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How to Build a Server (Page 2/12)

Posted: May 30, 2001
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen

Getting the Right Parts

Your server setup is determined by your intentions. What do you want your server to do? If youíre going to be doing heavy file and application sharing to multiple computers, a speedy storage system is a must as well as a speedy network. If you want your server to be a host for the latest multiplayer games, a speedy processor is the only way to go. Maybe youíre developing the next generation database technology and you want to setup a database server. Sounds good, but sounds expensive. Youíll need ample amounts of memory, and maybe even a second processor.

Up Time is Crucial

Before you run out and plunk down money to purchase top of the line equipment, you should stop to think about one thing -- you'll rarely be sitting at your server using it like you use your main computer. That means, some of the more exotic components that you have in your main computer, arenít likely needed in your server. A quick example of a component in that category is a sound card. You likely wonít need that GeForce2 Ultra in your server either.

It now becomes evident that you can dig up some old graphics card and some old sound card to use. In fact, you can build a decent server out of old computer parts if you use the right OS. More on this later.

Whether you decide to build a server from new or existing parts, youíll want to choose the best components possible. Make sure they are in the best condition possible. Faulty components can really do bad things on a server and wreak havoc to other components. A server needs to be on for as long as need be, and sometimes that means being on all day, all week, all month, all the time. If you want to setup a website, having 99.999% uptime is crucial to having a successful site. You donít need to go and get yourself a backup generator, but it helps to start at the roots of most computer problems -- inside the computer.


I generally split a server into a few categories to make buying decisions easier. Here are a few configurations for you to consider:

File/FTP/Web Server:

600MHz Pentium 3 or faster,
384MB RAM or more recommended, 256MB minimum,
8MB AGP video card,
10GB to 15GB hard drive space minimum, RAID 0 or 0+1 configuration,
100Mbps network card,
And a 4X minimum CD-R writer.

Domain Controller/File/Application/Printer Server:

600MHz Pentium 3 or faster,
256MB RAM minimum,
8MB AGP video card,
10GB to 15GB hard drive space minimum,
One or two 100Mbps network card,
And a 4X minimum CD-R writer.

Game Server:

800MHz Athlon or faster/900MHz Pentium 3 or faster, 1GHz Athlon or higher preferred,
384MB RAM,
GeForce2 GTS based video card,
10GB to 15GB hard drive space,
100Mbps network card,
Sound Blaster Live! or equivalent,
4X minimum CD-R writer,
And a 10X DVD drive.

You can feel free to put whatever components you want into your server. The above configurations just outline some basic components you should consider.

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