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building a small data server

By mrbox ยท 30 replies
Jul 1, 2004
  1. what would you guys recommend for a 4 computer network?

    I want everyone saveing all their important stuff to a very realiable, fast server that's basically safe from any data loss.

    my budget is $700.00

  2. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    $700 is a little cheap for a server thats:
    Esp.the word fast.

    Heres my two cents:
    *Get two SATA 160GB drives and mirror them in RAID0
    *Get a mobo with SATA Raid0 built in so you dont have to spend $100 on a SATA Raid card
    *Depending on how much it all costs, try to get a Xeon or Opteron ( which keep in mind will need a Xeon/Opteron mobo)
    *Get 1GB of RAM, but show us what you plan on getting, becasue theres cheap 1GB sticks, and expensive 1GB sticks. The expensive 1GB sticks are more expensive for a good reason, and you want that good reaosn.

    I think $700 is pretty low for a server.. thing is with a server, you need things like 2 hard drives in raid, if the mobo doesnt have raid a raid pci card is $100, a second hard drive costs more moeny. Your going to want a large amount of ram that costs more. Your going to want a cpu more cache, hence Xeon etc, which wil also cost more.

    Your also going to need a hard firewall (a router with a firewall built into it), and norton AV running 24/7.
  3. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    if it really is a data server, then I'd guess you'd concentrate the cash on hard drives, big ones, with raid, maybe a raid 1 (mirror) of a raid 0 (stripe), which you can do with 4 hard drives. Then a fifth one as a system disk. You don't need to back this up as all you will have is the bare OS because this machine has the function of serving disk space, nothing more.

    Get a really cheap motherboard, but get it a raid controller card and lots of ram, spend the rest on hard drives.

    If you want a data server, that is.

    Spend no money on graphics cards, cool sound, etc. No fancy cases. But a big, ugly grey box that you are going to put 5 hard drives in. Try to get a big case that you can fit more drives in in future.

    You would connect to such a machine over a network connection most of the time, its job to provide disk space and that's about it.

    On your other machines, you map a share of the raid 10 volume as a drive letter (or drive letters) on your other machines.
  4. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    Thats a good point P66, I forgot that you can save $$ off cuz u dont need a $200/300 dollar video card.

    He said $700 though, so I doubt he can stripe a mirror. And is this just a home/small office server? You may not need half/1 Terrabyte of space.

    Just make sure you have ATLEAST 1GB of ram, and the timings are good.

    An OS only takes up a few GBs, so I wouldnt bother buying a second hard drive just for the OS. A 40GB hd will be $20/$30 less then a 160. www.newegg.com <--Best deals & prices.

    How many people will be storing data on the server, and what kind of data will it be? Movies, word files, excel sheets, ????
  5. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    i've built several computers before, but i've never delt with RAID before, is it easy to set up?

    The type of data the server will be dealing with is stuff like word documents, spread sheets, and other similar files. No huge files like movies etc. It's just that this data is important, and not loseable.

    I was thinking about something last night, is there some software that would use everyone's computer in the network and combine them to make a server? Not really for processing power, just take 40g of everyones computer, then when someone saves to the 40g network drive the file is placed on their computer, and mirrored on the 3 others?
  6. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    dont unserstand what u mean with that tacked on the end, but as for the software, thats very possible, however your MUCH more prone to losing data cuz theres all those hard drives being used, hence the greater possibility for one to fail. Unless you have RAID setup on each machine (which you dont) I dont think you want to go this route.

    Do you think you'll need more then 160GBs?

    For RAID1 (mirror) you want to buy 2/two identical hard drives (just get two of the same drive when you go to order), and you want to make sure the mobo supports RAID1 (not 0, but 0+1 would work). If your getting a SATA hard drive (do so! it'll help lots with all this data being written) make sure the mobo has SATA RAID, not IDE RAID (IDE RAID it'll just be listed as "RAID").

    How many people will be saving data on this server?
  7. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    inititally 4 people, it will mostlikely go up in the future.

    What I ment was:

    There would be one folder on the HD lets call it Main and under Main each user would have their own folder so.

    User1 User2 User3 User4

    Everyone would save to their user folder. Then automatically this file structure is copied via LAN to each computer, so:

    Computer1 would have:

    User1 User2 User3 User4

    User1 while at Computer1 would save all their data to their User1 folder locally. Then the User1 folder will be mirrored on Computer2 Computer3 Computer4, all automatically because people are lazy.

    Is this possible/worthwile?

    This will all be over a 1000mbps switched network.
  8. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    You don't really need a SATA drive, as you're only writing small files to it, a ATA133 will do nicely.
    But I would try to get disks rated for a much longer lifespan than regular disks. They cost more, but since you can cut on the SATA part it shouldn't be too bad.

    And for the same reasons you don't need that much ram, since you won't be using the os for anything.

    (Note, I was talking about the server above)

    It should be possible to set it up as you specify in your post right above this, but it will be more of a hassle than building a cheap server. You'd also most likely be using 3rd party apps to acomplish it, which'd take away from your system resources.
    So I'd choose the server instead.
  9. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    what do you think is the lowest I could go in processing power, with out feeling it?

    About PCI RAID cards, there's no down side (speed wise) to them, when compaired to MB RAID?
  10. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    while i'm thinking about it... when dealing with smaller files (avg no more than 5mb-guessing) would I experence the advantage of going with 1000mbps vs 100?
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Well, that depends on the RAID card you buy. A motherboard tends to have the "lite" version, whereas the RAID cards tend to have more features. My machine with RAID1 uses onboard SATA RAID, but the RAID 0 volume on the multimedia server uses a dedicated card from promise.

    RAID is fairly easy to set up - you enter a BIOS like program that appears after the BIOS screens and before OS boot. you press a few buttons, etc. Its usually got some kind of automatic setup.
  12. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    Bah, forget xeon etc, i thought this was for 50ppl,etc.

    I'd get a 2.8C P4 for $170. They are at a good price. The 3.0's are like $220 from memory, so get a 2.8.

    Get a gig of ram...

    My friend got a 160GB SATA HD off newegg for $92, so I dont really think your forking that much extra for SATA in this senario.

    What do you guys think for the videocard.. a 5200?
  13. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    If it's a fileserver for 4 users then some Pentium 3 with 256 megs of RAM fill be more than ever needed. More RAM may be needed if you decide to install a Windows server OS.

    Keep in mind that RAID saves your data only in case of a hardware failure not if the software or a user messes up. Think of some sort of a backup solution.
  14. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    what if i use XPPro on the file server, and have the backup software just on the server, so that I've got the RAID for hardware failure, and the backup for user failure.

    also what abou the network, if I'm just transfering small files, but all the time, will i see an advantage in going to a gigabit network, the cost is about $180 over 100 network. Is it worth it?
  15. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    if I buy a SATA RAID controller card, and two SATA HD's

    Will I be able to use the card in a MB that only has IDE connections?

    Will i need to buy an IDE HD for the system? Or can I just use the RAID drives to install the os?

    If I only use a XP2000+ CPU on something like 512 DDR266 RAM, but then have a gigibit nic card, and a fast RAID controller card, with 2 10000RPM drives. Will the cpu and ram bottleneck the high speed drives?
  16. mrbox

    mrbox TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Here's the newegg items codes. let me know if any of this is a bad choice.

    RAID PCI Card N82E16822999901
    HDx2 N82E16822144160
    MEM N82E16820144202
    MB N82E16813131489
    PS/U N82E16817154010
    CPU N82E16819103451

    Will i see a signif performance dif with 10k drives vs 7200 drives, or will I only notice the difference on very large files?
  17. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    Uh I'll let someone else punch in all the numbers :rolleyes: URLS ;)
  18. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    I dont see why XP2000+ is a bad choice. I mean you are only doing small file storage.
    XP 2000+ should be more than adequate.
  19. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    You don't need the absolutely fastest drives to serve 4 users.

    Unless they frequently open big files (over 10 MB) your biggest bottleneck will be the network and the SMB protocol and you can't do much about those.
  20. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Yes, that will work perfectly, since the SATA RAID controller card will have it's own SATA connectors.

    You can do either.
    I'd suggest using and IDE drive for the OS, but it doesn't have to be larger than 5-6GB, which you might have lying around... If you don't have one lying around (and you're calling yourself a nerd?!? ;) :D) then newegg has one for 51$..

    The reason I suggest using an IDE drive for the OS is that it will not stress the SATA drives in any way, and you won't have WinXP swapping and doing it's thing to increase chances of a disk failure. Could be overkill, but still.

    As has been said, not it won't. Unless you plan to move 10-20 000 5mb files at any given time... But those extreme cases aside, it should do more than fine.

    Yes, that should work very well.

    No idea if 1000 or 100 mbit lan is the way to go...
  21. dmill89

    dmill89 TS Guru Posts: 475

    I would recomend you start with a Pentiun 3. There cheap,reliable,use verry little power, and run cool.These attributes make it perfect for a server with less than 10 users at a time.If you have more users than that you will need an optatron or xenon.you'll need 256mb ram for linux,or 512 mb for windows server or xp pro to run well.spend most of the money on hard drives, at least 200GB is recomended for a server and if you need data security tape back up.( good high capacity tape drive will cost 500+).As for video cards go just get something cheap like an ATI rage which usually sell for less than $20 after all you'll only need it for setup and system matenence.
  22. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    That sounds like some good advice dmill89, and the funny thing is I have a P!!! just laying around that I picked up for free off some system fix. What I need is a tut about how to actually SETUP a server, OS wise,etc,etc,etc.
  23. dmill89

    dmill89 TS Guru Posts: 475

    If running windows server or xp pro use the network setup wizard in the con trol pannel.onec you set up the net work go to the drives on the server you want to use and make them shared.(right click drive>properties>shareing)
  24. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    One would think the most important part of server is speed in sending and receiving data.
    I would look to low end duel xeons PIII's
    something in the 750mhz range with space for 2gb or maybe 3gb of memory
    thay did make ide raid
    I'm sure I had a amd server that had it.
    put 4 nics in that puppy and team them
    nice fast switch like an old 550tr
    ebay quad xeon
    last one but theres more
  25. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Whoa.. That thread is old!

    So, before the release of Opteron or Xeon, it was impossible to have servers with more than 10 users?
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