The Big (30+ drive) Windows Home Server (Part 1)
About 10 months ago I decided to enter the world of the Windows Home Server. My storage arrays had outstripped my Cosmos S’s capacity, and running multiple controllers for all of the SAS drives as well as SATA storage became too much. My decision to build a WHS v. buy one was made due to sub-$100 Seagate 1.5TB 7200.11 drives (at the time very inexpensive) so I bought another eight drives just to fill up an 8 port raid controller.
The Original WHS Specs Were:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6420
- 4GB OCZ Platinum
- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Motherboard (Dual Lan and a great board)
- Adaptec 31605 w/ BBU
- EVGA 7200GS (passively cooled)
- Norco RPC-470 4U Rackmount
- 2x iStarUSA BPN-350SAS-Black (5 in 3 enclosure)
- 1x ICY DOCK MB453IPF-B (3 in 2 enclosure)
- 1x LG Blu-Ray Drive
- 2x 1TB Seagate 7200.11 drives in Raid 1
- 11x 1.5TB Seagate 7200.11 drives in Raid 6 + hotspare
- 3x 500GB Western Digital RE2 drives in Raid 5
- Windows Home Server Retail
Obviously, with 16 hard drives, a dedicated Raid card with BBU, and a server chassis, this was going to be something a bit more involved than a HP MediaSmart (which are great machines, but in a different ballpark).
After about a week of building, a week of burn-in, and some heartburn getting everything set up decently well, the server was off and running. One thing I had forgotten is that WHS is built on Windows Server 2003 and can only utilize MBR partitions. While this is generally fine, the 11x 1.5TB drives – 2x for parity and -1x for a hotspare yielded 10.92TB of available storage (1.365TB x 8). Due to the MBR partition and WHS limitations one can have a maximum of 8TB in a raid array for WHS on a set of drives. This is because 2TB per MBR partition and 4 partitions per device. Sadly, this mistake required a lot of time to fix, yet it had stranded almost 3GB of space!
As the months went by, the WHS had backup duties, even for images of system configurations that I casually would load on various pieces of hardware. I started storing/ streaming media, using the WHS to hold HD camcorder video, and virtual machines (even mapping VM drives to the WHS shares) on the WHS and quickly found myself running out of space.
Enter The Big Windows Home Server. Over the next few weeks I will be detailing a build that will double the space, and increase the processing power severalfold. The goal is to be able to use the WHS for more, including running virtual machines, and doing encoding on-box.
Stay tuned for more!