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network server

network server

I want to set up a small network at my office - 3 users in total.

I am wondering if a server based network is overkill, or is a peer-to-peer network more than adequate.

I would like to hear from people with a similar number of staff and how they organise their computer network etc.


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04th Nov 2012 12:52

Peer 2 Peer


I have 4 computer in a peer2peer network with data on a NAS drive.  I works very well for me & is simple to set up & maintain.

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04th Nov 2012 17:52

A NAS device would work well
A NaS (Network attached storage) device would give you server functionality at low cost.
Synology make some of the best ... Visit
I use this solution, it works very well.


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By merlyn
04th Nov 2012 21:43

Thumbs up for NAS

NAS is very useful for small networks, however ensure you make regular backups and store them offsite.

You could also look at cloud storage as then all the backups etc are done for you and the data can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

Rackspace charge 6p per month, per gig, so depending on how much data you have that could work out very cost effective.


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05th Nov 2012 08:19

Yes Backups!

Yes of course you should consider your backup strategy, whichever way you solve your network design (peer-to-peer, Server, NAS, etc).

A lot of NAS devices have multiple disks in a RAID array (designed to protect you should one disk fail) but whilst it gives comfort from the immediate effect of disk failures it is not a backup strategy! If your building burns down there is no protection.

So yes, off-site backups are essential, one way or the other. I backup my NAS to portable disks and store these offsite in case the worst should happen. Cloud storage gives you another option if you are happy with the integrity of your cloud storage provider, the level of data security they provide, and your up-link comms bandwidth!


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05th Nov 2012 08:50

probably go with something simple initially

thanks for the advice. one PC is on Windows 7 and the other 2 are XP.

I will probably upgrade the XPs to 7 and set up a homegroup. This seems to be the easiest way to set up a network initially.

Maybe look at adding on a NAS drive later.

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05th Nov 2012 10:12

Not an expert but

I'm by no means an expert but I think you will find that the XPs can sit fairly happily in a network with a 7 without needing to upgrade the XPs to 7.

Alternatively 8 is very cheap currently (but very new) if the hardware will stand up to it.


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05th Nov 2012 10:26

Let the Internet be your network

I have been there with this. In the mid-nineties I started by using a simple peer-to-peer network for our 4-person office, based on Windows for Workgroups (remember that?)

When we expanded, and moved into larger offices we installed a dedicated Microsoft Small Business Server and wired the office for 16 workstations.

Technology has, of course, now moved-on and if I were setting up for a 3-person office now I would not have a server at all. Instead, a router and the Internet would be my network. Think of the Internet as just a (much) bigger version of your own proposed network. All you need to do is make sure that all of your PCs have access to the Internet and voila, you are good to go.

Cloud services can handle all of your application requirements and also the backups. If you really need to use desktop software in multi-user form, you can pay for a virtual server to install the software on (sometimes referred to as "Hosted Desktop").

If you have more than one computing device / smartphone at home, you are already using the Internet as your LAN. Just apply the same mindset to your office.


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05th Nov 2012 13:04

Windows XP, 7 and 8

Re David Winch's comment/reply there is indeed no problem with mixing XP and Windows 7 on the same LAN (in a workgroup). As to Windows 8, may I suggest waiting for SP1¬!


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By merlyn
05th Nov 2012 15:30

Have to agree with the Captain, don't rush into Windows 8 till at least the first service pack has been released.


You can setup a workgroup with a mix of Windows 7 and XP machines, so no need to upgrade.


However ensure you have regular backups as most PC's only have a single hard disk (so no RAID) and if this goes you may end up with data loss.


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05th Nov 2012 22:49

NAS Synology Disk Station DS212J

I have decided to install the NAS server and will go with the recommended Synology, as they specialise in this area.


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to mrworth401
06th Nov 2012 07:23

When buying a NAS

Jeff Glover:

When buying a NAS they usually come 'bare' (no disks) so you also have choose the disks (two in your case as your chosen machine can have 2 disks in a RAID configuration). Make sure to choose disks of the capacity you need (and double it!) and make sure that chosen disks are included in the Synology compatibility list (shouldn't be a problem, there are hundreds). See

If you are struggling to find anyone that sells Synology try  (they will sell you the NAS and the disks).

Installing the disks and loading the software is pretty straightforward, the work of about an hour.




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By c.szpak
08th Nov 2012 11:24



5 staff, three in office, one from home, one in US.

Took all the hassle away by going hosted.

I'm not an employee, just a very satisfied user for a number of years now.



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08th Nov 2012 12:41

Hosted can be a good way forward, no backups for you to worry about as it is all done for you etc etc.

A company we use and it has been recommended on here before and that is

again not an employee but a happy customer

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By Robjoy
08th Nov 2012 15:09

Stage it

I'm assuming you don't have a money tree, or unlimited capacity for working with upgrading, problematic networking or internet access, so:

1. Find a good local PC support outfit - if your local Trading Standards do a Buy With Confidence scheme, that's a good place to start. Have a chat. If (s)he wants to charge for a telephone chat, you haven't found the right one yet.

2. Buy a quality router with spare ports - probably an 8 port. For goodness sake, don't forget to give it a STRONG password.

3. Peer-to-peer your existing computers, as they are - the chap(ess) you found at stage 1 will help if you need it. Get your backup strategy in place, working and tested (i.e. make sure you can use it to restore individual files or many, when stressed and in a hurry!)

4. Upgrade/replace the XP machines - XP is retiring in 2013 - personally I'd replace them since they must be getting on a bit.

5. A NAS would be very useful, and/or cloud storage, but neither is essential. Educate yourself about them before you jump in.

6. I always recommend two backup systems, which are entirely independent of each other in hardware and software. If you only have one backup system, and it fails, you are then horribly vulnerable.

7. If you get a network-ready printer it will plug straight into the router, so it will always be available.

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to Euan MacLennan
08th Nov 2012 16:32


Robjoy wrote:

I4. Upgrade/replace the XP machines - XP is retiring in 2013 - personally I'd replace them since they must be getting on a bit.

XP Support ends April 2014. See

If business continuity is important to you, budget for 2 identically configured quality routers. Install a basic UPS for your primary router and NAS, but also think about small UPSs for each PC.

What type and capacity of Internet connection have you? Other important questions include, how vital is your email to daily business and if very, what provision do you have in case of outage?

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By Robjoy
to sushi_ginger
08th Nov 2012 16:41


Beg pardon, typo.

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By Robjoy
08th Nov 2012 16:45

I still emphasise stage it

All good ideas, but there are so many . . . That's why I say a local support person is the first thing, they can help you plan a progression of upgrades, improvements, backups, fall-backs, etc. in keeping with your budget and the inevitable interruptions and learning curves.

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05th Mar 2013 23:51

Small workgroup solution, have you considered a cloud based one?

Hi, we run a small SBS server based Network, but it might be worth considering a cloud based solution, may also help minimise IT costs. Computer Repair Southampton


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