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Building a new server....

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  • Building a new server....

    Ok – I am a novice so please be gentle…

    I am CPA, somewhat out of my depth, trying to build the optimum network for my six users. Currently I have a server running Intel Core 2 Duo E2180 @ 2.0GH with a 74G HD at 62% capacity on Windows server 2003. My three most significant applications are my tax software, bookkeeping software and client data (most significantly including .pdf’s of client returns and multiple copies of client database files). I have experienced problems (lockups) while running QuickBooks for my business clients. Also, I am going paperless in the upcoming months.

    I am considering building a new server to address the greater resource need for scanning and data storage that a paperless environment will bring and to address the resource intensive QuickBooks application, but cannot figure out what I need in terms of CPU, HD and other. As an alternative, I am considering, in addition to building a new server, turning the old server into a QuickBooks-only server to segregate QuickBooks from the remainder of the environment. Is this a good idea or should I consider building a single server to handle all the needs in one box?

    I am sure I haven’t provided all the info you need. If you need more info, just ask.


  • #2
    There are a lot of issues to consider, and if you have 6 staff, then you might be better off employing a local IT support guy. This would allow you to concentrate on doing accounting, rather than being a IT support guy.

    But here are some points.
    Quickbooks should not lock up just becuase the machine is slightly slow. Maybe it will run slowly, but it shouldn't lock up. More likely this is a software bug (or maybe a faulty hardware component or device driver if it is the entire machine that locks up).

    You need to consider more than just the CPU and hard disk. And to be honest any newish server will be OK for Quickbooks unless you are really giving it a pounding. More important in my opinion are aspects such as mirrored drives, offsite backup / restore procedures and having a secure network (especially if using wireless).


    • #3

      ...I have two, and neither one thinks much of the other! My "old" server is actually 30 days old - that's right one month. It was built by ITPro#2 after my original server (built by ITPro#1) melted down (internal power supply spiked and caused a motherboard failure) - it was only three years old. When ITPro#1 found out his server was replaced by one built by ITPro#2 he told me that the server was underpowered, employed a software mirror and suggested that he build me a new server. Of course...

      Since I do have a mirrored drives (of course it turns out to be a software mirror which might be one reason why it runs slooooow), removable hard drives, and both hardware and software firewalls I do feel as though I have addressed the basics. I am also considering how an internet backup might strengthen the system. I did find out was that the server was running on only one gig of memory! I fixed that and added three more (only to find out that XP only recognizes three). But, I still can't figure out if I need to build a new machine or try to run all the applications through the existing server.

      Regarding QuickBooks, there are a myriad of issues which a colleague of mine addressed by using a separate QB server.

      In the end I wonder if I install a hardware mirror and increase the size of the hard drive if the current machine wouldn't be enough. I just can't decide if the current processor is a problem (ITPro#2 did allow that scanning was processor intensive). And since I can't seem to get a straight answer from either ITPro, I thought I'd ask here.

      Ah well, I guess if I wasn't laughing at all this I'd be cryin'...


      • #4
        Currently I have a server running Intel Core 2 Duo E2180
        The E2180 is not a labeled as a Core 2 Duo chip. It is a labeled a as Pentium Chip, but it does have 2 cores.
        They are fairly low end chips. And Intel have deliberately confused the naming of them.

        software mirror which might be one reason why it runs slooooow
        Should you read this old post about RAID before writing off software mirrors. We have been usng them for years. The performance hit is only a few percent on dual core machines (we have measured this). On the other hand a hardware mirror has a single point of failure, the RAID controller.

        XP only recognizes three
        This is rubbish. Here are the real Windows limits for virtual and physical RAM in Kernel and User space.

        ..internet backup might strengthen the system
        It will use up your bandwidth and potentially expose your data to a 3rd party. Much quicker to back up to a couple of removable USB connected hard drives. Then keep one off site.

        If you are going to be doing lots of lots of document scanning, then yes, I would put this on a seperate machine. Your existing E2180 would be more than good enough for this.