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Advice for our office network

By Loafer · 7 replies
Apr 27, 2011
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  1. Hi, firstly I have a working knowledge of home computers and have been asked to sort out our computers in the office.

    At the moment we have 3 desktops and two laptops running off of a server. The problem is the server keeps crashing and we can't access any emails or the shared drive we all use to store company information. We are getting fed up with the IT company we contract to sort out our computer needs. I was wondering if we even need a network server - would it be reasonable in the short term to just have a networked hard drive or two that we can all access. Could someone explain to me in simple terms what the benefit of a server is ?
    I will say this is a new company and our IT needs may increase rapidly in the near future.

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,562   +1,441

    A server is just another system, specially configured, to run Services and store common data.

    A WEB server (aka google.com) has an HTTP Service running on port 80
    and a backend process that find user search keywords in a database and returns an HTML output of those URLs.

    A common 'Server' for business is the Windows Server {2000, 2003, and now 2008).
    The Windows Server(WS) can be configured to provide
    1. a local DNS Service
    2. a local DHCP service
    3. an LDAP (or Active Directory Service)
    4. and frequently an Exchange Server (for email)
    Services 1+2 then control your company hardware network and service lookups.

    Shared data is usually kept on the WS and accessed as Shared Directories.

    The brute-force simple network just uses a system to contain the Shared Directories
    and everyone just does his/her own thing (ie no domain.name and no email server {which doesn't look good or show much professionalism} ).

    If Joe Doe jr, IT-Guy can't give you a stable WS, get another. This time ensure that
    you get refunds of the monthly service fee for every hour of down time (if they balk at this, select another - - they're not too professional either).
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    As above, but if you must do it you're own (e.g. boss won't back down. lol)

    The safest bet is a NAS, (Network Attached Storage) which should be more than suitable for your file sharing needs.

    Your solution of using an existing computer as a means of sharing the files would also work although neither will interfere with the growth of your network, whichever direction you move in the future.
  4. Loafer

    Loafer TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thanks for the responses. Got a little lost from the beginning there jobeard ;-)

    The situation is, the server is used as far as I can tell to host the shared drive, we call it the 'O' Drive and an exchange server? for the email - does that sound right? The server is on a UPS backup which causes problems as well. The battery went the other day and that crashed the server apparently.

    We want to replace one computer immediately and the other 2 or 3 later on.

    We don't host our website on our server (as far as i know).

    The question is, would it be adequate for us to run our own independant desktops and retrieve emails on these desktops and then just use a NAS drive or two (in RAID configuration is that right?) for a shared drive.
    We do have a shared laser printer on the network too.
    Seems a lot simpler to me, realise we wouldn't have the UPS backup. But, to be honest it causes more problems anyway.

    Another issue is (not sure if it's related): I have my emails setup on my phone too, but if I 'retrieve' them on the office laptop they seem to disappear from my phone?

    The whole thing is a mess and our IT firm just seem to do the bear minimum (for £2.5K a year it's a bit poor in my opinion).
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,562   +1,441

    Yea, your question was very broad and I took a shotgun approach to pull out your details
    absolutely correct
    then the UPS was not setup correctly. As the UPS is getting low, it SHOULD send a signal to the server to perform a controlled shutdown. This should have been configured and tested on day-1 of the UPS install. Sure sign your IT kids are incompetent.
    still requires the Exchange Server *IF* your email addresses are like ME@MYCOMPANY.COM
    Raid is not a requirement. If you do, get a good one which allows hot-plugging(H.P.) a new drive
    if the printer has an IP address, then it is independent of all systems, including the server. Otherwise, the system to which it is physically attached must be active and accessible to all other systems.
    that's the Exchange Server holding the email. All clients access the common data and it one device (say your desktop) deletes an email, then your cell phone will find them missing too. This is the IMAP email operation. If you reconfigure for POP inplace of IMAP, you will keep email, but then get a different issue:- assume one user email-ID and two devices (a) the desktop & (b) the cell phone. With the POP implementation, if (a) accesses and downloads emails a 9am, then (b) accesses email at 10am, (b) will only see thed email that arrived after 9.01am and none that (a) acquired - - the email MOVES to the client that did the last access.
  6. Loafer

    Loafer TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thanks for replying. Starting to get a better understanding of some of the fundamentals...mainly 'I leave it to the professionals'. At least I can go a bit more informed to the IT firm and get them to do their job (actually I'd like to get rid of them, but that's another issue).

  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,562   +1,441

    not a bad choice - - especially when you're not responsible for the solution :D
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    If you ain't happy get shot of them - there are plenty of others that can replace them, and some of the stuff you're mentioning sounds more like children's amateur hour tbh.

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