Silent Home Fileserver

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Silent Home Fileserver

Post by mattek » Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:05 am

Im building a silent fileserver for my home network to store important documents and photos. Since I work as a professional photographer I have at least 50GB of raw photos in jpg and an additional 50GB of edited versions of the same photos. Im also about to start shooting in RAW format. I would not be surprised if I have 200GB of photos by the end of the year and way more by this time next year.

My new rig is a Sonata case, I have used up all of the drivebays. So Im looking to build a fileserver.

1. Must have 5 drivebays for HDDs. Will be using a raid array. (edit: 4 drives would be enough)
2. Small form factor would be nice. (as small as possible, silence has the upper hand on form factor here though)
3. Low power consumption.
4. Silent.
5. GB-Lan.

I have had a hard time finding a good case for this build. Motherboard is probably going to be a VIA/C3 board with a RAID card.

Any suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated. If you yourself have built a similar system please post your specs!


edited requirements 1 and 2
Last edited by mattek on Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mattek » Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:26 am

Just found this case:

I sports 6 internal HDD bays. Has anyone heard about this case before? Maybe someone here has hands on experience with it to share?

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Post by IsaacKuo » Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:14 am

It sounds to me like you've got a paradox there. 5 hard drives plus adequate cooling will not fit in an SFF, and can't honestly be silent even with 2.5" drives.

Is there a particular reason you need 5 hard drives instead of 4? Assuming RAID5, using 4 hard drives may be a bit slower and cost you a bit more space, but you'll have a lot more choices of motherboard without resorting to expansion hard drive controller cards. Most motherboards have at least two PATA and two SATA channels.

If I were in your situation, I'd be going for mere "quietness" in the server, and use four 3.5" hard drives (Samsung or Seagate is my preference). I'd partition them into a small RAID0 for a high performance image editing page file and "current" work, and a large RAID5 as an "archive". I'd use rsync to periodically mirror the "current" work directory to the RAID5. For example, I could make a habit of rsync'ing to the RAID5 every half hour or so while working on files. That way, if a hard drive crashes I only lose maybe half an hour's work.

Of course, a RAID5 is never a substitute for proper archive backups! Backup of data to DVD is an economical, albeit troublesome method. A more expensive method would be to set up a second file server, periodically rsync'ing data to it. This can be a particularly robust solution if you have a second physical site, backing up files over the internet.
Isaac Kuo

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Post by mattek » Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:53 am

A four drive setup would work aswell for me. The reason why I wanted five drives was that I could run windows on one small and quiet drive and then store all my data on the remaining RAID:ed four drives.

Put windows and files on the same RAID array would work aswell. It would save me money, one drive and controller card less, as you pointed out.

Thanks for the help and suggestions Isaac!

So, looking at a four drive setup which cases should be considered?

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Post by moritz » Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:53 am

Why do you want to go RAID, anyway? If it's about speed, you probably shouldn't go with a file server in the first place, I'd think a single local HD will be faster than a remote RAID, even over gigabit LAN. Of course it might be about data security, but then simple mirroring would be enough, and daily incremental backups (preferably to a remote site) better.

I'm asking because I'm also considering building a file server at the moment, with similar specs. I don't intend to go with RAID, though, I'm considering going with one very large HD to start with, and an optional add-in later on. The largest drives available currently are 300 to 500 GB (expensive!), which is plenty for my needs.

My primary goal is having a file server that I don't notice at all. That means it has to be virtually silent and it has to be small enough that I can "hide" it somewhere. (Not that I want to hijack your thread, I'll watch it because it seems relevant to what I'm planning.)
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Post by mattek » Sun Sep 18, 2005 12:28 pm

The reason why I want RAID is because of data security. Since I have very very valueble information to store, security is high priority. Off site storage would be nice, but getting 100-300GB of storage at a webhotell is really expensive.

I'm looking for a case that can hold four drives, near silent and small. So far I haven't found anything.

If you find anything please post here. When I started this build I never thought finding a case would be the hardest task..


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Post by CoolGav » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:00 am

I have a server at home which I can't hear. That's because it's up in the loft, out of the way. Not that it's too loud anyway, but having good cooling for the five drives I have is never going to be silent. It used to live in a built in wardrobe, along with a couple of other PCs.

Since it's a few years old I housed it in a full tower case, with the drives suspended in the 5 1/4" bays. I use 1 Samsung Spinpoint 160 (when they first came out I did a rebuild after using a 4GB SCSI loud beast before), and 4 80GB (3 Samsung, 1 Seagate, all 5400rpm). Using RAID-5 over the 5 drives I get an array of 300GB which isn't much these days, but enough for me for now...

I have a couple of PCI cards to get more PATA connectors and use Linux software RAID. It's set up so that the boot drive has a partition matching the 80GB drives - I like the software RAID, since it's easy to use and reliable, and doesn't cost much unlike a good hardware controller. It's only a PIII-700 powering it, which is plenty for a personal file server. Only 10/100 LAN though. It doubles up as a ftp, web and EMail server for me as well - prett6y useful!

For Gigabit LAN you really want that built onto the motherboard. That will determine your CPU. Then add in 512MB RAM or more.
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Post by Bob_McBob » Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:16 am

If it's a fileserver, can't you just put it in a location where it won't disturb you?

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