A New Server For Our Church

November 19th, 2009

When I started here several years ago, the church was running an old NT server. I updated that to Small Business Server 2003 (SBS2003). We did not have the money at the time for any real server hardware so I bought a Dell Dimension 8400 desktop to run as the server. It worked out well and I had zero hardware problems with it in four years. However, I got a little nervous after having that desktop machine run 24 hours a day for four years, so we recently upgraded.

image We bought a Dell PowerEdge T300. I figured since I was upgrading the hardware, might as well migrate to SBS2008 at the same time.

Here are the specs on the T300 we bought…

Quad Core Xeon 2.5GHz
Dual Gigabit Network Adapter
56k Internal Modem
16x DVD Drive
SAS6iR Raid Controller
2 250GB Hard Drives setup as RAID 1 (mirrored)

What I did was to setup the OS on the RAID that came with the server and I purchased two additional 500GB hard drives to create a second RAID 1 (the SAS6iR can handle 4 separate Raid 1 though the T300 only has room for four hard drives). I would then put all user files on the second RAID.

The migration from SBS2003 to SBS2008 was quite smooth. I followed Microsoft’s manual. It was for the most part straightforward. Any problems I ran across were fixed by doing internet searches. The whole process took me two weeks, though I could have done it in one.

As for my backup plan, as I said both the OS and all user files are on their own separate RAID 1. That is the first line of defense. I use the built in SBS backup to do a daily backup of the OS drive. I use an external IDE drive enclosure that allows me to change out the drive weekly. I have three drives that I rotate through. Every Thursday I change them out and simply format the fresh drive and it is ready to go.

For the user files drive, I use a software I ran across many years ago called Genie Backup Manager Server 8.0. I like it a lot. Nice and simple. I backup onto an SATA external enclosure. Again, I trade the drive out on Thursdays and format the fresh drive. It then runs a full backup of the user file drive and a few other things around the network. After the first days run, it then only backs up files that have changed since the first run (incremental backup).

All backup drives are stored in an fireproof/waterproof safe box on site. I know people will say you need to take backups off site. I figure if that safe box is destroyed, we got bigger problems than losing our backups!

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