Moving from cloud server to physical server


Hi all,

I'm looking for some advice on transitioning from a cloud based server (Dropbox) to a physical server.

The office was born just over a year ago. At the time it worked well for myself and one other to use Dropbox for file storage as it allowed us to work remotely when needed. However, our practice is now up to five and potentially growing further in the near future. While we like the fact that Dropbox backs up our full server on each machine, it doesn't have file locking for example.

A further point is that the wifi in our office is atrocious. Unfortunately due to the nature of the building and where it is in the city this can not be upgraded any further. This means that files take an absolute age to sync between all machines, in which time someone could make a change to an unlocked drawing and overwrite etc. It also means that print times are extremely inconvenient, with it taking up to 20 minutes for single sheet PDF documents to reach the printer (again, connected on wifi).

Has anyone else out there of a similar office size made the transition from a cloud-based server to a physical hard-wired set up? Is it possible to have the file-locking, instantly accessed benefits of a physical server while also having the remote working and multiple back-ups of Dropbox?

Jun 15, 16 7:02 pm

Create a Windows Small Business Server, and put dropbox on it so it backs up to the cloud..

Jun 15, 16 7:32 pm

Simple: BUY an EXTERNAL HARD-DRIVE that plugs into USB or onto a router with a USB port to use a hard drive as a NAS.  All consumer PCs today has file server capabilities to manage any small architecture business. We used computers with twelve to twenty-four 386 processors and banks of hard drives and tape drives for managing an entire computer infrastructure of a community college with user base of well over 250 computers. 

On a computer that was basically Stratus or IBM System/88 minicomputer (IBM relabeled Stratus/32 fault tolerant high end minicomputer system), they ran the entire QuantumLink Service which became America Online. My Amiga 1200 was comparable to the Stratus/32 system. 

Modern home desktop PCs are many times more powerful than that. Put it mildly, file server functionality is easy stuff so don't worry. You can run an FTP server program and provide access to the files. It just takes a little IT intelligence to set it up for remote access.

Consider a router and a hub and some cables and if you need to.... use WiFi repeaters that only needs a power connection and an initial setting up to make connection to the main router.  I can't imagine how it can't be upgraded this way. 

Wifi repeaters are only about $20-30/each and they help get around problematic areas.

Jun 15, 16 10:10 pm

I would still suggest a Server OS like windows small business server or Mac Xserve - there is just a lot more flexibility in terms of restricting file access, security and expansion. You can get a normal computer and put these OSs on it.

Jun 16, 16 3:11 pm

Forgot to mention, we all use Macs in the office. I'm sure it isn't a problem, but I know Apple don't like to make their machines fully compatible...

Jul 6, 16 9:32 am

apple discontinued mac xserve. mac osx server app is $20. we have mac mini servers, or you can set up a mac pro server. mac mini works great as a file server. 

Jul 6, 16 10:44 am

A NAS that syncs to Google Drive (or even Dropbox) would be perfect.  Uses less power than a server and is more easily scalable than a typical server.  Set it up and mount the share as if it were a drive directly on the machine.  Best way to get remote access and avoid file corruption is through a VPN connection instead of using a cloud service.  VPN capable routers can be pretty cheap...or really expensive depending on how secure you want to be.  Sounds like you're wanting to do much more than just setup a local storage server or NAS.  

You said the wifi in your office is bad.  Can you elaborate? Are you on a public wifi network and looking to get your own service?  Or does the layout of the space somehow restrict your private wifi signals?

Jul 6, 16 10:41 pm

This link was posted in a similar thread on Archinect. 

Jul 7, 16 9:26 am

Yep something like that. Though using a single drive NAS as mentioned in the post would make me nervous as hell because there would be no local fail-over if the drive goes bad. Meaning a sudden and abrupt stop in work while you run and get a replacement drive and then restore from the cloud sync/backup.  A good minimum would be a 4 disk array set in RAID 6 so you can have any 2 drives fail and still keep things going...budget dictates all. 

Jul 7, 16 10:39 am

Synology NAS setups - I (no real IT background) switched the office over to a hardline set up w/ two multi-disk DiskStations earlier this year. Solid performance - redundant back ups, integrated TimeMachine compatibility, CloudSync (fuck Dropbox) for remote share (incl. w/ Clients), and tons of other features if you need. Pulling everything through the new Syno RT1900ac Router and a Cisco switch. 

Jul 7, 16 3:11 pm

We bought a 2-drive NAS for about $250.00 at Micro Center.  You will probably have to go with a more expensive one to get full Mac compatibility, though.

We use an app called Super Duper to make bootable copies of our Mac drives.  I would never rely on Apple's Time Machine for backups.

Jul 7, 16 4:54 pm

I still can't get Time Machine to back up my files....

Jul 7, 16 10:58 pm

We had a Mac die and then its Time Machine backup would not open on the replacement machine or any other Mac we tried it on.  Time Machine just sucks.

Jul 8, 16 11:48 am

I've never had an issue with TM.  I have 2 long running backups.  1 started with a MacBook I've replaced twice, and the other was a Mac mini that I replaced once.  

Jul 8, 16 12:17 pm

Appleseed - What are you using for hard drives in your setup? Which Cisco switch? 

Jul 13, 16 12:07 am

I know it wasn't directed towards me, but at home I run a Cisco SB 200-26P (POE switch), Cisco RV325 (Dual WAN VPN router), just bought a pair of Ubiquiti AC-Pro wireless access points, and 4 TB WD Red drives in a 5 bay LaCie NAS....really want a Synology., but wife won't approve funding yet.  

Total overkill for a personal setup.  It's all for good reasons though.  

Jul 13, 16 10:54 am

Dunno the # for the Cisco - it's just a little un-managed desktop 5-port gigabit ethernet box - didn't mean to imply it's a big rack mount enterprise thing. Mainly put it in-line since the Synology router only had 4 LAN ports and we've got about 8 devices wired up.

Running WD Red disks of various capacity. Haven't had any issues w/ the Reds.

Jul 13, 16 3:07 pm

thank you both!

Jul 13, 16 10:08 pm
Setting up a two bay QNAP NAS this weekend. Going smoothly so far. I'll post back after a week or two - see if it's still going well. Has some neat aps - cloud, sync, etc.
Jul 16, 16 9:17 pm

My old office ran all Macs with Parallels and/or boot camp. I would not suggest a Mac mini with osx server. Revit doesn't sync workshared files well on it. We bought a Synology specifically for syncing Revit files.

Some cat5e or cat6 from monoprice or another inexpensive vendor might be ugly but we were able to plot 600mb files without much delay. I'd never suggest Wi-Fi for an office because it's slower and have had files corrupt in the past.

Sep 11, 19 8:56 am

osx server is not what it once was.

presently using synology router with synology diskstation backed up to cloud storage.

Sep 11, 19 11:03 am

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