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Looking to build server, need beginners advice.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am really wanting to build a server and I have some basic questions.

Needs/Uses:
1) I want it to store all my media files and be able to stream them to my Mac Mini HTPC, Macbook Air, Roku 3, and possibly a Windows Desktop.
2) I want my own personal cloud access to files stored on the server and be able to download them from the server onto whatever computer I am using when I am NOT connected to my home network
3) In the future host my own personal website


Questions:
1) What other things can I do with a server? I don't care about gaming or minecraft or anything like that.
2) Would a NAS be better for the 1st 2 requirements that I have? If so, is Synology the way to go?
3) I have seen the big server racks that businesses use. I am wondering are there any that are similar but that I could keep out in my living room by my home theater and have it store the server, HTPC, power conditioner, surround sound receiver, xbox? I want it to look nice and fit in with a home theater instead of looking industrial. Any links to any would be great, and I don't want it to be too big. Also do I have to buy some kind of rack adapter to hold my other devices besides the server?
4) What kind of CPU is the right one for me? A server Xeon or could I use a Core i3/i5 or AMD?
5) Is there software that could handle automatic torrent downloading directly to the server?
6) What format would be best to have the hard drives in since most my computers are Mac's.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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post #2 of 17
I own a QNAP and it does all of the above you stated.

Very easy to setup.....

This is mine, but there are smaller versions. I recommend the better one with higher transfer speeds.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822107111
Edited by kzim9 - 1/1/14 at 4:51pm
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post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by noahmateen1234 View Post

I am really wanting to build a server and I have some basic questions.

Needs/Uses:
1) I want it to store all my media files and be able to stream them to my Mac Mini HTPC, Macbook Air, Roku 3, and possibly a Windows Desktop.
2) I want my own personal cloud access to files stored on the server and be able to download them from the server onto whatever computer I am using when I am NOT connected to my home network
3) In the future host my own personal website


Questions:
1) What other things can I do with a server? I don't care about gaming or minecraft or anything like that.
2) Would a NAS be better for the 1st 2 requirements that I have? If so, is Synology the way to go?
3) I have seen the big server racks that businesses use. I am wondering are there any that are similar but that I could keep out in my living room by my home theater and have it store the server, HTPC, power conditioner, surround sound receiver, xbox? I want it to look nice and fit in with a home theater instead of looking industrial. Any links to any would be great, and I don't want it to be too big. Also do I have to buy some kind of rack adapter to hold my other devices besides the server?
4) What kind of CPU is the right one for me? A server Xeon or could I use a Core i3/i5 or AMD?
5) Is there software that could handle automatic torrent downloading directly to the server?
6) What format would be best to have the hard drives in since most my computers are Mac's.

Thanks in advance for any help.

You could use the server to backup other devices. You could use a tuner card to record TV. Use it as an Email/print server, and much more.

IMO, a NAS is only better for the first 2 if you dont need to transcode and you want something thats more basic/easy to use.

Id advise against a rack unless your the modding type and dont mind getting creative making something or modding a rack to fit into a home environment.

CPU depends on needs a budget. Serving media is a not CPU intensive, transcoding is. From what you listed roku is the only device you listed that may require on the fly transcode. Xeon is overboard unless you plan on running VM's or doing alot on the machine at one time.

Torrent software will depend on your OS, but generally speaking yes. Automatic...how do you mean?

HDD format will depend on OS of the server. The mac's should be able to read just about any common file system (NTFS,EXT3/4,ZFS)


What OS are you thinking about using?
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zer0CoolX View Post

You could use the server to backup other devices. You could use a tuner card to record TV. Use it as an Email/print server, and much more.

IMO, a NAS is only better for the first 2 if you dont need to transcode and you want something thats more basic/easy to use.

Id advise against a rack unless your the modding type and dont mind getting creative making something or modding a rack to fit into a home environment.

CPU depends on needs a budget. Serving media is a not CPU intensive, transcoding is. From what you listed roku is the only device you listed that may require on the fly transcode. Xeon is overboard unless you plan on running VM's or doing alot on the machine at one time.

Torrent software will depend on your OS, but generally speaking yes. Automatic...how do you mean?

HDD format will depend on OS of the server. The mac's should be able to read just about any common file system (NTFS,EXT3/4,ZFS)


What OS are you thinking about using?

-Let's say I would be transcoding, and at most have 2 streams going at once. What CPU would be good for that then?
-By automatic torrent downloads, I mean is there something where I could just go to my torrent site from a different computer and click on the torrent I want and have it download to the server directly?
-I have a Mac Mini and a Macbook Air. Gonna buy a Roku and possibly a PS4 or Xbox One. So whatever OS would be best for those.
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post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by noahmateen1234 View Post

-Let's say I would be transcoding, and at most have 2 streams going at once. What CPU would be good for that then?
-By automatic torrent downloads, I mean is there something where I could just go to my torrent site from a different computer and click on the torrent I want and have it download to the server directly?
-I have a Mac Mini and a Macbook Air. Gonna buy a Roku and possibly a PS4 or Xbox One. So whatever OS would be best for those.

I tend to see people over estimate what CPU is required for transcoding. You could probably get away with any modern dual core or better with the exception of say atom/e350 class CPU's. If you don't mind AMD, a quad core x4 Athlon can be gotten for about 75 bux.

Interesting, I never considered trying to setup a torrent to open/download on another machine. Usually this is done via a web interface or by connecting remotely. I'll look into it as I'm interested in that idea myself, ill let you know what I find.

As for the OS, the best one will be the one within your budget and technical know how. For instance setting up a flavor of a Linux server comes with the price tag of free, but you have a learning curve with setting it up. Using windows you can go desktop version (7/8) or server variety ranging from WHS, WHS 2011, Server 20xx, Server 2012 essentials, etc). The price goes from free (if you own a copy already wink.gif ) to absurd. Windows may be easier to setup but less freedom in how you set things up (as each version has limitations). Then you have options like FreeNAS, which fall in the same Ups/downs as Linux.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zer0CoolX View Post

I tend to see people over estimate what CPU is required for transcoding. You could probably get away with any modern dual core or better with the exception of say atom/e350 class CPU's. If you don't mind AMD, a quad core x4 Athlon can be gotten for about 75 bux.

Interesting, I never considered trying to setup a torrent to open/download on another machine. Usually this is done via a web interface or by connecting remotely. I'll look into it as I'm interested in that idea myself, ill let you know what I find.

As for the OS, the best one will be the one within your budget and technical know how. For instance setting up a flavor of a Linux server comes with the price tag of free, but you have a learning curve with setting it up. Using windows you can go desktop version (7/8) or server variety ranging from WHS, WHS 2011, Server 20xx, Server 2012 essentials, etc). The price goes from free (if you own a copy already wink.gif ) to absurd. Windows may be easier to setup but less freedom in how you set things up (as each version has limitations). Then you have options like FreeNAS, which fall in the same Ups/downs as Linux.

I am a college student and can get any version of Windows free, so the cost isn't a factor. Would you mind showing me an example build? You can exclude the HDD's, so just CPU/Mobo/Ram/PSU/Case. I would like to start with 2x4TB hard drives with the option of putting in maybe 2-4 more so the case has to fit that. However, I want to keep it small.
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post #7 of 17
AMD Build, supports 6x 3.5" drives and a Mata ssd for OS. This is basically the build I'm looking at but ill likely go with a Roswell Legacy v6 case (only supports 4 drives). Also keep in mind this build has no video output. I have a spare PCI-e gpu ill use for setup and remove making it a headless machine.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSgQ
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSgQ/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSgQ/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 740 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+ Mini ITX FM2+ Motherboard ($106.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial M500 120GB mSATA Solid State Disk ($94.97 @ B&H)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case ($72.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 360W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $489.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-01-06 19:52 EST-0500)


Intel build. Dual core i3 with HT (go with a Pentium G and save yourself $60 if you want). Motherboard supports 6xsata but no Mata and thus no Mata ssd for OS. Otherwise basically the same. Will have on board video out tho.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSvu
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSvu/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2wSvu/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.99 @ TigerDirect)
Motherboard: Asus H87I-PLUS Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($113.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Mushkin Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case ($72.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 360W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $446.95
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-01-06 20:00 EST-0500)


As for OS, if its free then id go with WHS 2011 or Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Windows 8 could be a decent fall back but I wouldn't use it as a server OS unless I had to. Personally I plans on using 2012 essentials as my OS.

O yea and the torrent thing looks like its possible but may require browser plugins/special software to implement. Also likely depends on what torrent software you use.
post #8 of 17
My torrent client uses a web interface I connect to. I use magnetic links or the files. Most all of them can do this. For your number 2 look into owncloud, not sure if there's a server for windows. For your videos I would use XBMC. If your device needs them transcoded there is Plex, ps3media server, and tversity. I also see you are asking about drive format. That does not matter unless you want to be able to take a drive out and use it in a specific OS. It only matters on you server because of personal preference. Your shares you set up on the server would be NFS, SMB, and I forget the mac specific one.
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post #9 of 17
My advice is to not skimp on the hardware, period. My best friend in IT swears that there’s a huge difference between the hardware that goes into a server than what goes into a desktop PC. While most of the hardware like the RAM and Hard Drives are interchangeable, many parts like the power supply, motherboard and even the fans themselves are built to endure tougher environments. Many servers are put in some of the crappiest places like basements, outdoor storage sheds (for remote TV towers/receivers) or any other area where you think would be the worst place to put a computer. Often times the worst area in the building even for lager, prestigious and profitable companies are where they build their IT department so whatever they install they have to last.

I bought a server in 2001 and it simply won’t die.

Biggest mistake I ever made was buying my server without the server edition of Windows 2000. There were a lot of things I wanted to do with that server with Lightwave6.5 but because I didn’t have the sever OS I couldn’t do things like over-night rendering sessions – There was this feature called “Render-Hub” or just “Hub” and you could render an entire scene on multiple servers if you set it up right.

Setting it up right meant having servers with the right Server OS.

The second biggest mistake is that I bought the server, which had the ability to house duel processors, but I bought it with just one thinking I could buy the second one later – This was a Pentium3 and “stepping” was really important. I didn’t know that and I plugged a second Pentium processor in and it wasn’t recognized. It wasn’t until I bought another processor with the correct stepping that I was able to get the full potential out of the machine.

Throughout all this, I was a solid, Kool-Aid drinking Gateway man. I drank the punch because I thought this was the most solid, honest computer company but I found out differently when I tried to max out my RAM on this server – they wanted to charge me $1,200 for one Gig of memory, when it only cost $120 at a local electronic store in Harvard, MA.

What I’m trying to say is that I bought this machine without knowing all the facts and a lot of different assumptions. Didn’t do my research. I just trusted the salespeople at Gateway. I took the long way to get the machine to where it should have been ages ago with the right OS, the right Dual Processors and the right RAM.

I often wonder where I would be today if I had as many good questions back then as you have now.
post #10 of 17
For the torrents, what I do is set a folder for automatic grabbing in the torrent client(I know utorrent and rtorrent have such a feature) and it will automatically start when it sees one. You just have to save the .torrent on a folder accessible by both the server and your machine, for example, by settings a network drive on your client for a folder located on the server(it's better to set it on the server so it doesn't try to constantly check on the network for new torrents).

If I'm not doing it that way, I'm simply copy/pasting magnet links over ssh in the rtorrent cli on my server. Never tried any browser plugins though.
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