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Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

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  • Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

    My company is about to purchase 2 new file servers to replace the 2 existing file servers in place - they are getting pretty old and running out of space.

    Currently, we have 2 main file servers, 1 for each of our locations. These servers are also domain controllers (for separate forests - one for each location...). They are Windows 2003 servers (32 bit).

    Over the last 18 months we have moved from these 2 domains (forests) to a new forest / domain on different hardware. Now, both locations are part of the same domain.

    Our file servers are very simple. Basically, folders are shared and in the shares everything from pdf files to doc, xls, mdb, some image files, etc. Between the 2 locations, they service about 250-300 users. At this time, we aren't really interested in Sharepoint.

    That being said - we are looking to demote these older DCs / file / print servers and replace them with new hardware. We spec'd out a server that seems pretty intense - it is Windows 2008 R2, and therefore x64, loaded with disk and memory.

    My questions -

    Using this server how we intend to - as a file / print server - will we see any value in loading it up with memory? Say - if we were to throw 16 or 32 gb of memory in this machine, does it make a difference? How memory intensive are file / print servers?

    Secondly - our file shares are extremely basic. Very little security. Any suggestions for things to look into to either increase performance or security? For example - if we were to do ABE or DFS or something? Anything else I should look into?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

    Originally posted by stephenmbell
    loaded with disk and memory.
    Can you quantify this statement that I have quoted from your post? I have a frind who thinks 2GB RAM is a massive amount whereas I consider 1TB to be a massive amount.
    Once we know the actual numbers then options can be given, perhaps it may be adventagious to have have a VM included in the mix. (I am just a VM fan, especially for Print Servers)

    Are you wanting to put size limits on the Users storage/Home Folders?
    Are you wanting to restrict file types? (FMRS may be an option for you to install and configure)

    You mention basic SHARES and very little security then mention ABE and DFS. Don't confuse security with redundancy.

    You post is a good start but tell us how you would like the structure to be setup and we will be able to provide adice and options for you.
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2


    • #3
      Re: Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

      Do some detailed analysis, along the following lines:
      What file storage do you require now?
      Add growth per user over est 4 or 5 year life
      Add growth in user numbers over same life
      Add allowance for shadow copies if required
      Add contingency
      Add OS + bloat for patches etc
      = Anticipated drive capacity
      Determine RAID option to give drives required (remember it may, at the moment, be better to start small and add drives later when Thai-flood-land returns to normal

      So you plan to use as virtual platform, if so, add drive space and RAM/processor
      If a single role server only, and never anything else, IMHO 8GB is suitable, not less. A 4 core processor is the mimumum you can get anyway...
      Don't go earlier than Win2008R2 -- probably standard edition -- as you are cutting into support life.

      For security, start with proper NTFS security, using a hierarchy of folders within shares. DFS is not security related and ABE just prevents users seeing things. Make sure YOU understand how NTFS works, particularly the AGULP model for applying permissions.
      DFS will have an important role replicating data between offices.

      And for what its worth, separate DCs are better -- you could consider buying an additional 2008R2 license and putting it on an existing server at head office as a DC only (DNS and DHCP too) then maybe the RODC role on the new server at the branch office.

      And the usual advice -- consider a consultant. Yes, it will cost, but should save you the money, pain and stress of wrong decisions by yourself!
      Tom Jones
      MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
      PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
      IT Trainer / Consultant
      Ossian Ltd

      ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **


      • #4
        Re: Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

        @biggles77 -

        Good point. Loaded with disk and memory is very vague - currently, we have a Win 2k3 server, 4GB ram, 800 GB disk usable, 5 drives raided. The new server we are looking at is Win 2k8 R2, 5 900 GB drives raided (3+ TB usable), 32 GB ram. Today we are using roughly 600 GB, so I feel very comfortable with 3+ TB of disk.

        We currently aren't considering having a VM in the mix. We do utilize virtualization on a very basic level - I would say that at this point, we aren't comfortable with our level of knowledge of VM to put something as critical as printing on it.

        Sorry for all of the ambiguity - I don't believe that I was confusing security with redundancy. I was just trying to think of things that I am aware of relating to File Services that we currently do not utilize (ABE and DFS). I am sure that their are other technologies that are available to File Services (you mentioned FMRS, which I wouldn't have thought of) - what I question is... if we wanted to use ABE to hide folders you don't have access to OR to set up DFS so that both of our file servers replicated - what impact would this have on the processor / memory of the file server?!?

        Thank you for the reply,


        • #5
          Re: Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

          @Ossian -

          Thank you for your reply, I will look at the things you suggested.

          I think today, we are seeing these servers as single role servers... single being file / print servers.

          Historically in our company - we don't deal much with permissions. I would guess that 95% of our file shares, everyone has access to the shares. We are looking to get away from this, at least in some aspects. I feel as though I have a decent understanding of NTFS permissions and the AGULP permission model.

          I think where we are getting stuck internally with the hardware decision is - if we have X number of users accessing \\newfileshare\share\department\db.mdb - is this tying up resources on the file server or the client?!?

          Thanks again,



          • #6
            Re: Purchasing a new file server - advice?!?

            it's tieing up resources on both the client, and the server.

            The server, because it's needing to constantly read and write the file, so the disk head is probably going a little crazy.

            And on the client, because the client is making changes and doing whatever they do, which obviously means the client cpu and memory are working. (but not so much the disk)
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