Simple question, in terms of hosting an Asp.net-mvc/SQL Server 2008 R2 Express based app, will a powerful Windows 7 PC do? I just wonder if there is anything I'm missing here, being an App Dev and not a sysadmin.

The application serves about 300 users across a country-wide bank network in about 50 locations.

We currently run on a Windows 2003 server that has many other things going on, on that machine. It was a pain to setup Asp.net Mvc3 there, but it is working.

They want to dedicate a machine to my app, but a server could take months of sanctions and paperwork so the shortcut is buying a pc.


This question is likely to get ripped to shreds...but, do you mean a standard PC with Windows 7 from your local Supermarket, or a actual proper server with Windows 7 installed on it?

If you are just buying a PC to run this, forget it. A PC, even a powerful one, is nowhere capable of running with the fault-tolerance that a server would be capable of. A PC would have one PSU, and one network port, so if either of those die then that's your server gone. It's also unlikely to have ECC RAM so if errors creep into your data and that's your data intergrity gone. Finally, it's only going to have one hard disk in, so if the disk dies...that's everything gone. Another one on the disk is that it's going to be slower than disks in a server (5,400RPM/7,000RPM compared to 10,000 RPM for (some) server drives).

Yes, servers are expensive to acquire and set up but it is worth it. Really.

As for installing Windows 7 on a server, well, it's doable, but I wouldn't really want to as Windows 7 has a much higher overhead than a Server 2008. Either way, you'll have to get 64-bit (unless you're going to run a DB with less than 4GB RAM...could be interesting).

There's also the Licencing, I don't even know if you are allowed to use Windows 7 as a server. I know in XP there is a limit on connections to the machine, so you may also fall down on that.

EDIT: as noocyte has said and linked to above, the limit on connections is probably higher than XP, but definately NOT enough for 300 users.

TL;DR Version: Pony up and get what you need. Don't skimp on it cause you'll regret it later.

  • I am sorry about the nooby question, but like I said, I know nothing about sysadmin and management. Excellent answer, it was exactly what I needed, the difference between a PC and a Server. Also however, my app is kinda small scale, it currently runs on x64 but 4GB ram on the Win2k3 server, and it runs with SQL Server Express which itself has a 1GB RAM limitation right? It is growing steadily so I think I'm going to ask for a server. – gideon Oct 11 '11 at 9:40
  • You are correct, yes, I forgot that SQL Express will only use 1GB RAM (and has a maximum DB size of 10GB as well as using a single pysical processor) – tombull89 Oct 11 '11 at 9:42

Looking at information from Microsoft (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753473.aspx) it looks like if you get Windows 7 Ultimate/Pro/Enterprise you should have all the functionality that IIS has on Server 2008 R2.

Also, please have a look at these questions: What about Windows 7 as a web server? and Are there any connection limits on Windows 7 IIS v7.5?

  • If you get the same functionality why would anyone ever buy a server OS ? – user9517 Oct 11 '11 at 8:55
  • Please look at the other answers... There are more to it than functionality. :) – noocyte Oct 11 '11 at 8:59
  • Why the downvote?! – noocyte Oct 11 '11 at 8:59
  • @noocyte: Take a look at the 2 other comments. – Bart De Vos Oct 11 '11 at 9:18
  • +1 (down vote was too harsh IMO) the hot button issue that surrounds the question is that PC hardware would be a bad thing. But there's no reason why Windows 7 (which does not have the TCP/IP limitations that Windows XP had) as an operating system could not support this project. Having said that, if you want new in-warranty hardware from a tier 1 vendor, good luck buying anything but a server OS, so while I think this answer is technically correct, it's not practical. – gravyface Oct 11 '11 at 9:32

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