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Advice on building small office file sharing server

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September 12, 2011 3:13:46 PM

Hello everyone,

I just want to say thank you in advance for you any and all help you can give me on this one.

My brother is currently running a small p2p file sharing network of five PC's with one of those machines functioning simply as a common file server. Now this server is running Win XP Pro and powered by a very old Pentium D CPU. It has performed well up to this point but the latest employee mutiny (lol) has left him no choice but to upgrade to a machine with modern day specs.

Now, I've had plenty of experience building home rigs ranging from $350 Linux boxes to $2000 gaming monsters. When it comes to anything office server oriented however, I've always stayed away due to security and liability reasons (so much more involved when it comes to both hw and sw). In fact I've always recommended spending the money and hiring professionals for this sort of thing. However, this appears to be a case of simply replacing and old desktop PC with a new one.

Here's my question basically (sorry for the rather large lead-in): Do I even need to consider upgrading to a XEON CPU or can I resort to using a decent consumer level option? My gut feeling and 3 hours of online research suggests that I should just go with the consumer option (preferably an i5-2500k or 1090T).

Here is a listing of the other specs:

Win 7 Pro
16GB of DDR3-1333 (ram is basically free nowadays)
2 x 1TB WD Black HD's in RAID 1
Optical
Seasonic M12II 620W power supply ($6 more than the 520W - no brainer)
Mobo contingent upon CPU choice (most likely ASUS or GIGABYTE branded)

Again any help is certainly appreciated!

Best solution

September 12, 2011 3:56:01 PM

So, what are the primary uses of the server in question? For 5 users, a lot of horsepower really isn't needed. A simple Windows Home Server box could more than meet the needs of an office this size (5 or so users). Pretty much any modern 64-bit CPU, 2-4GB of memory and all the HDD space they can afford and install is all that is needed. Really very simple and supports nearly all typical sever tasks, including automatic backups (via a small client on each PC). WHS supprots up to 10 users.
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September 12, 2011 4:36:51 PM

COLGeek said:
So, what are the primary uses of the server in question? For 5 users, a lot of horsepower really isn't needed. A simple Windows Home Server box could more than meet the needs of an office this size (5 or so users). Pretty much any modern 64-bit CPU, 2-4GB of memory and all the HDD space they can afford and install is all that is needed. Really very simple and supports nearly all typical sever tasks, including automatic backups (via a small client on each PC). WHS supprots up to 10 users.


Thanks for the reply!

The server will simply provide communal access to graphic files; mainly PS and Illustrator based. They'll want to work directly from the server and we'll probably want to outfit the rig with versioning software of some kind. Your choice of WHS just might do the trick. I'll dig a little further and see what versioning options there are for this setup.

As for the hardware, that's all I needed to hear. I'll go ahead with the build replacing the 1TB Blacks with 2TB ones.

Thanks a million!
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September 12, 2011 4:38:53 PM

Best answer selected by lerxst.
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September 12, 2011 5:28:53 PM

When we started our engineering company 11 years ago we had 5 people sharing files that were stored on my workstation. This worked fine for speed and space, but at the time we had Win98SE and it would not be stable for long periods of time. If my workstation crashed ( #%^*&%%^ Autocad! ) then I would have to reboot and that would affect everyone trying to share files form my hard drive. OTOH nowadays with Win7 or even WinXP it would be a different story and this is a valid setup for small offices.

We got a small Linux server, very low powered, and we used it when we grew to 9 people. A Linux server will run on very low powered hardware and will run for a long time without attention. OTOH it requires someone with proper skills to set it up and administer it. Our supplier is no longer doing that so I am having to augment my very old Unix skills with some Linux training so I can deal with it.

Another option for your office would be a pre-built NAS device. You put a couple of hard drives in it, connect it to your router, and it functions like a Linux server but without needing to know Linux. The low priced ones won't be as fast as even a low priced Linux server but are easier to deal with. You can buy more expensive ones that are fast.
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