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Server opinion needed- also software raid?

Posted on 2014-07-24
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Last Modified: 2014-07-27
I need to purchase a server for work - it will be domain controller and file server. Can you please see if all the config looks good? Is this a good server? I just want to make sure when i get it it is ready for operating system and i dont have to do/buy anything for it. We only have about 10 computers and we already have all software. Also, i never used software raid - is software raid ok?  thanks
SYSTEM-OPTIONS.docx
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Question by:Cubbybulin
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by:Axis52401
Axis52401 earned 167 total points
ID: 40218157
Software raid works fine. It just doesn't perform as well has hardware raid. But if its just going to act as a file server and not a sql or exchange server then I personally don't see a problem with using software raid. That being said I always choose raid 6 over raid 5. With raid 5 if one hard-drive crashes you are in a degraded state, meaning if two drives crash you lose everything. With raid 6 if you lose one drive no big deal, its not until you lose two drives that the array becomes degraded. My guess is the software raid won't support raid 6. In my recommendation I would go with raid 6 all day long over raid 5. But if this isn't an option then just make sure you setup raid alerts and setup the idrac for sending hardwdare alerts as well. most people lose a raid 5 array because nobody setup alerts for failed drives. So even though I prefer raid 6 to raid 5, most raid 5 crashes can be avoided by simply setting up the alerts.

The other thing that jumps out at me is a single power supply. I always recommend having two power supplies. The last item I would change would be the maximum ram. 8GB isn't very much and ram is cheap these days and purchasing it now means you won't need to do any upgrades in the future.

If it was me I would have two power supplies, 16GB of ram, and raid 6. If raid 6 isn't an option just make sure to setup alerts for raid events. For a simple file server raid 5 software will be fine. If you have ever had to rebuild a server due to a raid 5 crash then you'll know why I am pushing raid 6 so much. Just my two cents.
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by:Perarduaadastra
Perarduaadastra earned 166 total points
ID: 40218210
Assuming Windows 2012 (you don't mention Exchange), even for only 10 users I'd suggest 16GB of RAM, and changing the RAID5 configuration with three 500GB SATA disks to a RAID1 configuration with two 1TB SATA disks.

This  way, you eliminate the processing overhead you'd incur with software RAID5 and maintain storage redundancy along with an increase in available capacity. This configuration would probably cost very little more than the current one, and give you better performance and more storage.

Unless you already have Windows Server it's usually cheaper to buy it with the hardware, and Dell have to support it as well as the hardware. If you have a problem with a Windows server installation that you supplied, you'll be on EE first to sort it out because Dell are unlikely to fall over themselves to support an OS they didn't supply.

Redundant power supplies are nice to have but add quite a bit to the cost. It might work out cheaper to buy a spare single PSU and keep it in a cupboard until the original one dies.
I notice that you've specified a tower unit - is it going to be in the same space as the users? If it is, redundant power supplies may not be appropriate for the environment because they tend to be much noisier than single PSUs because the fans are smaller and have to turn at considerably higher speeds to shift enough air to keep everything cool.
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by:Cubbybulin
ID: 40218252
We are a non-profit, so don't have too much to spend, I checked and Raid 6 would add a lot to it. (probably $700-$800) It will run server 2012 which was donated by microsoft. No exchange needed. We will have the latest backup exec. But that's pretty much it. I think 8gb more ram is still within the budget. It will be in a computer closet (small closet), so it wont be in the same area as the users.
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by:Cubbybulin
ID: 40218258
how does raid 1 work? if one hard drive fails, we are still operational? Thanks
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rindi earned 167 total points
ID: 40218306
Software RAID actually, contrary to what has been mentioned above, performs better in most cases than hardware RAID. Particularly reads are faster, as it does load balancing, which only high end hardware RAID controllers are capable of doing.

RAID one is a mirror (both disks contain the same data). This means that should one disk fail, you still have everything on the other. With software RAID the system reads a little of the data from one disk, and a little from the other simultaneously, and then adds that data together (the load balancing I just mentioned). This increases the speed at which te data is retrieved, and that is what most RAID controllers can't do, or not as efficiently.
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