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Advice on HW configuration for a new server build

Posted on 2004-09-20
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I am planning to setup a brand new server and have the following hardware.  I can install any Microsoft O/S and was leaning towards the newer Windows 2003 Server.   I plan to use the server for some web hosting with several SQL Server databases.  Unfortunately I only have 1 server, but it should be sufficient.

I want to know:
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1)  Which is the best O/S and why?
2)  Should I use the Ultra66 IDE Controller card ?
3)  Is a hardware RAID better than sofwtare RAID and why?  Recommendations please.
4)  Which RAID should I use?  I was leaning towards RAID 5.
5)  What software, O/S, etc should I install on each physcal disk?

A lot of questions here, but I am looking for the optimal and most flexible solution.  May opt to use this server to host others websites so fault intervention is a concern.  Do not want to lose an active drive and want to limit downtime in the case of failure.

BOTTOM LINE:
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With this hardware how would you setup the server to host websites with SQL backends, ASP and ASP.NET frontends.  Thanks in advance for the advice.

Hardware
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Pentium III
2 800Mhz Processors
1GB RAM
3 (or maybe 4) 80 GB 7200 IDE Hard Drives
Promise Ultra66 IDE Controller

Thanks,
Howard
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Question by:hrfrank
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Casca1 earned 500 total points
ID: 12108949
Your situation seems to be fairly good, obviously not a brand new server. The drives are good, but I would opt for a fifth drive if possible. You can run the system in a couple of different configurations; With five drives you have the option of a RAID 1 (mirrored) for the boot drives, and any of the various striping options for the additional disks. A decent hardware card can handle this, I know the SATA cards can handle this. I just built two servers with that exact configuration, and these are sweet, fast, and incredibly redundant. A drive failure will cause me to limp along, but not loose data, as I run the data partition in RAID 5.
I recommend 2K3 server, as the kernel is a little tighter out of the box. You will have to manully install some of the services to get all to work. IIS 6.0 is a little better than you might think, and now offers such things as worker process isolation. This allows most web code to run in an isloted process, thereby avoiding most of the common vulnerabilities.
With only four drives, I would still run a boot drive and a RAID 5 config. Your data is important, but you will then have to spend more time (And Worries!) over backups on the boot drive.
For controller, any of the decent name cards should do fine. I would recommend checking the various Message bases. See who's complaining about what card, and why.
Promise cards are problematical. There are solutions availaible, but you will have to evaluate your own skill level to troubleshoot, identify and resolve any issues.
For the OS, I would recommend avoiding the SBS edition. It is more hassle than benefit.
Good Luck!
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Author Comment

by:hrfrank
ID: 12119281
Casca1,

Thanks for the feedback and insight about the Promise card.  It is quite old but thought I would inquire since I had it.  Do not think my HDs are SATA so need a RAID controller that can handle IDE drives.

If anyone can point me to good information on which is a good card to get, it would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Howard
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