Dell Poweredge T310 - Am I Doing It Right?

Oct 25, 2018
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Hi everyone,

I bought my first server earlier this week. It's a Dell Poweredge T310 with 16gb RAM and 3 x 300Gb 15k SAS drives.

It doesn't have a boot drive, but I checked it booted to BIOS and all the lights came on before I parted with my cash. (Side-point, I paid £140 for it - confirmation whether I got a good deal or not would be appreciated).

I have bought another 300Gb 15k SAS drive - just a refurb as this was used anyway. I plan on changing to four brand new 2TB SATA drives at some point but this will do me for now.

I want to run Windows 10 Pro on this server. Can I install a separate SSD straight to the motherboard to run the OS while running a full four-drive array on RAID-5? I've been looking at the Toshiba TR200 240GB SSD as the boot drive.

The server will be used as a combination of a home server and my business server. I want it as a central file location so either myself or my wife can log in remotely from our laptops or phones and access anything we need. I have also bought a CCTV kit with an HDD that I want to link through the server.

I am really green at all this. My only previous experience was putting together a shopping list for a brand new HP ProLiant server a couple of years ago but never followed through. That's what made me think I have a good deal with this machine here.


The server has just been sat in my study as I am awaiting delivery of monitor, keyboard and mouse so I have no other system information just yet.

Thanks



Jazz
 
Oct 25, 2018
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Monitor, keyboard and mouse arrived today so I could boot it into BIOS. I'm still awaiting delivery of 240GB SSD to install Windows 10 Pro on and use as boot drive. If it helps I found out a bit more info on my server:
Dell PowerEdge T310 Server
BIOS version 1.6.4
Intel Xeon X3470 CPU @ 2.93GHz (4 cores)
16Gb ECC DDR3

 
I think you've made a good deal paying GBP150 for that server. The ugly point is that if you want to increase the storage (you have less than a terabyte in total, and more like 650gb usable) you'll be for expensive SAS drives.

I would also look around for copy of WHS2011 (yeah, I know it no longer supported, but still boatloads cheaper than WSE2016), or make a Linux-based server altogether.
 

stdragon

Commendable
Apr 5, 2018
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A RAID5 volume requires at least three drives, and the volume is always N -1 drive. So 3x 300GB drives in a RAID5 will give you a 600GB volum. After partitioning, something like 560GB will be available give or take.

As for Dell PERC (Power Edge RAID Controller) cards, most should allow you to mix SAS and SATA drives. But you can't mix them in the same RAID volume. So basically your SATA SSD would be its own volume, then you can make the SAS drives one RAID5 volume. the SSD effectively becomes your C drive and the RAID5 will be the D or E drive.
 

stdragon

Commendable
Apr 5, 2018
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To make management of your server easier in Windows, be sure to install the Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA) from support.dell.com.

You can also update the firmware via the LifeCycle controller if it has one. If given the option to update via FTP, just point to ftp.dell.com. No user or password should be required. But if asked, the user would be "anonymous" (without quotes) and the password field left blank.
 
Oct 25, 2018
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Thank you for responding, I appreciate the pointers. I have bought a refurbished 15k 300gb SAS to complete my four-slot array. I want to set these up as RAID 5. They'll do me for now, but in the near future I'll be replacing them with 4 x 2 TB SATA drives. It's a home server, looking after storage, shared network services etc. so I don't really need SAS.

As for the OS - I was hoping to run Windows 10 Pro on it. I've heard it's good as a server and I'm familiar with it. Would you advice against this?

@stdragon - Thank you also for responding.

All being well, I will have a 4 disk SAS array (all 300GB 15k SAS) set up with RAID 5 - until I move to the 2TB SATA as mentioned above. Outside of my controller I've ordered a 240GB SSD which I'll plug straight into the motherboard and use as my boot drive.

Question - In addition to my SAS/SATA controller which can RAID across 4 drives, can I connect 2 x SSD directly to the motherboard and set them to RAID 1? I'd like my OS drive to be mirrored to protect me in case of failure.

Thank you for the pointer on OMSA - I'll make sure that gets installed.

Thanks again guys. I hope I'm not going to be a pain but I have so many questions because I want this server to be the best I can make it.

Another question - does anyone think I may be better off setting this server up, selling it (for hopefully a profit), then investing in something like the HP ProLiant Gen10?
Sorry if that seems a daft question. I'm just wondering if my server is a little old to do what I want...

Jazz
 
Oct 25, 2018
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SSD arrived today. I've installed it into the server and I'm currently installing Windows 10 from a bootable USB. Will let you guys know how I get on.

The SSD is currently mounted by one hole as I realised I need another adapter to mount it properly. I'm thinking of getting a 5.25 to 3.5 inch adapter to sit in that free space under the DVD tray.
 

Check again your order - most SSDs these days are 2.5", not 3.5" ;)
 
Oct 25, 2018
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Ah yeah you're right - I forgot to mention I already ordered a 2.5 to 3.5 adapter - thankfully this thing will be hidden within the case! :D
 
Oct 25, 2018
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Hi guys. After spending this afternoon on setting the server up, I now have my Dell PowerEdge T310 in the following configuration:
OS: Windows 10 Pro
C:) Kingston 240GB SSD (Boot drive)
Z:) 4 x 300GB 15K SAS drives in PERC6 array configured to RAID 5

It's all going fine so far.

My next questions are software related. Can anybody advise the best software for:
1. Making my server accessible by my laptop, my phone, my wife's phone and any other device I wish
2. Handling all the network attached services - printers etc.
3. Synchronising user folders from network devices to a user folder on the server

I may be asking for stuff that doesn't exist with the last one, but I just want my server to be at its potential. I also don't want duplicate folder structures on all my devices and cloud drives, which it currently is. I need to do some housekeeping....
 
1. Define users on your "server" with same user name / password you use on your laptop. Find apps for your phone(s) that can connect to Windows shares. For Android, there are many filemanagers (I'm using ES). For iPhone - I don't know. It also depends on what you want to access from phones - you might want to install DLNA server (Plex seems to be popular), and stream content from the server to enabled devices.
2. Install the printer as usual, and share it to users. Again - phones are tricky. I see no reason to want to print anything from a phone.
3. Windows has "offline folders" - a mechanism by which a folder on the server is kept in sync with folder on a computer.
 

stdragon

Commendable
Apr 5, 2018
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Did that Dell PowerEdge T310 not ship with a license copy of Windows Server? If it did, there might be a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) on it with the edition and product key.

I ask because you really ought to be using Server 2012 / Server 2016 if possible. You could use Server 2008 R2 (Windows 7 based), but support for it will entirely be cut off at the EOL (End of Life) date of January 14, 2020. And yes, you'll want to have the Windows Server be a domain controller where you can create accounts and assign them to shares. Not required, but makes it easier to manage.
 
Oct 25, 2018
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Not that I know of. When I get home tonight I'll have a look. I have Windows 10 Pro on it now running without a hitch. The SAS array is set to RAID 5 and formatted - all working fine. I copied some folders over last night, but not all. It recognises everything fine. I've noticed that other people are using Windows 10 Pro for their servers too.
You lost me off where you mentioned using the server as a domain controller creating accounts and assigning them shares. What does that mean? Can it be done with Windows 10 Pro?


@Alabalcho - I tried ES but it wanted me to install a Walking Dead app before it would connect to my server. It didn't take me long to find a decent alternative in CX file explorer. Took seconds to connect my phone to the server and see the folder structure. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I'll set my wife's phone up too and give us both dedicated phone backup folders.
Next is to see if we can always link to it, even over mobile data or other WiFi spots when we're out and about. I'm guessing VPN is the way to go.
 
Oct 25, 2018
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This may be daft - do I need to install OMSA on just the server or on my laptop too? I'm still not sure how this, the LifeCycle controller and any other Dell stuff works.
 

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