Help with sizing for document storage

  • Doug Bass

    SSC Journeyman

    Points: 83


    I need help with providing a client (small non-profit) with a recommendation for a database server. I am a programmer so I do not have expertise in sizing a server, but I will give you as much information as I can.

    There will be a single database on the server, serving an application with up to 30 users (let's say for the sake of argument they are concurrent, but I don't think they will be). As far as database usage goes, we will be storing a combination of standard data and documents. I want to start out with a database about 500GB, which I think will give them room for 3 years. But I want to allow room for expansion.

    So, I am interested in recommendations for the following:

    * SQL Version (I am thinking Standard or Workgroup)

    * O/S (Version & 32 vs 64)

    * Number of processors (I am thinking quad-core)

    * Amount of memory (4 GB?)

    * Disk Configuration (RAID 10 or DroboPro was recommended to me for ease of administration)\

    * Anything else I am missing

    I don't need a "killer" system (they are a non-profit), but something that will serve them well for now and several years into the future. Their budget seems to be around $15,000-$20,000 for a database server and a web server.

    Also, I am planning on scheduling nightly database backups with hourly trans log backups. They want to use Carbonite instead of tape backups. Comments? I think this will be too big/costly as the database grows.

    And if it's not too far O/T, if any of you has experience with web servers, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on server recommendations for that, too.

    Thanks very much,


  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 719896

    I know I'm late here, but a few thoughts.

    1. Look over the capabilities here (, but I'd think that for what you're looking for, Workgroup will work. If you can go R2, I might consider standard for backup compression. If you plan on any DR, mirroring, etc., I'd go Standard

    * O/S (Version & 32 vs 64) - x64. No reason to go x86 anymoer.

    * Number of processors (I am thinking quad-core) - I think a 2 socket, quad core (8 cores) is a pretty sweet spot.

    * Amount of memory (4 GB?) - at least 4GB. Memory is cheap, and since people want performance, I might lean towards 8-12GB.

    * Disk Configuration (RAID 10 or DroboPro was recommended to me for ease of administration)\ - You want at least 3 separate physical arrays, all R1 or R10 if you can. Don't use NAS devices, like the drobo. THey don't work as well. Ideally you'd like data on one array, logs on a second, and backups on a third.

    * Anything else - Get help tuning queries if you don't know how to do it. that will make the biggest difference in your hardware, if you have very well tuned queries. Be sure you that you have indexes set up on all tables, especially on PK/FKs.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 996645

    I want to start out with a database about 500GB

    Heh... I know some large companies that don't need that much storage space even after 5 years. I thought you said it was a "small" nonprofit. 😉

    Anyway, I believe Steve has pretty much hit the nail on the head considering the budget.

    --Jeff Moden

    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".
    "If "pre-optimization" is the root of all evil, then what does the resulting no optimization lead to?"

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

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