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What's the difference between a server build and a PC build?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hello OCN,
I build PCs as a side job, and one of my clients has requested that I build them a server to house their data (CAD files, client info, etc.) but I've never built a serve before! What should I be expecting / doing differently?

I've seen server mobo's with two sockets for processors. Do servers require two CPU's?

I know RAIDs are the most reliable way to hold data for extended periods of time - but how do I choose the best one for my client's system?

Do servers require a different Operating System than a normal PC?

How much RAM do I need for a server?

How can I keep the server protected from hacking through my client's network best?

What else am I not expecting that is going to bite me in the butt?
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post #2 of 20
Servers do not need 2 CPUs, and you probably won't need 2 sockets for a home server.

http://gcn.com/articles/2009/08/31/gcn-lab-review-nas-sidebar-raid.aspx (Raid array breakdown)

You can get Windows Home Server which is $52, or you can get Windows Small Business Server, or Windows Server which will be much much more expensive. Or you could also do linux if you're familiar with it. It would also cut the price down a little.

For a good file server, depending on the OS, I'd put 2-4GB in it

Install good antivirus (if windows) and make sure that their wireless routers, if any, are password protected. And don't have any unneeded ports open in the router/firewall

Servers are pretty much PCs but with a bit different hardware. You could actually just get away with using consumer hardware in a homeserver and it'd function the same.

Good luck smile.gif
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post #3 of 20
- Server generally wont need a GPU of any sort
- You don't need a dual CPU mobo a run-of-the-mill i3 or Athlon II x4 would do (maybe a G620)
- 4-8 gb ram is fine. Its cheap and most you would need
- You need to get windows home server OS
- A good 350-400w PSU will be more than enough

and Google how to build a home server since this seems to be all he will use.

Good airflow for the HDD is important as well.
Edited by hednik - 2/17/12 at 9:57am
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post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
How about the RAIDs? I know what they are (0, 1, 3, 5) but which is best for my client?
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post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunmetalz View Post

How about the RAIDs? I know what they are (0, 1, 3, 5) but which is best for my client?

Raid 10
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post #6 of 20
Is this for a business? If so, WHS is not an option.

Exactly what do they need the server to do, you say CAD files, client info, etc., but what is the etc.? File server, e-mail, backups, remote access, how many clients (other computers that hook up to it), how much data, what type of server backups (on site or "cloud"), what all is shared, how much total data, network setup and load as well as other things.

If your doing a server for a business and don't know these things, it is hard to make any recommendations and may truthfully be a little over your head.
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post #7 of 20
While a PC is generally focused on accomplishing individual tasks as quickly as possible and making pretty pictures, a server build is more focused on 'serving' files or services. This means fast hard drives, lots of RAM, and a great connection to the network. You'll also want to take into account backups (automatic, manual, and/or RAID) and very established products (i.e. probably not brand new untested stuff).
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post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by blupupher View Post

Is this for a business? If so, WHS is not an option.
Exactly what do they need the server to do, you say CAD files, client info, etc., but what is the etc.? File server, e-mail, backups, remote access, how many clients (other computers that hook up to it), how much data, what type of server backups (on site or "cloud"), what all is shared, how much total data, network setup and load as well as other things.
If your doing a server for a business and don't know these things, it is hard to make any recommendations and may truthfully be a little over your head.

I kind of assumed this was a one person home based business. Now that I think of it doing something like this seems like it might be more pain than its worth because now someones livelihood depends upon it. That's a bigger burden than a side job would take, Just my 2cents.gif
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post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blupupher View Post

Is this for a business? If so, WHS is not an option.
Exactly what do they need the server to do, you say CAD files, client info, etc., but what is the etc.? File server, e-mail, backups, remote access, how many clients (other computers that hook up to it), how much data, what type of server backups (on site or "cloud"), what all is shared, how much total data, network setup and load as well as other things.
If your doing a server for a business and don't know these things, it is hard to make any recommendations and may truthfully be a little over your head.

The server would handle e-mail, backup each employee's personal work files (~ 500 GB of data) as well as hold all of the business' CAD project data (~1 TB currently, grows as projects are added).

There are 10 employee computers on the network, each of which will need access to the server. Not sure what "network load" entails, assuming you mean trafficking between server and client. If so, the employees currently leave their stations at night and the server backs up the data overnight for them to work the next day and repeat the process. About 100 - 150 GB of data are transferred overnight. I doubt it takes very long.

My client has requested remote access, but their current server allows for remote access and they are comfortable with using one for local data and the other for remote data.

I am doing this as a learning experience. This client trusts me personally and understands that I have never had experience with servers before. I requested this project to get my feet wet so that I can add servers to my portfolio and to increase my revenue in the future. I will be performing this task for free in return for this opportunity. Any additional information you would like to add would be appreciated, as you seem to know what you are doing. Thanks
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post #10 of 20
There's on-track advice so far, but a few considerations... what CAD system are they using? what kind of network are they running? what anti-virus package do they use? what backup solution do they have? what's their power situation?

Reason I ask, some CAD programs are incredibly 'fetchy' - you open one file, and it pulls in a library, that pulls in another library, and so on. It's not the HUGE files that kill you, it's the hundreds of thousands of tiny ones. For that reason, you'll want a server motherboard with NICs you can bond together, fast drives with lots of cache, and get your RAM in 4GB or 8GB sticks - that way when it's time to upgrade in the future, you can just pop the top and fill a slot, instead of yanking a bunch of 2GB sticks out. Oh yeah, when building your RAID array, if you figure on having 5 drives, buy 6 and keep one on-site as a cold spare.

EDIT: Yeah, I would strongly recommend against WHS on this build. You can get away with that in a dentist's office, but not in CAD land. Though I am loathe to recommend it, sounds like you'll need Windows SBS 2011 Standard to take care of everything they're asking this server to do.
Edited by roleki - 2/17/12 at 10:44am
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