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Using My Desktop As A Server

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January 12, 2012 6:32:42 PM

A little while ago I built my own desktop, and while I have been very very pleased with it's performance and versatility, I am by no means maxing out it's performance.

I have 4 roommates who I also work with, and we have all agreed that it would be convenient to have a server or at least centralized storage area to store digital media, work projects, simulations, etc. where we could all access them remotely.

We thought about building a separate machine to use as a server, but I figured since I wasn't making full use of my desktop's computing power, it would be easier and cheaper to just get a large internal hard drive for my desktop and format it as a server working off my desktop's cpu.

The specs for my desktop are as follows:
-Intel DX58S02 MoBo
-i7-990x CPU
-Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 GPU

I have 16 gigs of RAM (upgradeable to 48), a 120GB SSD that I'm using as a boot drive for Windows 7, with a 2TB hard drive for storage and backups.

I guess I was wondering if there is a setup that you would recommend for adding a "server" hard drive? Is there any software you would recommend (I've heard good things about Windows Home Server OEM)? And if I were to take the Unix route, do you think it would be user friendly enough for somebody who is less tech savvy to use?

Thanks for the help!

More about : desktop server

January 13, 2012 10:29:02 AM

Hello wba4493;

I think you're over-thinking your requirement. It sounds if you need shared storage on your local network and don't really need a server. You can 'share' a hard drive across your local network. Everyone on the local network using Windows 7?
You can set it up in your Control Panel - Network and Sharing Center - Advanced Sharing settings.

Different versions of Windows on the network: Networking home computers running different versions of Windows

Windows Home Server is a complete operating system.
Same with Unix - it's a full operating system would need to be running in place of Windows.

If you want to run a server under Windows 7 across the local network AND the internet you could try using something like XAMPP for
Windows
or even a light weight server like Abyss Web Server X1. If you're going to run the server across the Internet make sure your provider allows that. Not all do.
January 13, 2012 12:29:18 PM

Thank you for the help, WR2!

We are already sharing files on our network, but the problem with that is that obviously we can't access it outside our network, and unfortunately a lot of the files we need to share are work related and need to be accessed at work, which is why we were looking for a more robust solution.

I know WinHS and Unix are operating systems, which is why I would install it on a separate hard drive and run it as a separate machine. Unless you're thinking that my components wouldn't be able to support two separate OS's? And I'm sorry for my ignorance, but I don't really understand how that would be any different from partitioning a hard drive to run another OS, which I have already done with Ubuntu.

And thanks for the link to XSMPP! I hadn't really considered a 3rd party internet server, but it's an intriguing idea, and I'll have to look into that too!

Thanks!
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January 13, 2012 1:03:49 PM

wba4493 said:
I know WinHS and Unix are operating systems, which is why I would install it on a separate hard drive and run it as a separate machine.
If you have some basic Linux experience running a VM is an good option.
And a WinXP VM will easily handle a light weight web server program (like Abyss).

I use Abyss myself from time to time and I think it can do what you're looking at and you can test it out easily. Installation is very easy. Configuration and management is like most web servers and it's not too difficult to learn.
Do you have a static or dynamic IP address?

XAMPP is more suitable for the full range of major website activity like a CMS (content management system) which usually need MySQL support. Very handy if you want to run

Your biggest hurdle might be that a standard ISP contract might have restrictions on running a web server. Some providers even block port 80 for http transfers and you might need to ask them to enable it. Some games require need port 80 http access to get on-line for multiplayer sessions ;)  .



January 13, 2012 1:35:08 PM

haha Thanks for the heads up! And thanks again for the help! I think I'll try to look into using a web server as it seems to be the cheapest and easiest option!

Just out of curiosity, do you think an option like setting up a WinHS machine in my desktop would have worked, or do you think it would just have been too sluggish with my CPU and GPU trying to handle both machines?
January 13, 2012 1:49:57 PM

A basic web server program is a light load on system resources.
Running a VM with a complete OS is likely to be a heavier load on your PC resources.
It would be most resource intensive with the VM/OS/server program and a heavy file workload.

In both cases a heavy demand for large media files by your 3 roommates is something you'll likely notice. If that demand is uploaded over the internet (and not the much faster local network) you'd definitely notice 'Net performance take a hit.

It's definitely worth testing. And if you find it's too much a drag on your system, any recycled 8yr old PC has all the server performance you'd need.
January 13, 2012 2:00:20 PM

Thanks! Maybe if I can find the software cheap enough I'll try a little side-by-side!

And I forgot that unfortunately, technically I have a dynamic IP, but it very rarely changes. :p 
!