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While cleaning up junk left behind by the sysadmin before me, I came across a Pentium 4 server in good working order. Prior to the installation of our current (dual Xeon) DC, it was used as the DC/fileserver. It has a COA sticker for Windows 2000 Server, so I guess it's a non-transferrable OEM license. Here are the specs:

  • Pentium 4 @ 2.26 GHz
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Adaptec 2100S SCSI RAID controller
  • D-Link GigE PCI card
  • (4) 36.7GB Ultra320 SCSI drives

There used to be a fifth drive, but in my testing I determined that it failed (maybe the reason it was replaced in the first place?). Of course, once I removed the failed drive and rebuilt the array (RAID-10) it got along just fine. I work for a small office that only has 3 real servers, so it seems a shame to throw away working hardware just because it's old.

Here are the options that I'm currently considering:

  • Install Linux and use it as a non-essential intranet web server (wiki?)
  • Development/testing web server (probably Linux again)
  • Donate to local charity or school
  • Recycle

What would you suggest?

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Given that's a Northwood chip you've got there, and we're going into November, you could use it to keep your house warm during the winter months. – David Nov 9 '09 at 12:47
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Keep it until a use appears. Or give it to someone who has a use for it. Or use it as an extra level of backup. You can never have too many backups.

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@Nic .. I am curious why you accepted this answer ... – tomjedrz Nov 9 '09 at 15:15
Because that's exactly what I plan to do. The other suggestions won't work for me, so I'll just store it until something comes up. – Nic Nov 9 '09 at 17:43

How many DC's do you have? If your domain is at the Windows 2000 level and you currently only have 1 DC, I would run it as another DC since its good practice to have at least 2.

I have a machine just like that that serves only as a second DC and a location the local backup's go to (faster to restore from local, still have off site though too) mind you I upgrade to 300 gigs, but yours would still make a good DC/Backup.

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That is a great idea! But I checked, and our domain was promoted to the 2003 functional level, so unfortunately it won't work. – Nic Nov 9 '09 at 17:40

I would use it as a server to create and test my recovery procedures.

Put enough disk in it to make it bigger than the biggest other server. Then, use this one to create solid recovery procedures for each of the other servers, one at a time. Then keep it around as a fail-safe, and test the recovery procedures every 6 months or so.

If you don't have the time or inclination for this, then I would put a bunch of disk in it and use it for a "disk-to-disk" backup destination so that you have a local backup copy of your data.

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+1 for testing recovery procedures. However, I already have a machine with significantly more disk space designed for that task. – Nic Nov 9 '09 at 17:46

I would thing it depends a lot on your view of your power bill. It seems like a lot of hardware to throw at a testing or an intranet server when a VPS (xen, vmware, vbox, whatever) would likely suffice as well, if not better (much less painful to nuke a vps and start over). It is a fair amount of space however, so likely there is someone at a local school or charity that would appreciate a new toy.

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Just for interest, I used a Kill-a-Watt on this box, and it draws 160W peak while booting. Not too bad, really. – Nic Nov 9 '09 at 7:19
Nah, not too bad at all really. In that case, it is a good bit of space for backups. Partition correctly, and you have another set of backups, and a little test server. – J.T.Sage Nov 9 '09 at 7:46

That machine is considerbly more powerful than those I'm using for firewalls, both at the office and at home, so there's another possibility. If you don't have a real use for it I would suggest you donate it because there's still plenty of life left in a machine like that. Recycling would be a big waste at this stage.

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I almost always repurpose old servers for my test lab. Generally there is nothing wrong with my older hardware, it's just older and therefore, not reliable.

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