DIY for Server owners - Owning, Configuring, and Maintaining a Server
Or a bunch of 'em
Why a DIY for Server owners?
In the computing world there are two types of computers,
What is the definition of a server? Well the official definitions such as 2003
Server is: "A computer that serves files, applications, data, and more to
multiple computers called clients."
What is the definition of a workstation (or client) such as XP: "A workstation is a computer
that modifies data, be it a spread sheet, a text file, a database, a movie, a
graphic, surfing the web, or playing a game."
There are different types of servers, data base, file storage, print, Domain Controllers, and web to mention a few of the most
common or well known.
DIY for Server owners
because very few other web sites actually have a translated it from geek to
everyday English help...
I see some web sites that say you can build a "home server" for less than
$30, you can but there are things you need to know about these "cheap" servers:
"You get what you pay for!"
If you have a spare computer say an older desktop or even a laptop that is in
good condition and you only want to experiment then this would make a good test
server to learn on.
The $30 server uses a free Operating System (OS) such as
a Linux version. Do you have the time or experience with the OS and
hardware to make one of these? Personally I would not trust this type of sever
with my data.
Server hardware (you may have to learn about computer parts) is normally more robust than a workstation, has more hard
drives, processors, and sometimes more memory and is more expensive.
I had a customer for one of my e-books ask me how to turn a commercially made
external mass storage device into a server.
The product he had held three 1 TB hard drives and to setup the drives you
would use a web page interface such as the one you would use for most home/small
I checked out this device on the manufactures web site and sent an email to
their support asking how the web page was configured. It is embedded in the
firmware of the device's BIOS and can not be changed only certain parameters
such as a partition size, number of volumes, and if the drives were to be used
as a RAID array. There is also a low level security page where you can assign
user ID's and passwords to access the data.
To access the files you would use a special FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
program that is proprietary to the device. (Some are web pages; some are special
Personally if I was to spend my money on such a storage device it would be in
a domain not next to my cable modem.
These computers also come in two types,
Towers and Rack mount. You would use a tower when you only need one or two in a fairly small space.
You would use rack mount when you have
more and want them to occupy the smallest space possible. You can put
more than ten rack mount computers in the same space as two tower computers. The
rack mount computer chassis is manufactured different than the tower computer case,
I worked in a data center that had over two thousand
computers in a 7000 sq. foot space, rows and rows of computers!
How would you build and
maintain a Server? With this excellent guide I wrote for the
DIY for Server owners
DIY for Server owners Guide.
The main difference between a workstation and a server in the Windows world
is how the Operating System is used. Both Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server use
the same underlying engine to operate. The difference comes with how the OS
(Operating System) is configured and the options that are installed. Even though
both XP and 2003 Server come on a different CD or DVD the basics are the same.
DIY for Server owners
When you load a computer with
say 2003 Server you have more steps to complete than you
would with say XP. The reason is that the computer OS runs almost all programs as
a service with out user intervention - in the background. Whereas XP runs most programs where the
user can interact with them - in the foreground.
A few of the things that you would do when installing a server OS that you
would not do to a workstation is:
Install a 'Static IP' - This allows the
computer to be at the same IP at
Install more than one NIC - This allows for what is known as
Teaming, where two or more NIC (Network Interface Card) are set with the same
MAC (Machine Address Code) and IP. Thus increasing the local LAN speed by the
factor of the card's speed and cards. Such as two Identical NIC's running at 100
MBPS would yield 200 MBPS for the computer to communicate with other
servers/workstations on the LAN. Or you can use the fall over on fail
redundancy of the Team setup.
Install a RAID configuration
Array of Independent Disks - To do this you require a RAID Controller, once you
have the controller configured you have to setup the partitions and volumes on
the computer. RAID controllers also come with an Accelerator, the accelerator
caches the data for read/write operations making the data transfer faster.
Install any special services that the Server will
preformed - DNS, DHCP, Domain Controller, Web Server, or any of the other
functions the computer requires to do it's job.
These articles are not meant to be a short cut past the MCSE or the numerous
guides for installing and configuring a computer. It is a series of 'How to's...'
of problems and configurations I have came across in my career that I had to
research to resolve.
DIY for Server owners - Index
is a short guide not to be construed as a complete workings of server and domain
functions. If you need more help it is available with the help function.
There are very comprehensive books available for a complete run down on how to
use Active Directory.
There are more server configuration options in the Advanced Sever Section: