Green Makeover – Windows Home Server Edition

Every time someone walks in my office and sees the setup I’m running, their response is usually, “Good lord – how much does it cost to run all this stuff?”

My home office has…

Server rack and monitors in my home office

…a lot of stuff in it…

Closer view of the monitors in my home office

…or so they tell me.

People think I’m burning $100 bills to keep warm, but it’s not as bad as it looks. I admit it – I do have a bit of a monitor fetish. But in my defense, the monitors only get used when I’m in the office and I physically turn them off whenever I leave. Typically, I run 4 monitors at a time. I only turn all the screens on when I’m editing books and need to spread pictures / virtual machines / research documents / manuscripts / websites across the workspace. So, from a power standpoint, the monitors are no big deal.

This is how I rolled in my home network back in 2004.However, that 7’ tall server rack in the corner is the big power hog. The equipment in the rack stays turned on 24x7x365. In addition to the money for the electricity, there are noise and heat issues.

Back in 2004 when I first installed the rack, it sported big Compaq ProLiant 1600R servers with 325-Watt power supplies (see right). I was glad to have the horsepower back in the day, but running those hot and loud machines was tough on the peace and quiet in the house and on the wallet.

Several years later I got into virtualization and happily consolidated those old power-hungry monsters into tidy little virtual servers. I also and changed from CRT monitors to LCDs and swapped the conventional network switches for “green” ones. Currently the rack holds 4 physical servers, which in turn handle about 40 different virtual machines. The newer boxes are more energy efficient, but there’s always room for improvement. This week I’m replacing my old worn out ghetto Windows Home Server with a new one.

SWAPPING WHS V1 for WHS 2011

Since Windows Home Server 2011 needs a 64-bit processor, I had to move to new hardware. Here are the specs to compare:

  Old WHS New WHS
PC Generic whitebox HP ProLiant Microserver
CPU Celeron 2.0 GHz x86 AMD Athlon II Neo N36L 1.3 GHz
RAM 1 GB RAM 3 GB RAM
STORAGE 4 TB storage
(2) WD Black WD1001FALS 1TB
(1) WD Green WD20EARS 2TB
8 TB storage
(4) WD Green WD20EARS 2TB
OS Windows Home Server v1 Windows Home Server 2011

 

You may remember the HP ProLiant Microserver from The World’s Fastest Small Business Server post last year. I *love* those servers!

Certainly, a 64-bit processor and 3x the RAM would make the new WHS box faster than the old one (in spite of the 1.3 GHz clock speed). But I was curious if going to 4 “Green” drives would use more power than the old server which had 2 “Black” drives and 1 “Green” drive.

MEASURING THE POWER USAGE

The Kill A Watt from P3 International - Measures your electric usageThere’s a handy little device from P3 International called the #P4400 Kill A Watt that retails for $17-$25 US.

It’s accurate within .2%, and easy as pie to operate – the instruction manual only has one page.

There are 5 buttons on the front:

  • Volt (volts AC)
  • Amp (amperage)
  • Watt / VA (Watts / Volt Amps)
  • Hz / PF (Hertz / Power Factor)
  • KWH / Hour (Kilowatt-hours / timer)

For our purposes, you only need the Watt button.

  1. Plug the Kill A Watt into the wall (I use an extension cord)
  2. Plug the server (or other equipment) into the front of the Kill A Watt
  3. Turn the server on
  4. Wait for a few minutes for the server to boot and settle down
  5. Press the Watt button and write down your reading

CALCULATING THE COST

Now that we know how many Watts your server is using (let’s say 75 Watts for the sake of argument) let’s calculate what the financial cost is.

Get your latest electric bill or go to your utility website and find the charge for a Kilowatt-Hour (kWh). In Louisville, that’s currently $0.07068 kWh.

To create a formula, and we’ll assign those numbers to variables:

  • W = Watt usage
  • C = Cost per kWh

Formula to calculate the cost to run your server…

…per day: (W / 1000) x 24 x C

…per month: (W / 1000) x 730 x C

…per year: (W / 1000) x 8760 x C

What we’re doing is:

  1. Converting Watts into Kilowatts by dividing W by 1000
    75 Watts / 1000 = 0.075 Kilowatts
  2. Then multiply those Kilowatts x 24 hours in a day to get kWh
    0.075 Kilowatts x 24 hours = 1.8 kWh
  3. Finally, multiply the kWh x the Cost per kWh
    1.8 kWh x $0.07068 = $0.12 per day

Example: (75 Watts / 1000) x 24 hours x $0.07068 kWh = $0.12 per day

You can multiply that number by 365 days to get your cost per year = $43.80

Tip – Skip The Math Anxiety

If you don’t feel like doing the math above, just take your Watt (W) and Cost per kilowatt hour (C) and use the online calculator here:
http://mathmerlin.com/

The online calculator shows you the cost per hour, day, week, month and year all at once.

Kermit said, "It's not easy being green." He lied.ARE WE GREENER?

So how does the new WHS 2011 Microserver compare to the old junker? I measured both servers while streaming a 24 GB .WTV video file from them.

  • OLD Celeron whitebox WHS v1 uses 122 Watts
    Cost to run: $0.21 per day / $6.29 per month / $75.54 per year
  • NEW HP ProLiant Microserver WHS 2011 uses 46.5 Watts
    Cost to run: $0.08 per day / $2.40 per month / $28.79 per year

HP ProLiant MicroserverWINNER = NEW HP Microserver with WHS 2011

  • Has 2 x the storage as the old box
  • Has 3 x the RAM as the old box
  • Uses 60% LESS power
  • Costs me $46.75 LESS per year to run

I had no idea how much juice that old garbage PC was using. I just assumed that a Celeron would use less power because, well, it’s slower. Right?

Obviously, that $46.75 cost savings per year doesn’t pay for even one hard drive in the new server, but that’s not the point. The old box was gimpy, and the hardware had to be replaced to go to the 64-bit platform anyway. The point is that it’s easy to use less energy by making smart hardware choices – choices that still perform REALLY well. The power savings on the new server will more than pay for the cost of the P3 Kill A Watt. The leftover money savings is icing on the cake.

CALL TO ACTION

I encourage you to use a Kill A Watt to see how much juice your server rack or office is burning. You can check the equipment one piece at a time, or just plug a power strip (or your UPS) into the Kill A Watt and check it all at once.

If you have a device that kicks on and off, like a mini fridge or an air conditioner, you can use the KWH button instead of the Watt button and come back an hour later to see the accumulated result. Measuring your electric usage is now quick, easy, and you just must might save yourself some dough.

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KYSBSUG August 2010 – SBS 2008 Disaster Recovery

KYSBSUG August 2010 Meeting #78 –
SBS 2008 Disaster Recovery Using Hyper-V

KYSBSUG - Kentucky Small Business Server User GroupPresenters: Tim Barrett & Kevin Royalty
Date: Wednesday August 18, 2010
Time: 6:30-8:30 PM Eastern
Venue: Money Concepts
Address: 323 Townepark Circle, Louisville, KY 40243
Map: Click here
Registration URL: Click here to register today!

Description:

Your customer calls and says, "Our server is completely destroyed, but we have the backups."

What’s your next move? Do you have hardware on standby? Do you have a well-documented plan so you can spring into action?  Or will you just wing it?

Join us this month for a joint presentation with CiNPA and KYSBSUG as we talk about disaster recovery of SBS and show how to restore an SBS 2008 native backup and ShadowProtect backups into Hyper-V. This talk is based on real-life recovery situations and personal experiences.

Registration URL:
Due to limited seating, registration *is* required.
Click here to register today!

Click here to register today!

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Whitepaper – VHD Getting Started Guide

Picture of a giant hard driveWhitepaper Title: VHD Getting Started Guide
File name: VHD Getting Started Guide.docx
Data Published: May 27, 2010
Language: English
File size: 1.13 MB
Pages: 82
Download URL: Click here

Description:
This guide provides an introduction to virtual hard disks (VHDs) in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It includes an overview of technologies that you use to configure VHDs, as well as procedures to help guide you through deploying VHDs.

Contents:

  • Virtual Hard Disks in Windows Server 2008 R2 & Windows 7
  • What’s New in Virtual Hard Disks
  • Getting Started with Virtual Hard Disks
  • Introduction to Virtual Hard Disks
  • How to Perform Common Tasks
  • Appendix: Tools, Scripts and APIs
  • FAQ: Virtual Hard Disks in Windows 7
  • Power Management for Network Devices in Windows 7
  • What’s New in Power Management for Network Devices

Source: Keith Combs’ Blog

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Crazy Screenshots – Geek Heaven

Today I have been to geek heaven… and it’s full of stars!!

Where exactly is geek heaven? Here:

  • Playing Pac Man
  • In a Safari web browser
  • Which is on the www.google.com home page
  • Running on a Mac
  • Which is a virtual machine
  • Running on VMware
  • Running inside Windows 7 64-bit

Folks, Geekdom does NOT get any better than this:

Playing PacMan on the Google.com home page in Safari on a Mac in a virtual machine on Windows 7.

Today, I truly earned my “Uber-Geek” license plate.

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KYSBSUG May 2010 – VMware

VMware logo We’ve talked at KYSBSUG about Hyper-V, and now we’ve got two excellent speakers to present the other ‘elephant in the room’ – VMware.

VMware offers both for-free and for-fee tools to handle virtualization needs both large and small. Come see how VMware stacks up to Hyper-V, Citrix, and the other virtualization competitors. Can you virtualize SBS with VMware? Should you? Come find out!

KYSBSUG May 2010 – Meeting #75 – VMware
Presenters: Michael Patrick & Craig Stein from The Mirazon Group
Date: Wednesday May 18, 2010
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 PM Eastern
Venue: The Mirazon Group
Address: 312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 111, Louisville, Kentucky 40222
Map: Click here
Registration URL: Due to limited seating, registration *IS* required.
Click here to register today!

Important: This meeting is at a different venue this month (not at Money Concepts). Check the map link if you’ve not been there before.

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Webcast – Hyper-V 101 with Wayne Small

This is one webcast you definitely don’t want to miss!

Wayne Small [SBS-MVP] Title: “Third Thursday Webinar: Hyper-V 101
Presenter: Wayne Small [SBS-MVP]
Date: Thursday 04/15/2010
Time: 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight (GMT –4)
Host: Third Tier
Link to attend: Click here for Live Meeting

Description:
Wayne Small from Sydney Australia, Third Tier consultant and owner of SBSFAQ.com has been deploying Hyper-V based solutions to 80% of his clients. Hyper-V can be simple to deploy, yet powerful enough for high availability applications. It is also technology that your clients really don’t understand at all. So how does he sell it to them? Wayne will tell us how to get up and running, the impact this technology can have your business and how to sell the idea to your clients.

Have you heard all the hype about Hyper-V?  Want to get your clients up and running on Hyper-V in an hour?  Want to know the key things to look out for with Hyper-V and how to avoid the pitfalls?  This session will run through all of the basics on Hyper-V as it relates to our SMB clients.  It will cover the various flavors of Hyper-V available, what to use when and how to get your first Hyper-V client quoted, and installed.  Wayne will walk through a typical scenario that he’s deployed in the past and how he’s addressed the clients concerns and taken advantage of Hyper-V to save the customer money, and increase their uptime.

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How To Create a Bootable ShadowProtect USB Drive

ShadowProtect I really hate carrying around physical CDs/DVDs for programs I use a lot. Normally I just convert all my discs into ISOs with the free ImgBurn program (which totally rocks) and then throw the ISOs onto my Toshiba 320 GB portable USB drive. Then when I’m on-site if I need a CD, I just mount the ISO with Virtual CloneDrive (also free, and also rocks) and launch the program.

That said, sometimes you still need a bootable CD/DVD. For instance, when you want to image a workstation or server with StorageCraft ShadowProtect and backup the entire machine to an external USB drive.  Unfortunately, that means carrying the disc with you in your tech toolkit, or carrying the ISO and burning a disc.

Here’s a better idea – Use one of those old 1 GB USB flash drives gathering dust in your drawer, and turn it into a bootable USB drive.

Now, before you say “not BartPE and the HP Boot Flash Utility again”, we’re not using those old school tools. This is as modern as modern gets – using a Windows 7 64-bit ultimate machine and no physical CDs.

Note: These instructions are assuming you have already purchased a licensed copy of ShadowProtect from StorageCraft, and are simply looking to turn a boot CD into a boot USB flash drive.

What You’ll Need

  • ISO image of ShadowProtect or a ShadowProtect boot CD (471 MB)
  • 1 GB or larger USB flash drive
  • PeToUSB_3.0.0.7.zip (100KB)
  • Windows 7 workstation (I used a 64-bit Ultimate box, but YMMV)

Step-by-Step Instructions to Create the Bootable USB Drive

  1. Extract the downloaded PeToUSB_3.0.0.7.zip file into a folder on your desktop. You will see 3 files in there, but you only need  PeToUSB.exe
    Cool PeToUSB program
  2. Insert the physical ShadowProtect CD into your drive, or if you’re using an ISO, mount the ISO using Virtual CloneDrive (or some other ISO program).
    Mount the ISO or insert a ShadowProtect DVD
  3. Insert your USB flash drive.
    Insert the flash drive 
  4. Right-click the PeToUSB program, and choose RunAs Administrator.
    Make sure you RunAs administrator
  5. Select your flash drive from the pull-down menu.
    If this box is blank, you probably didn't use RunAs Administrator
  6. Check Enable Disk Format and check Quick Format boxes.
    Format and label 
  7. Browse to the ShadowProtect CD location.
    Find the physical CD or mounted ISO
  8. Click the Enable File Copy checkbox.
    image 

    Your settings should look similar to this:
    Double-check everything

  9. Click Start. On the Continue screen click Yes.
    Go baby, go.
  10. On the Are You Sure You Want To Continue screen, confirm that the correct flash drive is about to be formatted, and click Yes.
    Are you really sure?
  11. The drive will be automatically formatted and the files will start copying.
    PeToUSB is setting up the USB drive.
  12. When the format and copy are complete click OK.
    All done! 
  13. Safely Remove the drive, you’re done!

Now you can boot a workstation off the USB, plug in a USB drive large enough to hold the backup images, and create a backup of that target machine. Or, for some P2V action, you can use the free VMware Player (89.9 MB) to spin up that SPF as a virtual machine.

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Webcasts – Get Your MS Virtualization Learn On

Nowadays you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who’s talking about virtualization. I’m guessing that your technicians are up-to-speed with virtualization, but are your sales folks?

Webcast screen shot Microsoft has a great series of webcasts for Microsoft Partners to give them the basics of virtualization with the following 4-part (6 segment) series with Ronald Grattopp and Bryan Von Axelson:

The Ultimate Sales Guide to Microsoft Virtualization

Note: You must have a Microsoft Partner ID linked with your Windows Live ID and sign in to view these webcasts.

Link to Desktop Virtualization sweepstakes Microsoft Desktop Virtualization Sweepstakes

In addition to some great (and free) information, Microsoft is providing an incentive for Microsoft Partners to attend these trainings. They are giving away:

  • Two (2) HP EX90 MediaSmart Servers
  • Eight (8) Sony Touch Readers

Webcasts in bold above are eligible for the Desktop Virtualization Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes ends April 12, 2010. See official website for details.

You can also stop by the Microsoft Virtualization portal:
http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization

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Training – Free SBS 2008 Hands-On Labs

image If you’ve been wishing for some structured Windows Small Business Server 2008 training offered by Microsoft, wait no more.  Microsoft has announced a set of four hands-on labs for SBS 2008, and (it gets better) it’s free!

Title: Windows SBS 2008 Hands-On Labs for Partners
Release Date: 9/25/2009
Version: 2.0
Download Size: 12.5 GB

The courses available are:

  1. Windows SBS 2008 Admin Console
  2. Windows SBS 2008 Working with Clients
  3. Windows SBS 2008 Installation
  4. Windows SBS 2008 Migration from SBS 2003

The downloads are available from the Microsoft Connect site:

URL: https://connect.microsoft.com/directory/
Invitation Code: SBSP-62B6-K3TH

System Requirements:

  • A machine that supports Hyper-V*;
        a server class** dual- or quad-core CPU is highly recommended
  • 5 GB of RAM min. (6-8 GB would be better);
        SBS 2008 requires a minimum of 4 GB of RAM, 
        Parent partition (Hyper-V host) requires 1 GB
  • 80 GB of free hard drive space;
        15 GB will be used initially but the VHDs could grow to a max. of 80 GB
  • Optional – router that will function between the SBS server and the Internet/corporate network
  • Optional – second physical network adapter to connect the SBS virtual machine to the router

Here’s a screen shot of the file downloads in the kit:

image

* Note: If you’ve never installed Hyper-V before, I’ve got a short video
(4:18 minutes) on YouTube demonstrating the installation.

** Server-class hardware is recommended, but not required since this is a HOL and not a production box. For example, here are my demo Hyper-V box specs:

  • HP Compaq dc5800 microtower
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33 GHz
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 1 ea. 149 GB SATA drive (OS)
  • 1 ea. 1 TB SATA drive (ISOs and VHDs)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

To make sure that your machine supports Hyper-V (both in the BIOS and on the processor) check out the SecurAble download from GRC.com that tests hardware virtualization: http://www.grc.com/securable.htm

Props: Sean Daniel’s blog

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