Alternative Spec Suggestions.

Perhaps you do not want to build your server yourself and want the most computing bang for your buck. You may also just prefer something designed to fit on a server rack so you can save on space. Now within my budget there is not enough for me to build or buy a high end new server. That said we are fortunately also in luck because when companies replace their server systems they often give them to companies that refurbish them and sell them for great prices. I have purchased one I will use as a virtual machine running server instead of mostly storage like this project largely focuses on. I will probably create a project guide on that in the future although at the rate its developing you will be able to host virtual machines easily with the operating system I recommend later on. There are many sellers of refurbished or used servers on eBay and Newegg.

I chose one on eBay that looked most promising, had a great price, excellent seller reviews, and enough details to know what I was getting. If you are interested the seller I went with is called Cazoodler and all they sell are servers and server related parts. Another seller that mostly deals in servers with great reviews is SaveMyServer. Any of these servers would also work for our needs here with lots of computing to spare. That being said we would have to improvise the system as the ones like I got only have slots for 2.5" hard drives not 3.5". The one I got also doesn't support drives larger then about 1-2TB per slot. If your budget is larger that may not be an issue, but if not I will give some improvised solutions that should work for you. Note: If you go the actual server road keep in mind they generate significantly more heat and require additional cooling. I ran mine for a few days in my normal temperature and when I next entered my shop it was 20 degrees above its normal temperature and the fans in the server were maxed out. You will need to keep the area it runs in at or below 80 degrees Fahrenheit based on Googles Data Center recommendations which have a few pointers.

This approach may also have a higher risk as you will be buying a third party refurbished server off of eBay. Luckily to help reduce this risk eBay offers buyer protection that has gotten much better compared to what it used to be years back and now they offer third party 6mo-1yr extended warranties through square trade. With those you could reduce the risk even further if your willing to pay more. I chose to decline the extra protection and just check the server thoroughly within the first month. Mine worked great right out of the box and I have not had any issues with it yet other then extreme heat generation which was expected.

 I bought an HP DL360 G5 64-bit VT Server from Cazoodler. The specs are as follows:

  • 2x Quad-Core 2.83GHz Intel Xeon E5440 Processors (That is 8 Cores Total between two physical CPU's)
  • 32GB RAM (8x 4GB DDR2-667)
  • 2x 72GB 15K RPM SAS RAID-5
  • Dual 700W Redundant Power Supplies
  • Two Embedded NC373i Gigabit Server Adapters
  • 9x Fully Redundant Hot Plug Fans (N+1)
  • 1.70 x 16.78 x 27.25 in (4.32 x 42.62 x 69.22 cm) which is longer then many server racks so heads up.
  • Total was $165.75 with Free Shipping on sale. Its normally $195 from this seller.


Hardware Alternative Suggestion.

  • Refurbished 2x Quad-Core Xeon 2.83 GHz Server with 32GB of RAM for $179 (as of 2/7/17) sold by Cazoodler (Click here to see their other servers available, they have lots more then just the one I listed), This is overkill see my suggestion below.
    • {NOTE: I have only bought once from Cazoodler but their prices are reasonable and their feedback is really good. Out of the others I have seen so far they constantly have servers for sell at with large amounts of RAM and great CPU speeds for good prices. I was not paid by Cazoodler to recommend them they are just the seller I chose to trust buying a refurbished server through. Also when the linked listing has ended keep clicking the bold part where it says. "This listing has ended. The seller has relisted this item or one like this." and you will probably find the exact same server for sell from them, sometimes on sale. My main reason for choosing this is the specs are significantly better then what I can custom build for the price and fits perfectly in my budget. With the server above according to the HP specs page for the storage card it supports up to 2TB hard drives. So I will plan accordingly with the next items. If you don't need support for 4TB Drives you could possibly get by without the SATA controller as the SAS controller is backwards compatible, but I am assuming you will need it. That and to use a 5 bay eSATA enclosure I will probably need it anyway. HP ProLiant DL360 Generation 5 (G5) Specs Sheet.
    • This server works great but it really is overkill for a cloud server unless you plan on a ton of virtual machines so instead I would go for the one below.
  • HP Proliant DL360 G5 2x Quad-Core Xeon 2.83 GHz with 16GB RAM for $139 (as of 8/21/17) sold by Cazoodler
    • This is an even cheaper option then the one I went with although it is still overkill in the computing capacity.
  • Click here to Search eBay for a server with 16GB of RAM or more.
    • Be sure to check the feedback and read the listing carefully some do not include CPU, RAM, or Power Supplies. You may be able to get one for about $60 with less specs. You may get lucky.
  • Orico 5 Bay USB 3.0 & eSata 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure for $155 (as of 8/21/17)
    • {NOTE: My reason for choosing this is not only is it metal which will dissipate heat well it has a fan in the back and 5 independent 3.5" drive trays to quickly add/remove drives as needed. I have not purchased this and tried it myself as I am using mine for computing not storage. Some of the reviews are concerning so be sure to read up on it first.}
  • StarTech PCI-Express x1 SATA III (6.0Gbps) Controller card for $34 (as of 8/21/17)
    • {NOTE: It seems the server has a PCI-Express x1 and x8 slot based on glancing inside but with PCI-Express you can plug a x1 card into a x8 slot if needs be so either should work. So if for some reason one slot doesn't work or is already used you could do that. This card also supports up to a 5 bay eSATA enclosure. Though it has 2 eSATA ports it only can do 5 through one port and then you can't use the other port. You would need multiple cards to for instance use 2 of those 5 bay enclosures. You can avoid this addition all together if your willing to accept slower speeds and plug in through USB 2.0 instead. Unless you'd rather get a USB 3.0 PCI-Express Card then you'd get better speeds then USB 2.0 and possibly be able to connect more drives to it though your total USB speed will be divided among however many drives you plug in.}
  • Rosewill 6.5 Foot eSATA III cable for $9 (as of 8/21/17)
    • {NOTE: This one may not be required if you have a long enough eSATA cable lying around. I do not currently and this is long enough for me to put the server and 5 bay enclosure on separate shelves. Some of the enclosures come with one so if yours does and if you don't need six and a half feet just use that.

I already mentioned it but remember servers are much more picky to temperature then most desktop computers so plan accordingly. On mine I just took out all the front panel slot fillers in the unused hard drive bays and the mini DVD drive to greatly improve airflow. I was going to leave the DVD drive but that RAM heats up much more then I anticipated with it left in. For now mine is just placed on a shelf in my workshop that is not cold room temperature controlled. Its usually slightly less then outside temperature. Between this server and my 3 other desktop servers it keeps the temperature roughly 20 degrees higher then the normal ambient temperature. In summer I may have to increase my cooling but for now it is working fine. Many servers are able to run at 80 degrees even though most cold rooms run about 60-70 degrees. I may not get the best lifespan possible without additional cooling but it being used and rather cheap I am not very concerned. I recently improved my workshops temperatures by making a vent out the window that uses 6x old 80mm computer fans plugged into a AC adapter with a molex end and an old fan controller that used to go in a floppy disk drive slot. Then I used plastic paint drop cloths like this on Amazon: Plastic Drop Cloth 9' x 12', 3 Pack. Along with some duct tape make a relatively air tight seal against the wood frame two by fours to contain the heat around the window with my fans blowing out. Now the workshop temperature when I enter is lower then outside temperature and all the hot air vents out. I do not leave my virtual machine server running all the time only when I need it but I do leave my cloud servers running all the time within the hot corner with the plastic and its a great success.

You can also search your local classifieds section of your news stations or craigslist for used servers. It may pay off and be cheaper but when I checked mine eBay was better specs and lower prices then the ones I found, though you may get lucky. Remember though most people don't let you return it from the classifieds if it fails.

Now that you have a suggestion to get the most bank for your buck how about getting some free hardware instead? I have a suggestion that can save you money but will cost you a bit of time instead.

⇐ Suggested Specs | Free Hardware ⇒ {Soon}