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Need help with server building

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February 19, 2010 9:56:19 PM

Alright, I have a ton of experience with computers, but have never built a server. I've been asked to build a server for a business, but have absolutely no idea what to go with. The server needs to be on at all times, it needs to be able to run a simple employee time clock software(it will be the monitoring end of the software), and it will have the business quickbooks database on it(will be accessed from another PC in the office). I would like for it to work like a NAS where it would backup 3-4 PCs, one of those being a laptop. Also, these 3-4 PCs are all connected using wireless to the network.

I basically need suggestions on what hardware I should go with, if I should go with a RAID controller(separate card or on-board), what OS I should go with(whether you guys think basic windows would suffice or if I should go with windows server or windows home server and so on), and if it is possible to do all of this including making it somewhat like a NAS. If so, what software should I use for the NAS feature. I'm running pretty much blind here on the server end because I can build and I'm sure i'll have no problem managing it, but getting there is my problem. Thanks in advance for any help

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February 19, 2010 10:29:05 PM

What kind of server ? A "peer to peer" server can be just a plain old PC with good HD's and CPU / memory and crappy GFX. I use these in offices where there are less than 10 PC's connected and server OS is therefore not required. You can also skip the whole PC box thing and use a simple NAS such as this:

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

No software is required other than what's on the NAS already. I have been using the NV+ for about 3.5 years in my office (5 laptops / 5 desktops). We use Quickbooks and the QB files are kept on the NAS...we have a single station license for QB.

The "catch" is the software they are using....if the software needs to run on "Windows Server" as opposed to a plain ole file server environment, the above solutions can't be used.

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February 19, 2010 11:28:00 PM

I wasn't exactly sure what kind of server I would use, which is why I came here to ask. I would gladly just setup a NAS and have the quickbooks files on there, but the issue is the employee time clock software they want on it. The software needs to be physically open and running on the computer for it to run on the other computer where the employees actually clock in and out. I don't think that's possible on a NAS because there is no actual OS that the software can run on. Unless I am completely wrong, which very well could be since I have no experience with either servers or a NAS. Thanks a lot for the reply..it did give me some other ideas of things I could do. Any other ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well.
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February 20, 2010 12:15:55 AM

What is your budget for the server? What are the os requirements for your time clock software? It doesn't sound like you have high hardware requirments so maybe you can repurpose an old computer or two. There is a lot you can do on a shoestring budget if you are resourcefull. Windows Home Server could handle your backups but I am not sure if you can run your time clock software on it. If I remember correctly XP Professional can support 10 concurrent connections. WHS has this restriction also. Maybe you can repurpose 2 computers. A low power one for your timeclock and the second one with Windows Home Server for backups and your quickbook data. WHS can also do file duplication and use any hard drives for space so you won't need to worry about raid and similar size hard drives. What about security, ie restrictions on folders from internal access? Don't forget that you should also have backups to recover from in case of hardware failure. Offsite would be great too. WHS/fileserver is only part of your disaster/recovery plan.
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February 20, 2010 12:41:25 AM

budget isn't a problem, but I would assume that I wouldn't need to spend a lot since it would be a low power solution either way, so it shouldnt cost much. I do like the ability of windows home server. I was doing some research on it prior to posting here. I was just never able to figure out if I was able to run software behind the nice looking user interface, since its based on windows server 2003. If I can run it behind the user interface, then that's my solution. If not, then I can either go with one pc with whs and another for the time clock program. Or I could go with one for all of it, but I find that to be a harder solution. Anyone know if you can run software behind the whs user interface?
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February 21, 2010 2:57:33 PM

orlex said:
I wasn't exactly sure what kind of server I would use, which is why I came here to ask. I would gladly just setup a NAS and have the quickbooks files on there, but the issue is the employee time clock software they want on it. The software needs to be physically open and running on the computer for it to run on the other computer where the employees actually clock in and out. I don't think that's possible on a NAS because there is no actual OS that the software can run on. Unless I am completely wrong, which very well could be since I have no experience with either servers or a NAS. Thanks a lot for the reply..it did give me some other ideas of things I could do. Any other ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well.


There's an OS on the NAS, not a Windows one. You need to check the system requirements on that timeclock software.
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