Normally all devices are connected to the internet, but when testing we need a consistent way to use cloud storage without needing to connect constantly to the internet.
It also means in our standing format and build procedure we only have 7z for unpacking files and the appropriate NIC or Wi-Fi driver so we can connect to the Server and get all other apps, drivers and files we need.
The Cooler Master Silencio RC-550 was a bit of a find, the drive swap bay is connected to the HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL and has become invaluable when backing up or adding a lot of files without opening the chassis to add in another drive, or using USB HDD alternatives.
The sound proofing was also a main consideration when selecting a chassis, and this has proved to be a very good choice.
We haven’t had any issues with the motherboard, memory, CPU, chassis, PSU or the iconic Noctua NH-L12 Cooler. We don’t think we stress any of these components, though they may take a beating during multiple network requests when stream, backing up and other I/O actions. We have a spare i5 CPU we could drop in, but that may be overkill.
The HDD’s in the main array also work really well. Though we had a couple of HDD’s DOA we think they have performed without issue. With the two cooling fans they sit between 80 and 95 °F with general usage. We have not noted the load temps of the HDD’s and the HighPoint software has a 120 °F alarm limit, something that has not yet triggered.
Have we had any issues?
Yes, though we didn’t know it at the time. We have had two different pairs of HDD’s drop out at various times with a reboot to resolve this. The RAID 6 array then rebuilds itself over a period of time, sometimes up to 70 hours.
We don’t think we noticed this when it happened initially. The HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL has an audible alarm and you can mute this in the control panel. We are not sure how many times discs dropped out before we noticed it, but we only had a couple of alarms before we picked this up. The main reason being we had no performance hit during failure or rebuild, something that astonished us, in a good way.
It also worried us a little and we have not completely got to the bottom of this. The HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL has not had any BIOS updates available and we confirmed our installs physically and logically. We did find one of the cooling fans had stopped, the power header had dropped out of a multi fan adapter.
With this, three of the HDD’s would have had significantly reduced cooling and with the 120 °F in mind, we have assumed the 2720SGL dropped the HDD’s when it hit the temperature threshold…. we think. We have not had another instance of this, but we will be monitoring it closely and swapping or upgrading any component as needed.
What is next?
We only plan one last careful implementation; available firmware updates once tested, fresh installation of the OS, all applications required and a hardware installation and cable check. It has taken us a few months to decide to finish this off, but we have had the benefits of the Server for some time now.
This should only take us an afternoon for focused work which doesn’t include a back up beforehand and checks OS updates afterwards. We have regular back ups and have already tested the arrays integrity when formatting the main OS drive. The array remains isolated throughout and is only recognised once the .inf files are updated in the device manager. Once done, all files reveal themselves without any fuss.
We are very happy with our journey and the outcome. We are computer engineers but not Server geeks, we have built Data Centre blades and other Servers before but it has never been for ourselves or our own investment. You can also scale this build, so if you have a need or want for the same, you can start small with a couple of HDD’s, or large, with six.
We don’t see any major revisions to this build and with 14.5 Tb of RAID 6 storage we won’t be running out of space any time soon. Component failure aside, we expect to only open this chassis for maintenance such as dust removal and checks. Our next major want is VPN access for our colleagues who don’t have access to our main office, so we can share site content and information as if in a corporate office environment. For now, thanks for reading.