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Servering Suggestions?

Started by Elizabeth Weber, 2008-11-11T11:27:12-06:00 (Tuesday)

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Elizabeth Weber

The situation:

  • We have a small business that is a satellite office for a main branch in Springfield and we would like to get the two offices in sync.
  • We have approximately 10 employees locally, and 20 employees in Springfield who would need access to files on the server.
  • We don't have a fixed ip and won't be getting one.
  • We are presently using a shared folder on a win2k machine with a couple 1TB HDDs in a RAID as our file server.
  • We would be willing to buy an entirely new server solution if it doesn't involve spending too much money.

Our questions:

  • We like the low energy usage, low thermals, and low price of new atom chip technology - but is it appropriate for our file server?
  • What are our options for sharing the server with the main office without having a fixed ip?
~Elizabeth Weber

Gregory Bartholomew

Hi Elizabeth,

I guess the next best thing to a fixed IP is dynamic dns: http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/.  It is free and I used to use it on my DSL connection at home.  It is helpful if your network hub/router supports the service like mine does (it is a netgear brand).  I was able to set up an account on the website and register a dns name in one of their many namespaces (e.g. bartholomew.home.net or some such thing) and then my router would automatically notify the dynamic dns site any time the ip address it received from the DSL modem changed.  My DSL ip address would change periodically, but the dns name that I had registered would always point to the correct address.  It was like I had a fixed ip address, but at no additional cost to me whatever.

As for processing needs of a file server, you don't need much (a 500 MHz processor will probably perform just as well as a 3 GHz processor if all the server is doing is file sharing).  I'm sure the bottleneck for your server's performance is in the bandwidth of your internet connection.  Just watch the task manager (or top if you are using linux) and if the system idle process is at 99% even while large file uploads/downloads are in progress (which it probably is), then you don't need a faster server.

As for how to share files over distances, I would probably recommend a webdav share over ssl for your small business.  It is secure and easy to use.  You just click "file"->"open as web folder" in IE5/6/7 and put in the address of your file server.  It will open up a normal looking windows file folder in which the users can even edit files in place.  It also takes care of locking so that two or more users cannot write to the file simultaneously and corrupt the file.  The only catch for webdav on windows is that IIS only has an on or off setting, meaning that if you also run a website on your file server, the file system of the website will be exposed to the internet over webdav (the only permissions for webdav are the ntfs filesystem permissions which have to be set to allow anonymous users read for the website to work).

Good Luck,


President of CAOS
Software Engineer NASA Nspires/Roses Grant

William Grim

I agree with Greg's sentiment about using a dynamic DNS provider, but I'd at least spend a few bucks on one to get some guarantee of service.

As for the Atom, I wouldn't go with that chip.  It's designed and marketed for use in mobile applications and doesn't scale as well as the Via chips, which have better thermal / power characteristics as well.  There are plenty of fanless Via solutions out there on newegg.  The Via chips have a faster FSB as of this posting on July 29, 2008, which is going to mean a lot more to your overall performance than the chip itself.

Good hunting!  Just remember to check all the benchmarks; I think you'll find the Intel chips aren't as good a bang for the buck.
William Grim
IT Associate, Morgan Stanley