A server check list

A customer of mine said the other day that he really wanted me to make a list of what they should be looking for when buying and configuring a new server. There are many considerations to make and this list will not be the best for all circumstances. Hopefully it will help some of you, and you can always call or send me an email if you have specific needs.

This particular server is meant for up to 20 users and they use it for Quickbooks and file sharing.

Hardware and software

  • A CPU with at least 4 cores. For heavy users I would recommend 8 cores or more.
  • 16GB of RAM is the minimum I recommend today unless you know exactly what you are going to use it for the next 5 years and you need less for that function.
  • Hardware RAID controller if you are using Microsoft server. Make sure it support the type of RAID you need. For Linux you can use ZFS or set it up with software RAID.
  • Hard drives that:
    • are 2TB or bigger or
    • have at least 3 times the space of data you are using today + 150GB for the operating system and applications.
    • Or if you are separating OS and data on different hard drives, make sure the OS hard drives/partitions are at least 150GB.
    • Consider hard drives/SSD’s for the server operating system or for databases.
  • Operating system that has support for the next 5 years.


  • Make sure the OS partition has about 50GB of free space after installing OS and main applications. You never know what you will need to install the next 5 years.
  • Split OS/data on separated partitions/disks. Maybe split data/databases if needed.
  • Install all updates immediately.
  • Make a backup/clone of the server when it is fresh. You might have to go back to that image/clone during the installation.
  • Make sure all applications install perfectly. If not, restore from the above backup and do it again.
  • Install anti-virus solution.
  • Make another backup/clone.
  • Make it a domain controller if that is the purpose of the server.
  • Configure all services that should be running on the server.
  • Test the configuration.
  • Make a final backup/clone after copying data to the server. This might be your starting point if you need to reinstall it later.

This is the “ideal” list. Often I don’t have time to do all the backups/clones because I am under pressure to finish the job (the old server is dying), but it has saved me several hours of work a few times.

Please let me know if you would like me to add something to this list.