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What server is best for optimal security and performance?

I work for a small company that is starting to gradually grow. We currently have seven users in our corporate office and a total of 45 users in various remote offices. We are going to set up a small network of servers at our corporate office. Currently we are planning for three servers: a domain controller, a Web server and an Exchange server. We are going to have file sharing, backup software and print services to install. What server would it be best to install these on for optimal security and performance?

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Most hardware is the same, so one system will not be significantly more secure than another. However, performance wise, the faster the better. Purchase the most powerful system you can afford with the following caveats or considerations.

1. Don't purchase the absolutely newest chip on the market, it is way overpriced, purchase one or two releases behind -- such as a 3.0 GHz instead of the 3.2 or 3.4.
2. Fully populate the motherboard with memory. Always purchase the fastest memory available and supported by the motherboard.
3. Buy the fastest and largest hard drives you can afford which are supported by the motherboard (or expansion drive controller).
4. Always buy 2 times the drives you need and set up RAID mirroring (do this in hardware if you can afford it, otherwise rely on Windows software to do it).

Always deploy at least 2 domain controllers so you will have a backup in the event of a primary system failure.

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This was first published in January 2005

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