file server reccomendations

Posted on 2009-04-20
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I run a small business that is growing fairly rapidly. I currently have 15 full time and several remote part-time employees. We are a consulting company so we are constantly typing reports or drawing simple images using illustrator or photoshop.

I recently bought a small business server to utilize the email and share point features but I don't use it as a file server. I don't really use share point to share files, rather I use it to track tasks and share general information about projects.

When I first started the company I used an old E-machine that runs XP Pro with a HUGE hard drive as a file server. This is where I store all our Word, Excel, PDF and image files. I still use this old E-machine to store and share just about everything for my company (except email which is stored on the SMB). Other employees network into this computer to access and save files too. I back this server up every night to two different locations.

I dont use the SMB as a file server because the e-machine does very well and it seemed like it would be very inconvenient to move everything to the SMB. Plus the cost of SMB hard drives seemed a bit high especially considering I am now storing over 200 Gs of data on the e-machine.  Plus I am very familiar with XP and find it very convenient to have as the OS running my file server since I can also add third party software like a FTP server software. And if the hard drive fails, I'm able to run out to Best Buy get a new HD and have things restored in about an hour.
So I have two Questions:
1.At what point will this E-machine start being taxed beyond its ability? My company continues to grow and grow but I don't really notice any lag right now when opening or saving files (most are Word, PDF or Excel). Plus it is EXTREMELY stable; I can go many weeks even months without having to restart.

2.When this file server finally becomes insufficient, can I just build another file server that runs XP Pro? Would incorporating faster hard drives, RAID, and a faster processor allow me to run XP Pro for a couple more years? Does anyone have suggestions on how I can build a system that runs XP Pro to act as a file server?
Question by:flyinace2
    LVL 6

    Accepted Solution

    For about 15 people and just using as a file server it could run for another couple of years... Be wary about the hardware off course. You should see performance go down gradually so you can plan for a replacement if it gets too slow for you. Be aware that XP only allows 10 simultaneous connections which might become a problem if your business grows. Windows 2003 and 2008 are just as stable and more secure however. I'm sure everyone would like you to have a proper server and I would agree but all comes at a price. You've been using this thing for a while and are happy with it. You know the hardware is more likely to let you down that a proper server and you know you can get better performance. If you can live with these shortcomings it will serve up files just fine...
    The more sensible thing might be to dump extra drives in your small business server and start using it as a file server as well.
    LVL 5

    Assisted Solution

    for a cheap, reliable file server look at a buffalo terastation NAS.  4TB for about $1,800 with RAID 5 you get just shy of 3TB usable.  it supports windows and backups and has a web management console.  if all you want is a file server, this is a good choice.

    Author Comment

    I've heard that XP has the 10 user limit but don't understand how it works...When does this get enforced? I just have a shared folder that everyone accesses...I dont have a user account for everyone storing data on it...
    So are you saying only 10 people at a time can have files open that are stored on the server? What happens when that 11th person tries to browse or open a file stored on the server?
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    Not sure - usually work with servers for file and print (altough johndemerjan make a very good point as well). I think it will just not open/access denied/other ugly things...
    There is an interesting discussion on this site about it:

    Author Comment

    So here is a follow up question: This computer also runs third party FTP server software. Couldn't we have even more connections if users are connecting through this FTP? or is XP smart enough to to allow those additional connections?

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