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Help Choosing server for small business (10 employees)

Posted on 2013-11-05
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Last Modified: 2013-11-11
Small company (with 10 employees - 10 PC’s) has old server and want to replace with new one.

The windows server is 2003 and the most computers have installed xp os and some windows 7 os. In current setup every computer is on the same domain with all the others and with the server. On server they have created user accounts for every pc of employments. So the personal account for every person is synchronized with the server account. When an employment creates or downloads a file on his Desktop or My Documents the same files is moving to the server. The programs are installed on each computer separately (locally on each pc) and not on server.

Also on the hard disk of the server they have some folders on which everyone has access (the most are word and excel files).

So these are the processes they do every day:
- each user has his account on server.
- access to share files for employees.
- With external disk they take backup of the shared files every week.

I would like your help with choosing the right server and some tips for the right setup and automate backup process.

I have found this model Server HP ProLiant ML350p G8.


Questions:
1. This server doesn’t include hard disks. Should I look for hard disks that have server specifications?
2. How to automate backup process with external disk in order the backup will transferred to another place?
3. If I install windows server 2012 the pcs with windows xp will have problems synchronize with the server?
4. Other tips before proceed to server replacement?

Regards
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Question by:anoldboy
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Lee W, MVP earned 300 total points
ID: 39623727
1. Of course... the server serves and stores your important data... why would you want anything less than server quality drives?
2. That depends entirely on what operating system you use, how you virtualize it (you ARE installing as a VM, right?) and what backup software you use.  You haven't mentioned any of that.
3. You need to replace those XP systems too.  They should work with 2012, the problem is Microsoft will stop supporting XP come April 8, 2014.  What does that mean - good question - I don't think ANYONE can know until then... I wouldn't be surprised if there were people in Microsoft debating this point.  Because of the way XP works and the fact that it was the first operating system to require activation, we cannot say what will happen.  But don't get caught with XP or you could have serious problems.  Or maybe not.
4. The questions you're asking suggest you are not very experienced with setting up servers and new technology and you have not done any kind of testing on your own to understand how the network could be affected.  I would be concerned that you will not have a stellar experience doing this yourself.  My tip before you proceed is hire a consultant to examine what you have, what you want, and ensure you get the right equipment as well as get the migration done correctly.  Once it's all done, the consultant can show you how to manage things and you can go back to handling the day-to-day routine of maintaining the network.

If I've misinterpreted your skill level I apologize -- but I've heard many complaints and seen many badly put together networks that were awful and didn't work right or had to be completely redone because someone thought they'd do it themselves.  If this is your day job, then you know to spend some time learning it... if you want to make it your day job, spend some time learning it... if it's not your day job and you don't want it to be, then hire someone.
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Author Comment

by:anoldboy
ID: 39623820
Which are these hard disks for servers? Do they have some specific description on their features?

Which server edition is better to install in order to be more easy for the installation and the stability?

The xp systems will be replaced in near future. But not the same time as the server. That's why I am asking about compatibility.

About my experience, this is my everyday job (network administrating, programming, etc) but I don't have any experience on microsoft server installation and setup. That's why I posted here in order to have some tips. I know that my questions are general and not very advanced but I want to triger the experts for tell me some advice for choosing the right server with the proper hard disks.

What do you think about this server (Server HP ProLiant ML350p G8)?
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 39623839
Supported hard disks are in the quickspecs here - http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/productbulletin.html#spectype=worldwide&type=html&docid=14226 (you may have LFF or SFF bays, obviously you can't put a LFF disk in a SFF slot). I wouldn't use 3rd party disks although you do pay a bit more for the HP certified ones.
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Author Comment

by:anoldboy
ID: 39623857
Is the memory enough (ram 4GB) of this server?
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 300 total points
ID: 39625106
No 4 GB is NO WHERE NEAR enough RAM.  I wouldn't order a server with less than 12 GB.

You need to virtualize - not because it's the hip thing to do but because you should have the flexibility virtualization offers.  Setting up can be a little complicated... managing it is easy in my opinion... but then again, I've got a lot of experience in this.

Will your company grow?  How much?  Certain server editions have limits.  Some editions have hard limits you cannot easily grow past.  Do you want to backup the workstations?  Essentials would PROBABLY be a good fit, but I don't know many details... a consultant coming in could work with you, consult, and give you advice based on your environment and not a near blind view of your network.

I'm not trying to offend though I'm fairly certain my honestly and concern that your network is setup properly will be taken as such.  I don't intend to insult - I'm sure you're quite capable of doing this with some study and experience... but you should NEVER get experience by doing things solely in a production environment.

Hardware is independent of Operating System, so if you're a linux network admin, then you the hardware is no different.  If you're a network admin as in the guy charged with maintaining things, then that doesn't necessarily qualify you to be the guy to perform a major upgrade like this.  You're a nurse asking us how to perform heart surgery... NOT a good idea.

Your questions strongly suggest (and you outright stated) you don't have experience with Windows networks.  If that's true, then you NEED to hire someone to implement - you shouldn't be doing it yourself.  Manage, fine, but implementation should be done by someone with experience. Experience will allow them to best assess your network (in consultation with you) and provide the best, most cost effective solution.

There are BOOKS on how to do this and we cannot do it justice in a few comments.
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Author Comment

by:anoldboy
ID: 39626599
I think that 12GB of RAM is not affordable and not necessary about the job I described above. The only sources it needs is for file sharing and syncronize the files for the personal accounts for every pc. The server doesn't run programs for every user.

They have an old server now and they don't have speed problems.

With no offence, please don't waste other lines telling me to hire someone else. I would prefer instead to give me some guidelines, some sources or what to be careful when choosing the server.

Regards
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 300 total points
ID: 39626659
anoldboy - you aren't the only person reading this question.  It will be archived in the database and the points I make are reasonable.

RAM is cheap.  And you're using 10 year old technology today and expecting it's specs to support current technology.

You also have not answered my questions about the company that would help us give you a better idea about what you should get.  Foundation is an option.  Server 2012 Essentials is an option and depending on your answer to other questions, Server 2012 Standard is an option.  If you want it narrowed down, you need to provide more information.

To repeat:
Will your company grow?  How much?  Do you want to backup the workstations?  and related/new: Would you backup the workstations if you could?  Would it make sense to do that to protect against virus infection, accidental deletion, hard drive and other hardware failures?
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Author Comment

by:anoldboy
ID: 39626727
Will your company grow?  How much?
No the company won't grow. Maximum 10 pc clients.

Do you want to backup the workstations? Would you backup the workstations if you could?
Backup only a shared folder to external disk (or removable) and some raid on server in case the disk of server fails. No extra backup for users workstations. The backup I care most is the shared folder (with office files) to a removable disk. Now they have two external disks for backup. The one is taking backup and the other one is on an other place. When the backup of one disk is finished they move it to other place and bring the other one for backup. They do in case of fire, or robbery or disk failure.
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Author Comment

by:anoldboy
ID: 39638455
I have just order the server.

HP PROLIANT ML350p G8
- Intel Xeon E5
- Tower
- Six-core intel xeon E5-2620 (2.0GHz, 15MB L3 Cache)
- 16GB RAM ( 4 X 4GB hp 647893-TV1 DDR3 PC3L-10600R-9 240pin DIMM-133MHz
-  2 x 1TB HP 655710-B21 SATA 2.5" - SAS
- Smart Array P420i/512MB Controller RAID (0/1/5/10/50)
- Up to 8 Hot Plug Hard Drives (SFF)
- DVD/RW
- Integrated Matrox G200
- 1Gb Ethernet 4-port 331i Adapter
- Serial (1), VGA (1), USB (8 + 2 internal)
- 3 x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x16 speed), 1 x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x8 speed), 4 x PCI-Express 3.0 x8 (x4 speed), 1 x PCI-Express 2.0 x8 (x4 speed)
- 460 Watts Hot Plug
- 3 Years On Site+Asst

I will probably use RAID1 in case of disk failure.

Thank you for your time.
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