What makes a good server?

  1. This is probably opening a great big can o'worms!
    Anyone any opinion what makes a good server? Is it huge quick RAM, or huge fast drives or a fast processor?
    Any comments much appreciated!
  2. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +258

    It completely depends on what your server needs to do. Is it a file server, database server, application server, web server, ... the list goes on and on and the requirements differ between them.
  3. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,711

    Good start!
    Hold files for 6 workstations. These files will be a mixture of images, sales records and general data.
    The workstations will have their own software and access the server for data only.
    Email will be shared across the network.
  4. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +258

    Lots of small files or lots of big files being accessed? With lots of small files you'll want something with better I/O performance - with large files you'll just want higher transfer speeds. Thing is it's pretty easy to saturate your network throughput with very few drives in a raid array.

    I assume with a small setup (6 machines?) like that you'll be using Gb at most - or maybe a couple Gb NICs bound if you're feeling daring. I'd worry more about throughput and redundancy if I were going by your previous description - maybe a small 4 or more drive RAID 10 or a 4+ drive in RAID5 (add another drive for RAID6.) Try to use hardware based RAID if you can - it's not terribly expensive to do anymore. I'm currently using 8 GB on my home fileserver and I find it to be wayyyy overkill. Sure, it's good for caching files, but unless you've got lots of activity I doubt you'll really need much of that. I also find that I don't use many cpu cycles for normal fileserving activities. I don't do any transcoding on the server so I'm just handing out plain old data files.
  5. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,711

    The CAT5 cabling is already in place and hard wired into the building so not in the budget to be replaced yet. I am not confident that it will support more than 100mbps but it can't be helped!
    I agree on the RAID and I understand about the lack of processor activity on networking duties - but what about RAM for a server?

    and what would happen if I used W7 Pro 64bit as the server OS?
  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +258

    I mentioned what I thought about large amounts of RAM on a file server, but to answer your other question about Win7Pro - you'll be limited to 20 simultaneous inbound SMB connections if you do so. Other than that you would probably be fine. I personally prefer to run a linux machine for file serving purposes, but it may be because I'm already quite familiar with that environment.

    Also, is it CAT 5 or CAT 5e?
  7. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,711

    we're getting there - whats SMB? is the same thing that used to limit XP to 10 connections?
    Don't know enough about Linux to consider it - even if someone else set it up for me I would struggle to look after after it!
    CAT5 and quite old.
  8. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +258

    SMB = Server Message Block - and yes, the same thing that was limited to 10 on XP. Your CAT 5 situation is unfortunate - but that makes it even easier to be sure you'll have drives capable of providing the maximum throughput available. Go for redundancy - nothing hurts more than losing that data. You should also be fine with a Windows 7 OS if the number of simultaneous connections isn't an issue, but I cannot stress enough that you should use hardware based RAID if you're going to go that route.
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,284   +281

    well done LNCPapa.

    comments on RAID
    A) onboard raid controller stink as they require software support from the OS.
    If you *must* have raid, do yourself a big favor and go for the SCSI PCI card which
    operates independently of the OS (once the operation is begun :wave:);
    better reliability AND performance as well.

    B) Raid-0 is a disaster waiting to happen; use one of the more robust forms.
    Tutorial
    Issues
    Other Forms of Raid-x
  10. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,711

    As always the advice is excellent if a bit in conflict!
    I will see what I can lay my hands on but if I have the general consensus of opinion it is:
    CPU - power not vitally important
    RAM - about 8Gb will be enough
    HDD - some sort of RAID array which will give me mirroring plus striping....maybe a bit more input on this one?
    thanks to you all!
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,284   +281

    the performance gain on raid-0 (or any derivative) is very minor - -
    you gain (N-1) * seek time value:
    • N is the number of HDs in the stripping
    All N drives are set into motion at once and thus while transferring the contents from HD#1, the others are being positioned. so that N-1 drives do not have seek time associated.

    Raid-0x systems are intended for heavily accessed systems, not trivial or casual file sharing which allows long times between accesses.

    Save the money, gain reliability and reduced complexity with well thought out
    file shares spread across multiple physical disks (not just partitions on 1-hd) :wave:
     


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