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Optimal processor for Windows SBS 2003

Is processor speed important for Windows SBS and, if so, what is optimal (not minimum requirement). In other words, can we use a bargain basement computer with a big hard drive and lots of ram or do we need a top dollar processor too?
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Ten90Group
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Ten90Group
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6 Solutions
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
This depends entirely on how many users you are going to support and what applications you are using.  

Further, any server you buy SHOULD have RAID configured.  For a small group of users - up to 15, I'd say any old CPU will do in an AVERAGE office environment - if you're not in an average environment, then you may need faster.
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juandelacruz2001Commented:
I agree with Leew. It all depends on how you use the SBS2003. I would however have more of CPU power and RAM than realize later that you need more of it. For tandard edition, at least a dual-core P4 (use a "real" server board like Supermicro). If you're going to use the Premium edition, and use SQL on it, go at least a Xeon (dual CPU would be great) and maximize the RAM (they're cheap now anyway). Good luck.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Again, this really depends on the specifics of your environment.  That said, I have an SBS 2003 STandard server running off a CELERON 2.4 with 1GB RAM and it's fine for the office of 10-15 it serves.  I do agree though that you want to keep growth in mind.  So IF you are a small office, I tend to suggest get a low end processor, but make sure the system SUPPORTS a dual core or TWO for later upgrades.  Upgrading CPUs is generally quite easy with little or no Operating system reconfiguration.

When it comes to servers, I have to recommend purchasing from a MAJOR vendor - Dell, HP, IBM, etc.  Why?  This is your server - it's handling your business.  Do you want to be calling 3 different companies arguing between them about why your system won't boot, possibly taking several hours to get so much as a vendor willing to replace a component or certify it doesn't work with another component?  Or do you want ONE point of contact who can understand how critical the situation may be and get you a replacement part in 4 business hours (without the appropriate warranty purchased)?

That said, I have no problem with SuperMicro boards - I buy them myself - but for your SERVER, you want one vendor to take responsibility for ALL the hardware, not one vendor per component.
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ClickCentricCommented:
Optimal would be the best performing chip you can afford.  As the others have said, though, more details would help determine what you should be looking for.  I'd never recommend 'bargain basement' for a server, though.  If it holds data you rely on, then the question becomes how valuable is that data to you.  

On a side note, along with the RAID, I'd recommend a tape drive or another backup system.  
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Of course you can recommend backing up... but recommending a backup solution is WAY to premature until we know what kind of data and how much and if there are any legal requirements regarding the data.  Tape isn't very practical in most circumstances for small businesses... but that's most, not ALL.
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ClickCentricCommented:
Well, the tape drive was just really meant as one possibility, hence the 'or another backup system'.  I've just been burned by RAID before, which is rare, but it does happen, but I luckily had a tape backup that saved the day.  There's no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to protecting the data.
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Ten90GroupAuthor Commented:
The information you all have been getting so far is very helpful.

Let me give a few more facts to help:

The server is to be used primarily for data storage (archive with read-only access for most users), data exchange for team members to pass images and code and such for work in progress, and as an exchange server for Outlook to facilitate sharing of mail folders and calendars. We are not currently and don't have any near-term plans for hosting our own mailserver as our provider (cable) is not reliable enough to warrant a static IP.

That said, the data to be transferred can sometimes be huge as we are talking about video and audio and some flash code. There is a need for speed as we are frequently under intense deadlines and don't have time to kick back while data lolly-gags its way to and from the server. The current number of users is under 10 and we expect to grow to 20-30. The amount of data in archive is currently about 500GB with anywhere from 2 to 10 GB changing on a regular basis. Based on all the feedback, thus far we are implementing the server with a P4 dual core 3.4GH processor, 3GB ram, and a Raid5 with 4-250GB serial SATA drives and a spare drive in reserve (literally in the box) to have available at a moments notice if one of the installed drives fails.

Our back up strategy is to use a virtual dumb terminal (in this case a computer with only an OS and no other programs) connected to the network and actually residing off-site connected with line-of-site wifi access points. We are still working out the full v/s incremental back up scheme and would be delighted to have input on that or any aspect of what we have come up with here.


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scrathcyboyCommented:
For a data server, the MAIN thing you need to make sure of is that the BIOS will support a large hard drive or two, at least 500GB.  That means modern MBs anyway, and so you will probably end up with at least an AMD 754 or an Intel equivalent, so you will not be running anything slower than 2.5 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM.  That would be fine for a backup or data server, you dont need the dual processors, and you dont necessarily need x64 windows or a 64 bit CPU, or dual 64 bit CPUs.  So in todays terms, a 32 bit CPU with >2.5 GHz and 500GB capability is just an average system.  And make sure to install 32 bit OS on the system, until the x64 is compatible with SATA drives.
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jhanceCommented:
>>until the x64 is compatible with SATA drives

Who said x64 was incompatible with SATA drives?
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juandelacruz2001Commented:
For backup, while tape is still popular, the storage capacities has lagged behind the drive sizes. I would recommend external USB drives (at least 2 drive to rotate), and use backup software that can do bare metal restore (Symantec's LiveState or EMC's Restrospec for SBS). It can restore file by file, or complete restore. I would go with EMC since it has Exchange and SQL options built on it, so you don't have to stop the E2K3 and SQL services to do a full backup. Again hopefully all inputs here  
are helpful in your final server purchase decision. Good luck.
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ClickCentricCommented:
I'd recommend SCSI over SATA.  While SATA drives come fast these days, SCSI drives still come faster and there's still the conurrent operation considerations when dealing with a server.

As for the remote backup over wifi, the only thing I'd recommend as a consideration there is to, if you haven't already, go over the security implications with a fine-toothed comb as wifi is a bigger security risk and to make sure to do the math on the data transfer before implementation.  Backing up 10gb over a wifi connection could take quite a while, depending on configuration.  
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