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Hardware Thread, Full server, do I buy a NAS - or are there other alternative? in Technical; Hi, I'm the sole ICT tech for a middle school (320 pupils). I muddle on ok normally, but am a ...
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    Bev
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    Full server, do I buy a NAS - or are there other alternative?

    Hi,

    I'm the sole ICT tech for a middle school (320 pupils). I muddle on ok normally, but am a bit out of my depth on this. I hope someone can help?

    We have a Stone server running Windows 2003. It was put in before I arrived, and it's not very big. We have 270gb for the entire school's storage - so it's full....

    I asked our Stone engineer and he suggested we get a NAS unit, and l got the impression from him it was as simple as plugging it in, and connected it to the network, and then we'd have a nice empty drive, but reading some post on here it seems there is some setup, they don't always talk to the network, can be slow and not really suitable for permanent storage.

    Is there another option?

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    depends hwat you want the extra storage for. Unless the nas can be added to ad if you want users to access it you would wither have to map drives as a specific user (say staff/pupil) or copy all your ad users to the nas box. If its purely for backup then go for it as adding a few users isnt an issue. I personally wuldnt want to use a nas as anything more than backup or maybe odd bits that are unimportant.

    Might be worth having a look at something like a hp microserver cheap (esp if cash back is still on) and can be stuffed full of drives (mine has 4 2tb and a 250gb) stick server 08/03 on it its not the worlds fastest server but should suffice as a file dump (the one i have in a school is also going to do wsus as it saves primary storage on the main server (and i am using it as basically a backup drive). Another option might be a san usually better ad support than a nas and if not you can almost alway iscsi it so your server thinks its a local hard drive

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    Bev
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    So, if I used it for photographs, and backup storage it would be ok, but not so good to use as say the staff resources shared drive?

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    Had a similar problem at one of my schools and re-purposed an old content cache server that had a 100GB drive in it as a FreeNAS box. Took a bit of time to get it going, but it worked fine until we upgraded the server and I've had (still unresolved) problems getting it to talk to the 2008 R2 server. Total cost: a few hours of my time.

    I put Ghost images and GBs of files and folders that I thought weren't accessed much/at all on the NAS with shortcuts left in the original locations.

    Other space-saving options might be running a duplicate file finder and re-sizing photos, but it does sound as if you need extra storage!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev View Post
    So, if I used it for photographs, and backup storage it would be ok, but not so good to use as say the staff resources shared drive?
    probably. As said though the main probelm if its not able to be ad integrated is access. Unless you are really scrimping the barrel for cash id go with another server or a san personally.

    Another option cant you just put extra hard drives in your existing server?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev View Post
    So, if I used it for photographs, and backup storage it would be ok, but not so good to use as say the staff resources shared drive?
    It depends on how many people you want to access the server at the same time (for a small middle school I'm guessing performance shouldn't really be an issue) and how safe you want your files to be. I'd go with the HP Microserver mentioned above, stuff it full of 2TB harddrives giving you 6TB of RAID-5 storage. Use that for a large photo store and to backup your staff's shared work drive on your current main server. There are a couple of Linux distributions dedicated to being file servers (FreeNAS, OpenFiler, etc) which work well, including AD integration, and all sorts of useful features, or you can simply set up your own Samba server and organise your files however you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    It depends on how many people you want to access the server at the same time (for a small middle school I'm guessing performance shouldn't really be an issue) and how safe you want your files to be. I'd go with the HP Microserver mentioned above, stuff it full of 2TB harddrives giving you 6TB of RAID-5 storage. Use that for a large photo store and to backup your staff's shared work drive on your current main server. There are a couple of Linux distributions dedicated to being file servers (FreeNAS, OpenFiler, etc) which work well, including AD integration, and all sorts of useful features, or you can simply set up your own Samba server and organise your files however you like.
    a point with freenas and the hp microserver if you set the hard drive mode in bios to raid freenas wont boot it just gets so far and reboots with 7 and wont find the drives 8

  8. Thanks to sted from:

    dhicks (9th June 2011)

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    You get what you pay for. If you buy a 200 NAS box, don't expect much, if you go into the more serious gear which will cost you not far off what a new server would cost, then you'd be able to run everything off that with better performance than you get from your server.

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    Bev
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    We aren't particularly scrimping for cash, I am just trying to understand what the various options are and what they will cost.
    There are 4 drives in the server, 2 in use and 2 as duplicate copies (I don't know the correct terminology). there is 1 empty drive bay. When I enquired with the Stone engineer about putting another drive in the empty bay I got the impression that I couldn't as would need 2 bays for the duplication. That was when he recommended the NAS.

    just to add - the LEA advisor suggested I pop to PC World and get an external disk drive, so I am working pretty much in the dark

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    If cash is not an issue, then I'd definately go for a new server, given the age of the one in use at the moment. A second server could not only, as suggested earlier, backup the first, but also be made a domain controller to give you some redundancy (you don't really want to have to rebuild your domain). Personally, I'd then look to moving users and shared areas etc., over to the newer server, which should have been specified with larger, faster drives than the original. It sounds like although your current system works fine, it is long overdue an upgrade. From your description of the drive configuration you have at the moment, it sounds as if you have a pair of RAID 1 mirrors setup, which is sensible, and your replacement server should either have this or RAID5 depending upon your storage requirements.

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    Personally, I'd look at something like a higher end QNAP/Synology etc NAS box to seperate you file storage completely from you DC. As per tonyd, replacing you server would be quite a good idea, sound like it's getting end of life.

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    Bev
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    The old system is only 3 years old It was installed in August 2008. It should last longer than 3 years shouldn't it?

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    I use Buffalo Terastations here, and they do indeed just work (after doing some basic config).

    We don't have an issue with AD connection and use them for shared resources.

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    How do you back stuff up?

    Why not put more drives into your Stone server, rebuild the RAID array and restore your data?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev View Post
    The old system is only 3 years old It was installed in August 2008. It should last longer than 3 years shouldn't it?
    For a mission critical server then 3 years is the point at which you should start considering replacing it.

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