New server advice- reliability most important

OS: Windows Server 2008 R2 64 Bit

Users: Single office, maximum 10 simultaneous users


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: SQL server running electronic medical records (text data, tables and charts, and photographic and medical images)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: : keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers



PARTS PREFERENCES: I am used to ASUS, but I have an open mind. Must have: ECC memory. Want to hear about using SSD for system disk. Want hardware raid 5 on board, and I also want to consider external hardware raid via esata for backups. I currently use Acronis for server backup (creates system image nightly)



ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Most important issue is reliability- I need to ensure that I can get back up and running in a couple of hours at most. I puchased a Dell server with the 4 hour response time. They have already been here 4 times. I want to build my own device out of reliable, commonly available parts that I can replace myself if necessary. Again, reliability is my most important issue, not speed. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a slow machine either, its has to be relatively fast, but it is not the most important issue.
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  1. Unless you consider yourself a computer expert, you're much better off with getting a prebuilt server with a very good service contract.

    Trust me, you do NOT want to be trying to learn how to diagnose issues when you've got people screaming for their database to be back up.

    The biggest hurdle to fast self diagnostic is you need spare known working parts to swap in and/or other working rigs to test parts in.
  2. Thanks so much for your advice.

    I am not up on the newer stuff, but the machines I built in the past worked flawlessly for many years. The Dell I bought recently is the first time I have ever experienced problems with bad ram, bad mobo, etc. etc (four service calls and four major system component failures all within about 3 months, not to mention the failures in the client pc's I bought). This made me worry that all prebuilt systems are basically thrown together with little testing and basically no quality control- or did I just get a lemon?

    That is the only reason I am thinking about going back to self built devices. But I do hear what you are saying- things are getting more complex now- there are so many choices and so many incompatibilities, you have to read all the fine print to make sure that everything goes together-that does worry me. A product life span is measured in months now- things come and go so fast- it is very hyperdynamic- I don't want to get stuck... its not simple like it used to be.

    BTW, I started working with with computers when we needed an entire room to hold one device (in the early 70's ) and I have had pc's since 1982, and have fussed around with system builds for the last 20 years, but admittedly none in the last 5 yrs. So much has changed, thats what brought me here. I was hoping to get some experienced opinions about what the most reliable parts are in today's market, if I was going to build my own system- dual power supplies, single multicore chip, ECC ram, raid hardware etc.

    For example: I used Adaptec raid card, SCSI 10k Fujitsu drives raid 5 with hot spare, intel xeon chip on an ASUS mo board etc-and it ran great 24/7 for 10 years. What would you build if you were making something today? Would an SSD for the OS be a good idea (?maybe RAID 1 mirrored SSDs), or is this not ready for prime time?

    Q: Is it still possible to build something that lasts more than a couple of years? If not, I will go with readymade, and plan on replacing the whole thing as soon as warranty support ends, I guess...
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