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I am the de-facto IT guy for a small law office. We need a new file server.

  • We have 7 users.
  • We have 8 PCs throughout the office, running windows 7, 8, and 10, and one OSX machine.
  • We have a RICOH copier / scanner that can communicate via SMB.

Our previous "server" was a windows XP machine that RICOH installed. Despite being a PC, it did its job well and so I never felt the need to mess with it.

The XP machine recently reached the end of its life, so we tried upgrading that PC to something from dell that runs windows 8 home. Now there are issues with communicating over the network -- the RICOH machine cannot write via SMB (it can connect and traverse the directory structure), and the other PCs experience intermittent timeouts when trying to read from the server's network share.

The server has only one job: store and host files for the rest of the office.

I don't need bells-and-whistles like different access permissions for different users; everyone can (and should) be able to read/write everything.

What is the right piece of hardware and software to do this job?

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First, give another look at your Windows 8 share permissions: maybe you can solve your problem without buy anything.

That said for such a small setup, rather than going the server route, I suggest you to use a cheap 2-bays NAS from a respected vendor as Synology or Qnap.

If you have more complex requirements (eg: store various previous file version, use snapshots, etc), than a small Windows server can justified.

Pay attention than newer Windows client/server can have trouble connecting or receiving connection from old SMB-aware appliances which only uses SMB v1. You can easily find more information, for example here

An important addition: independently of how/where you store your files, be sure to have regularly tested backups. This is especially true if you are going to "recycle" a normal PC as a server.

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