I was asked by one of my co-workers, Jan-Børge, what I recommended for a home server. This lead me to give a little talk about what I’ve done in my home-network yesterday. I’m guessing Jan-Børge isn’t the only one wanting to have a server at home to play with, so here’s my recommendations. I’m recommending two servers; one for plain home-server (backup all your PCs, have one place to put your music, videos and pictures etc) and one virtual-hosting server where you can create several virtual servers to test what ever you want. I’ve done the last one myself, where I’ve now got 5 virtual servers; Active Directory, Exchange, Home Server, Web Server and SQL Server.
First of, you of course need legal Windows licenses. The cheapest way to do this is buying your own TechNet Standard subscription. This costs $199 the first year and $149 the next years. With this you can download and install Windows 7, Office 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server, Exchange +++. You got 10 licenses for each OS. Now, the reason why Microsoft has this offer is for IT pro’s (and developers) to get to know Microsoft technology for testing-purposes, before buying it in the company they’re working in. Most of what I’ve tested is either already in use in Omega, or we’re planning on supporting it in some way.
Home Server Vail
If you’re going to buy a server and install Home Server, buy a 64 bit machine, and install the beta of VAIL (Home Server 2.0). It’s being released later this year, but I’ve used the beta a while now and I haven’t run into any issues yet. For hardware I’d recommend a 64 bit processor. Doesn’t matter how fast it is. The minimum requirements for RAM is 1 GB, but I’d put in 2 GB. Make sure the main board has graphics and network integrated. Other than this, just buy the cheapest you can get. I’ve got 2 x 2TB disks, but how much disk space you want is of course up to you. If you suddenly run low on disk space, just order more and plug it in. You need to click ONE button after installing the new disk(s), and it adds it to both backup-space and shared folders. Pretty neat!
After you’ve installed the server you need to connect all your computers to the server. This is done by visiting http://name-of-your-home-server/connect. After this is done, you’ll get three icons on the desktop, and the server will take backup of your computer every night. It will also check all computers if anti virus is installed and updated, anti-malware protection is on and firewall is on.
By double-clicking the Dashboard, you get to administer your home server. Here you can create new shared folders (defaults are Documents, Music, Pictures, Recorded TV, Users and Videos), do manual backups of your computers, find deleted files from your computers, administer the home server web-site and much more.
If you are going to run several virtual servers on one physical server, you need much RAM and CPU cores. The speed of each core isn’t really that important, but I’d recommend 8 GB RAM and Quad core if you’re having 4-5 virtual servers. I would also recommend big disks, and a powerful PSU, so you can add many disks etc. Other than this, buy the cheapest you get.
When it comes to software, I really recommend Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V. Managing virtual servers with Hyper-V is like eating ice-cream. It’s very easy, and everyone loves it!
Here you see my virtual servers. If I for some reason needed more RAM for the SQL Server, or maybe more CPUs, I just shut it down, right click, properties, and change memory from 1024 to 4096, and change a dropdown box from 1 CPU to 4 CPUs. Then I just click save and turn it on again. Same goes for hard disks. I can create a new file on the physical server (with the .vhd file extension) and add it to the properties of the server. VERY easy.