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Building a home server. Please help, DC!

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There's a recent article on do-it-yourself home server using Amahi.

I haven't called Stallard yet, i will later today maybe.  I have a feeling their prices just can't compete with the cheap stuff like Norco.

I'm trying to figure out all the different Norco models, and what their differences are.  hell if I can tell.
This is a popular one on newegg and seems to be what most people get.

I'm tempted to get this since it seems like an updated version of the one above.  But I have no idea.
^^Both of these, on Norco's website, fall under the "server rackmount" category.

The ones below fall under the "Storage Systems" category.  i don't really understand what the difference is:
All of these are just like those popular RPC-4220 models, but they are in different categories and have a few variations.  I don't know what the differences are and why they are considered different than the others.

The RPC-4220 and 4224 are both full system enclosures with lots of drive bays. You get the chassis, motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drives, and stick it all in the same box and rack mount it. This is a full single-unit solution for your needs.

The DS-xx models are all storage *only*. They're external enclosures with no room for a motherboard but lots of room for drives, designed to provide significant external storage to existing systems. So if you go this route you have to buy another unit for the host system.

The external enclosures work through a SAS expander and connection with an SFF-8088 (ideally) multi-lane connection. This means you need a compatible controller card/port in your host system. With use of the expander, these large external enclosures can show up as "Just a Box/Bunch Of Disks/Drives" (JBOD), in other words they present to your system as independent drives, which you can then choose to configure however you want (including setting up various RAID configurations). Unlike other some enclosures (particularly consumer-level) that would use e.g. a USB, Firewire, or eSATA port (none of which are multi-lane) where the drives would need to be in a RAID configuration controlled by hardware *in* the box that houses the drives so it can be addressed through the single non-multi-lane port.

- Oshyan

+1 X 100 with JavaJones on the above post.

If you're going to be configuring more than 4 drives in your storage array, you definitely want to either be on a 'business grade' server chassis - or have some of your drives in an external enclosure. And if you're thinking of using RAID (especially RAID-5) on your data drives, you most bodaciously DO NOT want to use a desktop/consumer class controller card.

The mobo RAID controllers (or those cheap weird-brand Asian imports) are OK for mirroring (RAID-1) your boot disk. But I wouldn't want to use them for much more than that. Especially when you can score a decent used "pro" card on e-bay or other places if you shop around. Most times they're between $100-$150 (with battery). Not a bad deal when you consider they run around $600 new - and some junk RAID card will set you back about $75-$80.

If you do go with a consumer card, burn a joss stick in front of the Data Buddha and keep your fingers crossed. Shanti!  :huh:

Buddhist monk repairing a computer in his monastery in Thailand. How cool is that!

Note: I've seen mirrored drives both get corrupted very nicely by cheap RAID cards. So maybe I'd restrict "RAID on the cheap" to RAID-1 and only if I were using a mobo-based controller. But I'd have to be feeling pretty good about myself on the day I chanced it.

Putting your big data drives in an external enclosure also goes a long way towards reducing heat build up in your server case. And taking some strain off your server's power supply. It can also (usually) just be moved over to something else if your main server dies. So you'll still have access to your data and archives in a pinch. You'll also get some additional protection by having your drives in two separate enclosures in the unlikely event your power supply or AC circuit experiences a catastrophic failure which fries everything downstream.

Just my 2ยข  :Thmbsup:

P.S. Don't use RAID-5. If you have a good backup strategy and can afford occasional downtime to perform hardware maintenance or replacements, RAID-5 is more trouble than it's worth IMO.

Thanks JJ and 40hz, very helpful as usual.

40, you've warned me several times about the consumer RAID controllers, so I'm going to avoid those.  I actually don't intend to use RAID at all, even with 10-15 drives installed.  I'd rather have a software or OS way of combining directories and drives (volume spanning is the term, I believe?).  I just don't think I have the stomach to deal with RAID, so I'll be really trying hard not to need it.

Since the DS units from Norco are just for storage, perhaps the best thing I can do is buy the server box (I don't know what to call it, but it's the part that has the mobo, cards, and all that stuff) and buy a DS unit for just the storage.

For the server, this is going to be hard for me to shop for, so I'm asking for help on it.  What specs do I want or need?  I can spend a decent amount, but I don't want to spend way more than I have to.  Like, if a shitty server costs $500 and a decent one costs $2000, I'll get the expensive one.  But if a shitty one costs $1000, and the decent one costs $7000, I'll probably stick with the cheap one.  If I can build it myself and avoid some brand name prices and restrictions, I'd like that also.


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