View Full Version : File Server

06-11-2009, 03:10 AM
Hello all,

I am designing a network for a fake medical office at school as a project. One of the items I need to include is a file server. My question is what is the best setup for a file server that about 10 people can access at any given time?

I am was thinking of the general following:

2Ghz Dual Core or Single (Dont think CPU plays too much of a part)
1GB Ram
Windows XP Pro Sp3

I would like to have a raid card. At least raid 1 to have a backup. Not sure what is a good card for the money. I know alot of the speed will be the controller for the hard drives( I think so). I was comparing SATA2 vs SCSI, comparing the two I am not 100% sure.

The other student who is helping me is saying to use a linux distro as it provides better transfer rate to the drives. I am not sure about that so if anyone knows I am grateful.

Basicly i need critic, what would you use? Why? Is the something out there i dont know of that does what I need to handle the load?

Thanks for any help.

06-11-2009, 03:16 AM
As far as the OS, you certainly need to use something other than XP if you want 10 people to access it at once. There is a limit on the network server ability in Xp, where (in basic terms) only ten shares can be open at once.
A linux distro is a little harder to set up, but doesn't have such a limitation. Windows Server also doesn't have the 10 share limitation.

The processor doesn't necessarily come into play if the server is just sharing files. If it's being an application type server, remote desktop server, sql/database server, the processor is a bit more important.

06-11-2009, 01:39 PM
Thanks all for the fast reply. I did not know that XP had limitations on the ammount of access. I was also thinking of trying 08 Server running in a core mode, so that also answered my question on which windows based solution there was. As far as speed when you compare Server VS Debian which would allow better time? Or is it gonna be dependant on the I/O of the controller for the hard drive and the drive itself ?

If so if you were designing it is there a certain hard drive controller that you would recommend?

Also has anyone tried using free nas ? Compared to the other two is it something you would choose?

Thanks again.

06-11-2009, 02:58 PM
I have some experience with your exact imaginary customer:

The thing to consider is that even though it's only 10 users, if the server is down (failed disk, power supply, or system board) they are out of business until you do a restore or get the replacement part.

Typically they will also have some decent machines around the office, and if you have anything to do with it, one of the other good machine should be the main receptionist. She would be your point of contact for remote support and would also be responsible for changing tapes, etc.

It's not always best to spec a REAL server for these type of clients, because they are loud, so consider where the server will be. (I have one that keeps it in the bathroom, data on the P: drive, of course)

So you get some dual core box, and at least mirror the drives. A great raid controller can fail, and add a layer of complexity that may cause problems later.

Install VMware server (free) on linux (free) and run WS2003 as a VM or whatever the appropriate os for their core DB app is. Install free VMware server on at least one of the client PC's ( like the main recep). test to be sure it's as accessible as the server. Now you have a place to restore to if the need ever arises. Since the server is a VM you can run it anywhere, you can take a copy with you for development, testing upgrades, etc.

For backups, don't put a tape drive in the server. If the server is down, you will have to either move the tape drive to another box, or reinstall an OS at the server before restoring (or before finding out if the tapes or other media are good)

Run the backup SW fro the main receptionist pc. Typically, a 10 user network would have <10GB of daily changing data. Backup to her local HD, and also to some kind of removable media, an external USB drive if need be. Get them enough of these for a satisfactory offsite storage policy. Setup 5 or so disk based backups on her local machine so you have some history there, without the need to retrieve offsite media.

For small offices, this type of distributed redundancy will ensure more reliable business continuity for a small office than a single server with the OS on bare metal.

I support a dentist office with this setup, and the power supply on the HP server failed. Best case is overnight for the replacement. They were back up in the time it takes for a restore (1/2 hour). Theoretically, I could have remoted into her machine, fired up the VM, and restored. I would only have to go onsite to troubleshoot the failed server (but not under pressure)

06-11-2009, 04:50 PM
Thanks for the excellent idea's.

I understand where you are going with the backups incase of failure. The way this project is set up is there are 4 offices North, South , East , West from the central office. Each office will have a fileserver and the central office will be the big daddy that will hold all the other information from the other sites. The central will have a good setup for backup along with off site backup, perhaps from Iron Mountian since it is located in another state that doesnt get too much severe weather.

My concern is just making sure that I find the perfect setup that will allow growth on the fileserver along with minimizing the time required to access it and write to it with a variety of people are using it. The use of something like raid 1 is just to allow a easier backup onsite instead of having to get the data from the main server and copying it. Also I plan on having a duplicate system ready to swap out just incase the hardware is the failure. So if one of the drives is still intact than I simply have to swap or get someone to swap and they will be up and running. I was thinking of making the drives themselves key'ed in for easier access if the system fails than they would have to simply unlock and move to the next system.

The room that this will all be in will be secured enough to not have to fear about someone simply yanking the drives out.

I am not too familuar in the speed required if a good ammount of people access the same data or drive.

Cost isnt a issue here. I would like to keep a setup reasonable as something realistic but would like to find a good setup that would benefit the company. The people will be doctors so they will be sending alot of data to it.

I appreciate the feed back that I am recieving and will use all the information to come up with a good setup. So please keep them coming if you can and thanks again.

06-11-2009, 08:28 PM
well, that puts a whole different paint job on things.

06-15-2009, 07:22 PM
Not really. What I am looking for is just a good setup for the fileserver itself. I was thinking of some 1000 rpm sata drives, however when it comes to the controller cards need for the raid I am not sure which is the best, or if i can order the "Hong Kong" version and it be just as good.

I am torn between getting WS2003 or Debian. Debian would certainly be cheaper but I would have to take into account hiring someone who specializes in the field in my project.

Thanks again for any help.

06-15-2009, 08:09 PM
Well, since this is a satellite office then it really is all different. Since it's only 10 users it may make sense to have them terminal in through a VPN to HQ. Why support a server in a remote location if you don't have to....or it may only handle authentication and have some shared local content. In that case you don't need much of a server. You now have HIPAA compliance considerations as well since it's a WAN. In other words you need a comprehensive Enterprise solution rather than a 10 user doctor office network.

If your only question is about the array, you would get the best performance/redundancy out of RAID 10. ( 2 striped sets mirrored to each other), which is also the most expensive.

06-15-2009, 08:44 PM
Under normal circumstances I would centralize everything, run fiber optic trunks between buildings. However the project calls for each office to have its own individual file server, with a fileserver in the central building also (assuming since they are soppose to be able to access all the data at any location that I will need to setup a sync between file servers). I will double check about that. Also thx for the HIPPA information I will need to read up on what the compliance for that is.

Raid 10 might be a option. Is there a certain controller card that you prefer over the rest?

Thanks again.

06-16-2009, 12:09 AM
I like HP servers, most come with a controller that supports raid10. If you run ESX or ESXi you will probably want a SAN. I have used cabinets from Coraid, which is ATA over Ethernet rather than iSCSI. These certainly support RAID 10, and they have a storage vitrualizer product that allows for transparent replication and dynamically re-sizable LUNs. The cost per Terabyte is significantly less than iSCSI SANs.

06-16-2009, 03:25 PM
Thanks for the information. I will have to look into the HP servers.

I think that answers my question. I appreciate the time and patience you displayed Emockler, Thanks again.