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We are setting up a home file server (most likely running Windows Home Server) that will always be on. There will be a mix of older hardware and some new components. The box does not need to be blazing fast.

What are some tips to reduce the power usage as it will be running continuously?

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Community wiki, maybe? – Joey Jul 30 '09 at 18:25
While you might be using Windows, this isn't necessarily a Windows-specific question with Windows-specific answers. – jtimberman Jul 30 '09 at 18:25
Re: Windows - True but some power management setup may be specific to Windows (or even specific to certain versions). – dlux Jul 30 '09 at 19:05
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Buy a very efficient power supply with a >80% efficiency rating. I believe there are 90% ones available now also.

Here is an explanation of why:

Some other things to consider:

  • Do not put any extra components in there you will not use. Disconnect CD/DVD drives,fans, floppies, lights that will not be used, remove the sound card if it has a separate one, use a minimal video card.
  • If needed, low speed fans.
  • Disconnect and unplug the monitor you use to set it up with. Once it is setup, no need for a monitor. You can do 99% of things from a remote machine.
  • If buying hard drives new, look for green rating or drives known for lower power.
  • You said you are using a mix of old and new hardware, but keep in mind your CPU's consumption though.
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+1 for a thorough answer. – Ernie Dunbar Jul 30 '09 at 18:51
right along with "disconnect stuff" that won't be used, disable unused components in the bios. – quack quixote Oct 7 '09 at 6:26

Use low power components where possible. For example, 45W CPU. Get a motherboard with onboard video, as it won't require powering a whole other video card. Reduce the number of fans by using more passive cooling.

Depending on your usage, you might set it to suspend from inactivity and then wake on LAN so it can serve up when you're using it again.

Antec has a [power supply calculator][1] to help you determine how much power supply you need.

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+1 for suggesting that it doesn't have to be on all the time, unless you don't spend 16 hours a day either at work or asleep... – Ernie Dunbar Jul 30 '09 at 18:49
Unfortunately, one of the devices using it can send a WOL magic packet though. I wonder if there is a way to set specific suspend or wakeup times though (e.g. down from 12am to 7am). – dlux Jul 30 '09 at 19:03

I would also recommend some of the new green hard drives that throttle their spin speeds based on load. Less RPMs, less power.

EDIT: OH and make this a community wiki...

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Well, as a file server you certainly won't need a fancy graphics card. The on-board one should suffice. Furthermore, for storage you might consider 2.5″ hard drives instead of 3.5″ ones as those have vastly reduced power consumption (and heat output). You can let your fans in the case run at 7 volts instead of 12 (there are cables for that).

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