For the past few months we’ve had a donated storage server sitting in our storage room, with 8x1TB HDDs it was the perfect chance for us to supplement our daily tape backups with the speed of hard drives and move tape to monthly.

The only issue was that the server came with a rather pants Intel Core2Duo processor that didn’t even support 64bit! As such we couldn’t load our OS and Backup Software of choice (Server 2008 R2 and System Centre DPM 2012).

After a few months of waiting for budgets now we have been able to spend the £280 that it took to get some proper components into this server and the photos of it are below, full spec list is on the next page.

Just like our previous storage server (which is churning away quite happily) we have opted to use largely desktop parts, since we already had the hard drives, case, power supply and RAID cards we actually only spent about £280 on the parts we needed.

After a short quoting process we opted for Novatech to be our supplier of the parts as such we now have a server with

Processor – AMD Fusion APU A6-3670K – In our last storage server we used a Phenom processor, however with the rise of the new AMD FX processors (which are a bit more expensive) we opted for one of the Fusion APUs. Although the graphics component of the APU will never be used this A6 does come in handy with its quad cores.

RAM – Corsair XMS3 4GB – DPM 2012 uses a SQL server to keep track of things (which can be a RAM hog) but in testing the whole system never wen’t much over 3GB of usage so didn’t appear to be much need to get anymore. Although with 3 further slots in the motherboard to use we could easily push that up if ever needed.

UPDATE – after increasing the number of servers that we were protecting we’ve upped this to 8GB of RAM.

Power Supply – Seasonic SS-460H2U PSU – A pretty decent server class PSU, it came with the case which was free to use anyway so no complaints from me!

Hard Drives (Storage) – Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS – Enterprise class drives – ideal for large amounts of storage in RAID at 1TB a piece we have around 6.6TB of storage to play with (after RAID5).

SSD (OS) – OCZ Vertex 4 – One of the problems with backup servers is the high amount of read/write to the HDDs during backup, this can push up the disk queue lengths and so slow the servers OS down as well (which makes it a pain if you want to do anything with the server while its backing up data). To solve this problem we’ve opted for a OCZ SSD to act as the OS/boot drive.

Motherboard – MSI A75MA-G55 – As we have a spare SAS RAID card to use we could justify going with the AMD FM1 motherboards (which don’t do RAID5).

CPU Cooler – Coolermaster GeminII M4 – A fantastic low profile cooler that I know 100% will fit inside any 2U case.

SAS Card – LSI MegaRAID 8708EM2 – Plain and simple SAS controller with 2 ports, looks after the data drives in RAID5. As we’ve had this card in cold storage for quite some time in the first instance it wouldn’t allow the motherboard to finish POST however a quick firmware update (with the card in a older motherboard) helped fix that little issue.

SCSI Card – LSI 20320IE – We use the SCSI card to hook into our tape auto changer, while not as fast as more modern SATA/SAS ones it gets the job done considering we are going to tape for monthly (instead of daily) backups.

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