My WHS

Winodows Home ServerI’m a big fan of the Home Server product and have been using it since it was released as a public beta. Having both a MCE and WHS box at home, on most of the time does use a fair amount of power. I saw an article at HomeServerHacks that showed the building of a low power 11TByte server and got to thinking. 

My initial intention was to build a tiny 11W Pico home server, but the system drive only supported IDE and adding my external drives for storage via USB would have been slow and wasted power savings by running multiple power packs. The Eee Box from asus was also a good option but again didn’t support any internal expandability past the internal 2.5″ SATA disk.

When my old trusty ASUS P4 motherboard running the WHS failed I knew it was time to take the leap. I found getting some of the components recommended by HSH in Australia proved interesting, I ended up using BITS and Megabuy online stores to get some equivalent parts. As such, I am now running my Home Server on:

WHS Internals
  • Intel Atom 330
  • Duel Core 1.6GHz (BOXD945GCLF2)
  • 2GB 667MHz Kingston RAM (KVR667D2N5/2G)
  • PCI Addonics 4 Port SATA2 Card (ADSA3R5-E)
  • Addonics 3x SATA 3.5″ Disk caddy for duel height 5.25″ drive bay (AE3RCS35NSA)
  • NetGear WN121T 802.11n USB Network Card (Gave woweful network performance)
  • 1x Segate 450GB 7200RPM OS Disk
  • 1x WD 500GB Green Data Disk
  • 1x WD 1.5TB Green Data Disk
  • 500W PowerHousePC PSU. (PPH512TUV)
  • Boring Grey Midi-Tower Case

Total power at idle = 72W

I am REALLY happy with the box, The duel core Atom runs both the WHS and MS Virtual Server 2005 R2. I have enough RAM to run a VM I can remote into when I want to do testing from the house. At some stage in the future, I would like to get the APEVIA X-QPACK2-GN/500 green micro ATX case. Unfortunately it is not shipped to Australia and I can’t justify $100 shipping.

I’m not a big fan or running 1000 add-in’s for the sake of it. The few that I have found useful in administering my server are:

NOTES:
Motherboard – If you are purchasing an Atom board, stick with Intel. I used a Gigabyte board for a friends PC and had no end of issues….
RAM – The Atom boards are REALLY particular with what RAM is supported, check compatibility lists when choosing your RAM.
PCI SATA Card – The Atom board comes with 2 onboard SATA ports and only a single PCI slot. I chose this card as it provides 3 internal SATA and 1 external eSATA ports. It supports hot adding and removal of drives and is compatible with SATA port multipliers.
HDD Caddy – Most small form factor cases come with a maximum of 2x 5.25″ drives. This limited me to the 3 disk tray option and as the raid card supports 3 internal ports, it worked out well. My system disk comes off the onboard port for performance and as it doesn’t support hot plugging anyway.
802.11n Wireless – Wireless isn’t officially supported on WHS but as we are renting and can’t run CAT5 around the house, unfortunately the little USB NetGear 802.11n interface has very poor performance and maxes out the CPU when running. I have ended up moving back to the onboard GBit network port.

For more information on Windows Home Server, have a read through my posts at http://brendon.davis.to/whs.