I installed the NVME to PCIe x4 adapter with the 256 GB drive, booted up the computer, and crossed my fingers. Fortunately, the drive was discovered by Windows and I could initialize, partition, and format it. The performance of the drive was spectacular compared to the other drives in the box.
The next goal was to set the NVMe drive as the primary boot device. After some time in the BIOS, I determined that device wouldn’t support the desired configuration and I would have to boot from SATA bus. The primary drive in this box is an old Samsung SSD II drive, so its performance pales in comparison, but would still be superior to spinning drives. Good enough.
If you recall, I was planning on using the optical NIC card and had purchased the requisite parts to connect it to my managed switch. Unfortunately, the motherboard only has one PCIe x4 slot. (note: check your hardware requirements and capabilities before making purchases). This meant I had a decision to make. Have a random, spare drive online or have a fancy NIC card that wouldn’t provide any real enhancement?
I opted to keep the drive and shelve the optical NIC. I kept the parts I had purchased so I could someday use the card because it is cool. And the optical cables would look really slick in my box o’ cables.
Having built the box on Windows Server first, I wanted to try out FreeNAS as it is a highly regarded solution for network storage. Installing FreeNAS was easy enough, having had a handful of USB 3 keys kicking around.
Once I got logged in and did some poking around, I was impressed by the suite of features available. I also realized that I was a bit lost in the UI with the depth of features FreeNAS provided. Seeing as I had already spent more time and money on the project than I had originally intended, I didn’t want to invest additional time to lean a new system. That’s why I decided to go back to the familiarity of Windows Server.
Backup and Final Configurations
When testing out Windows Server Backup, I recalled there was an option to use a local drive as the destination for the backup when scheduling reoccurring backups. As this method is the recommended setting in the wizard, and I wanted to feel like I was getting some additional functionality out of the NVMe drive, I decided to use the drive for this purpose.
Be warned, if you select a drive for the backup target, the drive has its volume letter removed, preventing its use for any other purpose.
All-in-all, I am happy with this storage box. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles that I had intended, but it is providing plenty of redundant storage, and backing up itself up. I am watching the 4TB drive on Amazon for a sale. If I can score another one for cheap, I wouldn’t mind adding a third drive into the array. I may also enable Hyper-V and host a few small VMs.
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