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SBS 2011 Migration to new Dell T320

poweredge-t420-2-500x500 vxnbe8Client: PlatinumIFS

Job: Server Migration

OS: Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011

Reason for Migration: Upgrading hardware from Dell 1950 16GB memory, 1 TB HDD 3×5 500GB Raid 5 Quad 3.0hz CPU to Dell T320, Intel Xeon E-24XX v2 Processors, 16GB memory, 4 x 1TB HDD 3 in raid 5 configuration 1 reserved as hot swap, 2 power supplies 1 redundant.

Work carried out: Performed full disaster recovery on old 1950, reason raid card failed and killed raid configuration. Managed to install temporary raid card and replaced 1 failed HDD to perform bare metal recovery.

After recovery of all data and repair of Server a review of the Servers functionality and lifespan was discussed with the client. It was agreed that the 1950 should be decommissioned and a new server put in place.

Research, specification and recommendations were given to the client and it was agreed that the Dell T320 with our recommended specifications was to be purchased and used for the migration.

The Server originally was configured with raid 6 but we thought it best to use raid 5 with 1 spare hot swap drive. Raid 6 performs a lot better in speed but we prefer at least 1 hot swap in any raid configuration.

 

The specification can be viewed below.

 

 

210-ACDX PowerEdge T320, Intel Xeon E-24XX v2 Processors 1 1,985.60 1,985.60 SR
329-BBXR PowerEdge T320 Motherboard, TPM 1 SR
338-BEBH Intel Pentium 1403 v2 2.60GHz, 6M Cache, 2C, 80W, Max Mem 1333MHz 1 SR
340-29652 T320 EMEA1 Ship Docs No Power Cord (English/French/German/Spanish/Russian/Hebrew) 1 SR
350-10048 No Bezel Option – Rack Chassis 1 SR
350-11268 3.5″ Chassis with up to 8 Hot Plug Hard Drives 1 SR
370-22145 Performance Optimized 1 SR
370-AAKW 1600 MHz UDIMMs 1 SR
370-ABCM 4GB UDIMM, 1600 MT/s, Low Volt, Single Rank, x4 Data Width 4 SR
400-20161 1TB, Near-Line SAS 6Gbps, 3.5-in, 7.2K RPM Hard Drive (Hot-plug) 4 SR
405-12091 PERC H710 Adapter RAID Controller, 512MB NV Cache 1 SR
223-10221 Performance BIOS Setting 1 SR
412-10187 Heat Sink, Dell PowerEdge T320/T420 1 SR
429-16308 DVD ROM, SATA, Internal 1 SR
450-13370 UK 250V 2M Power Cord 10A 2 SR
450-17884 Dual, Hot-plug, Redundant Power Supply (1+1), 495W 1 SR
450-18477 Power Distribution Board for Hot Plug Power Supplies 1 SR
470-13163 PERC Cable for 3.5in 8HD Hot Plug Chassis 1 SR
227-10206 LCD display for T320 1 SR
540-11217 On Board Network Adapter 1 SR
611-10036 No Operating System 1 SR

Migration to take place on Thursday 26/6/2014 an we will keep you updated on our progress.

 

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Custom built gaming computer on a budget

From time to time we take on little projects aside from our normal day to day support to businesses. Especially if one of our clients has a specific requirement out side of their support contracts.

One of our clients has asked if we can build a computer that serves as a gaming machine but can be used in an office environment. I should mention that our client works mostly from home and has a small network of computers that are all used for business purposes.

Well the answer is yes we can help and as custom computers are getting to be a regular request from our clients we have gained the experience and knowledge to source the correct hardware for the job.

Now if I was given an unlimited budget I could throw money in to the best high end hardware for this project like we have for a previous client on our Hercules model that cost £3,500 to build. However Hercules was built specifically for an entirely different purpose but needed a really high end specification that gaming hardware provides. The budget I have for this particular build is £1,200 and with this budget we can build and source a very well suited computer for the role it will play.

We intend to use the below Hardware but you may notice that there is no case, well this because we had chosen one but thought it inappropriate for an office environment with it’s neon lights and see through panels.

Custom built computer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Motherboard we intend to use and deserves a mention on it’s own is the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming Intel Z87 (Socket 1150)

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Intel® Z87 Express Chipset

  • Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1150 socket
  • Supports DDR3-3000(OC) Memory
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Audio Boost: Reward Your Ears with True Quality
  • Killer Ethernet: Kill Your Lag
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World’s 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA SLI & AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Gaming Device Port: Optimized with Triple Gold-plating for High Polling Rate Gaming Devices
  • Total Fan Control: Optimize All Fan Speed As You Wish
  • Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0: Uncompromised Game Response Performance
  • Fast Boot: Quickly Boot Up & Enter OS in A Few Seconds

Z87_GAMING_06

One feature of this board that is particularly nice is The Killer™ E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high-quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect™, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and the competitive edge. With this exclusive, automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.

Through the detection and prioritization of gaming traffic you can finally fully utilize your network without fear of being kicked from an on-line game because of high ping. This enables true multi-tasking without manually enabling or disabling applications, updates and installations. Killer networking actually allows you to use your PC 24 hours a day.

The Graphics Card
DirectCU II with SSU architecture

20% cooler, 3X quieter

P_500ASUS graphics card engineering leads the industry once again with the introduction of DirectCU II SSU thermal design. Comprising two “S” and one “U” shapes, the new heatpipes are precision shaped for optimal efficiency and heat transference. They are also nickel-plated to minimize oxidization, with their mid-section now placed directly over the GPU die. This design shortens heat transfer travel to lower thermal resistance and create bi-directional flow for up to twice the cooling capacity in the same space as that required by existing graphics card cooler designs. High-conductivity copper used in heatpipe formulation creates tube-like vapor chambers, moving heat to a large aluminium heatsink that features extended fins for multiple points of dissipation. The assembly is further chilled by two high performance but carefully-tuned and sound-dampened fans for faster and quieter cooling.

 

GPU Tweak

Real-time intuitive graphics tuning

  • Shows detailed specs and actual card status with GPU-Z
  • Sync GPU clocks and voltages for easier overclocking
  • Monitoring widget provides real-time detailed multi-parameter info
  • 2D/3D switcher locks cards in 3D mode for higher benchmarks
  • Automatically checks and updates drivers and BIOS versions
  • Stream on-screen action to the web in full HD
The processor

images7X90ZWG1The new Intel Core i7-4770K. It’s the fastest version of the desktop part of Intel’s latest CPU architecture, known as Haswell.

With that comes expectations. This isn’t just a minor tweak or a die shrink. As Intel itself proudly claims, this is the fourth generation of its Core architecture. Unleash the fireworks.

Intel’s 4th gen processor codename: Haswell offers superior performance over the previous generation Ivybridge by up to 10% clock for clock. This astounding performance boost results in performance improvements in multi-tasking, encoding, gaming and multithreaded applications. Intel’s 4th generation processor has improved PCI-Lane 3.0 bandwidth which helps further boost performance of latest generation 3 graphics cards for the ultimate gaming experience.

Over the following weeks we will be posting videos and pictures of how we build the system and configurations.

 

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Common Faults with Laptops

Common Faults with Laptops

If you like many people have become dependant on your laptop for work, school or play you will know how irritating it is to have you laptop go faulty because of either wear and tear or accidental damage. Laptops have become very popular for the simple reason that you can carry them around with you.

The main components of a laptop are the LCD display, random access memory (RAM), battery, keyboard, and hard drive. Other than the LCD display, the other parts of a laptop can easily be replaced.

Common Laptop Hardware Problems

Here is a list of common problems laptop users experience:

  • Broken case as a result of a drop
  • Laptop Overheating – The production of heat can be the cause of computer shutting down unexpectedly.  Some laptops automatically shutdown when excessive heat is generated to protect the computer.  May also be related to a fan failure.
  • Damaged LCD screen or does not display the image properly – The screen may look distorted or some of the pixels may not display properly indicating damaged pixels.
  • Failure of the backlight – a faint image on the LCD screen is a key clue
  • Sticky or broken keys on the keyboard – spilled beverages
  • Loose or broken LCD hinge
  • Damaged USB ports – improper insertion of USB devices into the port is the major source of damage
  • Hard Drive failure – malfunction are usually caused by vibration and shock associated with the portable nature of how laptops are used

Laptop Repair Solutions

Many of the problems listed above can be repaired for less than the cost of a new laptop! If you are handy, replacing a keyboard, a hard drive or adding memory to a laptop is not difficult. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these tasks, then we can help with the repairs / upgrade at reasonable prices but stay away from retail stores because guess what … they will try to sell you a new laptop.

Recent Laptop repairs that we have completed:

Below you can see a laptop that experienced problems with constantly shutting down without warning, this is a sure sign that it is overheating and can be caused by the cooling fan being faulty or blocked. In this case the fan was blocked with dust which was preventing air flow to cool the processor.

In the next pictures below you can see a laptop that had Coca Cola spilt on the Laptop Keyboard, this caused the input key to be very sticky and in most cases unusable. Fortunately it did not go any further than the keyboard and was a simple case of replacing the keyboard. You will notice that the screen has been removed also this is because we replaced the screen at the same time and although the owner never said we believe a temper tantrum was performed on the screen as a consequence of the Coca Cola spillage. :)

Backup 14 Terabytes of data

How do you backup 14 terabytes of data?

A client of ours recently approached us for some guidance on how to backup all their data from numerous external HDD’s and data stored on the local computers. The obstacles we faced our 14 terabytes of data and increasing, data stored on different devices and computers and nothing is backed up.

On first inspection of the external HDD’s three of them were old Omega and Seagate that varied between 200 gigabytes to 500 gigabytes, these had been stored and not been used for at least three – four years, alarm bells start ring!!! So firstly we needed to establish if these worked and the data was not corrupt. Fortunately all of them worked and all data was safe, then we had to check the newer external HDD’s ranging from 1 Terabyte – 3 Terabytes again these all worked and although the data was stored all over the place with no order we proceeded to make our recommendation.

Of course with such large amounts of data storing it in the cloud was not an option because of expense and time, so the option we proposed is two NAS drive (Network Attached Storage) don’t get me wrong this option is going to be expensive to achieve with the hardware that is involved and work to set it up not to mention there needs to be two of everything.

We could have chosen two pre-built NAS already assembled with drives installed but we wanted a specific amount of storage with at least 32 terabytes and from what we have discovered not many companies offer this kind of configuration and if they were to modify the specification it would be double the price of our suggested configuration.

So down to the nitty gritty, we opted for the Synology DiskStation DS1813 with 8 drive bays, this would allow us to configure the DiskStation with 8 x 4 Terabytes = 32 Terabytes. We needed one large logical disk with fault tolerance per unit so we opted for a Raid 5 Configuration. This was not an easy decision as it takes a whopping 10 terabytes away from the original 32 terabytes leaving a logical disk of 229367 Gigabytes or just under 23 Terabytes.

Product Features:

  • 211.88 MB/sec Writing, 352.39 MB/sec Reading
  • Four LAN Ports with Link Aggregation Support
  • Scale up to 72TB with Synology DX513
  • Expandable RAM Module (Up to 4GB)
  • CPU Passive Cooling Technology & System Fan Redundancy
  • VMware®, Citrix®, Microsoft® Hyper-V® Ready
  • High Availability and Automatic Failover by SHA
  • Powered by Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM

So bearing in mind that it took nearly 5 years to accumulate 14 terabytes of data which will now be transferred to one of the NAS and with an additional 9 terabytes free space this should allow for further data to be added for at least three to four years.

So one NAS will be used to transfer all the data into one central location, for easy access to historical and current data and one NAS will be used to backup the data stored on the first one. With the NAS drives being able to be networked both units can be stored at different locations, which means we have now provided them with a means to recover lost and deleted data, fault tolerance on the hardware and a means of recovering data should one unit have a disaster.

For the software to manage the backups we will be using Symantec Backup Exec Small Business Edition, firstly it will backup over the network and secondly it will backup individual workstations and thirdly it will backup multiple locations, this is ideal for our purposes as there is no Server to speak at the location other than a basic domain server (SBS Essentials)

 

The DC3217IYE our smallest computer project.

The DC3217IYE our smallest computer project.

Another one of our clients who run a respite care home wanted a computer to show presentations videos to residents, staff and board members but did not want a full computer that was going to take up space. Rather they wanted it to be hidden, small and compact with the least amount of disruption during installation.

After doing some research we came across the DC3217IYE, at first I didn’t think much of this unit whilst reading reviews and it’s specification. Firstly it has some downsides like no sound card only two USB ports and if you want Wi-Fi you need to purchase the upgrade version. However if this unit was to be hidden away and it uses HDMI to connect to a Television it doesn’t really need  sound built in as the HDMI sound driver takes care of that. Two USB ports posed no problem either if you purchase a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse as it only uses one USB port leaving one free for an external HDD.

The Unit comes with a mounting a kit so that you can mount the computer on any modern flat screen TV and it’s very quiet in fact there is no noise from it all. This computer is very fast when it boots up and is a dream to work with, the unit comes with Windows 8 but seems pointless to me unless you have a touch screen, so we ordered it without any OS as the client has a site licence for Windows 7 and it installed like a dream. One thing I should mention is that if you intend to install the OS yourself make sure you have an external CD Drive.

This computer is ideal for schools, board rooms, display stands in fact anywhere you want small, fast and easy to transport with all the power of a full size computer then this unit is what you want. With an i3 Intel Processor, up to 8GB’s memory and SSD Drive this computer will handle anything you can throw at it.

This was another interesting project which the client had a specific criteria and need that we were able to provide a viable solution and a cheap one too with the DC3217IYE costing under £300.