DIY Microserver alternative

Thread: DIY Microserver alternative

  1. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default DIY Microserver alternative

    Asked a similar q on here a year or so ago but the answer doesn't really fit my needs now, so I'm here again...

    Been assigned the task of building a NAS box for my school and after telling them to buy a microserver, they came back to me saying its too expensive at around 250 quid (and via germany) at the moment for a basic 4G model. I looked up the CPU and it seems to be available for 6 quid, so I can see their lack of enthusiasm for such old tech and that price.

    So, I'm thinking I can build em a box and started looking around at options. I've found motherboards with 4x sata and an M2 slot for under 40 quid so it seems I can build one relatively cheaply.

    Is there anything i need to lookout for on any of the components, I know the microservers use ECC memory, which is apparently better, but I don't understand it enough to know if I should be striving for the same for this project.
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  2. evilsatan's Avatar

    evilsatan said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Are you trying to build a NAS or a server? If a NAS then you can build a computer rig and install FreeNAS (or similar) if you wanted to.

    This might be worth a read about ECC vs Non-ECC in FreeNAS:
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    I've never used FreeNAS but I know several here have so can advise. What does the box need to do? How many people will it serve? What kind of load will there be with concurrent users accessing data? And what kind of responsiveness do you need? These questions will determine a lot of the kit you need such as HDD vs SSD, whether you consider a hardware RAID card (and if the OS you choose supports it) etc.

     
  3. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    The school originally showed me a picture of a microserver style cube and asked me what it was and how much, as one of the other schools in the company has the one set up to share movie files and general officedocs across the 8 or so PCs that are in the classrooms. The load is generally not going to be very heavy as they are usually only playing 2 or 3 minute clips and there's rarely gonna be more than one stream running at once. I dunno if that means we need a NAS or a server to be honest.

    I've been googling for the last hour or so and found some components which look ok and with all the parts I'll need come in at 180quid including 8gig of DDR3 RAM (plus HDDs), which is a significant amount less to get me a blue peter badge (100 quid or so), but I am reluctant to recommend it to the school as if it isnt fit for the job in any way, I'll be solely responsible. The MB I am currently working around is a ASROCK J4205-ITX
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  4. Over Carl's Avatar

    Over Carl said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Generally if you speak to IT pros, they will suggest to build something ready made (and possibly upgrade using manufacturer approved upgrades). This is often extortionate in comparison to the price of building your own. However if it goes tits up or even worse develops a random intermittent impossible to diagnose issue, at least you are dealing with one vendor rather than being passed round in circles with each vendor blaming the next.

    If this is not an option, Supermicro are well reputed at making build your own servers. I would love to say they are brilliant but I only tried them once and had a bad experience but I am not sure if that is really Supermicro's fault.

    I was in a similar position, needed a server just purely for storage. Me and my boss didn't like the prices we saw so we thought we would build our own.

    The actual Supermicro case, board and associated parts seemed quite nice. The part all felt of a reasonable quality and fitted together. Even managed to get things like air ducts to optimise thermal performance. Had a tiny bit of work done on it by an external IT company who thought my build was an off the shelf product and they were initially interested where we purchased this from. However I could see a massive difference compared to our Dell servers - the Dell's were designed so you could do nearly any job without needing any tools, and the Dell's had a case highly optimised to fit one board, instead of having a case that has been compromised so it can accept multiple boards. We never managed to get IPMI (remote management) properly working on the Supermicro, and that old IPMI system didn't even support any KVM features.

    The real problem was shortly after putting it into use, drives would randomly drop offline from the RAID array. Wasn't the end of the world as we could just plug in another drive and it would rebuild without having to go offline, and didn't loose any data. However each time a drive dropped offline, after replacement I would thoroughly test the "failed" drive and find no issues. Was especially disappointed as I had specified expensive server drives that claimed a MTBF of over 100 years

    The RAID controller was a Dell PERC 6i, chosen due to great performance/low cost (at the time), and the fact that anyone who would have needed to work on the server was already very familiar with the Dell PERC family. Can't say whether the Dell PERC wasn't happy we used Hitachi drives instead of expensive server drives purchased from Dell (which come with Dell customised firmware), whether the drives actually were very slightly defective, whether it was an issue with the backplane, cabling, or motherboard incompatibility.

    With regards to your question about ECC - any server worth it's salt will be using ECC. In theory at least, an ECC equipped server should be able to detect a single corrupt memory bit and allow the machine to continue functioning. (In fact I am running an old desktop based on server level parts and for about the last 18 months it had been moaning about a faulty DIMM every time I power up and I've never bothered investigating/fixing this). Without ECC, one corrupt bit of memory could bring down your machine (or even worse corrupt data in an unexpected manner). Memory doesn't have to be faulty to be corrupt, apparently there is possibility of cosmic rays ending up flipping bit in RAM.

    Any reputable server will be using a server grade CPU (e.g. a Xeon instead of a regular i3/i5/i7). Apparently a lot of these are made on the same production line, but the parts that tested as the best were sold as server parts, the slightly less good ones were sold as server parts. I remember thinking that anything which isn't the available highest speed of the server grade product is a part that has been found in some way to be defective on the production line. However Intel seem to know what they are doing and sell parts at speeds they will comfortably run at.

    Also with regards to your RAID system, I found that cheap RAID controllers were often total shite. We often used RAID 5, and found a cheap card in RAID 5 would be much slower than just running a single drive, while higher end cards would obliterate a single drive. Problem being a decent RAID controller could cost more than the whole microserver.

    As much as I think your intention is noble, be careful. You could end up purchasing the stuff needed to satisfactorily perform the job at a price that makes everyone happy. However if it starts loosing data, then requires loads of human time then replacement of parts one by one until you get to the final goal, you could find your employer is not too impressed. The only way I can see of doing it without running that risk would be to find a known good config (hw+sw) that you can replicate, or to try this out at home first, but then you could be risking your own cash to make a saving for your employer.
     
  5. evilsatan's Avatar

    evilsatan said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    From your description you just need a file server so a NAS can do what you need, you'd just need to think about how many people will access it and do you have a giga LAN? Your cabling should be CAT5e unless it's ancient so just need to check you have giga switching. Sounds like they will be small videos but worth checking.

    NAS has the added benefits of simplicity and no or low licence cost, servers are more flexible but require more Maintenence (patches/updates) and the OS will tend to be more resource hungry than a NAS. If you buy one off the shelf I like Synology, Qnap are also highly rated but a bit more expensive. If not, then you can build and try FreeNAS but I have no experience with this. I'd like to try it if I got time one day, I did set up an Xpenology VM which is based on the Synology DSM OS and that worked. Not sure about Xpenology on a self built NAS but don't see why it wouldn't work as long as you build on x86 architecture.

     
  6. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    I've managed to get a little more info and the load requirements may be a little more than I anticipated, as the other school's teachers sometimes binge watch tv shows, which would probably result in 4 or 5 streams at once, but knowing the usual shite they watch, its gonna me low bit rate SD for the most part.

    I remember reading about some kinda parity you can set up with a NAS, you lose a sizable percentage of one of your drives for the luxury of being able to restore the all your data should one of the drives fail. Is that a reasonable cheap alternative to using an ECC set up in this case?


    It's really fucking annoying me already as the more they learn about this 'other computer' in the other school, the more it seems to have mythical do it all super powers for 'not very expensive', but noone can get me a fucking model number or any relaible specs to go on.

    I've looked at the Qnap and synology boxes and most of them are more than the budget allows, with the lower end synology ones theyre almost the right price, but I dont think they have the features the mythical wonder machine claims to hold.
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  7. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Sick of google, I go to one site, someone has posted a similar question and the answers completely contradict a similar question on another site. No fucker ever comes back to a thread saying they had any success with the suggestions given.

    Had an alternate idea, gonna scrape up some old hardware and build up a box which is probably going to be under spec, but depending on where it fails I can see just how much more juice is gonna be needed to keep 'em happy. I think some of the machines at work are less than antique so they should give me some realistic info.

    So I'll put the CPU / Ram / MB on hold and grab a couple of hard drives to start with.
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  8. evilsatan's Avatar

    evilsatan said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    By parity sounds like you’re talking about RAID. RAID1 is a 2 drive mirror so you lose 50% of your storage with 1 drive redundancy, RAID5 is striped 4 drive so you lose 25% storage where you have one disk redundancy. From what I have read (briefly) non-ECC ram could corrupt the array so you would need backups to protect against this, RAID isn’t a form of backup.

    In addition you may want a UPS, or to add one in the future.

     
  9. Mystical_2K's Avatar

    Mystical_2K said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    eBuyer have Gen10 Microservers for £219.99 with £50 cashback if you order and have it delivered before the 30th of November.

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    Software RAID only on this model which is a bit annoying but would still work very well.
    You can also look at the Gen8 (i have 2 of them at the moment and they are brilliant with Xpenology).

    Personally for the money I wouldnt be looking to build anything myself and just use one of these, however obviously you have to get it approved
    You know he grew up as a little shitspark from the old shitflint and then he turned into a shitbonfire and driven by the winds of his monumental ignorance he turned into a raging shitfirestorm. If I get to be married to Barb I'll have total control of Sunnyvale and then I can unleash the shitnami tidal wave that will engulf Ricky and extinguish his shitflames forever. And with any luck he'll drown in the undershit of that wave. Shitwaves.
     
  10. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystical_2K View Post
    eBuyer have Gen10 Microservers for £219.99 with £50 cashback if you order and have it delivered before the 30th of November.

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

    Software RAID only on this model which is a bit annoying but would still work very well.
    You can also look at the Gen8 (i have 2 of them at the moment and they are brilliant with Xpenology).

    Personally for the money I wouldnt be looking to build anything myself and just use one of these, however obviously you have to get it approved
    I'd go for it in a shot but theyre not available here officially and any that are available are imported at an inflated price.
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  11. Lou_smorals's Avatar

    Lou_smorals said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by {{909}} View Post
    Sick of google, I go to one site, someone has posted a similar question and the answers completely contradict a similar question on another site. No fucker ever comes back to a thread saying they had any success with the suggestions given.

    Had an alternate idea, gonna scrape up some old hardware and build up a box which is probably going to be under spec, but depending on where it fails I can see just how much more juice is gonna be needed to keep 'em happy. I think some of the machines at work are less than antique so they should give me some realistic info.

    So I'll put the CPU / Ram / MB on hold and grab a couple of hard drives to start with.
    Hi
    I use Limetech Unraid, as does HillJ00 and I am sure he will agree that it is much better than Xpenology (sorry guys)
    I have Parity drive and a cache drive (SSD) running with mine.
    Glad to help if I can.
    LS
    Dear Lord, please grant me the ability to punch people in the face over Standard TCP/IP
     
  12. {{909}}'s Avatar

    {{909}} said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou_smorals View Post
    Hi
    I use Limetech Unraid, as does HillJ00 and I am sure he will agree that it is much better than Xpenology (sorry guys)
    I have Parity drive and a cache drive (SSD) running with mine.
    Glad to help if I can.
    LS

    just getting started with the test hardware, I grabbed a couple of machines, I think they're both around 5 years old and this looks to be my next step, so I'm gonna give unraid a try. I'm sure I considered this with the previous task I had, can't remember why I never followed it up.
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  13. Lou_smorals's Avatar

    Lou_smorals said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    They do free trial, it’s pretty basic till you start adding the plugins etc. But once you fettle it a bit it’s cool.
    Hillj00 on here is the unRAID wizard, but I am happy to help if you need any.
    Dear Lord, please grant me the ability to punch people in the face over Standard TCP/IP
     
  14. Mystical_2K's Avatar

    Mystical_2K said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou_smorals View Post
    Hi
    I use Limetech Unraid, as does HillJ00 and I am sure he will agree that it is much better than Xpenology (sorry guys)
    I have Parity drive and a cache drive (SSD) running with mine.
    Glad to help if I can.
    LS
    Had not heard of this to be honest, gonna give it a look over today and may install it on my new Gen10
    You know he grew up as a little shitspark from the old shitflint and then he turned into a shitbonfire and driven by the winds of his monumental ignorance he turned into a raging shitfirestorm. If I get to be married to Barb I'll have total control of Sunnyvale and then I can unleash the shitnami tidal wave that will engulf Ricky and extinguish his shitflames forever. And with any luck he'll drown in the undershit of that wave. Shitwaves.
     
  15. akimba's Avatar

    akimba said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    You would think that China had a cheap alternative to a HP Microserver :-O also even buying the chassis at £200 the big expense is the disks I think WD 2TB reds were about £80 and you be looking at 3 if not 4.

    RAID 5 would be the best with is Parity striped so if lose one disk you can rebuild the RAID from other 2/3 disks, you will lose about 25% of space for the available redundancy.
     
  16. Mystical_2K's Avatar

    Mystical_2K said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Yeah im currently looking at drives now for mine and one of the cheapest 10TB drives i can find is this seagate one: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

    £318.90 with free delivery, gonna need 4 of them so that will be £1,275.60 just for the drives
    Then I will need an SSD for a cache / download drive so another £137.99 for a 500GB SSD [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

    i will then use the normal hdd's in a raid5 array, i was going to go down the Xpenology route but quite interested in this unRaid system
    You know he grew up as a little shitspark from the old shitflint and then he turned into a shitbonfire and driven by the winds of his monumental ignorance he turned into a raging shitfirestorm. If I get to be married to Barb I'll have total control of Sunnyvale and then I can unleash the shitnami tidal wave that will engulf Ricky and extinguish his shitflames forever. And with any luck he'll drown in the undershit of that wave. Shitwaves.
     
  17. reverend's Avatar

    reverend said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    I really wouldn't recommend 4x 10TB HDDs in a RAID 5 array - the odds would be extremely high that if a disk ever fails another one will pop before it will complete the rebuild and you're screwed at that point.

    Seagate I don't trust much at all, I had 3 3TB HDDs from them all fail within 10 days of each other.

    I just bought a stack of WD SE drives to replace them.
     
  18. Lou_smorals's Avatar

    Lou_smorals said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Hi
    With unraid I had failed drive, pulled it out stuck a new one in and it had rebuilt by next morning...trying not to be a fan boy but it just works, every single person I recommended it to that changed has thanked me later.
    LS
    Dear Lord, please grant me the ability to punch people in the face over Standard TCP/IP
     
  19. Lou_smorals's Avatar

    Lou_smorals said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystical_2K View Post
    Had not heard of this to be honest, gonna give it a look over today and may install it on my new Gen10
    Hi
    If you need any help give me a shout, but HillJ00 is the guru, if you want to log into either of my two unraid servers remotely and see my set up just PM me.
    LS
    Dear Lord, please grant me the ability to punch people in the face over Standard TCP/IP
     
  20. hilljd00's Avatar

    hilljd00 said:

    Default Re: DIY Microserver alternative

    Happy to help