New File Server

So, at my house we tend to use up disk space pretty quickly, and one of the ways I’ve tried to consolidate that is by having a home server. It was really just another Windows XP box but with some file shares on it, which actually works pretty well.

About a year ago we ran out of space on our server. And we were also out of money. No problem; I had lots of old hand-me-down computers, so I gutted a number of them, ripped out their hard-drives and stuck them in our server. It was touch-and-go for a bit; and while I did eventually get it working, the phrase “held together with spit and twine” seemed rather applicable, and I knew I needed to find a better solution at some point.

Then we ran out of space again. Nuts. How do we keep running out of space? Well, we takes lots of pictures, and I’m rather paranoid about backups–we had a new external drive fail on us previously, and lost about a year’s worth of pictures. Lesson Learned: Keep at least two copies of everything you don’t want to lose, preferably three (one of them being remote).

We still weren’t quite ready to buy a new computer. Well, I was (You might be a geek if you find yourself occasionally getting on to spec out a computer just for fun), but my wife provided the voice of reason. So we made a compromise. We bought an external hard-drive that we could use to relieve some of the space on the server, and would get a new computer in the fall.

So, fall has come and I’ve got a new file server going. It actually took more effort to put together than I thought. I bought the parts individually, and also bought a different operating system based on a friend’s recommendation (Windows Home Server, which for an Microsoft OS is pretty cheap). I wanted to make sure I got computer hardware that would be relevant for a decent amount of time. Some of the things I was looking for were:

  • Motherboard and power supply with plenty of SATA connectors (so that I had expand-ability)
  • Lots of initial hard-drive space with room to grow
  • RAID support
  • Support for both USB 3 and SATA 3 (which provide for much higher data transfer speeds than their predecessors)
In the end I purchased a Gigabyte AMD motherboard that had what I wanted, and I found a good deal on a Rosewill power supply. For hard-drives I purchased two Hitachi 3TB 7200 RPM drives. (Did anyone else just hear Ralphie saying, “I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!”?)

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