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Using Win-7 PC as a server?


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#1
houshoin

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I posted this question in the Windows 7 section but I wasn't getting much attention, so I'm hoping someone could help me here. I'm not spamming by any means. And any help is greatly appreciated.

Currently, our office has about 8 computers which 1 of the 8 computers is used as a 'server' or a shared network drive. This shared computer is about 10 years old and has only 1 drive on it. We store our data on it.

We are moving to a new place and thinking of purchasing a new desktop computer with Windows 7 Pro on it. We'll add 2 WD Red drives to this new computer, then run RAID-1 on these 2 drives via Windows Disk Management, and share it on the network. In other words, this new computer will be our new 'server'.

In addition to running RAID-1 on the 2 WD Red drives, we will also be backing up data offsite (external hard drive) AND automatic back-up from the server computer to one of the client computers daily.

We're not buying a real server because that's too much for our needs. Plus, it is expensive. So here's what I'd like to ask. Please excuse my ignorance as I'm still learning:

1. Which one of the Dell computers has RAID-1 controller integrated on their motherboard? (we're looking to buy Dell computers)
2. Do you think we need a hardware RAID controller if we're just running RAID-1? If yes, what's a good hardware RAID controller?
3. Any over-heating problem if we leave the PC on 24/7 with RAID-1 enabled?
4. Say we want to run software RAID-1 on 2 WD Red drives, and one of them fails, how would we know which drive has failed?
5. Any side suggestions or comments?


Thank you so much for helping. Your help is appreciated.
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#2
SleepyDude

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Hi,

Before posting my idea, if you don't mind I would like to know if the "server computer" is only used for backups or will be used for other tasks as well? Such as?
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#3
houshoin

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Thank you so much for helping.

The 'server computer' will only be used to hold data. We think of it as a huge power supply for the 2 WD Red drives which we will run RAID-1 on. We thought about buying a NAS, but decided not to.

It will be directly connected to a wireless router via CAT6. FTP and VPN will be setup so that remote access to the 'server computer' can be done.
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#4
SleepyDude

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The 'server computer' will only be used to hold data. We think of it as a huge power supply for the 2 WD Red drives which we will run RAID-1 on. We thought about buying a NAS, but decided not to.


Why not using a NAS? You know NAS are build specially for that purpose!
I'm not sure you will find a Dell desktop with hardware with RAID support looking at a starter level Dell Server it's a more robust solution but most likely more expensive than a NAS.
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#5
AdvHomeServer

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My blog, Advanced Home Server, specifically deals with your issue. I recently brought it to the point where it is ready to share with the world. I will add to it as time passes. There are currently over 30 articles that cover home networking issues from a variety of perspectives. It's an on-line how-to book and all content is free. I hope you find it helpful.
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#6
houshoin

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The 'server computer' will only be used to hold data. We think of it as a huge power supply for the 2 WD Red drives which we will run RAID-1 on. We thought about buying a NAS, but decided not to.


Why not using a NAS? You know NAS are build specially for that purpose!
I'm not sure you will find a Dell desktop with hardware with RAID support looking at a starter level Dell Server it's a more robust solution but most likely more expensive than a NAS.


I guess we weren't quite sure about which NAS to get. Any NAS you'd like to recommend? We want something that runs 24/7, RAID-1 enabled with hot-swapping feature, and can be easily managed through any computer on the network.

Thanks again for your help.

My blog, Advanced Home Server, specifically deals with your issue. I recently brought it to the point where it is ready to share with the world. I will add to it as time passes. There are currently over 30 articles that cover home networking issues from a variety of perspectives. It's an on-line how-to book and all content is free. I hope you find it helpful.


Thanks for the blog. I'll be looking at it and let you know.
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#7
SleepyDude

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I guess we weren't quite sure about which NAS to get. Any NAS you'd like to recommend? We want something that runs 24/7, RAID-1 enabled with hot-swapping feature, and can be easily managed through any computer on the network.


Maybe I'm missing something but hot-swapping with RAID??

I have several different models at my work from Synology they have a product selector on there site. All the Administration is usually done using a web browser, it can be accessed also using SSH, you can play with the "NAS OS" on the site Live Demo.
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#8
houshoin

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I guess we weren't quite sure about which NAS to get. Any NAS you'd like to recommend? We want something that runs 24/7, RAID-1 enabled with hot-swapping feature, and can be easily managed through any computer on the network.


Maybe I'm missing something but hot-swapping with RAID??

I have several different models at my work from Synology they have a product selector on there site. All the Administration is usually done using a web browser, it can be accessed also using SSH, you can play with the "NAS OS" on the site Live Demo.


Ah, my apology. Not sure where that came from. I'll be looking at Synology NAS with the model you suggested in mind when we decide which to get. At this moment, it seems very likely we're going to get a NAS. Thanks again!
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#9
houshoin

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Sorry for the double post.

What do you think about Synology Diskstation 2-Bay DS214?

If anyone has used it before, or know how it works, please feel free to comment. Thank you.
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#10
SleepyDude

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Sorry for the double post.

What do you think about Synology Diskstation 2-Bay DS214?

If anyone has used it before, or know how it works, please feel free to comment. Thank you.

We only have units with 4-Bays and more.
In their page it's possible to compare the difference between models, they have different processors, the number o network ports, the number of max simultaneous connections.

We like the 4-bays unit's for expandability and for safety with 3 HDD's the NAS will create a configuration similar to RAID5 you get about the size of two drives for storage and one disk is used as spare (parity) for recovery.

Edited by SleepyDude, 19 January 2014 - 06:41 AM.

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#11
houshoin

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Sorry for the double post.

What do you think about Synology Diskstation 2-Bay DS214?

If anyone has used it before, or know how it works, please feel free to comment. Thank you.

We only have units with 4-Bays and more.
In their page it's possible to compare the difference between models, they have different processors, the number o network ports, the number of max simultaneous connections.

We like the 4-bays unit's for expandability and for safety with 3 HDD's the NAS will create a configuration similar to RAID5 you get about the size of two drives for storage and one disk is used as spare (parity) for recovery.


I went to their website again for the product comparison, and it would appear that DS214 is all we need, for now, and for many years to come. Thanks again for you help.

EDIT: A quick question if you don't mind.

If we're buying the DS214 model from the Synology, and the NAS box dies, but HDDs are healthy. Would it be possible to hook up the hard drives to another computer to access the files while we wait for the unit for repair?

What about your NAS model? Thanks.

Edited by houshoin, 19 January 2014 - 11:02 AM.

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#12
SleepyDude

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If we're buying the DS214 model from the Synology, and the NAS box dies, but HDDs are healthy. Would it be possible to hook up the hard drives to another computer to access the files while we wait for the unit for repair?

Fortunately no problem of this kind occurred to us. I would say that it depends on the type of RAID, on RAID 1 with 2 discs both have the same contents so I'm guessing it will be only a matter of installing the HDD on a Linux box.

What about your NAS model? Thanks.


DS412+
DS411+II
DS1512+
DX1211 (Expansion Unit)

Some of them are not available anymore because synology have newer models now.
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#13
houshoin

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I'll get back to you once we figure out which NAS to get. Hopefully the NAS box itself won't ever die. Thanks!

EDIT: yeah, I think we'll be going with Synology DS214. Thank you all for your help. I appreciate it.

Edited by houshoin, 21 January 2014 - 07:51 PM.

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#14
plac

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Might want to consider a lease return Dell server,
from ebay, fairly inexpensive, and would give you
the power to do some heavy lifting if needed.

Take remote desktop or virtual desktop and apps, for
instance; where all of your mobile users could use
full blown chrome browser, office suite, and industry
software straight from the server.

10X faster than your desktop (dual cpu):
DellPowerEdge2850Server2x 3.4GHz8GB+6x146GB10KRPMDrives
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#15
AdvHomeServer

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I'll get back to you once we figure out which NAS to get. Hopefully the NAS box itself won't ever die. Thanks!

EDIT: yeah, I think we'll be going with Synology DS214. Thank you all for your help. I appreciate it.


Good Choice.
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