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Small Business Server Build - Help Request!

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November 23, 2009 9:54:06 PM

Hey Guys,

First I just wanted to say hello to the community. I'm new here but I plan to stay to learn more in the areas that I'm lacking in the knowledge department. I hope I'm not out of line to ask for help and hope that you guys/gals can help me out.

Now, when it comes to servers I really am needing some help. I am an entrepreneur and one of my companies is needing a server to make things easier on everyone here. I will fill in some of the details and hopefully we can find a solution.

Business: Small Business - Construction (One state based for the most part)
Users: 4-5 Users In-House with 3-4 extra users (same users, multiple computers) when out of the office.
Main Usage: File Storage (Basic Office Docs, Photos (not a lot)), Accounting System (possibly on the system)
Other: Server will eventually be used to connect remotely when out of the office (file access). We may also eventually run our email system and the full website off of the server as well.

I have four new PC rigs that I'm ordering this week. Even though this isn't my first PC build(s), this will be my first Server Build.



APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: I'm ready to buy today or anytime after that.

BUDGET RANGE: There really is no limit. For now we want to cover what we need and have room to upgrade. I would say $1,000-$2,000 or less is probably a good range. Right now we have survived with 2 external HD's, so we don't need to go crazy for this company. That doesn't mean it has to hit the mark. It could be way less.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: File-Sharing, Email System, Accounting, Photo-Sharing, Web Access on-site and off-site.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com / Tigerdirect.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: by brand or type: Gigabyte (preferred)/Asus Mobo, Open to CPU AMD/Intel (Been using more AMD lately), Full-Tower, WD HD, else I am mostly open to.

OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Open

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Minimal sound for now as this will be sitting in one of the offices until we relocate.

- All users will be running on Windows 7.
- The company is family owned and operated, so all users in the office are family. Monitoring of each PC would still be nice.
- Server is used to store files and share among members.
- Future - Server will be the central point for our email system and maybe our website (not a crazy amount of hits to the site a day since it's not a national or international company).
- Server will eventually have web-access to the server outside of work area to gain access to certain files
- Accounting system may be stored on the server as well.
- Monitoring is important. Watching what comes in and what goes out. Also who is doing what at any given time. You know, all the good stuff.
- Up-time and Speed is also important. It doesn't have to be the fastest thing out, but I also don't want a system that's going to bog down all the time and have bottleneck.
- Mirroring of storage would be nice. RAID 1? Eh, I may just use Externals at a different location.
- Hot-swapping of HD's is also important so that we can keep the system going at all times.




OTHER

Software: As stated all rigs will be ran off W7. I'm open to a server OS as I have nothing set yet. Anything that will help us out in this department would be greatly appreciated.

Firewall Hardware: I have nothing set in stone for this either. I'm looking for suggestions. I'm looking for a lock-tight system (don't we all?) each port modifiable. Grant or deny access. Obviously it's important to see what's coming in but it's also important to see what is going out as well.




Sorry for the clutter. I decided to bring this forum up before I further my search for the build. I did this because my time right now is very limited as I have another company that I'm working on planting my two feet in on as well. This will at least give me a guideline so that I can look further into my needs and I hope will allow me to pick a list to see what you guys think. Please feel free to provide a list as well.

I will have to check later to see if there's anything that I have missed. Feel free to ask any questions. I will be more than happy to answer them!

Any help is so greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!
November 23, 2009 10:08:29 PM

If it's in a business environment, why not buy a real server from Dell or HP? It will most likely be more reliable, on-site support will be available, etc. Building servers for home use is fun, but I wouldn't do that in a corporate environment where users expect the server to always be up and running.
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November 23, 2009 10:48:53 PM

Yes, you are right. I guess I shouldn't have limited my thread to just only builds.

I am open to purchasing a server from Dell or HP as well (was actually looking at HP and Dell some last week). I looked into some of their systems. Last time I got a quote (Dell only) they quoted me at $5.5k. Then the second time it was $4k. Obviously I would either build systems to my spec or ask for a quote from HP as well. Right out of the box, I don't really see the need to purchase a Server at that range. If you think there's an absolute reason for it, then I'm all ears.

Any recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated. Like I said, I'm open to upgrade later. I'd prefer to be covered now of course but if I may need to upgrade in the future please include what upgrades I may need. Of course, if it's easier/cheaper to do it now, I'd prefer it.

Thanks!
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November 23, 2009 11:17:59 PM

Did you ask for a server with Windows Server, CALs for all of your users, etc.? A base server that meets your requirements isn't that expensive, unless you went with SAS drives in a RAID configuration, a powerful CPU with lots of memory (useless for a file server, but may be required for a web server if it will be accessed by thousands of users at the same time), a backup solution (you really need one), etc. We need to know a bit more about the web server and the mail solution.
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November 24, 2009 1:13:26 AM

File Server + Email Server + Web Server = Virtualization.

I would look at a dual-quad Xeon (Nehalem) from Dell so you will have 16 cores available. Build the most basic setup so dont add ANY hard drives or ram because Dell RIPS you off. I love Dell but I can't stand how they charge $600 for a 1TB drive as part of a build but you can buy the same drive separately from their accessory section for $100 or less. For ram, you can get 24GB of DDR3-1333 Registered ECC for under $800 (6 x 4GB @ $125 each on newegg). For CPUs, the sweet spot is the Xeon 5520 2.26GHz as the lower models don't include hpyerthreading and the faster models cost increases exponentially.

Now that I read all of your post, you should build a 1156 Xeon (single cpu) as they probably won't need all the power from a dual-quad server. I like the new 1156 Xeons because of their Turbo Boost. SuperMicro makes some great motherboards and cases.

For HDDs: I would use Raid 1 at the very least. I would have the OS and apps on a Raid 1 and the File/Email/Web servers on another pair of drives in Raid 1. With the Web and Email servers as Virtual Machines, you can create partitions through the Host OS for both.

For Virtualization: Server 2008 includes a HyperVisor but I don't know how robust it is in comparison to VMware's Workstation. I have used VMware Workstation for a couple of years and its a good fairly inexpensive solution, at least when compared to ESX and other more robust solutions. But since you will only need 3 'servers', Workstation is a good solution. For the File Server, I don't see why you couldn't use some sort of FTP/VPN/HTTP/iSCSI setup. You seem to know more about server administration than me so I'll leave you to the setup. For security, use a VM Web Server and VM Email server and the File server can be on the Host OS. The Web and Email servers can be completely isolated from the host to prevent damage from malicious activity.

For VM features whether you use Server 2008's Hypervisor, VMware Workstation or something else, you want at least 2 cores assignable to each VM, preferably more and high limits on ram.

For OS: Win 7 x64 Pro for the Host and maybe Linux for the VMs(since its free). I remember Vista Ultimate allowing at least one copy of itself installed as a VM so see if MS changed that with 7.
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November 24, 2009 7:22:16 PM

GhislainG said:
Did you ask for a server with Windows Server, CALs for all of your users, etc.? A base server that meets your requirements isn't that expensive, unless you went with SAS drives in a RAID configuration, a powerful CPU with lots of memory (useless for a file server, but may be required for a web server if it will be accessed by thousands of users at the same time), a backup solution (you really need one), etc. We need to know a bit more about the web server and the mail solution.



Well...cool. This is my second time writing this as Firefox decided to add recently visited sites above my tabs. Switching from one tab to the next it decided to click that. Tried to stop it before it reloaded. Too late. Well, now that won't happen again. Disabled and removed. ;) 

With the application process, I wasn't asked to pick. The first quote used CALs and the second quote didn't. Which is one of the reasons how they got the quote down.

I understand that my needs wouldn't be expensive. Like I said, we used two external HD's for a temporary server and it works okay for the time being. With the computers being used and it being ran off of one of the PC's and so fourth it really isn't even close to a good system. I have took charge and am building the PC's to my likings/requirements, and of course am working on the server. For what I'm looking for, I believe I have set a budget that is reasonable.

Realistically I could just build/buy an NAS but a server would be our best bet when it comes to web-access and our emailing system. Also, there won't be even close to 'thousands of users' on the web server. I have provided the users on the system, give or take a few.

Now, if we decided to put our whole website onto our dedicated server then there could be hundreds of visitors a day. Just keep in mall that this is centrally based in one state. The site is used to spread the word to those local to us, but we don't rely on it too much. Especially since everyone knows about us, and sees us. Word of mouth works good. It also helps that I'm a marketing specialist too.

As far as the web-access for the server, I'm thinking I may just get a dedicated hosting service/other in the near future. I may not even hook it to the website at all because if people can't find it, less chances of "bad things" from happening. Regardless, when it comes to the online part I will take the appropriate measures to make it secure (i.e. htacess, etc.).

Just in case you're wondering, I keep saying for the future because at the moment we are on a shared hosting service (I know, I know, don't tell me, haha) right now. I just did the domain transfer and added hosting. Like I said, the website isn't a big concern. It's more of an informative website than anything as this is a service driven company.

Right now, our hosting is Windows as it's nothing special and Linux wouldn't be needed for what we have. Our email system is also hooked to our hosting. We are currently using Outlook/Thunderbird. Like I said, nothing special.

Let me know if this answers your questions. Thank you for your time!
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November 24, 2009 7:31:16 PM

specialk90 said:
File Server + Email Server + Web Server = Virtualization.

I would look at a dual-quad Xeon (Nehalem) from Dell so you will have 16 cores available. Build the most basic setup so dont add ANY hard drives or ram because Dell RIPS you off. I love Dell but I can't stand how they charge $600 for a 1TB drive as part of a build but you can buy the same drive separately from their accessory section for $100 or less. For ram, you can get 24GB of DDR3-1333 Registered ECC for under $800 (6 x 4GB @ $125 each on newegg). For CPUs, the sweet spot is the Xeon 5520 2.26GHz as the lower models don't include hpyerthreading and the faster models cost increases exponentially.

Now that I read all of your post, you should build a 1156 Xeon (single cpu) as they probably won't need all the power from a dual-quad server. I like the new 1156 Xeons because of their Turbo Boost. SuperMicro makes some great motherboards and cases.

For HDDs: I would use Raid 1 at the very least. I would have the OS and apps on a Raid 1 and the File/Email/Web servers on another pair of drives in Raid 1. With the Web and Email servers as Virtual Machines, you can create partitions through the Host OS for both.

For Virtualization: Server 2008 includes a HyperVisor but I don't know how robust it is in comparison to VMware's Workstation. I have used VMware Workstation for a couple of years and its a good fairly inexpensive solution, at least when compared to ESX and other more robust solutions. But since you will only need 3 'servers', Workstation is a good solution. For the File Server, I don't see why you couldn't use some sort of FTP/VPN/HTTP/iSCSI setup. You seem to know more about server administration than me so I'll leave you to the setup. For security, use a VM Web Server and VM Email server and the File server can be on the Host OS. The Web and Email servers can be completely isolated from the host to prevent damage from malicious activity.

For VM features whether you use Server 2008's Hypervisor, VMware Workstation or something else, you want at least 2 cores assignable to each VM, preferably more and high limits on ram.

For OS: Win 7 x64 Pro for the Host and maybe Linux for the VMs(since its free). I remember Vista Ultimate allowing at least one copy of itself installed as a VM so see if MS changed that with 7.



Thank you for your suggestions! I will have to look into some of the software that you preferred as I am not too familiar with server software so any little bit helps in that area.

As far as the file server goes, FTP and such could work. However, I want the best possible solution that is going to be less of a PITA. Right now for example our external HD's are hooked to the network and steps have to be made on each individual computer to add them to the computer. Besides that, as long as you're in the network and have been granted access, you can go in and out of the externals.



----------------------------------------------------------
Just to let you guys know. These are the two quotes I got from Dell.


Quote 1 (part numbers are off. They were before the QTY: 1 and they were thrown off when pasted as they were sitting in floating tables):

1 PowerEdge T410 Chassis with upto 6 Hot-Plug Hard Drives and LCD Diagnostics 317-1285
1 8GB Memory (8x1GB), 1066MHz Single Ranked UDIMMs for 2 Processors 317-1208
1 E5504 Xeon Processor, 2.0GHz 4M Cache, 800MHz Max Mem 317-1220
1 E5504 Xeon Processor, 2.0GHz 4M Cache, 800MHz Max Mem 317-1300
1 PowerEdge T410 Heat Sync for 2Processors 341-4158
1 HD Multi-Select 410-1992
1 Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, Standard Edition with Media 313-7919
1 Baseboard Management Controller 313-7842
1 Optical Cable T410 313-9100
1 16X DVD-ROM,SATA, INTERNAL 330-5280
1 Dell Management Console 330-4150
1 Electronic System Documentation and OpenManage DVD Kit 341-9234
1 Add-in PERC6/i (SATA/SAS Controller) supporting 3-6 Hot-Plug HDs - RAID 5 330-4146
1 Power Supply, Redundant, 580W 420-6967
1 80GB Microsoft OS Partition OvOverride 310-8509
1 Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C14,15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter 310-8509
1 Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C14,15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter 994-6517
1 Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Initial Year 994-5938
1 Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Extended Year 993-7242
1 Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, 2Year Extended 994-2400
1 Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, Initial Year 993-7312
1 ProSupport for End Users: 7x24 HW / SW Tech Support and Assistance for End Users, 3 Year 989-3439

1 On-Site Installation Declined 341-8729
1 750GB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hot Plug Hard Drive 341-8729
1 750GB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hot Plug Hard Drive 341-8729
1 750GB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5" Hot Plug Hard Drive
1 5-Pack of Windows Small Business Server 2008 USER CALs (Standard)
1 Special Pricing Applied *
-DISCOUNT $571.40 *
-DISCOUNT/COUPON APPL *
-DISCOUNT $81.00

1 SonicWALL TZ 200 Wireless-N TotalSecure 1 Year $728.99

Total Price w/Discounts: $5,401.84




--------------------------------------------------
Quote 2 (part numbers are out of alignment).


223-6141
1 Quad Core Xeon X3323 Processor2x3M Cache, 2.5GHz, 1333MHz FSB for PowerEdge T300 311-6420
1 4GB 667MHz (2X2GB), Dual Ranked DIMMs 310-5017
1 No Keyboard Selected 341-6086
1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive 341-5437
1 No Floppy Drive 410-1992
1 Microsoft Small Business Server 2008, Standard Edition with Media 430-2008
1 On-Board Dual Gigabit Network Adapter 313-9281
1 16x DVD-ROM Drive, Internal SATA 420-9916
1 5-Pack of Windows Small Business Server 2008 USER CALs (Standard) 330-5280
1 Dell Management Console 330-0317
1 Electronic Documentation and OpenManage CD Kit, PowerEdge T300 341-6086
1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive 341-6355
1 Add-in PERC6/i RAID Controller(SATA/SAS Controller) which supports 3-4 Hard Drives RAID 5 330-0314
1 Chassis with Cabled Hard Driveand Non-Redundant Power Supplyfor PowerEdge T300 420-6967
1 80GB Microsoft OS Partition OvOverride 310-8509
1 Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C14,15 amp, wall plug, 10 feet / 3 meter 987-4922
1 Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, 2Year Extended 987-4992
1 ProSupport for End Users: 7x24 HW / SW Tech Support and Assistance for End Users, 3 Year 990-1818
1 Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Extended Year 989-3439


1 Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Initial Year 987-9340
1 Pro Support for End User: Next Business Day Onsite Service After Problem Diagnosis, Initial Year 900-9997
1 On-Site Installation Declined 341-6086
1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive 463-0742
1 Special Pricing Applied *
-DISCOUNT $542.00 *
-DISCOUNT/COUPON APPL *
-DISCOUNT $81.00

1 SonicWALL TZ 200 Wireless-N TotalSecure 1 Year (A2904306) $728.99


Total Price w/Discounts: $4,003.08




---------------------------------------------------------------------

I haven't priced everything out as a whole or looked at the detail list as a whole. I'm sure like mentioned that I could get HD's and other either from their website or else where for a lot cheaper. Either way, I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!
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November 24, 2009 8:33:20 PM

I now understand your environment. A PowerEdge T310 more than meets your requirements and it includes SBS 2008. It even includes a backup solution, but I would recommend that you acquire a few additional cartridges and store your backups off site. You should also configure a RAID0 for the OS and one for your storage.

Using HTTPS for a web server doesn't make it more secure. You need a good firewall to protect any system that's connected directly to the Internet. You could also use VMWare Server 2.0 (it's free) and run it as a VM. If I were you, I would probably consider a dedicated hosting service for the web and mail. Use your server for local storage and accounting (a good reason not to have Internet services on it).

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November 24, 2009 8:45:03 PM

GhislainG said:
I now understand your environment. A PowerEdge T310 more than meets your requirements and it includes SBS 2008. It even includes a backup solution, but I would recommend that you acquire a few additional cartridges and store your backups off site. You should also configure a RAID0 for the OS and one for your storage.

Using HTTPS for a web server doesn't make it more secure. You need a good firewall to protect any system that's connected directly to the Internet. You could also use VMWare Server 2.0 (it's free) and run it as a VM. If I were you, I would probably consider a dedicated hosting service for the web and mail. Use your server for local storage and accounting (a good reason not to have Internet services on it).



Those are the recommendations from Dell. I don't believe there were a ton of questions to fully adapt for the most accurate quote.

I never said HTTPS for the web server would cover the basis here. Well, I didn't mean it would cover it. I also said that I was going to make the move towards a dedicated hosting service for my web and email once I decide to make that move to the server.

Either way, at the very least I would like to access the local file-storage where ever I'm out (out of the office). Also, do you think I could take the quotes given and minimize the expense to reach within budget that makes more sense to my needs? Thanks!
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November 24, 2009 9:22:33 PM

First off, that 2nd quote is using OLD hardware.

Now that you mention paying for shared web hosting, that is probably a much better and more secure solution in addition to being faster and less expensive. And using the web hosting's email server is better too as its easier to maintain and more secure.

I really think you are just looking at a File server and what about a backup server for the other 5 or so PCs?

A few months ago, I setup the IT infrastructure for a small office about the same number of users as yours. There were 4 new PCs and a File Server/User PC for the boss. The 4 PCs came from Dell as they were cheaper than building them myself (and EASIER since no actual building). I built the boss' PC and included the File server into his PC to cut costs. I ran Cat 6 cable throughout and used D-Links Gaming Gigabit Router and Gigabit Switch. The D-Link switch is the fastest I have ever used and low priced. I was able to achieve xfer speeds of 70-80MB/s from and to the File server. The file server also acted as the Backup server where each PC backed itself up to the File server. The last part of the setup was a networked copy machine that can scan and convert to PDF, Word or others and send to the Filer server.

If you haven't purchased the PCs yet, I can give my sales rep at Dell who was great. The 4 Dells included a 22" LCD, Vostro 220, e7200 (core 2 duo), 2GB, Vista Bus but now 7 Pro, and MS Office Small Business for about $600. WAYYYYY cheaper than building.

For the File Server: I used an Antec P180 case, ASUS mobo, Q8300, 8GB ram, 2 150GB Velociraptors in Raid 1 for the OS and apps, and 2 1TB WD Blacks in Raid 1 for the File server.

For you,

Xeon X3430 2.53GHz 1156 (the X3420 does NOT include Hyperthreading)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I don't see any reason why you would need Windows Server so that saves a lot of money.

I am not too familiar with FTP software but I have read about many programs that provide easy FTP and HTTP access for remote users. Another option to consider is iSCSI for the local users. Using the Network Mapping like they are now and like the job I recently did is not a very reliable solution, ie local PCs 'losing' connection with the server and needing a reboot of server, router or PC to regain connection. With iSCSI, the local PCs see the shared drive as a "local" drive rather than a networked drive. The server is able to use 2 gigabit NICs to increase speed AND reliability.

However, iSCSI tends to cost a little more for the hardware but you can get a self contained system that doesn't need the extra server hardware.

Take a look at this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It will do everything you need for a File server, both local and remote. However, I don't know if it has MPIO which lets you 'bond' the 2 gigabit ports but it does use the 2nd port for backup just in case.

I also remember reading about the Netgear.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This can also act as the backup server.

The best is Enhance.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With 5 drives, you can use Raid 10 for the file server and the 5th drive for backups.
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November 24, 2009 9:26:13 PM

The SonicWALL TZ 200 (and other similar firewalls) offer a VPN solution that can be used for remote access. It also is a good solution to protect your internal network.

Once you have determined your specific requirements, you could contact Dell or HP directly. They probably have other configurations that might better meet your budget. They have servers starting at less than $1000, but a server should include a server OS and SBS is the least expensive.
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November 25, 2009 5:23:45 PM

What I didn't add was that we have printers but it looks like even the NAS (netgear or even QNABB) has print sharing. It's not a huge deal regardless as our accounting computer has it's own computer, and we use one big printer/fax/scanner for the rest on the network.

I believe something like Netgears setup would probably be best for me. Especially if I leave our email system and website on shared hosting. Along with that, we could eliminate the SonicWALL as we can still connect remotely, correct?

Also could I just use something like Netgears system plus some external HD's for back-up? Obviously they wouldn't be quick but it should work. Or is there something relatively better that isn't overboard?

Also, as far as the PC's go, no I haven't purchased them yet. I'm probably going to buy soon. Lucky enough some stuff that I was going to order has hit the "Black Friday deals." It never hurts to save a bit. Even though my computers aren't $600 (more like $700+ with W7 ----NOT including mouse/keyboard (cheap anyway) or monitors), I'm building the PC's that will last for a few years at least (around 8gb ram, 500gb hd's, 3.1 ghz dual-core) I also have tons of room to upgrade if needed in the future. It won't be the fastest thing but that's not what I'm looking for. It will perform just fine with every day-to-day business usage.



Thanks again!


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November 25, 2009 6:10:41 PM

Printers can be shared via the server. As long as the NetGear allows client VPN connections, then you're fine.

Backing up to external drives works well, but what software will you use? The backup software provided with SBS? If it's like the version provided with Windows Server 2008, it requires an external disk that's as large or larger than the disks to backup. I prefer Acronis True Image along with eSATA external disks.

You probably want a complete backup on a regular basis plus incremental backups on all other business days.
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November 26, 2009 12:33:00 AM

I forgot to mention that the price for the Dells included their 3yr Pro support, so I don't have to spend any time fixing them if anything goes wrong.

To be honest, a business requires quick turnaround and minimum downtime. For home built PCs, you would have to either spend more money to replace and fix them or wait for the RMA under warranty, which is never quick. Not getting Dells or HPs with extended warranties is a disservice to the business as they would have to pay someone else to diagnose and fix problems when they could have used an extended warranty provided by the manufacturer, which usually includes next business day service.

Unless this business' employees are running graphics and/or 3D software, there is no need for 8GB of ram and 3+GHz chips.

I have been using Acronis Workstation for several years and it has continued to get better with the latest version being "Backup and Recovery Workstation".

With external USB drives for backups, you are limiting the speed that they can backup over the network.

Take a look here at Dell's deals: http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/two-da...

The Optiplex 360 Minitower is only $499 with 7 Pro, C2D 2.6GHz, 20" LCD, 3yr Warranty and the "Pro Support" is only $79 more which allows the business to call Dell 24/7 for "How To" questions and other normal issues that don't necessarily pertain to hardware problems. Its a lot better than having them calling you all the time.
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November 30, 2009 4:53:57 PM

GhislainG said:
Printers can be shared via the server. As long as the NetGear allows client VPN connections, then you're fine.

Backing up to external drives works well, but what software will you use? The backup software provided with SBS? If it's like the version provided with Windows Server 2008, it requires an external disk that's as large or larger than the disks to backup. I prefer Acronis True Image along with eSATA external disks.

You probably want a complete backup on a regular basis plus incremental backups on all other business days.



Yeah, I may not go the external route. That was just offered on the table for now. eSATA externals are not a bad idea what so ever and is probably the best route. Either that or a small case with eSATA Internals.

Also, you mentioned external eSATA. Some of them come with software. Is the software not good enough? If you could elaborate that would be greatly appreciated. Maybe examples of some of the hardware you use and recommend? Thanks!




specialk90 said:
I forgot to mention that the price for the Dells included their 3yr Pro support, so I don't have to spend any time fixing them if anything goes wrong.

To be honest, a business requires quick turnaround and minimum downtime. For home built PCs, you would have to either spend more money to replace and fix them or wait for the RMA under warranty, which is never quick. Not getting Dells or HPs with extended warranties is a disservice to the business as they would have to pay someone else to diagnose and fix problems when they could have used an extended warranty provided by the manufacturer, which usually includes next business day service.

Unless this business' employees are running graphics and/or 3D software, there is no need for 8GB of ram and 3+GHz chips.

I have been using Acronis Workstation for several years and it has continued to get better with the latest version being "Backup and Recovery Workstation".

With external USB drives for backups, you are limiting the speed that they can backup over the network.

Take a look here at Dell's deals: http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/two-da...

The Optiplex 360 Minitower is only $499 with 7 Pro, C2D 2.6GHz, 20" LCD, 3yr Warranty and the "Pro Support" is only $79 more which allows the business to call Dell 24/7 for "How To" questions and other normal issues that don't necessarily pertain to hardware problems. Its a lot better than having them calling you all the time.



I understand where you're coming from and what you're trying to say. I agree as well. I am more likely to buy from Dell at this point (server anyway), especially since HP was no help at all. I talked to a rep that knew absolutely nothing. They threw me a link the first time without me giving them specs. Not quite sure how they can do that and expect customers to be happy. The second time they sent me a link of a whopping three servers and basically said, pick-one. This was after I told them how unethical and how much they do not listen. I have had no problems with HP, but I will definitely never purchase servers from them, ever.

Also, I understand that there are cheaper PC routes. Yes, I could have bought PCs and got the warranties from a manufacturer but every single person has back-up computers. We have had zero issues of PC's crashing. Does that mean we won't have problems? No, but I do most of the IT around here and if there are problems I address them. Let's just say we haven't had to call anyone else in to recover a PC. Everything is backed up and if needed, I can recover with little downtime. Would it be nice to have Manufacturer support? Sure, but I also got the same with the parts that I purchased for builds. Yes, there's downtime. However, there's downtime for a manufacturer as well if a part fails (which I think is what you were talking about to begin with). Just how it goes, especially in another industry that I am in business in. However, as stated we have spare PC's in case failure occurs. We also are not all on the PCs all at the same time (hardly ever). Being that this is a family business, PCs can be shared if needed to as well.

However, for what I purchased (yes ordered them now) I got a very great deal. For the same price as lower chips, it was almost stupid not to have a better chip for the same price. Also, yes the RAM and Chips are excessive and they won't be used to their full potential probably on any of the PCs. I actually do graphic design and web design/programming as well, but I doubt I will even use the Rig to it's full potential. I know one thing is for certain, we shouldn't have to upgrade for years. That's what I was looking for.

Regardless, I understand and respect what you are saying completely. Thank you!

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November 30, 2009 6:27:55 PM

Quote:
Also, you mentioned external eSATA. Is the software not good enough? If you could elaborate that would be greatly appreciated. Maybe examples of some of the hardware you use and recommend?
I haven't seen one free solution that will backup a server (other than Microsoft backup mentioned before), including Seagate Rebit. Free software usually is fine to backup your PC, but I wouldn't necessarily trust it for a server where open files also need to be backed up. You can definitely try the free software and if it doesn't meet your requirements (perform thorough tests, including partial and full system recovery).

eSATA drives have nothing special. They usually are slightly more expensive because they have both USB and eSATA ports. You need a server/motherboard with an eSATA connector. Using USB works, but backups and restores will take longer.

eSATA enclosures:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Buy 2 enclosures and 2 SATA disks of the size that you need.

Given your environment and requirements, your PC purchases make sense.
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November 30, 2009 9:36:51 PM

Do you still like the iSCSI Netgear for the file server?

For backup software, Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Workstation works great and is full featured. GhislainG is correct in that the free backup software should never be trusted.

Lets say you have this setup: the Netgear iSCSI w/4 drives with 2 sets of Raid 1. One Raid 1 array is used for the file server and the other is used to store backups from all of the PCs. Because you are using iSCSI, each PC sees the file server as a local drive; therefore, each PC can back it up on a local drive. So, you use 2 PCs to backup the file server and store on their own drives so you always have 2 backups. No need for eSata drives.
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November 30, 2009 10:30:55 PM

Quote:
For backup software, Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Workstation works great and is full featured.

Have you tested that version to backup a server? I wasn't able to make the previous version work on my servers.

Quote:
Lets say you have this setup: the Netgear iSCSI w/4 drives with 2 sets of Raid 1. One Raid 1 array is used for the file server and the other is used to store backups from all of the PCs. Because you are using iSCSI, each PC sees the file server as a local drive; therefore, each PC can back it up on a local drive. So, you use 2 PCs to backup the file server and store on their own drives so you always have 2 backups. No need for eSata drives.
And how do you keep a copy off site for disaster recoverY What if there's a fire or the equipment gets stolen? You would then need to backup the NetGear to keep a copy off site.
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December 1, 2009 7:40:09 AM

For off-site backup, look into Amazon's S3 or Mozy online backup depending on how much data you have. STAY AWAY from Carbonite as their 'unlimited' storage is false and restoring files is a pain. FYI, the Amazon S3 service provides a hard drive for the initial backup for large amounts of data. I have heard only good things about Mozy and S3 but have unfortunately used Carbonite. Online backup needs almost no attention once setup.

The Acronis software provides FTP backup as well which should integrate with online backup services.

Something I just remembered: the Acronis software can include "Deduplication" (sp?) to greatly decrease the amount of space needed for backups. It looks at the backups and removes duplicate data. For example, with 5 Win 7 PCs backing up, each PC has identical data for the OS. The Acronis software is able to minimize the amount of backup space needed by removing redundant data.

GhislainG, he won't be using a server OS so there is no need for server specific software.

http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/
http://mozy.com/
http://aws.amazon.com/s3/
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December 1, 2009 11:09:15 AM

Quote:
GhislainG, he won't be using a server OS so there is no need for server specific software.
Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Standard Edition is a server OS, not a workstation OS. That's why I always refer to server backup requirements.
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December 3, 2009 1:04:40 PM

Thanks for the help again guys. I got another quote from dell.

224-6816
1 PowerEdge T110 Chassis with upto 4 Cabled Hard Drives
330-6454
1 SHIP,T110,NO,NO,DAO
317-2039
1 4GB Memory (2x2GB), 1066MHz Dual Ranked UDIMM
317-2022
1 Memory for 1CPU Platform
317-2044
1 X3430 Xeon Processor, 2.4 GHz 8M Cache, Turbo
330-5552
1 PowerEdge T110 Heatsink
341-4158
1 HD Multi-Select
341-0402
1 PERC S300 3Gb/s SAS/SATA Internal Software RAID adaptor
330-5553
1 SAS6iR/S300 Cable, T110
421-1627
1 Windows Server 2008 R2, Foundation Edition
430-2008
1 On-Board Dual Gigabit Network Adapter
313-7919
1 Baseboard Management Controller
330-5707
1 MOD,CBL,SATA ODD,MB,T110
313-9100
1 16X DVD-ROM,SATA, INTERNAL
330-5704
1 MOD,MEDIA,DVD,DOM,PET110
330-5554
1 Add-in PERC S300 (SAS/SATA Controller) supporting 3-4 Hard Drives - RAID 5
341-1135
1 INFO,S300,3 TO 8 HDDS
330-5113
1 Power Cord, NEMA 5-15P to C13 wall plug, 10 feet
905-8070
1 Basic: Business Hours (5X10) Next Business Day On Site Hardware Warranty Repair Initial Year
988-7347
1 No Warranty beyond 1 year
905-1847
1 Dell Hardware Limited Warranty Plus On Site Service Initial Year
906-2139
1 DECLINED CRITICAL BUSINESS SERVER OR STORAGE SOFTWARE SUPPORT PACKAGE-CALL YOUR DELL SALES REP IF UPGRADE NEEDED
900-9997
1 On-Site Installation Declined
341-6086 1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive
341-6086 1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive
341-6086 1 500GB 7.2k RPM Serial ATA 3Gbps 3.5-in Cabled Hard Drive
463-0742 1 Special Pricing Applied
* -DISCOUNT $298.50
* -DISCOUNT/COUPON APPL



Total Price w/Discounts: $1,556.62



He told me of course if it needs to be remote all users need licenses.

Price:

A3064318 5 Elec Dwnld only OLP WINRMTDSKTPSRVCSCAL 2008R2 SNGL NL USRCAL $389.75

Total Price w/Discounts: $389.75




Since I'm not using the email system on the server, I believe he is sending over another quote that will be drastically different. So I will update you guys on that very soon.


Thanks for the help! After that I will try and piece everything together to see what you all think!
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December 3, 2009 2:07:52 PM

That looks like a nice server for the price.
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December 3, 2009 7:16:23 PM

Unless you need a server to perform computations, then this is totally overkill.

You stated that all you need is a file server for local and remote access. I also assume you want reliability for the connection to the file server. Using network mapping is not reliable which is what you get with a normal server.

Research iSCSI and you will find it will work BEST for you.

That Netgear does everything you need and then some. It provides HTTP, FTP and iSCSI and there is very LITTLE setup time involved. Trying to setup Server 2008 will take far more time, especially since you are not familiar with servers to begin with.
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December 3, 2009 8:33:37 PM

Quote:
Using network mapping is not reliable which is what you get with a normal server.
Network mapping has been reliable for large enterprises for a long time. Setting up iSCSI for all PCs isn't necessarily easier or more reliable as it uses the same network.
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December 3, 2009 9:30:21 PM

Enterprises use better routers, switches, servers and software which provides better reliability. If anyone can use regular hardware and network mapping, then iSCSI wouldn't be so popular or even exist.

For someone who is not familiar with setting up servers and networks, setting up a Target and Initiator is easy and simple. Plus, that Netgear has a simple interface for setting up HTTP and FTP access.

A tip for hard drives: don't get them from Dell because their warranty is only covered under Dell. If bought separately, drives have their full manufacturer warranty (3-5yrs) vs just 1yr under Dell.

I see that you only need 1TB of storage (Raid 5 & 3 500GB drives). Should a drive fail, the rebuild process will take several hours (anywhere from 6-12hrs) and greatly slow down access. Raid 1 is nice because a rebuild will take far less time since there is no parity calculation.

GhislainG, it appears that we are on different sides here. You support a full fledged server and I support a simple and very reliable solution for someone inexperienced.
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December 3, 2009 11:53:01 PM

I agree that I'm more familiar with enterprise stuff than home built solutions.
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December 10, 2009 8:05:41 PM

Sorry for the delay in response guys. Been busy here again. I also just got all four rigs up and running.

Now we just need to find the best solution for this business.

Just so we're clear, I understand network management as I have done my fair share of it. I however, have no experience with servers as I've never had a use for it until now. As I said before, it doesn't bother me if I go with something small and is iSCSI, or a server.

This isn't a huge enterprise and we really don't need something that is overly crazy for what we will use it for.

Also, I planned if I went with Dell to eliminate the HD options and to get those on my own. It will be cheaper, and yeah like you said the warranty will have longer terms.


Here's a question for you. What if I went with iSCSI type system for now. Also, what are you recommending for HD's? 2x 500GB or 2x 1 TB of what RAID? One as the primary HD and the other as a mirror?

Also, if I went with the iSCSI (for now) and wanted to upgrade (due to wanting to do more things than just file-sharing) and go with a server from Dell, I take it the iSCI system could be used as the primary back-up. Correct?
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December 11, 2009 5:48:18 AM

iSCSI is best for file sharing/serving.

An email server doesn't require much power and I believe paying for hosted web services has a much better ROI than a local web server - a lot of which is the cost of a 5-10Mb up connection needed for an onsite web server. Plus, good web hosting guarantees 95+% uptime.

Sorry I can't remember but what other types of servers would you need?

If you want to plan for future upgrades, then consider the Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 6 bay model. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It provides everything you need now and later, from remote access(FTP/HTTP) to local access(iSCSI), integration with Exchange/email servers to database servers and web servers.

A couple paragraphs into this article explains iSCSI better than I can.
http://www.enhance-tech.com/product_review/iSCSI_SANs_C...

As you will read, part of the beauty of iSCSI is that each PC sees the shared volumes as a local drive. This allows applications on each PC to use the shared volumes like a local drive. For example, MS Exchange can use a shared volume. So, say you do get a full server later on. What ever software you install on the server can use the iSCSI volumes as their own; thus, you would really only need drives in the server for the OS.

Either way you go, I recommend Intel's PCIe Gigabit NIC for each PC for better performance and more settings are available.

That Netgear comes with 3 500GB drives, so, with just those 3, you could do a Raid 1 for the file server and the 3rd drive for storing backups of the other 4 PCs.

How much space do you need for the file server?
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December 29, 2009 3:10:32 PM

Hey guys,

I hope you had a great holiday. I'm actually still working on the server ordeal as I haven't had much time to dedicate towards it.

Netgear also has some systems on NewEgg that are a lot cheaper. Of course there's a few cheaper solutions but here's an example:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

What's wrong with using something like this and using the 2 external HD's I already have for initial back-up?

Just so you know, we have successfully used the 2 external HD's with our new PC rigs. We are also using Mionet (came with externals) that allows us remote access to the 'servers' so file-sharing is there. Basically it's all we need. We can also gain access to other PC's via the program. In otherwords, if we are out of the office we can log into another PC that is at the office and we can use it's programs (like accounting). So basically that PC can control what happens on that PC with the manager.

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!