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Windows Home Server Use for Really Small Design Business RRS feed

  • Question

  • I run a small design firm and am investigating switching from our current Windows Sync Pier-to-Pier file duplication approach, to a small (planning on 4 Gig RAM, 1 TB HD) central server with design file access available to 3 to 5 computers.

    We are all watching our budget, so I have looked at entry level products like HP ProLiant MicroServer whcih advertises $329 but once you add a reasonable level of RAM and Storage and then the server software (Entry level is good for 25 seats!), it gets up to $2000 which too pricey for a 'see if this works better' type system.

    I need only 3 to 5 seats, so I am reviewing home priced servers and software Windows Home Server 2011, HP MediaSmart type hardware, etc. 

    Am I wasting my time considering these home servers/home server software for a small business type file sharing use?

     

     

    Monday, June 27, 2011 4:20 PM

All replies

  • Certainly not wasting your time with WHS2011 for what you are trying to do. It comes with 10 client licenses so you are good there. Hardware requirements are fairly non-demanding (4GB is plenty of RAM), a low end processor is adequate. You can set it up so that each of your Users have individual private storage space as well as shared space available to all.

    It also has the benefit it can back up each of your individual clients on a daily basis.

    With the amount of data you have, the 2TB limit on automatic backups to an external disk should not be a problem - rotate that disk offsite to ensure you have data which will not be destroyed in case of local disaster (fire, flood etc.).

    WHS2011 (at around $100 for an OEM License) sounds ideal to me based on your stated requirements.

     


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    • Proposed as answer by Phil Harrison Monday, June 27, 2011 5:03 PM
    Monday, June 27, 2011 4:41 PM
  • >Am I wasting my time considering these home servers/home server software for a small business type file sharing use?
     
    Definitely not wasting your time, it sounds like WHS will fit your
    needs pretty well and will be of minimal cost.  You don't mention PC
    backups/restores as a goal, but that would be an added big benefit.
     
    I wish I could have the same setup at my workplace, all the tasks fit
    WHS well, except I have too many PC's that would need to be
    attached...
     
     

    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Monday, June 27, 2011 4:49 PM
  • Bob, have you considered using either Windows Storage Server Essentials or SBS Essentials?
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:05 AM
  • Not really Ken, to say my budget is tight would be an understatement, and I do have a working PC backup solution, even though it's not as good.

    However, now that you mention it, I'll take a look, thanks.

    I know we really don't need anything normal SBS gives, we have no domain and don't use Exchange for corp email.  We have about 25 PC's, with 9 being mobile.  So which would be a better fit?  Backup of PC's being *the* job needed as I already have file a well protected and robust file server. (and backups of backups?) I have no experience with either product, not even beta playing..

     


    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:42 PM
  • Not really Ken, to say my budget is tight would be an understatement, and I do have a working PC backup solution, even though it's not as good.

    However, now that you mention it, I'll take a look, thanks.

    I know we really don't need anything normal SBS gives, we have no domain and don't use Exchange for corp email.  We have about 25 PC's, with 9 being mobile.  So which would be a better fit?  Backup of PC's being *the* job needed as I already have file a well protected and robust file server. (and backups of backups?) I have no experience with either product, not even beta playing..

    Well, all three of these products are, by and large, "Windows Home Server", i.e. they're all built on the Colorado platform, so it's mostly a question of feature set. Windows Home Server has features that will appeal to a home user, the other two have features that will appeal to business users and (in the case of SBSE) certain home features are unavailable. Both of the business SKUs will back up 25 PCs, though.

    SSE is only going to be available from OEMs, there's no system builder channel. I don't know for sure about SBSE, but would expect it's available in the same channels that SBS is today.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:26 PM
  • Thanks, I'll be checking both out.  Buying a pre-made server really
    isn't unreasonable if the ROI is great.
     
     

    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:38 PM
  • Thanks, I like not wasting my time. 

    The Home Server 2011 software price point works.  I am also checking with Autodesk with regard to any special Server software requirements they may have. I an hoping AutoCAD and Revit will work on and in a Windows Home Server 2011 based environment - but I'll wait for their answer.

    For backups, I think I can initially manage this manually via the internet using Windows Sync to an NAS I have at home, or via a Carbonite subscription etc.

    So now on to hardware. Any suggestions from the forum?  For instance would any home PC work as a server?  I can buy a fairly fast and robust HP desktop (8 Gig RAM , Quad something processor, big HD) locally for less than $400.  Do I need something like that or could I try WHS 2011 first on on older XP laptop first?

    Or do I need a specific type server hardware product like an HP MediaSmart Server (Model EX495 - 2 GB RAM - 2.5 GHz - 1.5 TB HDD, says it does not have RAID functionality, not that I know specifically what that means)

    Thanks for any feedback or comments.


    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:53 PM
  • berlin

    By all means experiment with existing hardware but be aware that laptops can be a bit temperamental with drivers etc. No need for a specific server product, the hardware you listed first will be fine albeit you probably don't need 8GB RAM for what you are doing with the server. I built my own with an Asus desktop motherboard, AMD Athlon II X3 435 Processor (relatively low power) and that works fine for streaming HD Video, a task which is way more onerous than yours. Make sure you have a GB LAN for speedy file transfers. Not sur I would consider RAID - seems to cause more problems than it's worth compared to adopting a robust backup strategy

     


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 8:00 PM
  • Thanks, I like not wasting my time. 

    The Home Server 2011 software price point works.  I am also checking with Autodesk with regard to any special Server software requirements they may have. I an hoping AutoCAD and Revit will work on and in a Windows Home Server 2011 based environment - but I'll wait for their answer.

    For backups, I think I can initially manage this manually via the internet using Windows Sync to an NAS I have at home, or via a Carbonite subscription etc.

    So now on to hardware. Any suggestions from the forum?  For instance would any home PC work as a server?  I can buy a fairly fast and robust HP desktop (8 Gig RAM , Quad something processor, big HD) locally for less than $400.  Do I need something like that or could I try WHS 2011 first on on older XP laptop first?

    Or do I need a specific type server hardware product like an HP MediaSmart Server (Model EX495 - 2 GB RAM - 2.5 GHz - 1.5 TB HDD, says it does not have RAID functionality, not that I know specifically what that means)

    Thanks for any feedback or comments.



    One thing you need to consider when look at WHS for SB environments is that LOB applications are not supported in the WHS EULA.  Therefore any server installed LOB apps may have suppport issues in relation to your software (being run on an unsupported platform).  Platforms such as SBS Essentials do not have this limitation and fully support your LOB apps installed on the server.
    This post is "AS IS" and confers no rights.
    Michael Leworthy [MSFT]
    Senior Technical Product Manager
    Windows Server - SMB
    Microsoft Corporation
    Sunday, July 3, 2011 4:18 AM