My current Home server (explained)

So I finally bought a 2 terabyte (TB) western digital hard drive for my home server. I have about 7 TB’s over 6 hard drives. I’ve already explained what makes a home server and my frustrations over home server software. But never really gone into my setup.

I have 7 hard drives of varies sizes from 200gig to 1.5tb. Most of them are Western digital drives but I do have others such as Maxtor and Samsung hard drives. I tend to buy the slowest drives because realistically I’m only storing stuff on them and accessing them over samba (smb) or universal plug and play (upnp) on my lovely XBMC setup. So speed isn’t a major thing, in actually fact the faster the drive spins the hotter it gets and heat is a enemy when you got 6 drives all spinning together.

The weird thing is I’ve never had a hard drive fail on me yet.

I’m using a combination of old 133m/s udma/eide and the new 150m/s sata. I have 2 ide drives attached to the onboard Ide ports, 2 on board sata ports and a PCI to SATA adapter with 2 extra SATA ports and a ide port. The motherboard is a elitegroup 761-gx with a old 2.8ghz mobile Amd athlon which I got from the states quite a while ago (maybe 4 years ago). I’ve thought about changing it but I really don’t need the power for a home server. In actual fact 2.8ghz is well over power for what its doing.

I think one of the reasons why nothing has failed on me is because I use spinrite 6 every few months to check if the drives are running ok or in need of some TLC. I also don’t use any Raid solutions or even Lvm solutions, I was tempted to try Lvm but gave up on it a long time ago. If Raid supported odd size drives I might have considered it a long time ago but its not practical when you have so many different drives across different local buses.

I had considered getting drobo but there quite costly even the simplest version and they certainly hold there prices well. Even the ebay prices are close to the retail price.

Right now its much more efficient for me to build a home server because I have all the parts.

I expect I’ll consider going for a NAS because its a lot quieter and it just works, which means I won’t need to do much to it. However running a machine means you can do a lot more. I’m running Ubuntu 10.4 desktop edition on top of my server right now. I had considered switching to Ubuntu Server but I quite like having a gui. I also use Webmin to control the box remotely. Webmin is good but its not as powerful as I would like it to be. For example I’m considering moving my torrent app to the server but controlling it would be a issue.

Right now I’m moving most of the stuff to a couple of drives so I can shift over to Windows Home Server. I tried freenas and others but I think Microsoft have come up trumps with Windows Home Server. My only problem is the fact it prefers to be installed on a blank system so that means shifting all my data around on to a couple of drives then moving them away while I install windows. Shame I deleted all my photos in the conversion. Oh well, wish I still had upto date dvd backups.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.