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Don't Go Soft on Server Hardware

Another aspect of your network plan should be the selection of a network operating system. And because you're reading this book, this means that Windows 2000 Server is your network operating system of choice. You need to make sure that you have the hardware that will run the operating system and be able to handle the performance drain that is put on the system by user logins, the accessing of files, or the queuing of print jobs.

The server has to do a lot more than just run the operating system and, even though you can upgrade the server hardware if necessary, it's a good idea to spec out a computer that will accommodate your network in its infancy, but also be able to handle network growth. Microsoft's recommendations for your Windows 2000 Server's hardware are as follows:

  • Processor: Intel Pentium 166MHz (megahertz)

  • RAM: 128MB (megabytes) (256 recommended)

  • Hard Drive: 2GB (gigabytes)

  • CD-ROM Drive: 12X

  • Monitor: Super VGA capable of 800x600 resolution

Now, this is the minimum hardware configuration. I suggest at least a Pentium II 300MHz with 256MB (or more) of RAM and a larger hard drive, say at least 4–6GB (if this server will act as a file server, you need even more hard drive space). And as far as the CD-ROM drive goes, a bootable CD-ROM drive will make it a lot easier to install Windows 2000 Server. (You can boot right from the CD and start the installation; you don't have to mess around with boot disks.)

Another component that you shouldn't skimp on is the server's network interface card. You can skimp on client computer network cards, but get a top-of-the-line card for your server that can handle the throughput required for the server to do its job.

Now, having made these recommendations for the hardware configuration of the server, I also need to tell you that all the hardware that is used to build your server (the motherboard, the hard drives, all the components) should come right off the Microsoft Windows 2000 Hardware Compatibility list. This list suggests hardware that has been tested with Windows 2000 and is considered compatible with the operating system. Straying from the hardware compatibility list can only lead to trouble.

There is a copy of the hardware compatibility list on the Windows 2000 Server CD-ROM in the Support folder. Just pop the CD into any Windows computer and use Explorer to locate the hcl.txt file (see Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2 The hardware compatibility list suggests hardware that has been tested with Windows 2000 Server.

The problem with the list on the CD is that it's probably not up-to-date. New hardware is being developed and tested practically every second (okay, that's an exaggeration, but there is new hardware being created at a rapid pace). Microsoft provides a Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/compat/default.asp that allows you to check the compatibility of computers by manufacturer and other hardware devices such as printers, network interface cards, and a bunch of other stuff (see Figure 3.3). You might want to check out your server hardware and other devices on this page, just to make sure that they're compatible.

Figure 3.3 Microsoft also provides a Web page where you can check out the compatibility of your server hardware.

After you've checked out your hardware and have assembled a computer configuration that will run Windows 2000 Server (and provide the performance necessary to get its job done on the network), there are two more things that you need to make part of your implementation plan: the server file system and the licensing method for your clients. The next two sections cover these two issues.

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