Buying the right server
Posted on 2006-11-11
Our client has 10 current XP computers all mapped to another XP computer acting as their file server for accounting applications. They now want to slowly grow their network beyond the XP limit of 10 and go to a "real sever" running Win 2003 Small Business Server, and they want to use Exchange Server.
In terms of buying the right server, another e-e thread explained to me that most critical part of the equation will be the right hard drive storage, and enough RAM, but that going with two processors is overkill for this small network. So I find that I have other questions that I feel are better answered by e-e experts rather than the (biased) vendor:
1) Is a model with a dual power supply important? Does that mean that if one goes down, the other one has the capacity to keep the server running? I understand that uptime is important, of course, but they've been doing just fine with their garden-variety XP desktop for the last few years. So, is it important to focus on a model that offers dual power supplies?
2) If I'm looking at a Pentium 3.2ghz vs. a Xeon 3.2ghz, do they offer the same performance? I've read that one benefit of Xeon is that it allows a multi-processor configuration, but like I say, I'm told that that is not important in this small network situation. But are there other benefits to Pentium over Xeon or vice-versa in this situation?
3) This user has an automated Ghost backup each night to image the entire hard drive to a secondardy internal hard drive. But I see that I can configure a Raid1 setup to do real-time mirroring, but I also read that that can slow down performance because you're always writing to two drives. So, are they better off with Raid1, or just keep on doing what they're doing with Ghost--assuming that's an option with Win Server 2003 SBS?
4) And then is it worth it to go with Raid5(?) in a situation like this? Does the operating system automatically spread multiple files over multiple drives to speed up disk access, or will we need to configure and optimize all that for the user? And in a situation like this, will we see the speed benefits to make it worth doing all this?
5) And if we 'should' go with Raid5, does that mean that doing a Ghost image is no longer a good option? If not, what IS a good way to do complete backups that can be completely restored like a Ghost image can?
6) If you recommend Raid1 or Raid5, is it necessary to buy anything extra other than more drives, like multiple controllers? Or, will Win 2003 Server handle all that just fine itself?
7) In a small environment like this, is it OK to use garden-variety SATA drives, or is it worth the expense to go with SCSI?
8) Finally, in the "bottleneck department"...all this time they have been running at the default 100mb speed across their LAN. But I know they have new Cat6 wiring, and I feel sure all their PCs have 10/100/1000 NICs in them. Again, in this small network, it is worth it to get everything running at 1000mb...or is the LAN speed the least of my worries?
Thanks so much for the expert advice!