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Dec 19, 2009

I'm thinking about replacing my nonprofit's file server. I was going to just upgrade it from Windows Server 2003 to 2008 R2, but it seems like I should probably do something about the hardware as well.

My situation now:

The file server is a Poweredge 2950 with dual Xeon Woodcrest 5140s, 2 GB of RAM, and four 146 GB 10k SAS drives in one big RAID 5 volume on a PERC5i. The amount of RAM seems pitifully low, and the storage volume is near capacity. It lives on a 100 megabit network, but I'm hoping that will change sometime in the future.

I'm looking at buying through Dell again as I get a modest nonprofit incentive from them, but I'm not sure how I should play this. The server would only handle SMB file sharing, antivirus, and printing for 30-50 users, who would mostly work directly with office documents on the server.

There are four other servers in the organization. A newer domain controller and inventory application server (we're a food bank), an Exchange server, and a backup domain controller.

My questions for you:

Should I get one processor or two? Dual core or quad core?

Is it worth investing in hard drives as SSDs continue to evolve and come down in price?

Would I really need SAS drives for this kind of use, or could I get away with SATA?

The options I see myself having:

1) Max out RAM to 8 GB, see if I can shoe horn two more SAS drives in similar to the four in now (not sure if the controller supports 6 drives, but there are connectors for them). Hope that we do not run out of space. ($500)

2) Buy a new SATA loaded server. Don't worry about space, do worry about speed. ($3000-4000 list)

3) Buy a new SAS loaded server. Don't worry about space or speed. ($4000-6000 list)

The added complication is that I have pressure to spend money now when we have it, rather than in the future. I have access to funds from a recent donation until the end of the fiscal year (June/July). The subsequent years look ugly as federal funding for hunger relief has essentially disappeared (tragic considering that we can feed three healthy meals for a dollar - more efficient than most social services, let alone any government agencies).


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