Upgrading HP Gen8 Microserver
My first server purchase for my home lab was a HP Gen8 Microserver. Its a fantastic, compact little server and I managed to pick it up at a bargain price with HP’s cashback scheme.
I’ve already installed Server 2012 R2 on it but its setup wasn’t optimal and I’ve been meaning to flatten it and start again, but while i’m doing that I may as well add in a few little upgrades.
Server Usage Plan
The server is going to be used primarily as a light use file server to serve data to my home lab as well as to various other devices around the home (a Raspberry Pi Media Center to give a good example). To this end i’m not overly concerned with the somewhat low end specifications as for most of the time its just going to be used as a box full of hard drives.
As part of its data serving duties its also going to host a number of SMB3.0 and iSCSI shares so I can have a play around with some high availability scenarios as part of my home lab. This also has the benefit of being able to consolidate all my HDD’s into a central box and simplifying the hardware of the virtual hosts such as my HP ML10 v2.
I’ll also be using the server as my primary data store for my extensive Bittorrent Sync setup, but that’ll be a post for another day.
Having all the drives in a single location also means that I can manage my backups far better as I just need to backup the data on a single server, rather than design a backup plan that takes into account multiple machines. It also means that I can use a simple robocopy or xcopy script on schedule rather than having to go out and purchase a more commercial solution such as BackupExec.
Upgrading HP Gen8 Microserver: The Plan
The HP Gen8 Microserver out of the box is a fantastic little server and does nearly everything I need straight from the box. There are a few tweaks that id like to make just to improve performance and set it up exactly how I would like it.
I’m planning on using the empty space where the optional optical drive would normally live to host a boot SSD. The SSD in question doesn’t need to be of very high capacity at all, i’ll probably plump for a Samsung 2.5-Inch 120 GB 850 EVO Solid State Drive as i’ve had great experience with other Samsung SSD’s in the past. This will mean that I can use all four of the HDD bays for storage and keep the OS on a separate drive.
I’m not planning on utilising the onboard HP Dynamic Smart Array B120i for actual RAID. I want to use the storage spaces features of Windows Server 2012 R2 to manage the drives so I can take advantage of some interesting features such as de-duplication. The controller will just be setup with 4 x 2TB HDD’s individually so Server 2012 can treat them as a big JBOD array.
There is a small issue with adding an extra SSD in the space where the optical drive would be. The server was designed to take an optional bespoke HP SATA optical drive, and this means that while there is a spare SATA connector on the motherboard the power is via an old school 3 pin floppy power connector.
There is a workaround though in the form of a FDD to SATA power connector. While this solution isn’t elegant, it is cost effective and once the case is bolted shut you’ll never see the excess cabling.
The only extra piece that I need is a 12 inch SATA cable – I have longer ones already but I would prefer not to have an overly long cable hanging around in the case.
Upgrade parts list
All of the bit and pieces that I need i’ll get from Amazon:
- Samsung 2.5-Inch 120 GB 850 EVO Solid State Drive
- InLine – Floppy to SATA Power Adaptor – 60mm
- StarTech 12 inch SATA Serial ATA Cable
I’ll order these shortly and then post about the Upgrading HP Gen8 Microserver process. I’ll probably do a “quick and dirty” install guide for the Gen8 Microserver in the same style of my Installing Server 2012 R2 on an HP ML10 v2 guide posted previously.
Some of the links on this post (Upgrading HP Gen8 Microserver) are Amazon affiliate links meaning should you click on them and purchase the items then i’ll receive a small commission. This commission goes towards paying for the upkeep of the site and any little extra bits and pieces for the lab.