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Server Systems

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by choucove, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    I am curious what others have for server systems with their business and if our system is adequate based on others' comparisons or perhaps even overkill. What hardware do you have for a server or a NAS? Does your business just do file sharing in a workgroup, or is it set up in a domain? Are there other things that you do with your server(s) such as hosting your website or FTP?

    We have a Supermicro pedistal server system with two dual-core Opteron processors and 2GB of DDR2 667 ECC memory. Recently we just switch the system around some and have two 320GB hard drives in mirror raid 1 for the operating system and for storing system images of the individual computers to, and two 1.5TB hard drives in mirror raid 1 for the company files to be shared out to each workstation. This is the server we have in place at one office, which only has about 5 to 6 users accessing files. We are currently not using a domain setup, and recently switch from Fedora linux to Windows 7 for sharing out files and file access permissions to all users.

    How does this compare with your company's equipment, and do you feel that this server might be enough to handle a domain controller for the local office and a remote office via VPN?
  2. imagep

    imagep Active Member

    Dec 1, 2006
    We have a half dozen computers, but no true server. They are all networked to one computer that has an extra drive, and that drive is setup to be share by all computers. We store all customer files on that drive and I do not allow customer files to be stored on any other computer. Nothing fancy at all, but just as efficient as really expensive systems.

    We do actually have another drive that stores all of our clipart and fonts and backup copies of software, that way we are not having to go hunting around for this or that clipart disk.

    Both of these drives are accesed on the other computers through drive mapping and it seems to work quite well. I have a USB backup of the clipart drive which I keep at home, and we use an offsite backup service for the customer files.
    As for our websites, we rent a full server from Godaddy, and host several websites on it. From my point of view, our web server is like a utility. Makes a lot more $$$ sense for a small company to outsource utilitities to utility companies that to try to make your own electricity or water or communications services.

    I have played around with various versions of VPN, but honestly, I dont like working at home or on vacation or trips, so to me it is a non-issue. If I ever go on an extended trip I know that I can signup for one of the inexpensive services which allows for VPN access, I have trial tested a couple, and they work fine, but in 20 years I have never had a need to do it.

    However, we do run our self developed shop managment programing over our rented web server, so if nessasary, I can access sales figures, reports, even invoice jobs and do quotes from any that has internet access (have actually done this on vacation in Mexico, LA, Vegas, NY, Indianappolis, Atlanta, all over Florida, Puerto Rico, Jamaka, etc).

    I really dont worry about all the security and fancy stuff, honestly, we aint NASA or the Pentagon or a billion dollor corporation. KISS method seems to work best for us.
  3. SuperBrady

    SuperBrady New Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    I been running a Windows Home Server and have all the customer files, designs etc on it. I like it as it will allow for file duplication on the sever itself as well as back up every PC (max like 10) every night.

    I been using logmein Hamachi for the VPN, or the Windows Home Server has a website i can log into to retrieve one or 2 files here and there via Web browser.

    Simple set up, but yet it works great. no problems, in fact even had a hard drive go south a few months ago, replaced it with a new one and we were back up and going in about 60min or so. nothing was lost!
  4. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Our other office is set up this way, as they are very hesitant and reluctant about any kind of technology change. We just put a couple 1.5TB drives in their most powerful computer (more powerful than the server described in my original post) and it is more than capable of sharing out files as well.

    When we recently reworked our server, I had thought about just putting Windows XP Pro on the server to share out files, but instead opted for Windows 7 for two reasons. The first was because Windows 7 recognized all my hardware and I didn't have to install a single additional driver. From the time of receiving the hard drives from UPS to transferring all our data back to the new drives to having a complete up and working server was less than five hours. The second was because Windows 7 (unlike Windows XP) will allow you to set user permissions and sharing permissions much easier in a workgroup setting. I had no problems at all with having people able to access what they should, not have access to what they shouldn't, and being able to save and change anything that they should.

    We as well went with the drive mapping solution as it is the easiest for others to understand really. I then redid our backups so each computer automatically backs up the folders that they need (fonts, my documents, outlook, etc.) to the server daily, and the server backs up to an external drive twice daily. There is also another external drive that is used for off-site backups.

    The reason I've asked about VPN is because we are very possibly trying to get one site-to-site established between our two CISCO ASA5505 firewall units at both offices. We never could get it to work before (they are TERRIBLE to try and configure!) but if we can, we might have much more troubleshooting and maintenance possibilities, which means a lot less headaches for me! If you've tried VPN in your business, was it with a hardware security device, or software?
  5. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    I have 8 users and 12 computers in our office. I run Windows Small Business Server 2003 on a Dell PowerEdge 2800. It's running with Dual, Dual Core, Xenon processors (2.6GHz), 8 GB of ram, and 1.2TB of space. 8 SCSI drives running RAID 10. Then it's all backed up an external firewire 800 drive once a week.

    This is what it does for me:
    - Domain server (User logon and Active Directory)
    - Exchange Server for Email, Contacts, Calendar, Etc.
    - SQL Server for Database
    - Backup for client computers
    - File Server
    - Remote Access VPN
    - ISA Server (Firewall)
    - Symantec Endpoint Protection (Anti Virus and Malware protection)
    - Microsoft Virtual Server (Virtual machine for one of our salesmen)
    - Fax Server
    - Print Server
    - MS Sharepoint Services
    - IIS for Intranet
    And I'm sure I probably forgot something.

    I don't think I could live without our server, (somedays I think I could kill it though). It's made managing our network and computers much simpler.

    It allows me to work from home as if I'm right in the office. I'm able to define permissions so certain people have access to certain resources or files. The list of benefits just goes on and on. IMO It just makes sense to have one if you have more than 3 people on your network.
  6. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Agreed. We are really right at the point where rebuilding our network into a domain may be useful but we can still do a workgroup and have all the functionality that we need. Really, I want to upgrade our network to a domain system for the fact of having control over both offices from a single point and being able to lock down the computers some more (We have had issues with employees thinking they were computer techs and crashing programs with playing with things, or installing malware and such.) However, I don't want to upgrade because I don't know enough about Windows Server edition and Active Directory control just quite yet, and because redoing our entire network would very near push some of our people in our other office to quit as they are so finicky with computer and technology upgrades and changes.

    Jamie, you mentioned that you use your server for remote access VPN. I'm just curious if this means you have VPN software hosted to run on your server for remote access, which is basically just forwarded through your router, or do you have a firewall device with remote-to-site VPN established and linked directly (and only) to an interface on the server?
  7. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    The server acts as the firewall. It has two ethernet ports, one connected directly to the internet and the other connected to the internal network. Windows Small Business Server comes with Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server and that acts as the firewall and manages the VPN and Remote Access.

    I use the VPN at home but I have everyone else setup with the Remote Web Workplace. This allows them open our "employee" website from home and access their company email, company intranet, and even have remote access to their workstation via Terminal Services.

    In all honesty I'm all self taught with the whole server thing. I've found that most all the configuration in server 2003 is wizard based and very easy to use. I was able to setup our entire server in one day. I imagine 2008 is even easier.

    The only thing I hate about Windows Server is the extreme cost. It cost me $1,800 for 1 server and 5 users, then I had to buy 5 more users for $800. Then the Dell Server was close to $6000.

    I can use Mac OS X server that will do everything mentioned above for $500 (unlimited users). Mac OS X server will even manage my Windows computers whereas Windows Server can't do squat for my Macs without 3rd party add-ons.

    I've been debating if it'd be more cost effective to switch to Mac for our server over upgrading to the next MS Server.

    If you have any more questions regarding Windows Server let me know, I'll do my best to help

    **I forgot to mention I also run anti-spam software on our server**
  8. choucove

    choucove Active Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Thanks, Jamie, your information was very helpful! The only reason why we ended up doing Windows 7 on our server recently instead of Windows Server 2008 is because of cost. It's just honestly ridiculous how expensive it can be. I have heard, though, that Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business, and Windows 7 Professional all have an integrated server CAL license so you shouldn't (in theory) have to purchase an additional license for each workstation with these operating systems. However, Server 2008 is a lot more picky and selective about using these integrated CALs.
  9. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    I'm not sure about the CAL's being built in to the OS. Maybe the Enterprise version but I don't think the "Off the shelf" versions of Windows include the CAL.

    The server will let you know if you don't have enough CAL's installed, that's why I had to get the additional 5.
  10. heyskull

    heyskull Very Active Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    I've got 2 1TB Storage drives on the network.
    One storage and the other backup.
    Works great.
    Easier to set up that a server.


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