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Best drive setup for small server

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August 11, 2010 2:24:00 PM

I am building a small office server, but need to dramatically increase speed. It will have Windows 7 pro installed.

I would like to setup 3 hard drives: 1 for the OS and 2 for the data. Is this possible?

Also, should I go with 3 SSD drives with two being on RAID 1 for the data?
a c 116 G Storage
August 11, 2010 3:14:33 PM

This is similar to what I currently have on my computer.

My Win7 64-bit, and all programs, games, etc. is on a 750 GB HDD (I know overkill, but I had it around).

My data files, photos, music, videos, etc. are on two 1 TB HDDs in RAID1 (mirroring) - so it's like having one 1 TB HDD. Do not go with RAID0 (striping).

Monthly backup is on an External 1.5 TB HDD in a Rosewill enclosure utilizing eSATA cable. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All HDDs are Seagate 7200 RPM drives. SSDs are nice for the OS and programs, but don't have the capacity for large amounts of data.
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a b G Storage
August 11, 2010 3:28:39 PM

Think of RAID as helping uptime, data backup as helping data security. If uptime is critical, use RAID 1, for the OS disks and data disks. Don't let this stop you from a really good backup plan.

SSD is for speed. It should be considered a separate issue from whether you are going to RAID.

One option is maybe single drive for the OS, have an image stored separately, that you can apply to a new replacement drive in case of failure. RAID 1 for data & daily backup to an external, CD, tape or something else. Or raid 1 the OS drive on top of this, but keep the image handy in case of corruption, virus, etc.
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August 11, 2010 3:59:10 PM

I only need about 200GB for data, and speed is paramount. I need to get files quickly to other users. Should I just consider SSD's then? If so, I was thinking of putting the OS on one SSD drive so how large should this be for Win7? Can I then have two SSD's with RAID1? (total of 3 drives) Or should I just get two SSD's on RAID1 that has the OS and all the data? Which would be faster?
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a c 116 G Storage
August 11, 2010 5:40:23 PM

ahthurungnone said:
I only need about 200GB for data, and speed is paramount. I need to get files quickly to other users. Should I just consider SSD's then? If so, I was thinking of putting the OS on one SSD drive so how large should this be for Win7? Can I then have two SSD's with RAID1? (total of 3 drives) Or should I just get two SSD's on RAID1 that has the OS and all the data? Which would be faster?


Win7 requires 16 GBs of disk space for the program. In addition to this, you need some space for future updates, disk fragmentation issues, and other add-ons. This SSD can also store your programs. Therefore, I suggest this 80 GB SSD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is a link to a 256 GB SSD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You will need two of these for RAID1 (mirroring)
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a b G Storage
August 11, 2010 8:07:58 PM

Lots of questions before anyone here can make a solid recommendation:

What file types, how often are they accessing? How big are the files? Is there a lot of random IO, or more sequential? How many simultaneous users?

Also network speeds/latencies are going to be more of an issue than HD, or at least a large percentage of file time. Do you have a gigabit LAN? Decent switch?
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August 12, 2010 1:34:03 AM

I am not certain of the switch. All the computers are hooked to a switch where the server also connects to.

We only store our accounting database software and other excel, word files. Currently, it takes forever to work with the database since all the data is on the server, so every click sends a request to the server.

Any more ideas?
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a b G Storage
August 12, 2010 1:06:13 PM

For fat clients on a LAN, network speed and server speed are the limits. I would look at the switch and see if it supports gigabit ethernet, and if the PCs and servers have that capability as well.

HD speed on the server is one issue, but so is processor, etc. I'm not sure how optimized win 7 pro is to be a server, as opposed to an actual server OS (for example windows server 2008 or maybe windows small business server). There's a cost difference, but there's a reason. Also with win server you can use terminal server, which opens a session on the server itself, so there's no network latency.

What are the specs on your "server" - RAM, processor, etc?
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a c 415 G Storage
August 13, 2010 1:06:52 AM

ahthurungnone, you didn't respond to our answers to your other thread, so I'll ignore that one and continue my replies here.

It sounds like you're trying to replace an existing server that isn't fast enough. It would help to know a little more about this server and whether or not it's bottlenecked at the CPU, disk or network. If the bottleneck isn't the disk drives then getting souped-up disks for your new system probably won't help.

Assuming that:

- the clients are accessing the database directly and not going through software that runs on the server, and
- the bottleneck really is on disks that hold your database

...then the strategy that's most likely to fix your problem is to use an SSD for the database. That's likely to work no matter whether the current problems are due to slow access times or transfer rates, since SSDs are faster at both (particularly access times which can be more important in a multiuser scenario)

SSDs are a lot less prone to failure than HDDs are, so I wouldn't think you'd need to use RAID (but you DO need to do backups to mitigate against other risks).

For home users I'd normally recommend SSD for the OS and HDD for data, but in your case if the database is the bottleneck then that's where the SSD should go. An SSD for the OS is not likely to give you any significant performance gains once the system is booted and running, since all of the disk data that needs to be used would normally get loaded into memory and stay there anyway (a home system is different because of frequent switching between programs).
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August 13, 2010 5:08:12 PM

Only the data is on file server for the accounting software (which is 16gb though). Each time a user clicks on a function, it has to go to the server to pull up that action's data.

So far, I think I will use a smaller SSD for the OS on the server and a completely separate SSD drive for the data which the users access. Hopefully, this will be fast.
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August 13, 2010 5:11:54 PM

gtvr said:
For fat clients on a LAN, network speed and server speed are the limits. I would look at the switch and see if it supports gigabit ethernet, and if the PCs and servers have that capability as well.

HD speed on the server is one issue, but so is processor, etc. I'm not sure how optimized win 7 pro is to be a server, as opposed to an actual server OS (for example windows server 2008 or maybe windows small business server). There's a cost difference, but there's a reason. Also with win server you can use terminal server, which opens a session on the server itself, so there's no network latency.

What are the specs on your "server" - RAM, processor, etc?


I'm pretty sure that our switches do not support gigabit ethernet, but how could I tell? Is there something on the switch that would let me know? We only have few switches, so I could upgrade if I had to as long as the current cat5 cables are sufficient. (I can't run new wires. It's an old building.)

I was going to go with a 2600Mhz transfer mobo with 8GB of PC3 10666 ram and a quad-core 3.0mhz pcu and two ssd drives. The mobo would be able to handle larger processors later for upgrade purposes.

I noticed that server mobos have lots of room for RAM, so I was wondering if 8GB is even enough. Thoughts?
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August 13, 2010 5:13:36 PM

By the way, I REALLY appreciate the help.
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a b G Storage
August 13, 2010 6:57:29 PM

ahthurungnone said:
I'm pretty sure that our switches do not support gigabit ethernet, but how could I tell? Is there something on the switch that would let me know? We only have few switches, so I could upgrade if I had to as long as the current cat5 cables are sufficient. (I can't run new wires. It's an old building.)

I was going to go with a 2600Mhz transfer mobo with 8GB of PC3 10666 ram and a quad-core 3.0mhz pcu and two ssd drives. The mobo would be able to handle larger processors later for upgrade purposes.

I noticed that server mobos have lots of room for RAM, so I was wondering if 8GB is even enough. Thoughts?


You could google the model number, if that's visible. Also some switches will have status lights for 100/1000, so that's a clue. But if you have cat 5 wiring, not cat 5e, that limits you to 100Mb.

If the server is JUST doing file/data access, processor and RAM will not have a huge effect. Look at your current box, and see what the processor is running at in task manager, and if you have much available RAM. Of course, with a good quad core server with a lot of RAM, you can do other stuff with it if you want to add features.

SSD can help you - again, the network could be a big limiting factor, due to bandwidth and latency issues (maybe!!!). If you run the app directly from the server, how does it perform? If it's good, you may really want to look at terminal server.
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