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HP proliant microserver vs. custom build


cisto1999
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Hi,

i am very new to server / NAS -segment and all this stuff. But i want to have my own home server for data backup, cloud storage for about 10 users. The server will be located inside a homenetwork which firewall i don´t have access to and with dynamic IP - so i guess i have to use the standard-ports to reach the server from outside?

My main question is: Would you recommend a hp-proliant microserver over a custom-build (i like to build my own pcs :-) - so building the thing wouldn´t be a problem) - but the hp micorserver seems to come for a very good prize. I know that i would sacrifice a little bit of upgradability with that. How is it with internet-security? Does HP use any suspicious hard-or software which can specified as spyware?

And what OS/Software would you recommend? I tend to use FreeNAS or Linux-Server and Seafile for cloud-function.

Any recommendations on these things?

Thanks for all help in advance.

Edited by cisto1999
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When you say home network I'm thinking NAT. To access any machine on a NAT-ed network you need to change the settings on the router/firewall such that traffic to port X on the router/firewall will be transferred to your NAT-ed machine port y. If you can't make this happen, your storage solution won't be accessible to the outside network. The IP is slightly less of a problem. You could have a process on your fileserver check the external IP using any of the "what's my ip" websites and parsing the output. When it changes, it can update a dynamic domain service like no-ip. Since that particular one expires a hostname after 30 days, it's a good idea to include an automatic update once per week, even when the IP address didn't change.

Having that part sorted, let's look at the meat of your question: Home build or commercial. The answer to that question basically boils down to "what will you be using it for?". Will people start to scream at you and blame you for everything from droughts in Africa to the El Nino effect when this service becomes unavailable, or is this more of a hobby-like thing where an uptime of 1-2 hours per week is perfectly acceptable?

If it's more a case of the former, you want something that Just Works at which point I would suggest going the commercial route. You'll pay more and you won't learn nearly as much but you end up with a pretty much turn-key solution to your problem.

If however it's more a case of the latter, then by all means make your own. It'll be cheaper, better suited to your specific needs and you'll learn a *TON* about what it means to run these beasties. When it comes to picking your hardware and how to set things up drive-wise I happily refer to a previous post I made on that subject. I would obviously recommend a UNIX-like OS for this and depending on your existing familiarity you could simply take any Linux/BSD flavor that you're already familiar with. If you're not yet very familiar with any UNIX-based OS, willing to learn but not willing to spend a lot of time on it before delivering something useful I would recommend something like FreeNAS which is a FreeBSD-based OS specifically tailored to running as a NAS. It will get you up and running in no-time and you'll be able to dig into it and figure out what makes it tick, allowing you to eventually change things to perfectly suit your specific needs.

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@Cooper: Thanks for your detailed answer. So i am willing to learn a lot - thats the main reason i want to build this server - and it has a lot of good sideeffects - i can provide some others a storage and backup solution.

My considered configuration before i found the hp micorserver was that:

ATHLON 5350 2.05 GHZ
AMD ASRock AM1H-ITX (mini-ITX)
Netzteil (ATX24) WT 350W/80+ Bronze/24-7 HW
RAM Mushkin 8GB 1600-11 Silverline MSK
2 HDDS 2TB

But the biggest problems seems to be the firewall of the NAT-ed network... so i have to speak with our network admin.

Edited by cisto1999
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Looking at the parts and a local pricewatch the CPU is 37 euro and the MoBo near the 45 euro mark. Total 82 euro.

You picked a cpu that has a low TDP of 25Watt but one that has quite a bit more power than you need for a pure NAS. I would suggest taking a look at the ASRock E35LM1 R2.0 which, being a Mobo with fixed CPU, is a bit less sexy since that CPU only has a single core, but it's specced at a mere 18Watt TDP, includes a graphics chip so you can attach a monitor to it if need be at no extra cost, still has 4 SATA connectors and you can have it for 46 euros. Even in your local currency, it should be significantly cheaper.

Getting some spiffy brand memory that supports great speeds and fantastic timings will only increase the purchase price of the overall system. It matters absolutely *NOTHING* at all. What DOES matter though is the amount of memory, so find some cheap, low-speed RAM and get as much of it as you can find. UNIX OSes will use any excess memory as fs cache so it'll come to good use when you start pounding that box. Or get 8GB of that cheap-ass memory on a single DIMM, save some money and if you eventually find you really do need it you can still fill that other slot with a similar DIMM.

I have no experience with that PSU brand, but the general idea of taking one that is low-power and preferably 80+ rated is a good idea.

What do you want to use for chassis? Will you be using RAID or something similar across the disks?

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Ok, i got that with the memory - it is that i always had good experience with mushkin... but you are right.

But MoBo: the one you recommended does only support 8GB of RAM (this is what the spec sheet says). The one i suggested does 16 GB - so i would prefer that. Chassis: i have an offer to buy a "used (good as new)" one for 45 Euros: Lian Li PC-A04A which does support a lot of HDDs out of the box - so if i wanted to upgrade the ability would be there. This is also the reasen why i wanted to go with a little bit better CPU - but i know... "future-proof" purchase isn´t always very intelligent (best is - always buy what you need NOW).

Thanks for all your help so far!!!!!!!

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And that price for a Lian Li is a steal... But it's a design case and chances are you're going to bury yours. Just take a look at the Sharkoon Rebel 9 Economy case. It's a LOT of mesh and those 9 5.25" slots can be adapted (dremeled) to hold those icy dock things from my other post if it turns out you need that. Out of the box it comes with 4 drive brackets to fit a 3.5" device in a 5.25" slot.

I'm aware I'm pushing you to the solution I chose for my rig in part because that works for me, but I did put some thought into it too.

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And would you recommend ZFS or not? ZFS needs Server-Ram - is that true? I forgot to answer your RAID-question - i have to admit - i don´t know. As far as i know it is difficult to expand your raid-array after you have set it up... so i am open to any suggestions. I have two 500 GB HDDs here, i want to use for it and add another 2 TB of Storage - i am pretty sure that i do not need more than max 3-4TB of storage in the next 2 or 3 years.

A lot of people would say now - why do you want build your your own server for that... buy a WD "My Cloud" and everything is ok... but my motivation is: i want to learn from scratch, i want to have my data on MY server and not somewhere else, i want it as secure as possible, want it to be accessable everywhere and i want some data redundancy.

Edited by cisto1999
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I have no experience with ZFS so I can't comment on its virtues and failures. Regarding memory requirements, it's NOT true. As they say there, bad memory will harm any fs and ZFS devs simply recommend it if you want more certainty about data integrity.

You say you want some data redundancy. With 2 disks that means mirroring or RAID 1 which will cost you half the total storage. I chose to go this route with the 'irreplacable' stuff and leave the rest on a single disk and just keep my fingers crossed. I do retain a symlink to the item in question so after replacing the drive I can simply look for broken symlinks and I know what I need to find again.

Expanding a RAID array IS painful. I've seen very expensive hard/software do it, though never on a live system (Sun box in single-user mode). I was impressed. Never seen it happen on any other machine. No idea how feasible it is with the current state of software.

An often overlooked item is backups. I deliberately don't make them because I simply can't be arsed. But how would you back up 6TB? In my case that question was reduced to 'How do you back up 1TB?' Referring to only the mirrored irreplacables. I chose to again simply not do it and instead simply provide these files on a read-only share. Takes out the 'stupid user error' problem. Adding data to that share is a bit more trouble, but I simply write the data to a different, writable share of the same machine and then it's a quick move and you're done. With that provision in place I felt no need to bother with backups of that data either. I might burn a dvd of some stuff eventually and store it at my parents, but really, this data isn't *that* important to me.

So you need to figure out what works for you. Want to learn zfs? Go for it. It is a sufficiently mature filesystem in my book so it should at least he safe for every day use. Linux or BSD is another one. Got a preference? Have you thought about how you want your users to access the data? How will they connect to the machine? (assuming a willing admin allows it - hint: get him a cup of coffee every once and a while. It really helps even to just be friendly and don't assume he says 'no' to annoy you. If that's your answer, ask why and what other ways he can think of to make it work. Do NOT challenge his reasons and never EVER talk to his supervisor just to get your way)

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