File Server – Part 2 Design

Published on October 22, 2021 at 7:45 am by LEW


In this post we will discuss the design and specifications of our basic file server. Initially, I will explain my virtual test environment and how it relates to a real world LAN. Next we will talk about file server hardware requirements, and some setup considerations.

By the end of this post we should have a good ideas of what we want to do and how we want to go about it.

Virtual Environment vs Real World

I will be using a virtual environment similar to the one used in a previous post. I will be setting my file server to a static IP address, while the virtual desktop will pull its IP address from the virtual router DHCP server. I am using a pfSense installation for the virtual router.

Virtual File Server SetupIf I wanted to access the file server form outside of the virtual network, then I would have to do some port forwarding on the virtual router, or set the file server network adapter for bridge mode directly.

If this was real world, the file server and desktop would be connected directly to the external router, along with other computers, and the file server would still have a static IP address somewhere in the 192.168.1.X range.

Real World File Server SetupReal World Hardware Requirements

My virtual file server is a test case, not intended for real world usage. The major difference is my virtual setup is not intended to store large volumes of data, so the virtual hard drive is not that big, 20 gigabytes. The rest of the virtual setup is fairly light weight; single core processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and 16 megabytes of video memory.

If I was going to use the virtual file server for production I would probably assign a second CPU core and another 2 gigabytes of memory. A file server does not have really demanding hardware requirements.

In the real world you can use almost any computer manufactured in the last fifteen years, and it will work. Let me caveat that by saying you will want a computer that can run a 64 bit operating system (32 bit computers are getting real hard to find now days).

There is also what is known as server hardware. This is specially designed hardware that has been ruggedized, and has built in redundancy. It is also more expensive. I like to keep good backups, and don’t generally use server grade hardware for a home server. But you may have requirements or like the built in redundancy.

Storage (hard dire of SSD) will require a bit of gestation and calculation on your part. This is going to be determined by what you want to store. BIOS vs UEFI will also have some effect on maximum size also. Let me throw a few numbers at you, one terabyte of storage can coronation any of the following (note these are based on average file sizes and your usage will vary based on actual compression used).

Approximately 300,000 MP3 songs

Approximately 200 MP4 movies

Approximately 500,000 jpeg pictures

Real World Software Requirements

I will be using the Debian base install to build off of. Since this is a basic file server I will setup openssh for headless operation and remote access, vsftp for FTP and SFTP access, and Samba for SMB access.


That should cover the basics of what we need to get started building a file server. Please take the time to review the post on a basic Debian install, as that will lay out some requirements to determine before starting the build.

In the next post we will cover installing the software.

File Server Part 1 Some Basics

File Server Part 2 Design

File Server Part 3 FTP

File Server Part 4 SAMBA



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