Server specs recommendation

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unfaithfulsfan
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Server specs recommendation

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:12 pm

It's me again with yet another Village of Sloan computer conundrum.

I have to find 3 separate "bids" for a new server for Village Hall. In my opinion, it does not have to be a screamer because they use it more for a file server and would like to be able to back up files from users to be in turn backed up to online storage.

There are 4 client computers, only 3 of which are used regularly. Those 3 are running Win 7 Pro ( 2 x 32-bit and 1 x 64 bit). The 4th client is the mayor's computer and has Win 2000 Pro on it. Mayor is in late 70s and we think he has had a series of TSA/light strokes as he has trouble even turning on the computer. The Deputy Mayor is going thru an ugly divorce and Mayor is hanging on until that's settled then he is going to resign. However, the Deputy Mayor is no whiz kid either when it comes to computers.

The point of all this info is they want to relocate the server to the mayor's office because the storage closet that is home to the current server has zippo for ventilation and causes freezes, etc. The problems with the current server range from screeching PSU to inability to complete a backup to disappearing/reappearing. It has a dead ZIP drive for backups. They are trying to lean toward letting the new server be an additional work station where trustees can check their email. I'm trying to pretend I can't hear them on that one. :finga: I'm not for spending a buttload of money but why not just replace the mayor's computer and let the trustees use it when he's not there? Or just use the mayor's current PC? Anyway, that's my battle not yours and not the point of this post....

Given the role of the server...currently no remote login and no plans (that I know of) to implement remote access....a Xeon 3440 box with 16 GB of 1333 ECC RAM and dual 1 TB HDD in a RAID 1 array should be good for the next 8-10 years. For the OS, I think Small Business Server 2011 Essentials should do the trick. I'm looking for simplified management so I don't have to spend every day having to do something to the server. E-mail is handled through the village's web site and ISP so I don't have THAT headache. :prayer:

I really cannot think of anything else other than I just replaced both the switch and the router a few months ago so there shouldn't be any hardware issues. The 3 boxes running Win 7 are all from Systemax. I'm VERY happy with them--they so far have been utterly reliable. Had software issues with the accounting software used by the village but not a single hardware issue has cropped in the last 2 years. But I have to get 3 so I'll take a look at HP and another vendor. I'm open to suggestions for brands, too.

Any advice y'all can give me will be a tremendous help. I thank you immensely, as always!

Jack
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by DaddyRabbit » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:41 pm

unfaithfulsfan wrote:It's me again with yet another Village of Sloan computer conundrum.

I have to find 3 separate "bids" for a new server for Village Hall. In my opinion, it does not have to be a screamer because they use it more for a file server and would like to be able to back up files from users to be in turn backed up to online storage.

There are 4 client computers, only 3 of which are used regularly. Those 3 are running Win 7 Pro ( 2 x 32-bit and 1 x 64 bit). The 4th client is the mayor's computer and has Win 2000 Pro on it. Mayor is in late 70s and we think he has had a series of TSA/light strokes as he has trouble even turning on the computer. The Deputy Mayor is going thru an ugly divorce and Mayor is hanging on until that's settled then he is going to resign. However, the Deputy Mayor is no whiz kid either when it comes to computers.

The point of all this info is they want to relocate the server to the mayor's office because the storage closet that is home to the current server has zippo for ventilation and causes freezes, etc. The problems with the current server range from screeching PSU to inability to complete a backup to disappearing/reappearing. It has a dead ZIP drive for backups. They are trying to lean toward letting the new server be an additional work station where trustees can check their email. I'm trying to pretend I can't hear them on that one. :finga: I'm not for spending a buttload of money but why not just replace the mayor's computer and let the trustees use it when he's not there? Or just use the mayor's current PC? Anyway, that's my battle not yours and not the point of this post....

Given the role of the server...currently no remote login and no plans (that I know of) to implement remote access....a Xeon 3440 box with 16 GB of 1333 ECC RAM and dual 1 TB HDD in a RAID 1 array should be good for the next 8-10 years. For the OS, I think Small Business Server 2011 Essentials should do the trick. I'm looking for simplified management so I don't have to spend every day having to do something to the server. E-mail is handled through the village's web site and ISP so I don't have THAT headache. :prayer:

I really cannot think of anything else other than I just replaced both the switch and the router a few months ago so there shouldn't be any hardware issues. The 3 boxes running Win 7 are all from Systemax. I'm VERY happy with them--they so far have been utterly reliable. Had software issues with the accounting software used by the village but not a single hardware issue has cropped in the last 2 years. But I have to get 3 so I'll take a look at HP and another vendor. I'm open to suggestions for brands, too.

Any advice y'all can give me will be a tremendous help. I thank you immensely, as always!

Jack
I'll go out on a limb here. For 4 systems that don't need Active Directory, Exchange etc I would go VERY simple. A solid core i5 (or even i3) box with 8GB RAM running (yes here it comes) Windows Home Server 2011 ($49 at the Egg) would fit the bill nicely for that workstation load. WHS is based upong Server 2008 R2 code and by most accounts runs pretty problem free after it is configured. It will do scheduled system backups, file and media sharing, and while missing the drive extender tech from the first version still allows for easy expandability. And with what you save you could get a cheap i3 system to use as a kiosk.
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unfaithfulsfan
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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:38 pm

:shock: !

Wow! That was a mouthful! Thanks so very much! I'll look into all your recommendations and see what I come up with.

The main reason I looked into the "higher end" :) equipment and OS is because of the expected service life of this proposed server. There could very well be a complete 180 in regard to technology if, for example, an entirely new administration pops up that wants everyone have laptops and starts to allow residents to pay their taxes online.

Doubt either of those speculations will actually materialize but the powers that make the final decision on this box have to think that way because their job is to go the route that saves the village the most money in the long run. The mayor was actually against replacing the server, citing that it's a complete waste of money. The clerk and my wife (who works for the village, too) had to explain to him what the "server" is. He calls it a "seeker." The last server they bought was top of the line for its time. How long has it been since Windows 2000 Server was the new kid in town?

But, I'll give them this as an option and let them make the call. Thanks so much, again!

Jack
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by DaddyRabbit » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:16 pm

unfaithfulsfan wrote::shock: !

Wow! That was a mouthful! Thanks so very much! I'll look into all your recommendations and see what I come up with.

The main reason I looked into the "higher end" :) equipment and OS is because of the expected service life of this proposed server. There could very well be a complete 180 in regard to technology if, for example, an entirely new administration pops up that wants everyone have laptops and starts to allow residents to pay their taxes online.

Doubt either of those speculations will actually materialize but the powers that make the final decision on this box have to think that way because their job is to go the route that saves the village the most money in the long run. The mayor was actually against replacing the server, citing that it's a complete waste of money. The clerk and my wife (who works for the village, too) had to explain to him what the "server" is. He calls it a "seeker." The last server they bought was top of the line for its time. How long has it been since Windows 2000 Server was the new kid in town?

But, I'll give them this as an option and let them make the call. Thanks so much, again!

Jack
No running on intended. Just throwing the "low end" out. Actually kinda' forgot that it was a government situation :( That always complicates matters. Just reading through you previous posts and it seems you have been sucked into a stressfull situation where "common sense" isn't so common.

If my requirements are:

1) Perform reliable backups for four workstations
2) Share files between four workstations

Then I don't NEED a Windows server (or even WHS). I could do that effectively on a $300 NAS. The boon to WHS is you can easily automate it (but will need to get rid of the Win2k box).
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8gig (2x4) G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600
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OCZ Agility 2 240G SSD (boot, programs, games)
WD Caviar Black 1TB (Data)
CM UCP RS700-AAAAA3 700W 80+ Silver PSU
CM Storm Sniper
Gateway FHD2400
Win 7 Pro 64bit

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by egloeckle » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:01 pm

Knowing your budget range would go a long way on this one. I will also assume you don't need to get GSA pricing or similar since you are only a local government.

I have run into with a lot of small to medium size companies and even parts of the federal government on certain projects where they say they want to go as cheap as possible. Then in a year or two when a drive goes bad they are complaining about why they dont have an onsite warranty or similar and end up placing the blame on me/my company. In one case we ended up losing the customer even though we had documented proof that we had recommended far better/more reliable hardware. When it comes down to it, you will be the one to take the blame on anything that goes wrong with whatever you recommend. If the machine is expected to last 8-10 years (odds are it wont) then you should get something with hardware that has a better chance of lasting that long and at least has a decent onsite warranty for the first couple of years.

Odds are you can get something with a decent warranty and hardware for 1/2 of what they paid for their current server. Even something overkill like an HP ML350/370 with an actual hardware raid card and redundant power supplies will come in at only around 2k before software. Personally though, if they are expecting miracles for almost no cost I would walk away, but everyone situation is different.

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by kenc51 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:07 pm

I would at the very least build it around a xeon / opteron cpu and workstation class motherboard with ecc ram.
You can get cheap low-end server barebone cases, stay away from rack mount, a pedestal case would do (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811152123)

Something like these could do
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6859107008

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6859105557

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by DL126 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:58 pm

http://biz.tigerdirect.com/applications ... CatId=2683

Super Micro motherboards.
I'd add 2 more drives for a RAID 5 setup.

Windows Foundation Server is a LOT less $$ than the full versions.
Does fine for file sharing, and comes with 2 licences for remote desktop admin.

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Re: Server specs recommendation

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:07 pm

First of all, a thousand thanks for all the legitimate responses! :supz: Y'all are the best! Can't believe these bogus posts! But I'm not going to dwell on that nonsense. I'm sure admin will get rid of them.

egloeckle, fortunately the village government is small enough that they pretty much trust me implicitly when it comes to IT solutions because they know I'll do tons of research before I make a recommendation. The members and admin here at LR have helped me tremendously on every village project to which I've been assigned. On the other hand, I can't just walk away because my wife is the Deputy Clerk! :oops:

But, to all of y'all who have been helping me so much more than you'll ever know: Debbie, the Clerk/Treasurer, and Karen, my wife, pretty much run the village anyway even though the board will have to approve my recommendation (Hence, the 3 "bids"). Deb and Karen know I'm not going to line my pockets on any project so they'll take my word on my final recommendation.

At the same time, even though I've only lived in the village 5 years, having moved here in '06 (a year after Karen and I got married), I have a lot of friends here. There are a lot of seniors and a lot of "blue collar" young families who have moved here due to the excellent school system (and lower taxes).The village has shown a surplus every year this administration has been in "power." I know property and school taxes are still high and the economy sucks so I don't want to do anything that results in higher taxes. That may sound a little hysterical but y'know what I mean...

In addition to all that blather, I'm not in the best of health, as a lot of folks here at LR can attest to, so I want to keep things as simple yet as reliable as I can while still covering all the bases for future needs. I guess I'm remiss by having not thrown a budget dollar amount. I'd love to keep this project, at most, under $3K including my fees. (I don't charge much because I don't want to lose my disability) Can I do a new server every 5-10 years? Hell, yeah! Can I do one a month? Hell, no! I know I'll be bedridden for a week after it's installed. =P~

Ironically, kenc51, I had just been looking last night at the HP you recommended. I was trying to avoid building a rig from scratch, as much as I love designing and building them. And DL126, ditto on the Systemax, just not at the Tiger. Great minds think alike and I'm very glad y'all have great minds cuz the very existence mine is often questionable!

The last box I built before I went on disability full time was a dual Xeon box with RAID 5. It's been 3+ years but I'm pretty sure it was a SuperMicro main board, too. My boss and I lost sleep on that build. It just felt sometimes like the whole build was cursed. I drove everybody at LR crazy on that one.

Anyway, thank you all for your suggestions and recommendations. Keep'em coming, if you don't mind! I do not possess the words to convey to you how much you're helping me!

Jack
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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