More SBS 2003 hardware babble from the Advanced Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book

Hiya – I am the publisher and co-author of the advanced SBS 2003 book and I like to post up passages as a virtual book reading. So enjoy this hardware discussion….harrybbbb

The other option is an external disk drive, which is gaining popularity as the prices for hard drives fall. My favorite backup routine is to run Dantz Retrospect 6.5, tuned especially for SBS 2003, in full backup once a week, with incremental saves (that is, only data that has changed) scheduled every night while I’m asleep. The drive itself is harder to move offsite, but I appreciate the speed of USB 2.0 connectivity and the lower initial investment, since a tape drive can cost many times more than an external hard drive.

Another critical subsystem is communications. Now, the de facto standard for integration on server motherboards is one or two Gigabit Ethernet controllers. But while Gigabit Ethernet is fast and relatively inexpensive, it requires a lot of cabling work in offices that aren’t already wired with CAT5e (remember that CAT5 was designed for Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps, not for Gigabit). If you don’t need the copious throughput of Gigabit (often it isn’t necessary), you can still get reasonable performance over a 100 Mbps (megabits per second) connection.

Recently I’ve had a few customers inquire about wireless networking, referring to any one of the three broadcast standards for transmitting data over the air from a router or access point to receiving clients. The benefits of wireless are numerous, such as reduced installation costs, flexibility to reorganize the office


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without losing network connectivity, room for growth should you add workstations in the future, and competitive performance. After having weighed the perceived shortcomings of wireless, including security issues and reliability, I’ve implemented a handful of wireless small business networks, with great results. As such, wireless ranks right up with Gigabit-done-right on my recommended list.

If you’re worried about a display adapter that can fulfill the SBS 2003 recommended 800×600 resolution, you don’t need to be. Nearly all server motherboards include an integrated graphics processor with somewhere between 4 MB to 8 MB of RAM. However, you might need an inexpensive monitor (a sleek 15″ LCD would work well). I’ll briefly cover graphics a little later, for those of you who anticipate connecting a graphics or engineering workstation to your SBS servers.

Finally, pay some mind to power delivery on your server. While a traditional power supply might suffice, dedicated servers (such as HP’s ProLiant ML 350) boast a pair of redundant units that are designed to maintain operation even if one should fail. The extra security of a redundant power supply goes one step beyond a UPS system and two steps past your everyday surge protector, to reduce the average down time of your network. That’s not to say that those other power components aren’t necessary. A UPS is imperative, not because it allows you to continue computing when the power goes out, but rather because it facilitates a smooth and graceful server shutdown. Client systems that are only plugged in to surge protectors might not be so lucky, but your server is key. Look for UPS hardware that includes management software, such as APC’s PowerChute Business Edition which enables unattended shutdown of up to 25 protected servers and workstations.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – did you know my Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is almost here? Yes!


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