Home networking advice request

By rednek
Dec 2, 2008
  1. Hi all.

    I'm currently running an ad-hoc network at home, which is growing as more family members acquire computers in their bedrooms, etc. I'm wondering if now might be the time to look at consolidating some of the activities into dedicated servers.

    Email and calendaring, I think, would be best 'served' from a central location - possibly using exchange or similar (are there any cheaper / free alternatives?). It would be great to have each family members' diaries accessible from any of the terminals in the home.

    Also music could be stored centrally - currently all of us have mixed up music collections on each of our local drives, only accessible to others using file-sharing.

    It'd be great to automate 'my documents' backups for all the machines, too, as well as periodic 'system' backups (OS and software).

    I'd also like to be able to centrally control internet access, particularly for the kids for obvious reasons. Perhaps a proxy server to ban unsuitable sites, and to handle AntiVirus, etc?

    Now, I have a Dell PowerEdge 600 (P4 2.x ghz, 512mbram), not really being used for much, which I could use as a general server. Would this be an appropriate box to use for the above tasks? (email, calendar, proxy, backup). I can hook-up some USB drives to it - I have a LaCie 500, and a Maxtor 400.

    Our current configuration is:

    Dell P4 (wifes work-from-home terminal with all her music, plus whole family calendar and email on outlook) running XP MCE - with about 20gig of data to backup

    Tiny Celeron Laptop (Mine, general email, browsing) running Puppy Linux (which is great BTW - fast as lightning on such a low spec machine!) - with about 100mb tops of data to backup

    P4s in both kids bedrooms running VLC media player, OpenOffice, Firefox, outlook, both on XP Pro, with wireless connection - with about 1gb of data each to back-up

    Acer Aspire Turion ML30 for my mobile recording studio and music storage on XP Pro - with about 200gig of data to back-up

    'Carillon' dual core dedicated music PC running my home recording studio software on XP Pro with about 400gig (and rising) of data to back-up.

    10/100 switch for the 'downstairs machines', connected to BTVoyager hub/modem (with wireless for the kids' machines).

    Oh, and a HP PDA which is sync'd to the wife's machine for her out-and-about tasks.

    If anyone has suggestions as to how best I might improve the efficiency of the home network, I'd be extremely interested.

    Preferrably I'd like to be able to explore possibilities without incurring extra expense!

    I know a small amount about networking, but responses in layman's terms would be appreciated if possible, and ease of use for the other family members is a priority!

    Many thanks for you time!

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    1+2 implies a Windows Server with Exchange; This will contradict (3) :(
    The network per se is rather easy and efficient (unless one or more users start
    using BitTorrent P2P programs).
    Proxy is a great idea. This setup would allow tight control of the usage and virus protection;
    isp--modem---Control.Server---router--other systems
    The Control.Server can filter all traffic and access, but AV still is needed everywhere.

    If you just want a free fileserver, look into a Linux system as the Control.Server
    and be sure it has Samba or can have it installed.
  3. rednek

    rednek TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Many thanks for this. I had wondered about the linux option. Is there not a system for linux which could host a centralized email and calendar facility? The family could be persuaded to move away from outlook if necessary...
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    The email server will be two packages, pop3 for inbound email and smtp for outbound.
    There are a couple of well known packages for a Linux Server.

    The user side (ie Clients) can run whatever they like; just config the server names and ports correctly.

    The Calendar service has a couple of providers also
    see http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/OpenOffice.org_Solutions
    and then in the TOC, see items (7) & (8)
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