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ArnoldGoat

54 posts

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#295362 23-Mar-2022 16:16
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Back in the last century, I was asked to design and set up a small network for a school. It consisted of an NT4 Server and 15 NT4 desktops connected via cat5 ethernet. It had a (free) email server because at the time ISPs charged way too much for each child to have an email address.

 

I had a pilot installation at home to check things out first. Over the years, the school network grew to 2 x W2012 R2 servers, over a hundred laptops, desktops and printers, connected by cat5e and fibre cables and Wireless.

 


I updated my home pilot computers first  to verify the changes. The home network also does duty with some domestic stuff: it retained an email server, LMS for music, Mediaportal for TV, some homebrew software and relay interfaces to control irrigation, and some other small stuff on ESP8266 boards e.g. thermostat and heater controls.

 


We have a Windows 10 desktop, Windows HTPC, an iMAC, a MacBook Air which are all on the home Windows domain, and 2 iphones and 2 iPads.

 

I have now retired from the school, and need to simplify my home setup which is overcomplicated, expensive to run and maintain and has a very low WAF.

 

I am seeking advice on what I should be aiming for. I would like to ditch the windows domain and servers as I cannot justify the licence and electricity costs of having 2 servers on 24/7. Is there scope for putting some of this in the cloud? If I put up with non-syncd passwords which for 2 users isn't a problem, should I use MS and/or Apple for authentication and simply duplicate the userids?

 


Should I move the email to Google (I have an internet domain, so I can alter MX). I really would like to retire from being an email service provider!

 

Mediaportal and LMS can cope with the server being asleep, waking it up when necessary which would help the electricity bill. I would hope to keep one of the servers to act as a file store and streamer as it does now, but perhaps running Unix, and ditch the other server.

 

But I am open to any suggestions. I was told this is the right forum to ask in.

 

Ken


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gehenna
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  #2890839 23-Mar-2022 16:20
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Office 365 sounds like it'll cover most of what you seem to need.


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Inphinity
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  #2890847 23-Mar-2022 16:30
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It sounds like you have your answers already - hosting your own email is rarely worth the effort these days, one box to run all your services, done. What WAF are you using, and why? If you require inbound traffic, I'd seriously consider VPN options rather than publishing web services publicly.

 

 

 

 


Dynamic
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  #2890848 23-Mar-2022 16:31
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For clients, we recommend Microsoft 365 services over Google email services.  Exchange Online P1 licenses are $6 per month which may or may not suit your budget but give you a massive mailbox and great functionality.  Compare Microsoft Exchange Online Plans .  If you want to add generous online storage (I like OneDrive auto-syncing your Desktop/Documents/Pictures folders as a rudementary backup) consider the Business Basic plan for some users.  Compare All Microsoft 365 Plans | Microsoft 

 

Consider Zoho for IMAP email only.  I'm not an IMAP fan, but of the Microsoft offering is out of budget this may be an option.

 

As for the media files at home, just have a play.  A Windows machine or linux box would work.  Consider a low power unit like a Raspberry Pi connected to a USB-HDD, or FreeNAS running on a computer with a couple of SATA drives attached, or a machine running a Debian version like Ubuntu with mirrored hard drives, or a Windows 10 machine with multiple drives (mirrorred or a nightly robocopy from the main drive to a backup drive) or similar.

 

Keep disaster recovery in the back of your mind.  Would I be concerned if this drive or that drive or the whole machine melts down or I get hit by ransomware... those kinds of questions.  Remember that while you are not likely to be targetted by a ransomware gang, they generally use a scattergun approach and you may just be unlucky.

 

 





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lxsw20
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  #2890856 23-Mar-2022 16:52
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The school will get free licencing for M365 or Google Workspace through the MoE. 

 

I'd personally go the M365 way, then you can add the Windows machines to Azure AD and use what ever Intune is called now for an MDM for the Mac/iOS devices. Use OneDrive for storage and Office 365 for mail.

 

 

 

There are a couple of MSPs out there that specialise in Schools too, so if you're moving on,you may want them to look at taking this over.


gbwelly
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  #2890975 23-Mar-2022 19:21
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Inphinity: What WAF are you using, and why?

Showing my age, but OP is referring to the Wife Acceptance Factor.

OP could look at something like a consumer NAS or Intel NUC as a media server (e.g. Plex/Emby) and get an Android TV or Apple TV STB to replace the htpc. O365 subscription for mail server, and sign into the Windows devices with Microsoft ID. It is not necessary to use an outlook.com email address for Microsoft ID, could use the Apple address for Microsoft id (and Google Id for that matter).







ArnoldGoat

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  #2893152 28-Mar-2022 13:55
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone. (gvwelly got the right WAF).

 

Ken


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  #2893210 28-Mar-2022 17:48
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I can also recommend getting a Synology NAS. If you go for one of the + / plus versions then it supports doing the Google or O365 cloud backup to the NAS with their workspace backup option. Good to have a full backup of all your emails just in case. Plus you can run plex on it and many other things.




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  #2893267 28-Mar-2022 20:31
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Dynamic:
...

 

Consider Zoho for IMAP email only.  I'm not an IMAP fan, but of the Microsoft offering is out of budget this may be an option.

 

... 

 

Just to clarify, Zoho's free service for 5 people is POP3/IMAP only, but their AU$2 per month service (10GB mailbox) can also be set up with Activesync.


ArnoldGoat

54 posts

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  #2910138 4-May-2022 14:32
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Thanks everyone.

 

I went for Microsoft Family 365. It costs $165 for 2-6 people who get 1TB each. You can take your personal email address there (if you have control over your domain name) and get 50GB mail storage.

 

For my databases, I went to HostPapa for $3.95/mo which gives me access to MySQL with little alteration to my existing home-based connections. It also provides web hosting which I haven't tried yet.

 

This lot should cost less than the electricity the servers use. I will convert one to a workstation and use it for Mediaportal TV and LMS music, as it can sleep and be woken by WOL when required, unlike the server which is always on.

 

The other bits and pieces I will run on WeMos wifi ESP8266 gadgets which are OK for IoT sort things like irrigation control and lighting and as they are only a few dollars a pop, you can have one for each thing.

 

Now I just need to get on and do it!

 

Ken


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