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Networks Setting up a small business server

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by MightyBenihana, 25 Sep 2018.

  1. MightyBenihana

    MightyBenihana Do or do not, there is no try

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    I want to set up a wireless server for my wife's veterinary surgery. It will require 3 PCs and one server.

    I was thinking of get 3 of these:

    https://www.scan.co.uk/products/int...ata-gbe-wifi-bt-intel-hd-graphics-620-usb-31?

    adding 4/8GB ram (advice appreciated here, please), and a 120gb SSD and a cheap monitor.

    I have a decent spare PC already (3550K, Z77 Asus Gene if I remember correctly)that I would like to adapt to be the server.

    Would this all work well enough?

    Secondly, she uses a program to store all her clients details. I am unsure about how to set it up so each PC would have the program installed but have the information stored on the server so each PC can access it.

    Alternatively would it be possible to have the program on each PC but when the information is updated on one it auto updates on the others?

    This might be limited by the software, which isn't anything special or great but it does support being used like I am suggesting, but I am just trying to get an understanding of what can be done?

    Whilst I have little experience of servers I am competent with PCs and software generally but step by step guides are more than welcome.

    I appreciate any and all help,

    thanks.
     
  2. TheMadDutchDude

    TheMadDutchDude The Flying Dutchman

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    You’ll have to make sure that the data can be accessed simultaneously and by multiple clients.

    What software is it? That may help us to give you more info.

    What do you need the client PCs to do? It might be worthwhile looking into some refurbished options that give you significantly more bang for your buck. Reliability is key, as is redundancy. Hey, look, I made a rhyme! Haha... :lol:

    If this info is critical, always have an offsite backup option as well. I’d suggest a cloud service as that will auto update on all PCs at once. However, consider that the data might be sensitive and will absolutely require extra precautions, such as an extremely safe password to the cloud storage for example. An encrypted file would also be a great idea.

    That’s how I run my dads business server. It updates from his PC to the mirrored drives via LAN, and goes straight to his laptop anywhere in the world as long as he has an internet connection.
     
  3. MightyBenihana

    MightyBenihana Do or do not, there is no try

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    Thanks for the reply.

    It is a Brazilian program call SIC (Sistema Integrado Comercial) so I doubt that helps but here is some more info about it (need to translate): http://www.sicnet.com.br/sic.htm

    I was planning to have to rotating thumb drives to back up the info - there really isn't that mchh in terms of size - just clients personal details and animal history.

    All I need the client PCs to do is have access to the progam and data to update information as required so that all the clients can see the up to date info, and likely all have the ability to do this at the same time.

    For example the vet will have a client in the consultation room and update the history there as well as put information about what needs to be charged for. Tehn the receptionist in the reception will pull the clients file, add up the bill, charge and mark as paid. It's not very sophisticated I know, but it's how she likes it to function.

    .
     
  4. TheMadDutchDude

    TheMadDutchDude The Flying Dutchman

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    A word of caution with the flash drives is that they can often die without warning, causing massive data loss. I’d stay away from those, personally.
     
  5. Flibblebot

    Flibblebot Smile with me

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    The developer's web page does mention that it's easy to network install, whatever that means. There is a free version that you can download, so it might be worth doing that and have a play to see what data it generates, and where it generates it - and whether it's possible to change the location of that data, perhaps to a network share?

    Best suggestion is to drop their tech support team a line and find out how you can have multiple users on a network.
     
  6. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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    If you want a server then get a proper server, it'll save a lot of hassles later. Something with a proper warranty, RAID & redundant power.
    Then get that backing up properly to an offsite service.

    That software looks like a flat file DB which can be installed on a network share. Usually you extract it all to a folder, share the folder then point a shortcut at the exe in the share.

    This means everybody has the same info and makes it doubly important that it's backed up properly (ideally once an hour at least).

    If you need remote access to the program then you'll need a VPN
     
  7. MightyBenihana

    MightyBenihana Do or do not, there is no try

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    Thanks guy.

    I would love a proper server but cost is an issue. I was going to put it the PC i have now in raid so it saves 2 copies and use rotating pen drives so if one dies I lose a maximum of one days data - not that big an issue.

    @saspro - I would be interested in knowing more about how to do this. It doesn't sound to difficult but do you know of any guides I could look at?
     
  8. David

    David μoʍ ɼouმ qᴉq λon ƨbԍuq ϝʁλᴉuმ ϝo ʁԍɑq ϝμᴉƨ

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    You can probably grab a refurbished tower server and add a couple of drives for less than you're willing to cough up for that NUC
     
  9. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    No. No, no, no. Niet. Nee. Jo. Nein. Iaa. Nann. Ne. Ei. Nah. Non. 'A'ole. Nahi. Nem. M¯-sï. Tidak. Nei. Ní hea. Nedda. Bú shì. Nani. Não. Manan. Tkjee. Hapana. Mai-chai. Hayžr. Neyn. Cha. Hai. Nage. Không.

    [​IMG]

    No.

    Say it with me now, everyone: RAID is not a backup. RAID does not "save 2 copies" of anything: RAID1 duplicates one copy across two physical drives.

    Why is that different, you ask? Because whatever happens to Duplicate 0, bar drive failure, also happens to Duplicate 1. Literally at the exact same time. User accidentally "drop table clients;"? That's gone from both duplicates. Software goes non-linear, zeroes out the database? Both duplicates. You get hit by a cryptolocker malware 'cos you're running Windows? Yup, that's both duplicates gone. Solar radiation flips a bit 'cos you reused a desktop instead of using a proper server with ECC memory? Both duplicates.

    RAID is not a backup. RAID is about three things: capacity, performance, and availability. RAID0 increases capacity and performance at the cost of making it more likely you'll lose everything; RAID1 increases availability by making it so you don't have to take the system down to replace a failed drive; RAID10 combines the both, and RAID-other-numbers are just increasingly complex variants of the same I-want-bigger-faster-more-available concept. None of these involve backups.

    The pendrive idea, which is a simple form of backup, is fine. I'd recommend using a checksumming file system and scrubbing on a regular basis to check for silent corruption, but if you're replacing the contents of the drive at each backup (i.e. full backups, not incremental backups) then you should be good to go. Remember to keep the drives you're not currently backing up to off-site.

    But RAID is not a backup.
     
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  10. _crazy_crazy_

    _crazy_crazy_ mi mum say's that i'm special

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    hi there (bom dia ou boa tarde xD) it should be doable without much fuss , try finding a used server or something some gen8 or something like that normally they aint that expensive and has raid controller and everything , about the software it's based in delphi and uses a firebird database "used to develop a similar program here in portugal" and you just need to install the server part in the server and then connect all the clients to that one



    Agora assim aparte eu nao sei se as certificaçoes do software mudam muito de portugal para o brasil mas tens algumas outras soluçoes normalmente tem é um limite maximo de facturação , em relação a rede nao é preciso muito neste momento para os postos mas aconcelho 8gb de ram pelo menos os ssd's sao um extra e para a situaçao sao um gasto que pode ser adiado a nivel de backups aconcelho vivamente a fazeres para um disco externo e para a cloud ou assim . pode nao fazer sentido agora mas ainda esta semana tive um cliente que ardeu e se nao fosse os backups externos estava tudo "na merda " perdoa-me o termo xD
     
  11. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    This, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it.

    The rotating thumb drives may give you up to a day's data loss in the event of a disk failure, but RAID1 will give you zero days data loss in the same instance (and if it's just the one drive, potentially days of disruption building the server up again)

    Drives are cheap, RAID1 is basically free (computationally, and owing to the fact that it's likely to be available onboard), so probably worth it.

    Assuming it's not a huge amount of data - customer records at a vet practice I'm thinking we're not in the multiple GB territory - you can also look at a free tier of cloud storage, versioning replication software and an encrypting folder synchroniser.

    Example - these are ones I know, there are alternatives, some of which may be free:

    - Bvckup2 monitors the data for changes (constantly, minutely, hourly, daily etc)
    - Bvckup2 detects a change, copies the change across (either full file or delta), and creates an archive of the previous version
    - Cryptsync encrypts content of the backup location, encrypts this and moves it to an encrypted backup location
    - Google drive sync takes the encrypted contents and chucks it in the cloud

    Is it "enterprise"? Hell no. Does it work? Sure does.

    The most likely thing to fail in the thumb drive approach isn't the thumb drive, is the people that have to remember to swap out the drives.
     
    Last edited: 27 Sep 2018
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  12. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Oh, absolutely - RAID's fantastic. Especially brtfs RAID1: I have the array on my server set to scrub (read and verify the entire contents) once a month, and if any silent corruption is found it automatically repairs the file from the correct copy. Amaze.

    It's just not a backup.
     
  13. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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  14. MightyBenihana

    MightyBenihana Do or do not, there is no try

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    Consider me schooled on RAID then, lol.

    This is why I love this forum - you guys are so helpful without being nasty to someone who genuinely needs help. So many other places love to look down on those who know less but here there is a genuine desire to help I feel - thanks so much for all the replies.

    I have found a different program that allows me to do everything online that is actually better for its intended use and I can run on a tablet so that the vets can keep it on hand (helpful for updating info on the go).

    What would be suggested for me backing it up myself too?
     
  15. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Backups are about belt-and-braces: two is one and one is none. Manual backups work OK, but people will forget, I guarantee it - and you'll only figure that out when disaster strikes and your freshest backup is six months old at best.

    To give you an idea of how my backups are organised:
    • Desktop and laptop have local copies of all important files, synchronised using Syncthing and protected with staggered file versioning.
    • These copies are automatically synchronised with a copy on the server using Syncthing and staggered file versioning, stored on a 2x2TB btrfs RAID1 mirror.
    • They're also copied to a 6TB drive in an externally-accessible hot-swap caddy in the same server, using the sadly-abandoned but still-functional rsnapshot. This takes a snapshot of all the files, and the server's own configuration files and what have you, every four hours, then ages off old copies using hardlinks so that I can take any given file back in time four-hourly for the last 24 hours, daily for the last 7 days, weekly for the last four weeks, and monthly for the last year.
    • They're also also automatically synchronised to an off-site server, again using Syncthing. (Nothing posh, it's literally a Raspberry Pi 2 with a 1TB USB hard drive attached.)
    • They're also also also archived to an old hard drive in a hot-swap caddy on the desktop as and when I can be bothered and/or remember, which is then removed and shoved on a shelf.
    This lets me recover from a variety of scenarios:
    • Desktop dies. (Files immediately available on laptop, install Syncthing on new desktop and files automatically synchronised.)
    • Laptop is stolen. (Files immediately available on desktop, install Syncthing on new laptop and files automatically synchronised.)
    • Accidentally delete or overwrite an important file. (Original copy immediately available from Syncthing.)
    • Realise I accidentally deleted or overwrote an important file nine months ago. (If it's dropped off Syncthing's versioning, it's available on the server's 6TB drive.)
    • Single drive failure in the server. (Files immediately available on both desktop and laptop and server, replace drive, rebuild mirror.)
    • Double-drive failure in the server (Files immediately available on both desktop and laptop, replace drives, restore from 6TB drive.)
    • Complete failure of the server. (Files immediately available on both desktop and laptop, replace server, install Syncthing, everything automatically synchronises again.)
    • Cryptolocker attack. (Assuming all the Syncthing-synchronised copies got gotted, along with their version history, restore from 6TB drive. If the server's got gotted as well, which is hugely unlikely, restore from disconnected external drive.)
    • Fire/Flood/Act of God. (Grab 6TB hot-swap drive from server on the way out of the door; if not possible, restore from offsite copy.)
    • Brexit. (Probably won't have enough power to run computers anyway, so who cares?)
    There are scenarios in which I could potentially lose everything, but they typically involve the complete destruction of the country - so I figure I'll have more important things on my mind than worrying about my MP3s.
     
    Last edited: 29 Sep 2018
  16. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    I'd kind of agree, but kind of disagree with this.

    A good backup strategy is about understanding:
    a) Your RPO (i.e. how much data you can afford to lose)
    2) Your RTO (i.e. how long you can afford to take getting the data back, and up and running again)
    iii) What scenarios you're trying to protect against (i.e. from "whoops I accidentally deleted that" to "whoops North Korea nuked the western world")
    D.) Your budget (which should need no explanation)

    And that goes for each and every type of data you have - where belt and braces and then some might be the right approach for super critical piece of proprietary data, it won't be for everything. There's no such thing as a backup strategy that protects against every eventual scenario, so you categorise your data, and decide what you need to protect against for each and then implement an approach in line with the other three tenets.

    I do know you know this though. I'm just not sure it came across that well in your post.
     
  17. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    This is very true - though none of what I've implemented in mine (bar maybe the 6TB drive) is expensive, and when you can protect against everything up to Best Korea Nuclear Programme Success without actually spending any real money, why not do so - even if you could afford to lose it and/or wait a week to get it back?

    I stand by "two is one and one is none" - having one copy of your data is the same as having no copies (because one failure and you're screwed); having two copies is equivalent to having one (because in the event of a single failure you've still got one). Anything above that is where you need to start figuring out if it's worth it with regard to RPO/RTO and the like.
     
  18. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    Oh definitely - in many cases just taking the protection approach of your most critical data and applying it to everything as a blanket approach will even be the cheapest, rather than managing multiple strategies and technologies individually. Certainly the most foolproof. Note I didn't say implementing a backup strategy for each set of requirements, simply understanding them.

    Stripping it back another layer, I have stuff that's replicated/versioned and backuped/offsited that frankly I'm not even sure I need one copy of. But having it sitting there on capacity that would be otherwise empty isn't costing me anything so why spend time/effort clearing it out?

    Too many people backup because backups are good, right? Except backup itself is never a requirement - a requirement is "not losing data due to a drive failure" or "getting data back if someone fat-fingers something" - sometimes backups happen to be the answer.

    @MightyBenihana So to the above question of "how should I back up" - take a step back and think about the RPO. RTO, failure scenarios and budget first.
     
    Last edited: 29 Sep 2018
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