proposed. My comment stands.
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by:Michael
ID: 41796095
Thank you for your responses.  The workload will not be heavy.  3-4 users tops and none will be consistent 8hr/day users.

That solves #3 and #4!  

For #1 & #2:  I'd likely add another 1TB drive so I'd have 4TB total.  I have an external 4 bay NAS (here) which I think would make sense to back up the server to.  Of course, nowadays these SOHO NAS's seem to be meant for serving up the data on the NAS via different applications vs being just a 'back up'.

Given that I might use the NAS as the backup station, I think my preference is toward performance.  

Or how about RAID5?  If so, how many drives would I need and what would my effective space be?
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by:rindi
rindi earned 83 total points
ID: 41796097
3+4: I would use Hyper-V. It is best practice to separate the tasks of a server into different server OS's, for example The AD stuff should be a dedicated OS, while the file-server should be another dedicated OS. Even if this is just a home environment there is no reason why you shouldn't do it properly to start with. Bad habits, once you have gotten used to them, are hard to undo later.

With Hyper-V you can setup a dedicated Hyper-V core system on the server, then install the 2 VM's you need. If it is 2012r2 standard, you have those 2 licenses already anyway.
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 41796103
With 4 1TB drives all in the array, you'd have 3TB. But performance is meddling. Unless you really need the space, RAID 10 would be better. But I'm still a fan of storage spaces if possible. Better resiliency and less prone to bit rot, which can be an issie with very large drives. Especially when run with ReFS.
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by:paulmacd
paulmacd earned 83 total points
ID: 41796154
1)  With four 1TB hard drives you can...
  a) RAID 0 (not recommended) - fastest; 4TB capacity; totally fails when one drive fails
  b) RAID 1 - fast; 2TB capacity; up to two drives can fail and the RAID will still run
  c) RAID 10 - faster; 2TB capacity; up to two drives can fail and the RAID will still run
  d) RAID 5 - average speed; 3TB capacity; up to one drive can fail and the RAID will still run
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 41796170
Caveat, with RAID 1 and 10, not just any two drives can fail. After a single failure, it becomes a matter of which second drive fails. You have a 1 in 3 chance that the mirror of the first fails and data loss would then occur.
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by:andyalder
ID: 41796677
Please state the make/model of the hard disks - just checking whether the manufacturer specifies max two disks in a chassis due to lack of vibration tolerance.
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Author Comment

by:Michael
ID: 41796713
Many thanks to everyone who's responded.  You guys are very knowledgeable!!

The drive that came with the ML110 is an HPE 1TB drive, I then added two 1TB WD Caviar Blue's.  Hopefully that isn't a bad thing that they are of different spec levels..

A few folks have mentioned using Storage Spaces--I assume this is just a logical approach to configuring the drives within the UEFI?  What does Storage Spaces afford me?

But I'm still a fan of storage spaces if possible. Better resiliency and less prone to bit rot, which can be an issie with very large drives. Especially when run with ReFS.

I'd strongly consider storage spaces and a good backup for type system drove without raid.
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by:Cliff Galiher
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by:rindi
ID: 41796809
No, storage spaces has nothing to with UEFI. It has been added to new Windows OS's along with a new File-System, ReFS, which is more modern than NTFS.
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by:Michael
ID: 41797827
Thanks everyone.
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