Update HD CONTROLLER on a WS being used as a SERVER ???

Dell Optiplex 360 dt desktop computer (i...
January 15, 2012 at 19:41:16
Specs: Win 7 Professional, Intel
We have a small network...about 7 workstations...peer to peer.

Recently, we purchased a newer computer and decided to designate that as the "server" and to NOT use it as a workstation at all...just so it can have the least chance of complications.

It has an i5 / 3.1ghz processor and 8GB of ram. It is an Optiplex workstation .....not officially from the Server product line.

Since it is not consider "server" hardware.....we were wondering if we should get a different controller card for the hard drive (rather than use the embedded one).

Would this be a good idea? We would like to avoid a bottleneck when several workstations were hitting it at the same time (it does have Gigabit Ethernet...and we are using a gigabit switch).

If so.....does anyone have any suggestions for a brand / make of card that would not be too expensive?

This computer just has 1 drive, so it would not have to be a RAID controller. It seems like when I do some initial looking around for server controllers, they are always RAID controllers, and expensive ($200 and up).

We don't need the fastest...we were just hoping to reduce any bottlenecks that a workstation-made-server's stock embedded controller may present.

Thanks very much

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#1
January 15, 2012 at 20:42:45
.we were wondering if we should get a different controller card for the hard drive (rather than use the embedded one).

Not possible with ATA drives. If you want a separate controller and maximum performance then you need to be looking at a SCSI drive.

http://www.google.co.uk/#q=scsi+dri...

Stuart


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#2
January 16, 2012 at 07:11:38
You should have a look at getting a hardware RAID controller card and multiple hard drives. If your "server" has only a single drive, you have no redundancy and therefore no protection for the data on that drive should it fail. A RAID would provide redundancy.

If you have the money, I'd buy a RAID 10 capable controller and minimum 4 HDD's (hard drive) and I'd arrange them in a RAID 10 which would provide redundancy for the data stored on them.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***


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#3
January 16, 2012 at 10:29:40
Since you are just a small office and doing peer to peer I would suggest a sata III drive instead. Its the fastest. Though if you put a SSD drive in for the OS and sata III for data that would be great.

You must do backups. Your business depends on it.

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#4
January 16, 2012 at 20:02:53
Thanks for all info.

From what I understand....there simply are no options to increase drive access speed to the clients of this PC using the current single sata drive (?)

And that getting a separate controller will only be an advantage if I were going to buy an additional drive to create a RAID (?)

AND...that the only way to increase drive access speeds is simply get a faster drive (ie sata III) ?

Thanks very much.....this has indeed been a learning experience in that I was almost sure that getting a more robust separate (not embedded) HD controller...even for just one sata drive...would speed up file access (serving) to clients (compared to using the plain old stock embedded controller).

- Thanks

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#5
January 17, 2012 at 08:03:15
If you think so. There is nothing wrong with a "stock" hd controller. You appear to be under the false impression its substandard. Its not.

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#6
January 18, 2012 at 22:44:24
You are correct. I have had that impression.

It must have resulted from reviewing the more expensive RAID controllers and assuming that, in addition to providing the data-safer RAID function...that they also increased file access speeds.

But, I readily admit that this was simply an assumption on my part.

With this network, therefore, we are going to focus on having full gigabit capability (cards, switches, cabling)...rather than the HD controller, since we now understand that that is not an issue.

Thanks very much for the advice.

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#7
January 18, 2012 at 23:41:02
From my experience with networks of hundreds of computers I would say that you are worrying about the wrong thing. Unless you are running high I/O applications, such as video streaming or large databases, disk speed is not an issue.

What is important, and why you should consider a RAID solution, is security of data and the ability to survive a disk failure. With a single disk you are going to face several hours (or even day) of downtime in the event of a disk failure - and that assumes a bullet-proof backup regime. With the correct RAID setup you can recover from such an event with no downtime; your users won't even know it happened.

The same arguments go for PSUs, NICs, etc, which is why businesses tend to use proper server equipment rather than workstations. Review your business and try to estimate the costs of losing your server for a day or two. Then you can make sensible decisions as to what equipment you need.


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#8
January 20, 2012 at 18:36:08
I would have gone with a proper server...had I been involved in the original setup.

But...it was already done by the time I was involved.

The main reason I was concerned about file access (from the peered clients) was that, for one particular app, there are large datasets that are pulled out to each workstation....then written back after editing is finished (that just the way the app is designed).

But...since the advantage of installing a more specialized HD controller is really an issue of providing RAID as opposed to increasing file access speed....well just be sure that all the network components are all gigabit.

I completely agree about the value of a RAID for data saftely...but those who control the budget won't spring the extra bucks for another Drive and RAID card.

Thanks again for the advice.

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