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Benefits of A Server Computer For Small Businesses

Image of a computer network administrator managing a server computer

While cloud computing comes to mind when discussing file storage and sharing, the fact still remains that a server computer may really be all a small business or organization needs to improve business and office productivity.

Can a server computer really help your business? So many small business owners seem to think otherwise. The argument is that the old converted Microsoft Windows desktop “server” computer sitting in a corner is doing just fine.

However, that is a disaster waiting to happen  and it is bound to become a great drag on business and employee productivity. Server computers are built for storing data in a central location which ultimately saves everyone a lot of time, effort and stress. Think about it for a minute. With your corporate files in a central location, there is less need for your workers or users to try and figure out where a specific file is or who is currently using a specific document.  Servers also make it very easy to collaborate on numerous projects and whenever someone updates a file, the new information is instantly available to all.

If your business or organization is still operating in a Peer-to-Peer network environment, you need a network server.

Peer-to-Peer or work-group systems do not provide much in the way of security, and resource sharing can be somewhat problematic. In addition, your organization and users will have problems accessing other workstations, could lose data due to virus or spyware infection, and will likely experience intermittent Internet connectivity problems.

Computers networked in a peer-to-peer fashion may be adequate when you only have a few users on the network, but once you have more then 5 or 6 users on your business network, your organization should really consider investing in a network server computer.

What Is A Server Computer?

A network server computer allows organizations to centralize administration, data backups, file storage, share printers and documents, and host databases. (more…)

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How to Reset A Windows Server 2008 Domain Password

I recently got a desperate call from a friend I helped to set up a domain running Windows server 2008. Apparently, something happened and nobody could log on to the server. My first thought was password expiration so I told them to just log on as domain admin and reset the passwords of the affected users.

Things got interesting when the next question was, “What is the password?”. Now, this was a year after the initial installation and I did not have the password – as a matter of principle, I encourage clients to change the initial password after an installation is completed so they have the assurance that I will not “sneak in”. They took my advise. (more…)

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Microsoft’s Mega Patch Tuesday

Microsoft is gearing up for the release of its largest number of security updates and patches on this Patch Tuesday which will rival the previous highs of 12 security bulletins (February 2007 and October 2008). This release cycle will have 13 and also has eight bulletins that fall into the “critical” category which affects all versions of Windows, including the yet-to-be-released Windows 7. Affected software includes SQL Server, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, several important tools used by developers and the enterprise-grade Forefront Security client software. (more…)

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Active Directory and Morphed Folders

I recently came across a cool tool from Microsoft called Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner which runs more than 100 checks to help you assess the overall health of your Active Directory and network infrastructure, including the configuration of Active Directory Domain Services, DHCP, DNS, Exchange Server, network adapters, and domain controllers. If the tool detects problems, it links to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and other Web content for resolution information. I got the tool, installed it and ran it against a client’s network and it exposed some issues in the  Active Directory and network environment that could create problems during server deployments, infrastructure upgrades and migrations.

A good example of what the tool found is the exposure of what is called “Morphed Folders” in the domain controllers. Microsoft describes morphed folders as “…folders and files that have replicated to other servers and are exact copies of one another. When the File Replication Service (FRS) cannot determine which of two folders is most recent, it creates a duplicate folder. These folders are named FolderName_NTFRS_GUIDname, where FolderName is the name of the original folder and GUIDname represents a unique GUID for the morphed folder.” (more…)

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Automation and Small Business Owners

Small business owners are usually forced by budget constraints to do every thing they can to save cost. In order to save on software licensing costs,for example, a small business owner may install the free version of a critical application like a firewall or anti-virus on the business computers. The task of updating these applications then falls on  each user to run periodic system scans and updates.

One thing that is not common in small business environments is process automation. Most processes are manually carried out. What we have to realize is that as hard as we try, at some point, somebody forgets to run a system scan or the backup program. Occasionally, someone could accidentally turn off or stop a backup application before the process is completed. (more…)

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What Can Astaro Linux Do For You?

I had a client who was just getting killed by spammers. Every morning their inbox was loaded with junk mail and they had as much as five thousand (5,000) emails in their spam filter box when they came in. I decided to help them out with the free version of Astaro Security Gateway. We threw the software version (v7) on an old AMD box they had lying around – 2GHz processor, 20GB IDE drive, 512 RAM, two NICS. What a difference spam filtering at the perimeter of the network makes! The first week was like “wow”. Astaro actually generates a daily report and for email filtering we had 36,930 processed. Get this, out of that number, 36,832 was categorized as “Spam emails blocked”. And the live log was right there for us to see. Emails the system was not sure about were placed in quarantine and you have the option of having an admin view, release or delete those emails, or have a report sent to the affected user. The report even had a “Top 10 Spam Sender” entry with the IP addresses and countries of origin (little flags) of the bad guys. There was also a “Top 5 Spam Countries” entry on the report. (more…)

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