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Nich...

Home Server advice

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I've now spent two years umming and ahhing over the best way to build a home server. I was initially waiting for the next gen of HP's microservers, but they have been in limbo for over a year.

 

My latest thinking is perhaps to get a current-gen Intel NUC, for both the built-in h.265 support, and TB3. Run the NUC as the heart of the operation, with an external enclosure for storage running over TB3.

 

Has anyone had any experience with this?

 

I understand the NUC is an expensive option, but the main features I like about it are it's size, it's low power usage, and it's ability to not get bogged down with filesystem and encoding/decoding type tasks all happening at once (which is an issue I've seen happening with a friend's older AMD-based HP microserver).

 

I was going to originally have a home server sitting up with the networking rack in a closet, but if it's something like a NUC, I'd probably have it sitting under/behind the main TV and connect to it directly to act as a HTPC, rather than streaming from it via a chromecast.

 

As far as external drive bays go, I'd probably be looking at something in the ballpark of 4-5 bays, and a handful of 8-10TB drives.

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What's the importance of H.265 support? I run a DLNA setup but don't bother ever transcoding - let the playback device deal with the video, the server just spits out the raw data (that said, playback devices generally just BluRay player and Android tablet).

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At some point the drive enclosure will fill up, and at that point I'll be more inclined to re-encode everything to save space.

 

In day to day runnings, tho', it's just about power savings, and future-proofing. I'm happy to be talked out of it if there's something a lot better value.


It'll keep running Plex for media, unless something drastic changes, so anything that can't play back native video will be transcoded on the server.

Edited by Nich...

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Have you considered building a server with either Unraid or FreeNAS?

 

A Ryzen system would be perfect for this. Im running a Ryzen 1700 8 core with unraid. It serves as a NAS and runs two virtual machines. One is pfsense as my router with a 4port NIC. The second VM is a windows 10 one which runs my home security cameras and I use it to reencode all my gaming captures. Either FreeNAS or Unraid can have dockers which can run Plex or you can run it in a VM. The amount of HDD you can put is only limited by the case you choose to put it in.

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Are you able to elaborate further on how you have it handle your home security cameras and footage archival, Qasde?

 

I haven't seen much on power consumption comparisons for the Ryzens, but I'll admit I haven't gone looking.

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Unraid (https://lime-technology.com/what-is-unraid/) is basically a distro of Linux. The main function is a NAS. It handles redundancy with the use of 1 or more Parity drives. As you write data on the array it calculates the relevant parity allowing you to lose a drive and not lose any data. I prefer this over a normal RAID 5 / 10 system as I can throw any size drive into the array and its very easy to add more when i run out of storage.

 

Unraid also allows the use of virtual machines. Ive assigned 6 Cores of the Ryzen 1700 to run a Windows 10 VM. Blue Iris (http://blueirissoftware.com) is the software I run and have my NAS folders as the storage drives. I can set how much storage it uses and it will delete old footage to keep within the limits.

 

Ive also have on occasion to install an Ubuntu virtual machine using 1-2 cores to experiment with linux. Im currently trying to see if I can install MacOS on a virtual machine as well.

 

If your motherboard supports IMMOU passthrough you can dedicate hardware like NICs and graphics cards to seperate virtual machines and do ludicrous things like;

 

2 Gamers 1 Pc - https://youtu.be/LuJYMCbIbPk

7 Gamers 1 Pc - https://youtu.be/LXOaCkbt4lI

8 Gamers 1 Pc - https://youtu.be/uKJw8IKVYQ8

Edited by Qasde

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Problem with UnRaid is that it has no bitrot protection ( you can sort of add it with par, but it's a chore IMO).

I second the freeNAS (well, actually, Nas4Free) build though.

 

Asrock have stated basically all their boards have an ECC menu on the Ryzen platform, so you should have no problem using ECC ram like you should for any server.

 

Nich, thing is, power consumption is a no brainer for any of these. Your server will spend the majority of it's life at idle, and all CPUs, regardless of TDP will use roughly the same power at idle. Last estimate I saw said something like $40 a year to have a PC idle 24\7? and that was quite a few die-shrinkages ago, so it's bound to be better now.

 

I would recommend streaming FROM something though. Mainly because no system yet is perfect, and ALL media centers OCCASIONALLY, lock up.

 

If you say, are streaming from a Raspberry pi3 (I am!) then if anything ever goes wrong (I get occasional lock-ups using some of the more questionable Kodi stuff), you just flick the power off, and back on, and away you go!

Also, unexpected, but RaspberriPi's do remote passthrough!

 

My Sony TV remote, "Just Works" to controll the media center software over HDMI. It's bloody amazing!

 

I spend a LOT of time over on the Datahoarder subreddit, and run my own Nas4Free ZFS server doing exactly what you're doing, so any specific questions throw em my way :)

 

Oh, just two notes!

 

 

At some point the drive enclosure will fill up, and at that point I'll be more inclined to re-encode everything to save space.

 

Storage will get cheaper by the time that happens. It's already sub $300 for 8TB if you import from the USA and shuck the external HDD cases.

 

 

I'm happy to be talked out of it if there's something a lot better value.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XHP+microserver.TRS0&_nkw=HP+microserver&_sacat=0

https://www.ozbargain.com.au/search/node/Server?t=b

 

HP microservers. That's your "Lot better value".

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If you've got a little more space, my two cents is oldish workstations, I'm in the middle of replacing my home server with one of these:

 

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Lenovo-S20-Xeon-4-Core-3-06GHz-W3550-12GB-Ram-500GB-SATA-Q-FX1800-DVDRW-Win-7Pro-/182689607042?hash=item2a89262d82:g:DzEAAOSwwn9ZeYa0

 

Plenty of these sort of thing floating around in Dell / HP / whatever your flavour preference, I got mine cheaper with a lesser quadro and less ram and then bumped it up with spares I had under my bench (Xeon X5650 FTW!)

 

These are *not* the cheapest examples, just a flavour:

 

Dell: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Dell-Precision-T5500-6-Core-48Gb-Ram-/152708659540?hash=item238e253954:g:nAcAAOSw4P1ZwEFm

 

HP: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HP-Z400-WORKSTATION-XEON-QUAD-CORE-2-93GHZ-DVDRW-PC-DESKTOP-/263224795313?epid=24004961214&hash=item3d496ba0b1:g:7boAAOSw0h9Zsnlx

 

and don't worry about performance, for application like transcoding that scale up to many threads nicely, the X5650 in my one takes the i5 4670K in my gaming rig out the back and slaps it silly while consuming barely (6 watts) more power.

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HP G7 doesn't have enough legs. I've watched a friend's one make streaming any content pause and stutter in unpleasant ways when it's otherwise busy downloading/decrypting/unarchiving/checksumming and then recovering data from parity volumes. It's been a few years since I did a lot of reading on the G8 but I wasn't really happy it'd perform a lot better without swapping out for a Xeon, and then IIRC only specific chips worked with the power or TDP limits in place.

 

I might have a ponder about some old workstations, and see if getting a silent PSU and near-silent CPU HSF is going to make the price end up stupid.


I don't have a lot of space near a TV, so anything in a traditional box is going to end up in the top of a wardrobe in an occupied bedroom, which will make sound a more important consideration.

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i really like both the nuc i built a while back

if you want low power and small size i think there a good option

don't know anything about the tb3 external storage your looking for though and what i can find is very expensive if its not a standard usb3 enclosure

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I've watched a friend's one make streaming any content pause and stutter in unpleasant ways when it's otherwise busy downloading/decrypting/unarchiving/checksumming and then recovering data from parity volumes.

 

Dude, be fair, Even our enterprise servers in the datarack where I work will crawl to a halt if you ask that much of them at once.

It's the 'recovering data from parity' that KILLS it. And they're dual Xeons with 32+ GB ram.

 

Even then, it just sounds like your friend doesn't have enough buffer set on his playback device.

I took my copy of Media Centre from 1 second (local) to 2 seconds (local) and besides the 2 second delay when skipping content (which I do rarely) it's butter smooth.

 

If there's no room around the TV, It only helps solidify a HP microserver (cheap, silent, reliable), and a Raspberry Pi (can be velcroed to the back of the TV, and controlled with the TV remote.)

Edited by Master_Scythe

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I run a home server setup using a NUC and a cheap seagate nas that supports NFS. the NUC runs proxmox (an open source hypervisor) and I set up all my services as VM's on that, with the drive images storage on the NAS. I reverse proxy internet traffic to the other VM's via an NGINX VM that also terminates the SSL for my websites, with unencrypted traffic running over the internal network.

 

There have been a few interesting ecosystem improvements since then, notably caddy is probably a better choice than nginx for this purpose now, and some of the other hypervisors are starting to grow hypervisor level docker support. I'd be happy to elaborate on details in a PM, if you're interested.

 

If you're mostly looking at this for a content server, there are a few raspberry-pi sized devices with a bit more kick, like the banana pi or the orange pi. I don't have much experience with them, but I do know that at least the raspi 1 and 2 units are pretty marginal on having the computing power needed to run a media server.

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TB3 HDD enclosures are not cheap.

 

IMO grab a R5 mini that will give you 8 x 3.5 inch bays, an mATX, CPU, ram, PSU & OS of your choice and your done.

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Another year, another look into the best (better) ways of doing this (I finally have some funds to implement it, hoorah).

I'd still be looking at a handful of 8TB (or 10s) drives for storing local media, windows backups from the network, etc.  At this point it'd be streaming either to other PCs on the network, or the TVs via plex over chromecasts.

Ideally I'd still like it to be able to handle a handful of security cameras, as far as recording video, local/remote playback, etc.

It'll still be sitting up inside a wardrobe, most likely, next to the mini rack holding some switches and modems and the wifi router, so quiet is better.

At this point I'm not really sold on a NAS or a homebrew microserver, let alone what OS to run it all on.  I'd say a windows server so I can play with it and learn, but that's probably better saved for a VM and the free trial licences, so I don't break anything.

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8th gen NUC have gone quad core now which should help with the security camera processing.

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I've been tossing around what to do about this, again.  Of the handful of NUCs I've built ('built'), they're nice and compact and if I'm going to have it hooked up to an external enclosure for disks, then I figure it'd probably be easier to just throw together a case and build my own home server, or keep an eye on second hand workstations that aren't too expensive.  At this point a better question is probably whether to Ryzen or not, given the price per core of them.  The last time I looked, earlier this year, the 10TB Ironwolf drives looked reasonable value.

 

Until a security contractor actually gets back to us and I can talk to them about their preferred cameras and etc, I'm not sure much room will be made on that front.

 

But nominally, the server will still be running as a media server, backup server, running a few daemons to do stuff as I need, mirror some cloud storage, and handle viewing/recording of security camera video, and uploading stills as required.

 

@Sir_Substance I finally got off my butt and am looking at reverse proxy setups.  Go figure.

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It will also come down to the software you use as Blue Iris for example only relay works properly with Intel Quicksync at the moment which significantly reduces CPU load and although they have recently added support for CUDA it doesn't work very well.

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On 3/29/2019 at 1:27 PM, Nich... said:

 

@Sir_Substance I finally got off my butt and am looking at reverse proxy setups.  Go figure.

 

Noice! Let me know if you want a copy of my nginx configs. I remember it took me a while to piece together all the magical incantations that various random pieces of software wanted so they could tell they were behind a proxy.

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7 hours ago, Sir_Substance said:

 

Noice! Let me know if you want a copy of my nginx configs. I remember it took me a while to piece together all the magical incantations that various random pieces of software wanted so they could tell they were behind a proxy.

Happy to have a look and compare them to what I scrounged together from other examples, but I'm pretty  happy with what I got working.  The biggest problem I had setting up nginx was getting the syntax right for the windows version, especially with path references (\ vs /, different default locations for some stuff, etc).

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If it helps, my home server is an old ML350 G6 running Unraid with a bunch of drives. Suits me perfectly as a Plex server than runs a few other things in Dockers and a handful of VMs

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If you want compact I'm still voting for the HP microserver......

 

https://www.seabourne.store/hpe-microserver-gen10-x3216-8gb-u-4lff-nhp-sata-20

Less than $650 brand new.

Room for 4 HDD's.

 

Dual Port Gigabit for either throughput, or running a hardware firewall.

Whack 4x 8TB drives in there in a RaidZ1; you'd end up with 20TB of usable space.

Then use 2x 10TB external drives as 'off site' backups, and you're set.

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2 cores and 'only' 20TB feel like blockers, at this point, TBH.

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