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Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Advice needed: Server 03 on Virtual PC on Vista-x32

A new client has asked me to "fix" his office setup woes, but needs to do it on as small a budget as possible, after his previous "IT Guy" charged him and arm and a leg up front, only to disappear. The current issue being that the "Server" is frequently offline.

It is a small office with 9 workstations and a shared Minolta 250 print/scan/fax unit. It is currently setup so that there are direct scan buttons on the Minolta for each employee, which sends the scan to a custom shared folder for that employee on the "server". And the server is where it gets interesting. The old guy set it up with Server 2003, running inside MS Virtual PC 2007, running on a Windows Vista Enterprise 32 bit install. The box itself is an i3 with 8Gb of ram, but obviously the 32 bit install makes most of that unusable. It is functioning solely as a web and file server, not a domain controller. (I think at one point they had 12 workstations, hence the need for a server OS to share the scan folders) The workstations are all wireless, and employees come and go, so he doesn't want scans mapped to each computer.

So at the very least, I need to upgrade the physical OS to 64 bit, but that means a full reinstall. What I am trying to decide if I should just move Server 03 to physical, or keep it inside a VM running on 7 Pro x64, so that it can be easily backed up/moved if need be.

Anyone care to weigh in?

H_T_R_N
Premium
join:2011-12-06
Valencia, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·voip.ms
Grab a t110 II for 500 and do a V2P on it. If the WS where the VM is stored is used by anyone there should not be a "server", to easy for a user to mess something up and kill the server. In the long run the any money saved will be spent many times over fixing it.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to Camelot One
Oh, God, I hate hearing about such things - people virtualizing for the sake of virtualizing, meanwhile a server is stifled from performing well on native hardware. Sounds like another inexperienced service provider hopped on the virtualization bandwagon a few years back.

I have a few questions for you:

1) Is this an OEM license of Windows Server 2003 and do you have the license sticker affixed to the chassis or on hand?

2) What kind of hardware is this server? (Most specifically hard drives and motherboard manufacturer)

3) Does he have an external battery backup?

As far as I'm concerned, Server 2003 will function well as a file and print server and with it hosting only 9 workstations, it would work just fine with 4 GB of RAM. With Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 you can easily manage the printer with new drivers and group policies from a newer workstation.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2
1. The previous guy saved the Server 03 key to a text file, and I have confirmed it is the key in use. So I should be able to do a fresh install if I absolutely have to.

2. The "server" box isn't a server at all, just a spare workstation they tasked for use as one. Its a typical HP i3 desktop with a single 1Tb SATA hard drive. The VM is setup with 3 drives, one for OS, one for file share, and one for backup. (though the backup hasn't been setup) There is no monitor hooked up to it, so little risk of an end user messing with anything.

3. The box is plugged into a 350va UPS, but I don't think it will keep the machine running for long.

There is also a 1Tb WD external drive creating nightly backups of the VM files. And that is the only excuse I can come up with for why it was setup this way. With the backup files, the "server" could be restored to another box pretty quickly in the event of a hardware failure, even by someone without any tech experience.

I would very much prefer to see Server 03 as the physical install. But I have only used VMWare, never MS Virtual PC. I assume there are similarities, but I've also never done a V2P migration, so I'll need to do some research on that.

It would be pretty easy to run one of my automated Win7 disks to setup the box with an x64 OS, then run the VM with the extra memory. But that seems like a half-assed fix.
--
Intel i7-2600k /ASRock P67 Extreme4 /4x 4Gb G.Skill /2x Intel 510 series 250Gb SSD /3x WD20EADS 2TB /2x PNY GTX 260 /Silverstone 850W /Custom water cooler /Antec Twelve-Hundred

Max_War

join:2002-11-30
Scarborough, ON
reply to Camelot One
If Server 03 is 32bit, wouldn't it still only be able to use 4GB RAM, even if the host is 64bit with 8GB RAM?

Why convert to physical, and get server hardware if you are not going to use all that power?

Install Win7 64bit. VMware also has a converter to convert a Virtual PC VM to VMware VM. Set everything up on another computer and keep the old 'server' as a backup.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to Camelot One
said by Camelot One:

1. The previous guy saved the Server 03 key to a text file, and I have confirmed it is the key in use. So I should be able to do a fresh install if I absolutely have to.

A key in a text file is not the same as an actual license. Does the client have a receipt with the actual sale of the software?


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2
He has invoices for all sorts of things I haven't been able to confirm were actually done or delivered. "Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition" is among them. No one was able to find an actual COA or disk, and the invoices are just from that previous tech, not sales receipts from a vendor. Hopefully it is legit, but so far my opinion of their previous tech is not great. And that is one of the reasons I am hesitant to do a fresh install. If the company owner wants to pay me to do an inventory and license audit, I'll be happy to do it, but so far he doesn't seem interested.
--
Intel i7-2600k /ASRock P67 Extreme4 /4x 4Gb G.Skill /2x Intel 510 series 250Gb SSD /3x WD20EADS 2TB /2x PNY GTX 260 /Silverstone 850W /Custom water cooler /Antec Twelve-Hundred


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
Haha I question the legality of such a sale considering the price disparity between 'Enterprise' and 'Standard', the missing COA sticker, and the necessity for a 9 user workgroup to use the Enterprise Edition... but at least you have a receipt to claim ignorance if it ever came down to that and you continued with what they have now.

If I were in your situation I'd still cover my ass and do things the right way - I'd get them a new, low-cost proper server with low-cost RAID5 with Windows Foundation Server which allows for a low cost way ($250ish) to get 15 user licenses and since it's not a domain, I'd join them to a domain with roaming profiles, set them all as standard users, and configure the PC's via group policies.

I'm a big fan of domain's for small businesses as you improve their overall fault tolerance with roaming profiles. If a PC fails you can throw it away, join a new PC to the domain and all the user's stuff is 'still there' and no configurations are required.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2
I agree with everything you said. But it isn't my money, and the owner doesn't want to part with much of his. Not up front anyway. He strikes me as the type that would rather pay for repeated onsite visits than to spend a little more to do it right the first time. I don't mind that.
--
Intel i7-2600k /ASRock P67 Extreme4 /4x 4Gb G.Skill /2x Intel 510 series 250Gb SSD /3x WD20EADS 2TB /2x PNY GTX 260 /Silverstone 850W /Custom water cooler /Antec Twelve-Hundred

ImpetusEra
Premium
join:2004-05-19
00000
He probably doesn't like parting with money at all. The previous IT guy probably left him high and dry because he got tired of the constant calls to come back and fix the hack job budget network that was always broken. It wouldn't suprise me if the owner started refusing to pay for service on the grounds it never worked right from the start. If he's not willing to put money into it to make it correct than I wouldn't touch that job with a 10-foot pole. Nothing but great headaches will come from working for someone like that.

momo

join:2008-02-22
reply to Camelot One
If all the server is used for is a file share, why not just use a linux distro with NFS? Or maybe a Synology or Qnap NAS?


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to ImpetusEra
said by ImpetusEra:

If he's not willing to put money into it to make it correct than I wouldn't touch that job with a 10-foot pole.

If the client is provided the information as discussed in this thread I'd agree with that. "This is what this other guy did and you have illegal software, this is how reliable your stuff will be when I'm done and this is how well things will work afterwards."

Back in the day when I provided IT to small businesses, I'd encounter small business owners or managers that basically said "I'm not going to pay that, this other guy will do it cheaper" yet all the while they were complaining about the lousy experience with their last guy.

These people often propagate their lousy experience. Or in other words, they get what they pay for and I wouldn't allow other people to pay me less when they needed to pay for more.

tomdlgns
Premium
join:2003-03-21
Chicago, IL
kudos:1
reply to Camelot One
you need to find out if the windows 2003 OS license is for 32 bit or 64 bit. having 64 bit hardware wont change the fact that the OS is 32 bits.

as stated above, if all you need are files sharing capabilities a synology, qnap...any NAS can handle that.

if there is no domain and if he doesnt want to pay to have it done right, that is probably the best option (the NAS).