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New server for TM10

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Steve Balaban Posted: Sun, Oct 11 2009 9:12 PM
I have reviewed the forum and saw lots of server advice, but none particular to the new v10.  I have TM/BM 9 Pro on a peer-to-peer network with two computers, both Dell Optiplex GX 260 with 2.6 GHz pentium 4 processors and 2 GB RAM.  The database resides on my computer.  I have a law office with only myself and one assistant.

I have read the requirements for TM10 and don't think my present setup will cut it.  I spoke with TM support and they agreed.  I would like to keep the two computers as workstations and add a server rather than two new computers and continue as peer-to peer.  With the newest hardware/software out there, what is adviseable?  I would like to be prepared for the future, but don't need overkill.  I am looking at the Dell Poweredge T110 or T310 series, quad core processor, 8 GB RAM, 2x250 GB hard drives set as RAID 1, with Windows server 2008 standard edition.  The T310 adds hotswap hard drives and redundant power supply for about $200 more. 

Does this seem appropriate for my needs or does anyone have a suggestion for something to add or subtract?  Will my workstations be sufficient?  If I am only looking for a centralized location for TM, would I be better off just getting a Windows 7 workstation and using it as the server, even though it is not designed to do that?  What is Windows server foundation edition, and will it work (it is much cheaper).

Thanks.

Steve Balaban

Steven Balaban Attorney At Law 418 East Rosser Avenue, Suite 102 Bismarck, ND 58501

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Richard Hornsby replied on Mon, Oct 12 2009 5:12 AM
I have a similiar setup as you, but didn't want to pay for a full blown server. So in anticipation of TM 10.0's requirements I bought a HP MediaSmart EX495, which runs Windows Home Server (WHS). It only cost about $550 (They have more inexpensive models) and WHS is just a stripped down version of Windows Small Business Server.

Once I received it, I had to teach myself a little bit about SQL, WHS, and application servers. But once I learned how to Remote Connect to the server from my computer so I could install programs directly, everything installed fairly easy. Below is a summary of the steps I believe you would have to follow. I obviously learned by trial and error, but if I had had the below general info in one place, it would have been much simpler.

First, instead os using the 2005 version of SQL express that TM provides, I downloaded Microsoft SQL Server Express 2008 and installed it on the Server. (You will also need to install SQL Server Management Studio Express at the same time.)

Second I had to educate myself on enabling the TCP-IP settings on the SQL server using the management tools and then enable port 1433 on the Server's firewall.

Third I had to fiddle around with the SQL Sever "sa" username and enable it for Windows Authentication.

Fourth I installed TM10 on the server and it should go smoothly if you have the username and password set up.

Fifth, on the client PC, you have to also install SQL server express 2008 and management tools. Then install TM10 (preferably from setup link you should get after setting up on server). But you can also install from the standalone TM installer.

The only hickup I had was enabling the client to access the Server SQL database. I had to modify file location from "\Server\SQLSERVER TIMEMATTERS10" to "\Server\SQLSERVER,1433 TIMEMATTERS10"

The comma then 1433 apparently tells the program a direct address to direct client to. Like being sent a special web link by TM support to chat.

Anyways, everything is working fine - however I am having problems getting the desktop extensions to work, but I haven't had the time to look into that and don't use the feature now.

RICHARD E. HORNSBY, P.A.

401 N. Mills Avenue, Suite D

Orlando, Florida 32803-5735

Phone: (407) 540-1551

Fax: (407) 540-1553

www.richardhornsby.com

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Everyone should make sure they read the program requirements at:
http://www.lexisnexis.com/law-firms/practice-management/specialized-law/time-matters.aspx?content=system-requirements 

The larger the firm (or data), the more is needed to support the SQL environment.  I am not a server certified person but something tells me I would be cautious using a Home server in my business environment.

Having said that in the install instructions above, there is no requirement to install the SQL Express and Management tools on a workstation. SQL Express is the database engine that runs SQL. The workstation is just accessing the SQL database.

Matt

 

Matt Stone, LLB
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For what it is worth, any person who has ten computers or less would be fine with a Server based upon the Windows Home Server platform - considering the most licenses it supports is ten. And for me and other solo practitioners, buying a full blown sever with MS Small Business Server is an unnecessary expense.

More importantly, the MediaSmart Servers meet or exceed the LexisNexis minimum requirements for TM10 Professional which coincidentally enough only allows ten users maximum.

More ironically though, the MediaSmart servers are becoming so popular with Small Business owners that HP re-branded the exact same system - just with a bigger hard drive - as the X500 StorageWorks server. It is aimed squarely at small and midsize businesses. Here is a link to the Press Release by HP.

Finally, it offers a numbers of features that are very convenient to a Small Business Owner. Namely automated backups of every office computer connected and the ability to manage Anti-Virus deployment from one central locations.

And to answer the question about Linux - unfortunately no, you must use a Windows based computer for the new TM10.

Also, I am no SQL expert but having the SQL tools installed on my client computer helped me troubleshoot my connection problems to the SQL server database. But now that I think of it, you probably do not need it installed as long as you setup the firewall connection correctly.


RICHARD E. HORNSBY, P.A.

401 N. Mills Avenue, Suite D

Orlando, Florida 32803-5735

Phone: (407) 540-1551

Fax: (407) 540-1553

www.richardhornsby.com

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However, from the online specs, the HP unit has a max of one Intel Pentium processor and a max of 2 GB RAM, even though it can go to huge storage capacity.  For the future, I am concerned with investing now in older technology - it also only supports Windows Vista and XP pro, but Windows 7 is just around the corner.  Finally, the HP unit cannot do any RAID capability, it will only do file duplication.  The HP seems to be an advanced form of NAS rather than a server per se.  It is a viable alternative, but I would like to look at something more robust that I will not have to upgrade in a year or so. 

Steven Balaban Attorney At Law 418 East Rosser Avenue, Suite 102 Bismarck, ND 58501

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Nick replied on Tue, Oct 13 2009 7:48 PM
Just my .02 here.  ( IT guy )

There is a reason MS calls it Windows Home Server, and Windows XP Home.
These products are designed for home use. While they can be and are used in office environments they can lead to problems.
I also would be really cautious with WHS as Lexus does not claim to support it at all.

In my opinion you will be much happier with getting a small business server (Dell PowerEdge or HP ProLiant) with Windows Server or SBS.
Quality servers can and should last a long time (relatively).  When I am doing hardware for clients I plan on the server fulfilling there needs for the next 5yrs. So I would look at the hardware/OS your considering and see if it is something that is going to last you the next 5 years.

I would also recommend a RAID 5 and some type of backup solution.
And that you get an IT person to help you purchase and to set everything up for you ( we know lots of little things that can make a huge difference down the road,  And we usually have contacts with computer resellers)
 It will be a quicker setup and if it is done right you probably wont have to touch your server for sometime.




- Nick Rosser The Engineering Institute 479-846-8000
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I just had to chime in on this one as I have used Windows Home Server (WHS) since before its public release including building my own server for home use.  While Nick is right about Windows XP Home he misses by a mile when lumps Windows Home Server (WHS) into the same category. 

Windows Home Server is Windows Server.  Sure some of the bells and whistles are missing but an office with 10 or fewer users really does not need Active Directory.  Also you gain much more.  For example:

·         Centralized Backup - Allows backup of up to 10 PCs, using Single Instance Store technology to avoid multiple copies of the same file, even if that file exists on multiple PCs.

·         Health Monitoring - Can centrally track the health of all PCs on the network, including antivirus and firewall status.

·         File Sharing - Offers network shares for computers to store the files remotely, acting as a network-attached storage device. Separate categories are provided for common file types like Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. The files are indexed for fast searching.

·         Printer Sharing - Allows a centralized print server to handle print jobs for all users.

·         Headless Operation - No monitor or keyboard is required to manage the device. Remote administration is performed by using the Windows Home Server Console client software provided in the bundle. Also supports Remote Desktop connections to the server while connected to the same LAN.

·         Remote Access Gateway - Allows secure (SSL) remote access to any connected PC on the network over the Internet.  Also provides easy web access to files stored on the server

·         Data Redundancy - Guards against a single drive failure by duplicating selected data across multiple drives.

·         Expandable Storage - Provides a unified single and easily expandable storage space, removing the need for drive letters.

·         Server Backup - Backs up files which are stored within shared folders on the server to an external hard drive.

·         Web Server – IIS is included so you have a web server to set up an office intranet as well as hosting internet sites.

All of this out-of-the box, with no extra cost.  Because it is Windows Server 2003, however, applications designed for that environment also run under WHS. On my home machine I have installed SharePoint server, Windows Virtual Server and SQL Server and use Smartermail email server and webmail access. All were free to install.  While I had to pay for my antivirus and disk defragmentation software, I was able to buy WHS licenses that cover the server and the clients, paying little more than the cost of a single license.

There is quite a debate going on over which is better, RAID or the drive extender technology included with WHS.  (Drive extender gives you multi-disk redundancy so that if any given disk fails, data is not lost.  Also you can add any type of hard disk drive (Serial ATA, USB, FireWire etc.) to the storage pool without having to worry about drive letters, as to the user its all the same drive. ) But it really does not matter.  While RAID is not supported it is being used on WHS without problems.  But better yet do I what I do.  My WHS syncs all my important stuff to an external hard drive every five minutes.  If my server goes down for any reason I can simply disconnect the drive from the server and plug it into any computer and have access to all my files.

For those who think the MediaSmart server used by Richard is insufficient there is an easy solution.  For around $100.00 you can buy the WHS software and install it on any machine you want to.  The requirement to run WHS and TM10 are such that you could easily turn your old desktop into a server and get a new machine for yourself.  Not good enough then buy a “real” server and simply install the software.  Or be creative.  Because servers run 24/7 I wanted one that used less energy so I bought a Shuttle barebones with a convection cooling system the uses less energy and is quiet! I added a low voltage AMD processer and two WD green hard drives.  I now have and have a clean mean server machine with Gigabit Ethernet, and which can support up to 4 SATA drives (2 internal &  2external eSATA) as well as the ability to add more storage using the 6 USB ports and two firewire ports.  It also has RAID but I don’t use it.   

Edward S. McGlone | Edward McGlone Law Offices | 503-486-7048 | emcglonelaw.com | Governmentlitigaionblog.com

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Nick replied on Fri, Nov 20 2009 6:50 PM

We might have to disagree on this point as I believe WHS does fall pretty close to XP Home. 

I also never stated that it was not a server.

I am aware of most of the abilities of WHS as well as the limitations.

The main points I was trying to make are....

1.  As of yet TimeMatters is not supported on WHS 

2. In my opinion they would be happier with SBS

3. Getting a professional to set it all up can provide equipment discounts and ensure that your equipment is best for you and configured correctly.

 

And just to clarify on a few things

While DriveExtender does give you multi-disk redundancy so if a drive fails data is not lost.  Raid does the same thing.

In addition to Timematters,  RAID and SQL server are not supported on WHS. 

 

All said and done I think point 3 rings the loudest. 

Going to someone who is a professional to help figure out what options are best for your specific situation will save you time, money and headaches.

 

 

- Nick Rosser The Engineering Institute 479-846-8000
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