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GreenReaper

The Companion Cube that could!

A few Inkbunny staff host off-site backups, primarily to ensure continuity of service in the unlikely event of a disaster at our datacenter. My own has been on a virtual machine, running from a dedicated 4TB hard disk hosted on my tower. (Fun fact: it cost $20 less to "shell" a backup device than to buy a bare disk.)

VMs make efficient use of hardware, but it's never been a perfect solution - not least because my PC lacks ECC memory, but also because it means I can't turn my tower off at night to save power and reduce noise. I also saw occasional disk/network issues, although pre-allocating RAM helped.

As such, I decided to bite the bullet and get a HP Gen8 MicroServer. With a dual-core Celeron G1610T running at 2.3Ghz, it won't break any speed records, but that's not the point - it's inexpensive (in the UK), quiet, solid, and supports ECC. 4GB is adequate for backup and DB replication, but a family member bought me an additional 8GB as a belated Christmas present - I'm sure it'll come in useful. (For those wondering about mismatched memory sizes, it'll use dual-channel for the first 4GB of each module.)

I could have built my own backup box, but it's hard to get equivalent build quality and capabilities at ~$156 including rebate. There are other nice things about it - nine separate temperature monitors, plus those on the CPU and hard disk; a single large, low-powered fan; internal slots for a USB 2.0 stick and microSD - neither super-fast, but fast enough to be useful, and if I need more there's PCI-e 16x as well.

Plus, it's cute! It fits under my desk, and uses an open VGA input … though I've yet get Linux to show the full 1280x1024. The server's official name is acedia, but I think of it as a miniature Companion Cube. Efficient one, too - at ~5%, the CPU's probably not taking more than 15W, and after that it's 7W per disk.

By the time it needs more than one, I expect 3.5" 4TB disks to be relatively cheap. There's room for four in total - plus an SSD up top. If that's not enough, I can slip four more 2.5" drives in - an inventive soul made a bracket to mount them. With 2x1Gbps ports, there's plenty of bandwidth. Good to have options!
Viewed: 130 times
Added: 11 months ago
 
esanhusky
11 months ago
If an older system is still usable for an offsite backup, I've got a decently speced out HP xw8200 sitting around that someone could use if they can pick it up during Anthrocon
GreenReaper
11 months ago
I suspect it'd still be usable, it'd just be a matter of getting it to a staff member which needs it. Not sure if any without suitable equipment who live in the USA are listening, but maybe if so they'll chime in.

Would probably only want it running for a nightly backup, though - 24/7 power use could be significant! People criticise Intel for not getting faster single-core, but power efficiency has improved over the years.
Tycloud
11 months ago
Pics to support the cuteness claim!:3
GreenReaper
11 months ago
Google has plenty! The swinging door even has a magnetic lock (and a satisfying clunk).

I should really spraypaint the faceplate green (or pink?), but that seems too much like work…
agesofkings
11 months ago
Oooh, now that is very sleek. For a server, you don't need much power I'd assume, particualrly for a back-up server. As it's writing more than allowing acess or dealing with the end-users of a website. Those boards tend to be dual-cpu setups and a lot of interaction. (An holy crap I actually remember something from high-school)

Regardless, Aye-aye, this is good news! Sleep for you, effeciancy, and in the long run, redundancy!

HUZAH!
GreenReaper
11 months ago
Yeah, that's what we've got for the main server - although we could drop down to a single quad-core in a 1U if it weren't for the disks (four isn't really enough, given that our DB benefits from SSDs as well).

Most of the 2U servers at our main host are also dual-proc, and the rest are designed just for storage. But we might be able to work something out for the next lease.

Sleep sounds like a good idea, I should go get some. :-)
EverestDragon
11 months ago
use it for bitcoin mining.
GreenReaper
11 months ago
Alas, I suspect it would be an inefficient use of power, given the speed of modern hashing equipment. But I do already maintain a full Bitcoin node on my main PC to support their transaction network, and I might move that across at some point. Heck, there's room to stack two cubes on top if necessary!
anew742
11 months ago
That's awesome, I love small computer-y devices like that!
One question I have is where did you find one for around $160? All the ones I see online are between $800-900
GreenReaper
11 months ago
I bought it from here. The price I mentioned included a £60 UK rebate. As you say, the USA prices are much higher. For some reason (probably oversupply vs. demand, plus not having responded fully to the currency devaluation) it is far cheaper in the UK. For $800 you're probably thinking this upgraded model which has double the RAM, a Xeon, and a 1TB drive. It's a worse deal unless you need that rare CPU.

I suspect both Intel and HPE have different pricing structures for Europe vs. the USA. Gen8 is also outdated already, and it's possible they're going to replace or retire it and just have too much EU stock.
anew742
11 months ago
Interesting, thanks!
Yeah, it's almost always cheaper to get the lower-spec one and upgrade it yourself, crazy just how big the price difference is
Also, never knew about that site, and thanks again for the info - I love how the mods and admins on IB are a real part of the community
MaDrow
10 months, 1 week ago
The big drawback (and my motivation for not getting one) is  that you've another device to look after for updates and address security issues.
GreenReaper
10 months, 1 week ago
When you have nine already, adding another to update at the same time isn't so bad. :-)
MaDrow
10 months, 1 week ago
I guess you automated it? |=(:3
GreenReaper
10 months, 1 week ago
Nope! I have lots of SSH windows. :-p
MaDrow
10 months, 1 week ago
Reminds me of what happened at GitLab |=(;3
GreenReaper
10 months ago
Six hours - it's unfortunate, but better than FA's six days… or soup.io's 18 months!

Inkbunny has a similar 24-hour potential database loss window if replication fails. We're looking to improve that with snapshots in the future.
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