While I was still living with the rents I had a home server I had built running 24/7 out in the hall next to the router. It was made out of old parts from my gaming systems of past that were top of the line around 2001/2002. The server consisted of an Athlon XP 2100+ with 512 MB of PC2100 DDR RAM on an Abit K7A motherboard, a GeForce 3 TI 200 graphics card, a 10/100 and 10/100/1000 Mbit Ethernet adapters, one 30 GB HDD, one 100 GB HDD, one 120 GB HDD and a PATA controller card to support the extra drives.
When it was built back in late 2003 early 2004 it contained only one 30 GB HDD and performed well for its purpose of hosting dedicated servers for Half-Life and Half-Life mods. As time went by and those games were replaced it no longer served well as a dedicated server for games. The server would become primarily used for its then secondary roles of being a web/mysql server for development, Teamspeak server and general play around with anything server related server. As more computers entered the house I added some more hard drives and put the server into an always-on file/backup server role.
Well as written before I moved out of the rents place, and so the server came with. I wanted to having it running all the time at my place, but I couldn’t justify it as it no longer could meet my needs. It would still work fine at my rents’ house serving their backups, but it wasn’t enough for me.
The first and biggest problem is that it just doesn’t have enough space. With the additional drives it has a little over 200 GB of space while my personal computer at this time has about 1.46 TB of space, not including a 750 GB external drive. Sure I’m not using a lot of that space, but I am using over half of it so 200 GB only covers at best only my essential backup needs. It does not provide enough space to meet my new need; media sharing.
With new media sharing features in Windows Media Player/Vista and the use of these features by set top boxes like my PS3 and DirecTV DVR, I want my server to also be used for storing and sharing media around the entire house. I want my media to be available to any machine anywhere in the house at any given time. After all, I didn’t install a CAT6 Gigabit network in my house because I wanted my laptop to be able to get the internet in every room. All this video and music take up A LOT of space! Way more than is practical to transfer wirelessly and store in only 200 GB of space.
The second problem (which only became a problem when I had to start paying my own electric bills…) was power consumption. Despite it’s low specs by today’s standards, the computer was built out of what was considered high performance parts back in the day. With that in mind, the performance per watt of the computer is pretty low. The computer draws at an idle about 110 watts. That equates to about $5-6 a month in power consumption for a computer doing absolutely nothing but being on. Compare this to my laptop which, at 4 years old and is a bit faster of a machine, only draws 9 watts at idle or about 50 cents a month to be on doing nothing. Since this machine really could no longer meet my needs and thus would get very little use, this really would be all just wasted power and money.
Now getting more space was obvious, get some bigger drives. Problem… I couldn’t get more space by adding new drives because the computer doesn’t have SATA ports and IDE drives over 500 GB are non-existent. In fact IDE drives have become so scarce you can barely find anyone selling them new anymore and even less likely, for a reasonable price. Now I could add a PCI SATA card, but that isn’t exactly an elegant solution and does nothing to address the power draw issue. Combine these problem with the fact that the condition of the current servers hardware was becoming questionable (far too many BSODs lately) there really is only one solution.
It is time to build a new server!