Building a Green Windows Home Server: Conclusions

Monday, September 8, 2008 – 7:04 PM

Up and running at a cool 22C. It works! So the build is complete and I have a working server. Interesting this weekend the system disk in the machine I have downstairs chose to start failing CHKDSK. WHS actually picked up on this and warned me while it was trying to backup. Restoring the disk from the last good backup proved very straightforward except for one gotcha…

Windows Home Server supports backing up over a wireless network but not restoring over wireless.

This proved be be a pain in the butt as I had to stick a network card in the machine just to restore it. However once I had everything on a wired network the restore went very quickly.

What would I do differently next time?

Overall I’m not really sure I’d change very much. A couple of minor things spring to mind…

The AeroCool M40 isn’t exactly small, on the other hand not many cases that will hold four SATA drives are. The We Got Served WHS build used a similar sized APEVIA X-QPACK2 case to fit up to five drives. Other builds, like the Home Server Hacks Green WHS build, use smaller cases tend to be limited to two 3.5″ internal drives. I’m still playing around with the fans to make them run as quietly as possible.

Don’t bother trying to boot from a USB. I used a 2Gb USB and followed the instructions on USB booting but nothing doing. It took me about five minutes to rip the SATA DVD drive from my main PC and boot WHS. The BIOSTAR motherboard supports F9 to select a boot device so it’s very easy. An hour or two later the DVD drive was back in it’s rightful place and the WHS was up and running and connected to the network.

I’d rethink the fans. It turns out the CPU cooler is a three pin not a four pin cooler. I picked this particular cooler because I was concerned about the amount of space in the AeroCool’s two layer case design. See the Fan configuration rethink section for more details.

How could you save money?

There are a number of ways you could do this cheaper. The most obvious one is get a very cheap case and use the stock fans. Better still re-use an old case you already have. It’ll probably be noisier and maybe take up more space but would save you $70 in the process. You could also save a few dollars on a cheaper motherboard and processor but really cheap boards tend to have only two SATA connectors. I would consider cheap disks or power supply to be a false economy.

There will also be more options to buy WHS hardware off the shelf soon, or low power PC hardware that would make a good WHS platform. A good example of this is the Shuttle X27, specifically designed with low power consumption in mind with an 24W idle rating. As more manufactures get into the market the cost of off the shelf WHS will probably come down a bit.

How green is it?

Since my initial post I’ve done some more digging on power consumption. The following posts are pretty interesting reading.

Seems like you need to measure over a typical work/idle cycle and the CPU is only half the story, the motherboard can draw significant power especially the graphics processor. HP don’t really give an details on the power consumption of their systems and I don’t own a Kill A Watt yet to measure mine. It seems like a system like this might use between 40-60W (see power data in the comments on this post).

Turns out that the server only uses 37W when idle, which is better than I’d hoped. Full power usage and performance data is now available in part 5.

The other important lesson I learnt here is that the software must work in concert with the hardware to achieve the best power consumption and performance. For example an AMD system that isn’t running Cool’n’Quiet will use way more power than it needs too. This power management feature needs to be configured in both the BIOS and Windows.

Next… Part 5: The 37W Server
Index: all posts in this series

Currently listening to:
Pixies – Doolittle

  1. 7 Responses to “Building a Green Windows Home Server: Conclusions”

  2. I’ve got a similar WHS with a BE-2300 and two HDDs, one a power hungry WD 500GB RE drive and the other a power-friendly Hitachi P7K500 500GB drive. With a 430W Earthwatts (it’s what I had lying around), it idles around 42-43W, which is pretty good. I would think that your system idles under 40W.

    By Jim on Sep 12, 2008

  3. To save more energy you have to install a power management Add-In like LightsOut.
    Have a look here:

    By Martin on Sep 14, 2008

  4. Martin,

    I’ve thought about installing something like LightsOut, there appear to be a couple of possible add-ins that do this sort of thing. I’ve also read that WHS is doing things in the background like checking disks and balancing files across disks and that hibernating may effect this. More investigation required at any rate.


    By Ade Miller on Sep 15, 2008

  5. Ade,

    LightsOut is aware of the DriveExtenderMigrator and handles this on suspend/hibernation (in fact the service is stopped and restarted on resume).
    Give it a try!


    By Martin on Sep 30, 2008

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  2. Sep 8, 2008: Building a Green Windows Home Server | #2782 - Agile software development and best practices for building Microsoft .NET applications.
  3. Sep 8, 2008: Building a Green Windows Home Server: Installing the Software | #2782 - Agile software development and best practices for building Microsoft .NET applications.
  4. Sep 14, 2008: Building a Green Windows Home Server: Choosing the Hardware | #2782 - Agile software development and best practices for building Microsoft .NET applications.

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