HP MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet4 min read

This plan didn’t work as intended. I had to come back to the drawing board and rethink/simplify some stuff. I have left everything as-is up to the point of failure incase it’s important to anyone and it really makes no sense to delete it.
Below is what I wanted to do and a few of the steps I documented towards this goal, here is where I revisited this project with a much different approach. I would read this first anyway before reading the revisited version.
If you don’t try you’ll never know, right?

So I’ve had this problem for a while since moving out, but I excuse it because, well, she gave birth to me. My mother calls me constantly asking me to fix stuff or implement something new in my old home which I am fine with but sometimes it feels extremely tedious as I could have sworn I fixed that same issue not 1 month ago…
The latest problem I’m facing is photo storage. My family have a few MacBooks with very limited storage onboard which they seem to fill up quite fast. Upgrade the storage? Sure, but that’s short term and not exactly safe, not in my eyes anyway. My solution? The following…

So I decided to create them a storage server for their home, but this has also been my plan for a while since I also have a fuckton of photos to store (4TB+) so I thought to myself, how can I get this done without breaking the bank? Microservers. Two of them.

The plan is to have them replicate between themselves (rsync), one being in my house and the other in my family’s. I would do the whole crashplan thing but if I ever do need a full restore I don’t fancy waiting years for my data or paying for them to send me a hard drive, and so having an offsite, accessible backup is the best solution. I found that I could get a HP MicroServer GEN8 for £120 after cashback, awesome. I ordered two and started the planning.

The plan is to use the microservers as vmware hosts for management and flexibility purposes, the CPUs are rather weak but should hold up with this workload.* On the microserver at my mother’s house I would also run a PfSense VM to setup a PTP link with my physical PfSense firewall box, this should also let me troubleshoot their frequent internet issues (running on a highend TP-LINK router/AP on DD-WRT) in the future, which is a win-win. FreeNAS is my storage management of choice as I like what ZFS has to offer and FreeNAS has yet to fail me. Rsync will be setup on both boxes to sync between each other over the PTP link. I designed a high level diagram for myself to ensure I wasn’t going to forget/fuck anything up.

*Plan revision:
Initially I was looking for anyway to make this system work without Vt-d, when I stumbled upon vmware’s RDM (Raw Device Mapping). It seemed like a sure fire way to get it to work as FreeNAS would be presented with RAW disks which it could use. Upon further reading it turns out that this method is not the way to do things, at all. Apparently things can go tits up very fast and in some cases leading to absolute data loss with no culprit, scary stuff. My solution to this, is the same for every problem I face; try to research as much as I can to find another McGiver fix or like in this case, throw some £££ at the problem. I’ve opted to upgrade MUFFHOST04 to a more powerful CPU that supports all the virtualization technology I require, this will allow me to give FreeNAS the MS raid controller (B210i) which will present FreeNAS with the disks without vmware  in the middle. I will still be keeping MUFFHOST03 using RDM, I’m not too worried as I will have a safe copy of all the data on MUFFHOST04 that will be configured correctly, I plan to update that box to a xeon too somewhere down the line and reconfigure with passthrough also.  The CPU I will be using is this E3-1220v2.


This post will be broken up into multiple chunks, from setting up the MicroServers, to the installation and setting up of the software. It will be less tutorial and more explaining what I’ve done, but I will try and put as much detail as I can be bothered to. Enjoy!~~

  1. The plan.
  2. Preparing and upgrading the Microservers.
  3. Installing and configuring VmWare ESXI (Archive).
  4. Installing virtual machines (Archive).
  5. Failure/Revisiting MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet.



4 thoughts on “HP MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet4 min read

  1. I have a HP MicroServer with 16 GB ECC RAM, 240GB SSD boot disk and 4 x 3TB WD Reds that I’m hoping to install FreeNAS on, I just have a couple of concerns I hope you can help me with. Firstly this will solely be a FreeNAS machine, no VMs. Also I am a FreeNAS newbie, been using a evaluation copy of Windows Server 2012 Essentials, only recently switched over to Windows 10. I primarily use it for Plex and Network storage.

    1) Driver Support – Will I run into issues with the B120i similar when installing Windows OS, where I have to load drivers to view disks, and if so which ones?

    2) R.A.I.D. – Do I use hardware RAID to create an array using HP SSA, or FreeNAS?

    3) Existing Data – Is there a way to create a volume within FreeNAS without wiping the disks, my array worked fine when switching between Windows Server to Windows 10, or is the file system different?

    • Hey there Sean;

      I’ll try and answer your questions as best I can;

      1) If you’re installing Windows you can get all the drivers for it here: http://h20564.www2.hpe.com/hpsc/swd/public/readIndex?sp4ts.oid=5390291&swLangOid=8&swEnvOid=4168 You shouldn’t need any drivers if installing FreeNAS however.

      2) You should not touch the hardware RAID settings on the machine, the intergrated controller will be presenting your disks to FreeNAS which means you don’t want it messing with anything, you create the array on FreeNAS itself.

      3) You cannot keep any data. As FreeNAS uses ZFS and will wipe your disks to create the array, there is no workaround for this.

      Why don’t you just use Windows on the machine and use the hardware RAID option?


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