Revo HTPC
4Dec/103

Windows Home Server on the Cheap!

So why build a home server? There are a lot of options out there right now for storing data in your house. Netgear ReadyNAS is a great option and I have a lot of friends who have them and like them, however I wanted something more and easy to setup. Being a complete Windows house the choice was easy and I picked Window Home Server. I came to this conclusion since it offers easy setup, automatically backups of all computes in the house, remote desktop support, and great media streaming features in the latest version "Code Name Vail".

As always I wanted to create my own Windows Home Server (WHS) on the cheap. There are plenty of pre-configured WHS on the market today, but I wanted something more flexible and that would support the latest version "Vail" which required 64 bit support. Vail is currently in beta form and is free to try which is what I have installed, but it should be known that once the beta is over and the official version comes out you will most likely have no upgrade option and will have to start over.

WHS v1 and Vail Beta support "Drive Extender (DE)" technology, which basically allows you to simply add drives at any time and WHS will just manage everything for you including data duplication. Microsoft just announce the WHS Vail will not support DE. This means that in the final version of Vail you will have to use RAID instead of DE to manage your drives. There has been a lot of debate about this, however for myself I think I will be alright.

I chose to upgrade from WHS v1 to Vail for multiple reasons, but mostly it is much much faster, easier to set up, and has simply amazing streaming features. Streaming all runs on Silverlight technology and allows streaming of music, video, and a pretty cool picture gallery for any user you create on you WHS. This was the key item that I use all the time and I think makes it stand out from any other NAS alternative. Alright so now that you now about WHS and why I am in the beta for Vail, let's get down to what I bought.

Case: Rosewill R363-M-BK:

I actually first bought a smaller case, but over time I found that I really wanted to be able to ensure everything stayed cool, and had more room for more drives. I was actually able to pick this up for $30 online, however it is normally priced around $50. (Amazon)
(Newegg)

Motherboard: Intel BOXD10MO:

I decided to go extremely low budget here, but went with a trusted brand, Intel. This little motherboard is sporting an Intel Dual Core Atom D510, 64bit support, gigabit ethernet, 2 Sata ports, and 1 PCI. I picked this up for about $75 online and has had great performance so far. (Amazon) (Newegg)

RAM: 2GB (2x 1GB) DDR2 800 (PS2 6400):
The motherboard supports up to 4GB of RAM, however I just picked up 2x1GB sticks for about $40, and this seems to be plenty of memory (Amazon) (Newegg)

Hard Drives: This is up to you, I got myself 2x2TB Western Digital Caviar Green Drives, plus another smaller drive for the OS. I plan one or two more 2TB drive for the final release. I paid around $80 each for the 2 TB drives.(Amazon) (Newegg)

The last thing you will need is a PCI card to add more Sata ports. I bought a really cheap card that add 2 more Sata port for about $20, when the final version of Vail comes out I will be buying a Raid card that will support 4 drives. PCI card on Newegg

Putting it all together is surprisingly easy and almost everything is color coded on the motherboard. You can download the Beta for Vail on the Microsoft Connect site.

I don't really have a setup guide for the Home Server, but it is pretty self easy to figure out if you setup a HTPC. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at any time.

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (3)
  1. Could you do a review of Vails performance on this machine config, covering the various features now available with Vail? I know this could be a bit tricky to do, but even an indication along the lines of – “it’s up to the job for this feature, but could do with more CPU power for this feature” etc.

    I’m looking at having to replace a motherboard on my WHS, and an Atom based board looks to be about the same price as a board without a CPU – I don’t get how that can be right. In some ways, I’m thinking that an Atom based system would cost less to operate, but if it lacks the power to deliver all the Vail features, then I’d have to go down a different route.

  2. Have you found that Vail will stream out the WTV files correctly? I currently built a REVO HTPC with your guidance (Thanks) and will like to have these files available VIA DNLA support to a LG TV I bought for Christmas.

  3. As of right now from what I can tell the Vail beta does not support h.264 videos for streaming, however they said it will in the final release.


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