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I currently have a small home-server, that runs a domain network & is the center of all file storage in our household. The drawback is that we need as much storage as possible, but the server's case only supports a maximum of four drives.

Hardware of the server:

  • CPU: Intel Core2Duo E7500;
  • RAM: 8GB DDR2 @ 800MHz;
  • HDDs: (all SATA3) 320GB OS drive, 3TB ("Common Files"), 1TB (split into two partitions; 500GB backup for the OS drive, and 500GB for "Common Files");
  • OS: Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter

Drives/partitions for "Common Files" are dedicated to file storage for non-critical files and are not backed up. All critical files are held on the OS drive, the entire drive is backed up to the 500GB backup partition of the 1TB drive. All critical files stored on the OS drive are automatically backed up to cloud services (namely Mega).

I run a domain (ADDC) on the server so that any user-account/file can be accessed from any computer in the home. In addition to this, this configuration means that no data-loss occurs if a computer breaks.

The server doesn't do much else than ensuring that everything can be accessed from anywhere within the house. It does run an SQL server (MSSQL) for local software development purposes, but it isn't used often. At night (from ~11pm - 6am) the server is shut-down, with it automatically turning itself on at 6am via a timer set in the BIOS.


I'm looking to build a new server that:

  • Has very low power usage;
  • Is quiet;
  • Can hold at least 6 hard drives;
  • Is reasonably quick;
  • Should be able to turn itself on automatically;
  • Be as cheap as possible

It should also fit in the same space that the current server occupies, under my desk. The piece of wood on-top of the server can be removed (space between the floor & wood is ~12cm), if required:

enter image description here

I was considering replacing it with a NAS, but however I need the domain functionality and so this option isn't available to me. I also don't want to purchase a NAS in conjunction to the server as I need it to use as little space as possible.

I was thinking of the current hardware:

  • CPU: Pentium G3258
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3;
  • HDDs: All current drives (besides the 320GB OS drive), with three additional 3TB drives. Critical files moved to one of the HDDs, and automatically backed up to cloud services as before.

I'm stumped on the motherboard & case though, as they need to be small. Any recommendations or changes for the prospective hardware? I am also going to be replacing the router in the above photo with a network switch, as I already have another router elsewhere in the house that does most of the work (and handles DHCP of the router in the photo).

  • 1
    This might be better if it was broken into multiple questions. You can ask one about the case, the motherboard, and anything else that you have a question about. – Cfinley Oct 28 '15 at 17:02
  • Yeah, definitely break this up into a few questions if you want. We'd be more than happy to help with each. Doing so also allows us to provide a whole lot more detail about each component. – Adam Oct 28 '15 at 21:40
  • Small and 6 hard drives is tricky. I'm seeing mitx, a pentium class processor, same amount of ram. But that many drives wouldn't work with mini itx boards or cases. If not for the storage requirements a brix or NUC class machine would be perfect. Would splitting it up between a NAS and another system be an option? – Journeyman Geek Oct 29 '15 at 8:06
  • Why not get 5 TB drives? I'm thinking HTPC case, but even those are probably not small enough. – timuzhti Oct 30 '15 at 2:54
  • @Alpha3031 Because 5TB drives are far more costly than 3TB ones. – AStopher Oct 30 '15 at 11:27
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The perfect system here's impossible (and I'd be glad to be proven wrong).

enter image description here

The HP microserver gen 8 however would be a fairly decent simple replacement that'll meet many of your needs, though not all.

Size: 23.24x 23 x 24.5 cm Taller than your space, but this is about as small as it gets.

4-16gb of ram (I'd get the base model, and add ram myself)

4 3.5 inch drive bays (this is the tricky thing here)

Supposedly fairly quiet (I've not owned one myself).

You might be able to replace the slimline optical drive on top with an ssd or a 2.5 inch drive.

Standard flexATX for power.

iLO for full access to the system offline.

You also have an SD card slot/internal USB port if you arn't running windows and want to boot off either. You could probably use that for a recovery environment.

Processor options are low power, and I'd go with a pentium based model here.

If I needed more bays I'd pair this up with a comparable sized NAS.

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