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Mstrty
09-03-2009, 11:11 PM
I am looking into a dedicated office server in the very near future. Im fairly computer literate but do not do it as a profession. I have 2 computers that digitize artwork files daily. we create about 10-20 proprietary art files a day. Over the last 7 years, well you do the math. My thought was to get the data off of the one "main" computer and onto a server computer. Both computers access a MSSQL database located on computer A. I would like it to be located on a dedicated server. My question is. Any recommendations on a small office server? and what is the best method of nightly backup. Im currently backing computer A to computer B nightly. I have replaced the HDD yearly just out of paranoia. so I have a collection of HDD piling up in the safe. Thanks for all who advise in advance.

armygunsmith
09-03-2009, 11:26 PM
You might want to look at some of the mid range servers on the dell website. You'll want something with a RAID and possibly with a tape backup. I would suggest backing up to tape nightly then storing the tape at an off site location (safety depoit box). If nightly is too often, then backup to tape weekly and make sure that you rotate tapes to maintain at least two previous backups.

DSA_FAL
09-04-2009, 12:21 AM
At the company I used to work for, I set up a Dell Poweredge server. It came bundled with Windows Small Business server 2003 which is a nice, inexpensive system bundle with all the software that you'd need to run a Windows network preinstalled. (Exchange, IIS, SQL server, etc.) The box itself has dual RAID 1 drives so that if one hard drive decides to die, the other has a complete copy of the data. Also, the server's set up to make nightly backups to an external drive to help protect against data corruption. Also, with it being external, if the office had to be evacuated because of a fire or other disaster, the drive is easily portable.

artherd
09-04-2009, 2:47 AM
Backup to a remote location, at GeoVario we don't trust any particular physical place, everything is copied elsewhere.

chiefcrash
09-04-2009, 8:15 AM
Honestly, if you're only trying to handle load from 2 computers on the network, a honest-to-god server box might be too much hardware for you. Just another higher-end desktop with a server OS installed and a couple of big hard drives will probably work for you.

As far as backup options go, there's more than you can shake a stick at. As far as software goes, I kinda like Acronis True Image myself, just because it works with linux as well as windows, and it has other nifty features (kinda like Norton Ghost, but better). But whatever you can get your hands on will work. As for backup medium, you really wanna get something besides just copying it to another hard drive: which means offsite uploads or backup tapes. A tape drive will cost you (between $500 and $2k depending on what you get), but then you get to do all your backups to relatively cheap and effective disk cartridges.

Just some thoughts for you to rattle around up there in your head...

chiefcrash
09-04-2009, 8:19 AM
At the company I used to work for, I set up a Dell Poweredge server. It came bundled with Windows Small Business server 2003 which is a nice, inexpensive system bundle with all the software that you'd need to run a Windows network preinstalled. (Exchange, IIS, SQL server, etc.) The box itself has dual RAID 1 drives so that if one hard drive decides to die, the other has a complete copy of the data. Also, the server's set up to make nightly backups to an external drive to help protect against data corruption. Also, with it being external, if the office had to be evacuated because of a fire or other disaster, the drive is easily portable.

RAID is *not* a backup solution. I could go on for hours about why not to trust/use RAID as a backup.

Don't get me wrong, RAID is pretty cool. It's just the purpose of RAID is so that if one hard drive fails, the server is still up and running until it's convenient for you to take a backup, replace the broken drive, and then restore if necessary (and you'd be surprised how often it's necessary). RAID reduces downtime, not data loss...

Corbin Dallas
09-04-2009, 8:26 AM
I work for a major player in the server market. Your situation is not uncommon as we get requests for these all the time.

My recommendation:

2U Supermicro chassis with 8 drive bays (6025 series)
8 - 750GB or 1TB drives (WD or Hitachi)
2 - 150GB 10k drives (OS, raid 1 for redundancy)
Twin dual or quad core procs (5100 or 5400 series)
8GB ram (min) - 32GB recommended (Wintec or Smart FBDIMM)
LSI MegaSAS Raid card (8708ELP), supports Raid 0,1,5,6,10,50,60 (storage and redundancy)

This setup does not come cheap, but with up to 8TB of redundant storage you can be sure your data is not going anywhere soon. Add in a tape backup system (set to nightly, weekly and monthly backups) and you should never lose anything again.

As for an OS, I would go Linux (SuSe, RedHat, Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu) unless you specifically need a Windows Box. (Server 2003 or 2008)

Don't forget a good APC battery backup in case of a major power outage or brown out.

If you want to discuss it further, send me a PM and we'll talk.

SwissFluCase
09-04-2009, 9:49 AM
The nice thing about Small Business Server is that you get Exchange and Remote Web Workplace. Remote Web Workplace is a pretty cool way of getting to your PCs. Backup to hard drives that you rotate and take offsite. You can add an online offsite backup as well, and you would be pretty covered.

ETA: How much data are you working with? What is your budget?

Regards,


SwissFluCase

sfwdiy
09-04-2009, 12:39 PM
Backup to a remote location, at GeoVario we don't trust any particular physical place, everything is copied elsewhere.

What are you running for your offsite backup?

--B

bigmike82
09-04-2009, 12:39 PM
If you're not a pro, go with SBS over Linux. You'll save yourself a lot of time and headache.

I've also had good experience with Dell servers, especially as far as warranty and service goes. They're tough to beat.

Screw tape backups. External HDs are cheaper. Get a few small enclosures, and you can do everything a tape can at a much lower cost.

sfwdiy
09-04-2009, 1:09 PM
If you're not a pro, go with SBS over Linux. You'll save yourself a lot of time and headache.

I've also had good experience with Dell servers, especially as far as warranty and service goes. They're tough to beat.

Screw tape backups. External HDs are cheaper. Get a few small enclosures, and you can do everything a tape can at a much lower cost.

If you're not running an enterprise system I have to agree. Backing up two or three computers at an office is no different than a home solution, really. If you're worried about off-site backup, back up to two different externals and alternate them every two days or so. The one that isn't being used goes into your bag and out the door at the end of the day. Two days later, switch out the drives and take the other one home. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will be substantially cheaper than a dedicated server with a tape backup.

--B

SwissFluCase
09-04-2009, 1:31 PM
If you're not a pro, go with SBS over Linux. You'll save yourself a lot of time and headache.

I've also had good experience with Dell servers, especially as far as warranty and service goes. They're tough to beat.

Screw tape backups. External HDs are cheaper. Get a few small enclosures, and you can do everything a tape can at a much lower cost.

Tapes and tape drives suck. I can't tell you how many tape drives we have pulled out of client sites because they just fall apart.
The fact that the end users *never* use cleaning tapes even when they are provided doesn't help one bit.

Regards,


SwissFluCase

jeffm223
09-04-2009, 2:38 PM
While I agree that tape drives have some issues, external hard drives are NOT a backup solution. There are just too many ways for it to go wrong and I can't count the tears I've seen over this. In a small office type environment where you don't have full-time IT staff you are best off going with an online backup service. One such service that works well (and backs up MSSQL and exchange) is www.ibackup.com. Reasonably priced, stable client, good reporting.
You say that you are using SQL, but which flavor? Is it the desktop version or the full on server version? Because if it's just the desktop version you do not need to run that on a server OS. With only 2 clients, you could set up a hardware drive mirror in a Dell WS and just run your shares and (desktop) SQL on a copy of XP pro. Combine that with online backup and periodic archive to DVD and you have a low cost, low maintainence solution.
Regarding SBS, be careful. I have about a dozen sites running it and it is very good for certain applications. However, for a novice it is difficult to set up and maintain properly. I can't really see it as a value for a 2 client office, except possibly if you need SQL server AND Exchange. It is easy to set up initially, but requires a lot of effort (and knowledge) to keep running properly. Read up on disaster recovery for SBS before you decide on it.
Regarding Linux, unless you are already comfortable with it or willing to invest very substantial effort in learning it, stay way. It is superior as a server (compared to M$) in most ways, but it is definitely not friendly to those with only a Windows background. While you can easily find competent Windows help if you have a problem, with Linux it can be difficult.
Honestly, if your data is worth anything you should seek professional help in designing a system that protects your investment. Find a local consultant who can help you if you have problems down the line. For most owners, trying to go cheap ends up costing more than doing the job right from the beginning. In the long run you will probably save more money by hiring a professional than you will spend to pay for good advice.

IsaacGlass
09-04-2009, 4:50 PM
RAID is *not* a backup solution. I could go on for hours about why not to trust/use RAID as a backup.

Don't get me wrong, RAID is pretty cool. It's just the purpose of RAID is so that if one hard drive fails, the server is still up and running until it's convenient for you to take a backup, replace the broken drive, and then restore if necessary (and you'd be surprised how often it's necessary). RAID reduces downtime, not data loss...

I think the OP mention that he wants to backup digitize artwork files, RAID 0 or 3 will help data transfer much faster than non-RAID drives when it comes to artwork. Secondly, OP can you tell us what's the data size transfer you expect per evening and on the weekly scale? You mention MSSQL, did you want to backup MSSQL data files as well?

sfwdiy
09-04-2009, 7:40 PM
I think the OP mention that he wants to backup digitize artwork files, RAID 0 or 3 will help data transfer much faster than non-RAID drives when it comes to artwork. Secondly, OP can you tell us what's the data size transfer you expect per evening and on the weekly scale? You mention MSSQL, did you want to backup MSSQL data files as well?

The question in bold is actually quite important. Depending on the bandwidth of your Internet connection, offsite backup over the net may not even be feasible. If you're creating more data each day than you can pump up to your backup servers every night you'll either have to kick down on a faster internet connection or find another solution.

--B

SwissFluCase
09-04-2009, 9:13 PM
If you don't mind leaving MSSQL on the desktop, you can back it up with SQL dumps and keep your files on a NAS.

Regards,


SwissFluCase

Mstrty
09-04-2009, 11:40 PM
Wow guys thanks for all the input. My MSSQL 2005 desktop is what I am currently using. I have proprietary work flow software that stores as catalogs keywords ect. 10's of thousands of little tiny 10Kb-3mb files in a folder on C: (computer A) and the categorizing is done through MSSQL. Software. From either machine I can access computer A to locate and or create/store files. Files are then sent to machines to preform the work. For 5 years I have has a 250gig external in a Fireproof safe that holds the security dongles and HDD for nightly backups. Its a full size safe has never gotten over 90degrees inside. Dongles are insured I just like keeping them in the safe. USB cable and power for HDD run in through the back.

Backups have been preformed by backup genie. The BU software has preformed well. I like this sort of backup cause I can pull a single file without mounting an image re ghosting a drive back for one single file that might have just gotten overwritten. If anyone wants to recommend a better BU software that doesn't encrypt the data or store it in one big image file let me know. Im only Backing up current data (maybe 6mo.) as we create about 5-10 gigs a month.
The Archived Is kept by simply buying a new HDD every year. Computer A has yet to loose any data. I have had no trouble restoring computer A every couple of years due to reinstalling OS or crash. Simply reinstall everything then restore archive data to Computer A followed by restoring nightly BU from safe. 20 hours later all is well. OK Here is where I see the future taking me.

I need to add 2 more workstations 1 for Sales counter in a retail store and a second one in production area. All networked and sharing most everything. They will all need to access MSSQL either on desktop Computer A or from a dedicated server that I have yet to own. They will need to bring up work orders and or create work orders Via Proprietary software that used MSSQL.
As far as Internet I just have DSL 3MBdown 756up. All of this equipment will be located at a single location. I dont want to buy more than I need. I will upgrade again when I out grow a new system.

You all have given me lots to think about. I will be doing some of your suggestions soon.

Vectrexer
09-04-2009, 11:50 PM
Get yourself a ReadyNAS Pro. (http://www.readynas.com/)

Then setup a backup to either a locally connected hard disk, or a remote site.

It's a great box in either desktop or rackmount forms.

Excellent support.
No Windows OS issues.
Can have either a lot or a little security.
Expandable and resizable RAID. Want more space? Just put in a larger disk(s) and migrate upward.
Compatible with Macs.
Supports ISCSI
Dual 1GB LAN.
Fast write and read.
Can notify you of problems.
Easy to setup.

.

artherd
09-05-2009, 3:58 AM
What are you running for your offsite backup?

--B

Mix of R1soft and custom stuff for the actual 'backup' however a fair amount lives in what amounts to a cloud in basically an active-active state.

chiefcrash
09-05-2009, 6:04 PM
I think the OP mention that he wants to backup digitize artwork files, RAID 0 or 3 will help data transfer much faster than non-RAID drives when it comes to artwork. Secondly, OP can you tell us what's the data size transfer you expect per evening and on the weekly scale? You mention MSSQL, did you want to backup MSSQL data files as well?

Yes, RAID will help with data transfer rates and many other wonderful things. I'm not saying anything bad about RAID. I'm just saying it's not a backup solution (it isn't) and relying on any sort of RAID as a backup solution usually ends in tears (I've seen it).

RickD6023
09-05-2009, 7:22 PM
You might want to look at some of the mid range servers on the dell website. You'll want something with a RAID and possibly with a tape backup. I would suggest backing up to tape nightly then storing the tape at an off site location (safety depoit box). If nightly is too often, then backup to tape weekly and make sure that you rotate tapes to maintain at least two previous backups.

I agree with selecting a Dell (from their Outlet site) with a RAID but I would suggest an off site service such as DataHealth. I've been using them for the last year and I'm very pleased with the service.

ldivinag
09-07-2009, 6:27 AM
btw GHOST users, there is a small program called GHOST EXPLORER that mounts the GHO file(s) and shows it in like a explorer window.

you can then extract singles files if needed.

its part of GHOST itelf. you just need to look for it.

ldivinag
09-07-2009, 6:30 AM
another option is bluray discs.

the dual sided ones will go up to 50 gigs, IIRC...

JDay
09-10-2009, 4:45 AM
This should be perfect for you. It comes with Windows Home Server installed (modified version of Server 2003 Small Business Server). Once you plug it in and setup the client on your main system it will do automatic backups. You can setup the client on more than one system too so you can have it backup laptops and other desktops if you need to. Has drive expansion bays so you can add more storage as needed. Starting at $599. There's also the LX series which start at $399

http://www.hp.com/united-states/campaigns/mediasmart-server/#/EXSeries/

JDay
09-10-2009, 4:52 AM
I think the OP mention that he wants to backup digitize artwork files, RAID 0 or 3 will help data transfer much faster than non-RAID drives when it comes to artwork.

Wont make a difference really, 10/100 is slower than the drives and with gigE it'll buffer into ram while the disk is writing.

Sinixstar
09-18-2009, 1:37 AM
I was going to recommend small business server - but it seems others beat me to the punch. Absolutely the easiest way to go for what you're looking to do.

Best bet would be to hire out an IT firm to get ahold of the hardware, licensing, and set it all up for you. If it's done right - it should only take about a day of work total - with maybe 3 hours on location to set up. If you invest in decent hardware - you can run your SQL Server on your SBS box to get started. MSSQL can run directly on the SBS machine (in fact it's better if it does if you want to use things like sharepoint) without a problem.

best part is - as your business grows - you can scale out services and applications to new servers within the domain as needed, while still remaining under the umbrella of the SBS Domain Controller.

In otherwords - SBS is the way to go, by far.

IsaacGlass
09-18-2009, 12:01 PM
Wont make a difference really, 10/100 is slower than the drives and with gigE it'll buffer into ram while the disk is writing.

My question was based on OP digital artwork file sizes, notice how I didnt follow up after OP announce art size. Most other people suggestions on this thread is more than suitable for his backup needs at that rate.

SAN compnerd
09-21-2009, 11:27 PM
You may also want to talk to someone who can help you understand the cost of an outage to your business and how many hours/days you tolerate with this system down. This can be a useful exercise in determining how much to budget for your disaster recovery plan and justifying that cost. Additionally, this would help with making the actual recovery plan and give you some expectations for the money you invest. I too would recommend an online backup as long as the cost is not prohibitive. It removes the need to store data offsite somewhere like a safe deposit box. A small Dell server with MS Small Business Server (SBS) would probably be your cheapest option and SBS has a good price considering it includes SQL which is usually VERY expensive. The drive configuration should be RAID 1 unless you have the extra dough to shell out for more than two drives. RAID 1 gives you redundancy to survive a single drive failure (RAID 0 does not) and as long as you keep an eye on the server (monitoring) you should be able to spot a failed drive and replace it before the functioning drive fails and you have to go to backup. A small server like this should vastly outperform the desktops you are currently using in this role.