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I have a friend that owns a small business running 3 local machines, that are connected to the internet, and a server that each local machine connects to.

He has recently bought a newer server, and by server I mean a Windows Vista box. He wants to use this purely to store data that the 3 local machines can access, kind of like a glorified external hard drive.

Im suggesting to fore-go the server option and simply setup sharing on the 'server' box. Interested in hearing any suggestions as to whether the server idea is preferable?

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closed as not a real question by mgorven, Scott Pack, rnxrx, Jeff Ferland, John Gardeniers Oct 25 '12 at 9:31

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Define "the server idea" - how do you think that differs from setting up shares? –  RobM Oct 25 '12 at 8:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

What you need to know about using Vista (or any Microsoft desktop OS) as a "server":

  1. Desktop editions of Windows only support 10 concurrent inbound connections. Any more and you're out of luck.

  2. Vista is already superseded by Windows 7, so that makes me think that this computer is 2nd hand. Now, I'm all for recycling and cutting costs, but what I wouldn't do is put mission critical files onto a 2nd hand computer where the hardware has already had who-know-what kind of life, and could die at any moment

  3. With the lack of an Active Directory environment, setting specific permissions on files can be more trouble than it's worth.

  4. (and this is applicable to any server, not just this situation) how are you going to back these files up?

So, really, it doesn't sound like a brilliant idea, but I guess you could get away with it in a really small business. Just remember that sooner rather than later, that "server" will fail (be it Windows Vista having a heart attack, a hard drive dying or a capacitor on the motherboard spewing its goo all over the inside of the case) and when it does, there had better be backups in place.

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Thanks for the feedback Mark. Just to clarify...youre referring to the machine being used as a server and not simply file sharing? Within the office there will only ever be 3-4 users connected to the Vista box at any time. –  Mark Lawrence Jun 7 '12 at 4:56
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A "server" is really just a term used that encompasses a very wide collection of things. You can use any computer as a "server", and you can use a "server" for non-server things. So I'm not quite sure what you mean by "being used as a server", but as soon as you use a machine for "simple file sharing" in anything non-trivial, as far as I'm concerned, that computer has become a 'server' and needs to be treated as such. –  Mark Henderson Jun 7 '12 at 5:52

What you describe is basic workgroup sharing.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb727037.aspx

As Mark Henderson mentioned mentioned in bullet point 4, you should really consider backing up the data in any business. If the data is worth money to the business, then it's worth doubling it.

I suggest also attaching a NAS (Network Attached Storage) to this "server" or even a USB hard drive that you can put into a vault and back up the data on a regular (meaning weekly at minimum) basis.

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