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Old February 25, 2013, 07:05 AM
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Lightbulb Want help / ideas for office server build

Hello fellow builders. I've now completed 9 builds (several documented here at HWC) completely replacing the 9 XP machines at my office (and the ladies are much happier with faster machines thank you very much for all your help) and the only thing left is the server. There is nothing wrong with the server but I think I want the challenge of replacing it. (Plus it sounds like a freaking jet engine)

Existing is a Gateway E-9520T put into service I think in 2003. Here's what it looks like and specs:
Gateway Support - 1205132R*Gateway E-9520T Server

basically dual Xeon 5130 2.0 GHz woodcrest processors running Windows Server 2003 SP2 with a DLink 24 port Gigabit Switch and a 24 port Ortronics cable patch panel. I've got a 4 147GB disk hot swap RAID array for the OS and a 4 700GB disk hot swap RAID array for the data which takes up 50GB so far. I had to add a second set of hard drives because the first set was running out of space. Not sure what type of RAID it is as I did not set it up (I called in some "experts"). CPU temps are around 40 C. I ran CPUID and I think the memory was running at 70 C which might explain why the fans are on full blast. Not sure if that is normal or not but the thing is really loud.

SO! Should I mess with it or just buy something already built (gateway, dell, HP, who what where) or build something myself. This is a whole new animal for me. Any ideas on cases, MBs, hot swap power supplies, redundant whatevers? Any How To guides for this situation? Your advice is wanted!
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:34 AM
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If it works, and performance isn't an issue, leave it alone.

A good clean / replacement of fans may be in order though.



If you do decide to replace it all depends on what you need it to do, how many users, how critical it is to the business etc.

Servers do have a tendency to be loud as they are usually in a rack in a back room some-where and fan noise is very much second to cooling.
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Old February 25, 2013, 07:47 AM
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That server is that loud because its a server. I have not worked on gateways but usually there is air ducting over the cpu and ram with delta like fans on the case pushing air through. They push more air then they need to but usually with a server no one cares about how silent it is and its acts as a backup if there is ever a fan failure.

Any server from Dell, HP, Lenovo will be like this as well, unless its the desktop model parts stuffed in a semi-server case, then those ones do run more like a desktop.

Usually with servers lifespan is 5ish years unless something external demands more processing power all of a sudden. Is there any applications that run on your server? domain? exchange? just data storage? What are the uses of this server?
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzzope View Post
If it works, and performance isn't an issue, leave it alone.

A good clean / replacement of fans may be in order though.



If you do decide to replace it all depends on what you need it to do, how many users, how critical it is to the business etc.

Servers do have a tendency to be loud as they are usually in a rack in a back room some-where and fan noise is very much second to cooling.
Believe it or not, the server is pretty clean. I vacuum it out on occasion.

There are 9 users, vital to the business. No server, no business.
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Old February 25, 2013, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueByte View Post
That server is that loud because its a server. I have not worked on gateways but usually there is air ducting over the cpu and ram with delta like fans on the case pushing air through. They push more air then they need to but usually with a server no one cares about how silent it is and its acts as a backup if there is ever a fan failure.

Any server from Dell, HP, Lenovo will be like this as well, unless its the desktop model parts stuffed in a semi-server case, then those ones do run more like a desktop.

Usually with servers lifespan is 5ish years unless something external demands more processing power all of a sudden. Is there any applications that run on your server? domain? exchange? just data storage? What are the uses of this server?
You are correct about the ducting and multiple fans, dual hot swap power supplies with their own fans.

The office software is not processing power intense. It is basically a database file server for the 9 workstations and it connects to the internet. Since going to SSDs in the workstations I was thinking of them for the server too. I guess my problem is I don't know enough to know what I need. Yes this server is working fine (and except for the noise) I don't have a problem with it but since I had such fun working on the workstations I thought I might expand my experience level. Maybe upgrade to server 2008. I don't know.
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Old February 25, 2013, 09:32 AM
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I would suggest you leave the server until its 5 years is up or there is ever stability issues that start to crop up before that. When it comes time to get a new server you can set it up as a test environment and test, and test, and then test again before flipping the switch.

There are times when I wished I had done something slightly different on a server, or something new came out right after it went live. Once you have people relying on it, you don't touch that thing other then patches and failures. If you planned well you should only ever have to do the odd hardware upgrade if at all.

Building your own server is great, but its worth checking on sales and deals with reps. NBD warranty for the life of the server takes a load off your back and is worth a bit of a premium. OR when you build the server yourself buy extra parts for the most common fails. Extra stick of ram, mobo, hdd, fan, etc. Usually the difference in the OEM and your pricing narrows when you include some redundant parts. Nothing sucks more then waiting a week for a RMA on a motherboard.
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Old February 25, 2013, 10:20 AM
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That server's power looks very sufficient for your user base. You have some nice hard drive redundancy and performance there. I would say leave it for a year, then reassess. During the next maintenance window or on a friday after work is over, I would suggest checking out the fan settings and heatsinks. It sounds like it may be running a bit hot. Remember, typically with cases like that, you don't want to run it with the sidepanel off due to the heatsinks needing that ducted airflow.
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Old February 25, 2013, 01:37 PM
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Yeah, you're stepping into some hallowed ground now. Obviously if one of your desktops breaks, no big deal. If you do something wrong and your server you build goes down or something happened because you touched it then it's a nightmare real quick.
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Old February 25, 2013, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perineum View Post
Yeah, you're stepping into some hallowed ground now. Obviously if one of your desktops breaks, no big deal. If you do something wrong and your server you build goes down or something happened because you touched it then it's a nightmare real quick.
Or your out a job :P

Best I can recommend is creating a DR server with a full Virtual backup of the existing company, Have it now just doing its thing till the other one fails and then your the hero of the day with the Disaster Recovery good to go :)
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Old February 25, 2013, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odis172 View Post
That server's power looks very sufficient for your user base. You have some nice hard drive redundancy and performance there. I would say leave it for a year, then reassess. During the next maintenance window or on a friday after work is over, I would suggest checking out the fan settings and heatsinks. It sounds like it may be running a bit hot. Remember, typically with cases like that, you don't want to run it with the sidepanel off due to the heatsinks needing that ducted airflow.
Any suggestions on how to check the fan settings?

Also is there something in windows small business server 2003 that lets you check the health of the drives in the RAID?
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