I built my current home server as a dedicated storage server for WHS back in 2008. Since then I have added plenty of hard drives, expanding my storage from 2TB to 14TB. I have added sata backplanes, sas/sata controller cards, upgraded the CPU and even maxed out the memory (to a whopping 8GB).

As a stand-alone server, it was perfect for WHS. As I transitioned from WHS to Server 2k8R2 with a WHS VM, I found that I was quickly starting pushing the server to its limits. The setup was fantastic… until it wasn’t. Though really it came down to three primary areas.

My first sore point was when I lost a HDD awhile back. When I built the system, I sold myself on the fact that I will be mainly storing digital media, and that I can always get it back. This is true… but when it came time to actually have to get data back, I found that it was a big enough pain that I do not want to have to do it again. In my next setup, I need some kind of built-in parity. Yes, I realize this won’t replace a backup, but if I can help to minimize the chances of it happening again, it is worth splurging on.

Memory limitations for adding virtual machines is easily my biggest issue though. That, combined with additional stability issues from a board that has documented issues with supporting the maximum memory. My home lab is starting to mimic a lot of my work functions, and I require a lot of VM’s. Most of the time this is my true test bed for work related tasks, so my next home server will be supporting me in advancing in my career. Maybe I can get work to pay for part of it?

Lastly, as my server has grown, so has it’s power consumption. A CPU upgrade from a 65W C2D E6750 to a 95W C2Q Q9550 to support VM’s added extra power consumption, as did my growth in HDD’s and internal additional components. As I look to upgrade my home lab, I want to try and minimize my power consumption moving forward.

So where does this leave me?

I am finally considering a new home server build. I have a lot of goals I want to achieve, some for fun home projects and others to support work objectives. The trick is going to be finding a solution that will work for everything.

My biggest hurdle is trying to decide how I want to split it up. Do I want to go for a more beefy all-in-one unit? Or should I go with a stand-alone storage server, and separate my daily use virtual machines?

I have been battling this decision, and have not been able to come up with the right choice yet.


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