Building a mini home data center (cupboard)

I’m looking to build a small outside cupboard (data center) to store a couple of servers in. The server and electrical side of things I’m fine with. I’m just looking for some tips on the structure its self. I’m thinking of having this building a fair distance from the house (well as far as I can) so if the worst ever happens (burglary or fire) I still have my photos/ home videos and other data safely stored. Cloud storage is not an option due to the large quantity of home videos (in the Tera bytes), this is from both upload / download speed and cost perspective. So for the structure I’m thinking of starting with a concrete base, and a brick outside . The inside having a frame made of stud walling. There would be a waterproof layer between the studs and the outside bricks. The inside of the stud walling would be covered in ply, with insulation between the ply and waterproof material. For air flow I would add a couple of breather blocks on the bottom course of the bricks. This would also let out any condensation from the bricks. I would also put some vents at the top of the inside structure to allow heat out, These could be closed in the winter. The roof would be wood with 2 layers and insulation in between, and a felt course to make sure it was waterproof. Not really got any ideas as yet for the door which I would use to access the servers. The important part is the inside does not get damp and the temperature is not allowed to get too cold or hot. I may need to add some fans to extract heat, but the heat from the servers in this small space should keep the temperature up. Any views / improvements / tips / crucial things I have missed?
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On 7/29/2016 3:47 PM, Andrew wrote:

Any risk of thefts from sheds? (Obviously, you might have an indoor backup too).
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On 29/07/2016 15:58, newshound wrote:

Of course I have indoor backups ;) these are 2nd level backups, (hopefully randomware proof as the files are never overwritten( even if changed) and are not accessible to the windows clients. My current outdoor backups in a different building are also heavily encrypted so that if a tea-leaf gets them they are totally useless from a data perspective.
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On Fri, 29 Jul 2016 18:03:32 +0100, Andrew wrote:

My last-ditch backups are in a storage unit ten miles away!
(BTW, your sig separator is broken...should be two dashes and a space, not three dashes!)
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On 29/07/2016 15:47, Andrew wrote:

Small buildings in strong sunshine tend to get awfully hot inside unless you have active ventilation. Keeping dust and humidity at bay will be the hardest part whilst maintaining an even temperature and avoiding a condensing atmosphere. Astronomers have similar problems keeping scopes in good condition in small observatories. It is amazing where spiders and thrips can get into even when things are hermetically sealed.

Strong summer sunshine will potentially cause you overheating problems unless the structure is cunningly designed to be self shading. Adding ventilation without introducing dust will be a challenge.
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On 29/07/2016 16:01, Martin Brown wrote:

Agreed, the current location is in direct sunlight in an outside building. Lost an old disk recently I don't think either the age of the disk or the heat helped the situation. My new place is in the shade under some large bushes, mainly to keep them out of site, and provide shade
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Andrew wrote:

I tried something similar in our loft, and discovered that they get hotter than you'd think :-)
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On 29/07/2016 16:06, Dan S. MacAbre wrote:

Yes i found that out too, lost a disk recently. hence the new location
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On 29/07/2016 18:06, Andrew wrote:

I have wondered about putting our home server under the suspended floor of the house. It is currently in a cupboard in a conservatory!
It is not as bad as it sounds, a fan draws air out of the cupboard and the air is replaced by air coming from under the house floor. So far, although not ideal, temperatures have remained under the alarm range for the server's ambient air temperature monitor.
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On 29/07/2016 23:26, Steve Walker wrote:

What you're proposing is a lot of work. If you have a cellar, it's probably trivial to chuck a NAS down there - it's what I've done for several years and it's worked without a hitch.
Maybe a secure cupboard in case of a burglary that comprehensive.
Fire, I'm not sure. It'd have to be a real corker to affect underfloor storage.
I don't bother - if I was subject to such a thing, I think the data loss would be the least of my worries. I use Apple's 200GB/£2.50 month cloud for a convenient last resort backup of the bulk of my data. The 2TB of video/music is mostly expendable/replaceable.
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Obviously some kind of raid or other internal back up system in case drives running all the time peg it. Watch out for creepy crawlies. Use a very tight piece of mesh over any air bricks or wasps and other things move in. The door is probably going to be your biggest challenge I think to keep weather out. Also what happens if there is a power cut? Is there some way you can arrange for graceful shut down from this and some way to keep the hardware from getting too cold if its a protracted outage. Depends how safe safe has to be I suppose.
Brian
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On 29/07/2016 16:49, Brian Gaff wrote:

Agree with the raid as a principle, however despite using raids heavily at work I have gone for the approach of multiple non resilient backups, Also its cheaper and ,more flexible for my home needs
Like the point about the creepy crawlies though not thought about that one.
Power cut again an excellent point, given the risk of power cuts is low and the cost is high to protect a couple of servers which should in theory stand a crashed shutdown, plus i can rebuild quickly , and recover to data to as well. I had not planned this. but is something to consider.
As for how safe. I have had a couple of NAS drives in a locked out building in a box to protect them from water for the past 4 years, and no real issues (except a disk failed recently). Crime is low in our areas. I mainly want to add a little more protection to all the family videos (Tera Bytes), in case we ever get burgled or have a fire. I also want to provide a reasonable environment for the devices to maximise their life (well as long as it can be) , with out building a proper data center with full AC, power redundancy and CCTV etc.
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On 29/07/16 15:47, Andrew wrote:

I actually think your insulation is a bad idea. The servers will be putting out what - 200,300,400W ?
That will build up fast if you insulate a small space and may eb extremely bad in summer.
The rest sounds fine though.
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On 29/07/2016 17:44, Tim Watts wrote:

Agreed , well sort of, it does get a little too cold (-5-6C), and these server will only be active at night for the majority of their time, but the point about a lot of heat is a valid one. I was thinking of putting a network connected thermometer in there as well to allow monitoring and tuning of the environment. Reason for the insulation is I don't want the disks to spin up and be cold as this could cause moisture to build up on the disk platters and the disk to destroy its self.
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On 29/07/2016 18:22, Andrew wrote:

Use helium-filled drives.
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Home servers are not normally this high.

The server components will have a working operating temperature range, and you need to ensure it remains within that, heating the shed iff too cold, and powering off if too hot.
Equally important is the humidity and risk of condensation, and you will need to control this, and it needs to be done regardless if the server is running or not. You can do this entirely by heating. (You don't need a dehumidifier, and they don't work at low temperatures anyway). Keep the humidity below 80% to guarantee no risk of condensation. Make sure the server is in the warmer part of the room when heating is on to lower the relative himidity.
I've been controlling the environment in a large shed of a friend for almost 3 years now, and that was so it can be used to store soft furnishings and pieces of steel without damp damaging them, which was happening before I put the environmental controls in. The key here is to prevent condensation, and for some other items in the shed, also to protect against freezing. You will need something similar.
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On 30/07/16 08:50, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

The internal heat generated by a working computer is more than enough to take it above the dew point.
Provided it has a roof over its head and is above flood level it will be fine.
There is little you can do however to alleviate high temps. beyond putting it in the shade, ventilating it, and perhaps on a vast slab of concrete to act as a heat sink.
Some pentium chips should be avoided too. Very high tempo beast even idling.
fans will need checking periodically and remote temp monitoring is no bad thing.
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That would be fine if it was running all the time, but the OP said it won't be.
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On 30/07/16 10:38, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

should still be OK. disks are sealed. You don't normally get condensation on the inside of an open (vented) structure, that hasn't got a moisture source inside it.
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On Sat, 30 Jul 2016 10:55:56 +0100, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Well, almost.
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