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Network and Classroom Management Thread, Jumble of PCs need a network in Technical; We have some 18 PCs but although they are networked they have not been setup as such. I think we ...
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    Jumble of PCs need a network

    We have some 18 PCs but although they are networked they have not been setup as such. I think we need to share and backup files. I could configure one of them to act as a server for this but would think that a dedicated PC may be better.

    Anyone advise on hardware and software for this (I've heard of windows server 2008 but what about a freebe Linux server)?

    Perhaps also somewhere to read about networking in allit's detail?

    Our email and website is external to the site so not sure what integration is needed or necessary there.
    Last edited by cantthinkofanickname; 5th October 2008 at 06:13 PM.

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    It all depends on your needs, and what you'd like to achieve.

    If all you merely want to do is share and back up files then sure, cannibalise one of them as a server, set up the shares on there and back it up.

    Do you want/have internet access?

    Can you outline a little more about your current set up?>

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    Presumably these have XP or similar on them. Isn't there a limit of 15 concurrent shares?

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    Quote Originally Posted by laserblazer View Post
    Isn't there a limit of 15 concurrent shares?
    not if you install linux as the OP proposed

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    XP. XP Pro, Vista. Some Laptops which are taken away. Broadband access is provided via a switch and router. At the moment everyones files are somewhat untidy on each PC. We need to get the important ones backed up daily. So I think I need something running in the background which regularly checks each machine and backs up stiff which has changed. I do not want too much activity on the network. It would be nice to be able for others to get at files so I would see most of them being shared and was wondering about the best way of doing this without disturbing current file arrangements on each computer but at the same time making it easy to maintain (my job!) the backups.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Your solution will depend upon how much money you have to play with.

    Like you mention, a machine running Linux would give you a free solution to your fileserver problem - a distribution such as Openfiler or FreeNAS (actually FreeBSD-based) are two easy to use options.

    Of course you then need to force people to use the fileserver. This could be done by re-directing the My Documents of each user to a share on the fileserver.

    If people will still be keeping files on their local machines, you then need a backup solution that can gather files remotely - EMC's Retrospect can do this but it will cost you.

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    Aye, depends on budget.

    If you have the cash, then a dedicated machine running server 2008 or 2003 (after buying the 2008 license) + the CALS. Will cost approx £100 for the server os + about £5 per client for the CALs.

    Then you can set up a domain and use AD to force home folder redirection plus a bunch of other stuff.

    The other way is to use a linux based server for the filesharing but..

    1. You lose the active directory control which is really useful.

    2. I personally find print sharing for a windows network works better on a windows box than on a linux one (ymmv) as I have had fewer issues with garbled prints / postscript errors on brother printers that way.

    3. Obscure network appliance drivers for things like network scanners in photocopiers will be easier on the windows server.

    You can get away with anything as low as a pentium 4 era xeon server with a gig of ram for the number of machines you describe. I would recommend a server with raid (raid 5 maybe) on SAS drives. You can get something quite reasonably from either dell or hp - 3-5yr NBD / SBD warranty is important.

    To set yourself up for the future maybe a PE 1950 or 2950 with 3 drives, raid controller, 2-4gb ram or something similar? looking at about £1500 all in. You can get cheaper than that ofc depending how you spec and where you buy.

    I'm of the opinion that if you're buying hardware, the educational cost of windows server isn't all that much. If you have 0 budget and lots of time to learn, then play with a linux solution - the backup tools on linux are excellent.

    I would recommend a linux solution for web first though as I think it's an easier entrance path, depending on your current proficiency.
    Last edited by kesomir; 5th October 2008 at 10:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cantthinkofanickname View Post
    We have some 18 PCs but although they are networked they have not been setup as such. I think we need to share and backup files. I could configure one of them to act as a server for this but would think that a dedicated PC may be better.
    You sound as though you're maybe not at a school, or at least that these aren't machines used daily by pupils in an IT class. As such, you can probably live without Active Directory - you don't necessarily need to be able to lock down each machine. A simple, basic, central server would probably be best. We use Dell's PowerEdge T105 - cheap (£150), does the job, and you can actually fit four harddrives in the machine. Get one of those and a couple of 1TB SATA drives, maybe an external caddy and a hardware RAID card if you want to be able to swap a drive for backups.

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    David Hicks

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    Thanks for your replies. I work at a school but at other places and this enquiry is for a charity volunteer situation where I am helping with IT. I find this forum good for both situations so hope you don't mind me using it for the non school aspect as well!

    Interesting about the Openfiler and FreeNAS, I willlook further into those. Just wondering if the NAS approach is limiting if we decide to add functionality (like email server)?

    Wondering about RAID. I would expect to run something like SyncToy if I adapt an existing XPPro PC for this task. I would put in another HD and run SyncToy to copy files. Do not therefor see RAID as necessary?

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    By the sounds of it you are an ideal candidate for Windows Small Business Server, which I highly recommend. I think as a charity you qualify for discounted prices on both hardware and software.

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    Yes thanks, my options appear to be that or Linux (open Source) with Citadel (open Source) installed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    By the sounds of it you are an ideal candidate for Windows Small Business Server, which I highly recommend. I think as a charity you qualify for discounted prices on both hardware and software.
    Bear in mind that Windows SBS comes with only 5 CALs, for 18-odd computers you'll have to get 3 more packs of 5, so the price might start going up a a bit. For email I'd stick with web-based, less palaver to deal with.

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