SBS 2011 with separate file server

Posted on 2012-09-02
Last Modified: 2012-09-03
We just migrated an old SBS 2003 to a new machine SBS 2011. It is my understanding that the old SBS 2003 machine must be removed from the network after it is demoted. But we need a separate file server...

1. Is there any way I can restrict the old SBS 2003 so I can use it just as a file server?

2. If not, what could be a less expensive solution for a file server on the SBS 2011 domain (I'd reuse the old SBS 2003 machine, which is a PowerEdge from 2006).
Question by:campinam
    LVL 95

    Assisted Solution

    by:Lee W, MVP
    Why do you think you need a separate file server?  File services are not a cpu or RAM intensive thing.  If you think it's slowing your disks down, then get a separate set of disks to be used as the file server disks.  If you think it's the network, make sure you're using a gigabit ethernet network and switch.  Otherwise, since you deployed SBS to a VM and NOT directly to hardware, you could just get another server license and use the same hardware (unless of course, you didn't - but these days I don't understand why anyone would install directly to hardware... well, there can be rare instances... but I've yet to come across one).

    Other otherwise, you need another server license.  The SBS2003 license is essentially trash.  You could use linux, but if you're not a linux expert I would consider that VERY unwise since you'll probably end up paying someone FAR more than the cost of another Windows license to get it working properly.  You could also buy a NAS but I always consider NAS devices to be wastes of money - it's far more logical to just buy two drives and add them to the SBS server in a RAID 1.

    If you provide more details on why you think you need a separate file server I (we) might be able to provide a better answer.
    LVL 56

    Assisted Solution

    by:Cliff Galiher
    You cannot use the SBS 2003 license legally the way you want.

    And while you can use a server from 2006, I would STRONGLY recommend against that. It is an extremely high risk proposition and you will very likely run into disaster recovery issues down the road. If the server were to fail, where would you restore the backup? Dissimilar hardware restores are problematic, and finding a matching. Motherboard, for example, would be unlikely and expensive. The money you save by using an old server rarely justifies the risk. You could buy a new HP Microserver for the cost of a single part for the old server.

    So with that said, I'd look at a few options:

    A new server with windows server 2012.

    A new server with windows storage server (OEM only product) which is less expensive than a standalone windows license.

    If you have less than 25 isers, windows Storage Server Essentials (again an OEM only product)

    And if you have less than 15 users, windows foundation server (again, an OEM only product) ...

    Just pick the one that fits your planned user count over the life of the server and within your budget.


    Author Comment

    There are 35 users and some 3rd party tools on the SBS machine that are pretty heavy on system resources. File traffic is also heavy at times. In the past we experienced random issues with the SBS/DHCP that are typical for a system that is low on resources. Since there was no way to replicate those issues, at least I'd move file storage away from it. Also, the old SBS machine has fine backup hardware on it - and that would relieve the new server from backing up the enormous file data.

    The 2006 PowerEdge didn't blink for 6 years - I would trust it further, shoudn't I?

    So maybe we buy again Windows Server 2003 and replace the SBS 2003... Do we need CALs for this additional server on the SBS 2011 domain?
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    Again, you can move file services off the SBS box, but really, it's a waste in my opinion.  I used to run MAJOR networks with 100's of users connecting to a single file server running 500 MHz processors... CPU and RAM utilization was minimal on those systems... yes, they were running 2000/2003, but file services have not gained THAT MUCH overhead in the intervening years.

    You cannot buy 2003 (unless you go through ebay or something - and I'd consider that REALLY UNWISE as I wouldn't trust people selling it on Ebay.  Instead, you have to buy Server 2008 R2 OR 2012.  This is (in my opinion) best done through a volume license.  You'd have downgrade rights and access to media for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2.  with SBS 2011, so long as you DO NOT use 2012 (you can have the license, just can't use it - have to use the downgrade rights and use 2008 R2 or earlier), you wouldn't need any additional CALs.

    You say "In the past we experienced random issues with the SBS/DHCP that are typical for a system that is low on resources" - so what resources are low?  Network bandwith?  RAM?  CPU?  And then what is using the resources?  You're wasting money and time on a second server if you don't understand exactly what's causing your performance issues on the existing server.  What happens after you pay $800-1000 on a server license and spend several hours transferring all your data off the SBS box onto this box, reconfiguring it to be your file server and your problems DON'T go away.  Are you (or your boss) happy?  Or are they yelling at you asking "Why are we still having these problems -- we spent money on the new system?!?!"  

    As for using 6 year old hardware again... Again, unwise.  So it's been rock solid to date.  It's out of warranty.  Something happens and you could be stuck for days waiting for parts from Ebay or something.  you COULD replace the hard drives and system fans (basically all the moving parts, but the time and effort spent doing so would be a waste for a system out of warranty in my opinion.  EVERYTHING WILL fail, especially things with moving parts... and since servers are on 24x7, after 6 years, it's almost certainly closer to failure than your purchase date.  Now, I WOULD reuse the server, but ONLY for non-critical services and/or as a backup to the new server if it's hardware was capable/cheaply upgraded.

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