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Mr. Easy
Staff member
Note: I'm reposting this with some edits since I realized that the first post might have been misunderstood. We're looking for problem statements only, not fully-documented case studies with problem statement and solution.
SmallNetBuilder and our advertising partner NetShelter are participating in a Microsoft-sponsored program aimed at getting IT professionals to become better acquainted with Microsoft's business-focused products and services. (Yes, SNB is being compensated for our participation.)

The program will include a website (to launch shortly) where people will be able to submit real business-oriented problems and get advice and help from SmallNetBuilder, other IT-focused sites in the NetShelter network and Microsoft tech experts. Although Microsoft is sponsoring the site, the problems do not have to be Microsoft-related in any way.

To get things rolling, however, we're looking for a few business-oriented IT problem statements. Here's an example so that you can see what we're after: (This has been edited, but is a real example.)

- Problem Statement Example -

Title: How can I provide an ounce of prevention when I can't get to a client's laptops?

Submitted by: Tony Moraros, owner, TonyTheComputerGuy.com, San Mateo, CA

The Background: I own a small IT consulting and services company, with several local, small businesses as my clients. One of them is an eight-employee branch office of a PR firm in San Francisco.

The Challenge: Everyone at the PR firm uses laptops. These are PR folks, and they live on their computers. When they're in the office, they're working on the laptops. When they're out of the office, they have the laptops with them. If you take their computer away, they're dead in the water.

So the thing I'm wrestling with is, how do I maintain their laptops if I have at most minimal access to their systems? The client suffers because the only time I can work on the computer is when the computers aren't working. The only time I can maintain their system is when it fails, which isn't really in their best interest either.

Can anyone point me to procedures, processes, or tools that would make it less disruptive, let alone possible, for me to obtain access to these systems to monitor and maintain them? I actually have a trial version of one remote management tool from a company called Kaseya But it's so heavy duty I don't think I have enough knowledge to use it properly.

- Problem Statement Example end -

Ideally, we'd like people to identify themselves. But we can also accommodate some degree of anonymity. The submitter in the case above could have identified himself as "Tony, San Mateo, CA"

What you get out of it should be real, detailed advice from business IT experts, including folks from among Microsoft's top tech experts.

So if you're interested, please send your submission directly to 360IT@netshelter.net. Or if you'd rather, you can PM me and I'll forward it on.



Mr. Easy
Staff member
Folks. I know you're all busy. But I could really use your help here.

I hear all the time how SmallNetBuilder has helped you. Now it's your opportunity to help SmallNetBuilder (actually me).

It really doesn't take much time to write up a problem that you have been wrestling with...folks do it all the time in waay more detail than needed for home network related problems.

So please do me a favor and submit a problem statement. You can post to this thread, email me or PM me.



New Around Here
32 bit software on 64 bit system

Title: 32 bit software on 64 bit system

Submitted by
: Michael, Nelson County, Virginia

The Background: I own a small structural engineering consulting firm. We do a lot of CAD work and structural analysis. My CAD software is old – AutoCad 2000 – but it’s working fine for us now (running Windows XP Pro 32 bit). We also use the RISA suite of structural analysis software and keep that up to date.
I am also an amateur videographer, using the Adobe Creative Suite CS4 (includes After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Flash, etc.).

The Challenge: I'd like to build a new PC, very similar to this. That's a 64 bit system with an Intel i7 processor.
I'm also looking at using a 64 bit Vista operating system, but may just go ahead with Windows 7. And of course, I want all my existing CAD, engineering, and video editing software to run on the same box.

My problem that needs solving is how to save my investment in my old and newer 32 bit programs when I build a new system. Will my old software work? Are there work-arounds for Vista and Windows 7? I’ve heard something about a ‘virtual machine’ included with Windows 7 that will emulate older operating systems. Could that work?


Dennis Wood

Senior Member
Better late than never

Tim, sorry this is so late...here goes.

Title: Professional photo/video studio is awash in a pile of portable hard drives.

Submitted by: Dennis Wood, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Background: I operate a business, Cinevate, that designs and manufactures highly innovative tools for filmmakers. As a former IT analyst, I've been experimenting with NAS units, LAN topolology and affordable integration into typical video and photo editing workflow. I've designed Cinevate's online NAS based storage solution with 27TB of online storage that is used for our own video and photo work. The system incorporates off-site backup as well as workstation disaster recovery imaging. It is based entirely on gigabit ethernet, and is capable of sustained read/write rates approaching 100 MB/s

The Challenge: Stillmotion is a highly successful studio based out of Toronto, Canada that is raising the bar for wedding and corporate video world. With an award winning team of both photographers and cinematographers (sponsored by Cinevate, Canon and Steadicam), the team travels world-wide with a lot of equipment including from 2 to 5 MacBook Pro laptops. Once back in their studio, data that was backed up to external drives during shoots is often distributed via external flash drives for rough cutting and final processing. They estimate approximately 25TB now exist on a growing collection of external firewire or USB connected hard drives. Stillmotion currently uses wireless connectivity in their studio. No LAN wiring, switches, servers or NAS units are currently present, however they are quite willing to install what is required.

Stillmotion is looking for 50TB or so of storage that would be available to each laptop/workstation in their studio. At any time, they might have from 2 to 6 editors who would require access to the collection of video/photo data. They would normally not edit from the storage directly, but rather archive projects there when done with editing on the Mac laptops or workstations. Ideally all 50TB would be backed up offsite. They do not have IT staff, and reliability is very important. Their budget is in the $15 000 area to start, keeping in mind that they are prepared to phase in storage beyond 25TB or so as required. What I'm looking for is the best solution given current proven technology, which may or may not include NAS units and a gigabit switch.
Last edited:


Very Senior Member
Title: Backup Strategies for SMB, the increasing data and need for offsite
Submitted by: YeOldeStonecat
Background: SMB Consultant

Challenge: Todays small businesses are dealing with an increasing amount of data, usually stored on at least one server. With SMB, there is a balance to be kept of affordability, simplicity, and yet bring in some enterprise like features.

The old tape drives are fading into history, along with not being supported as much by the OS, such as with a common server in SMB...Microsoft Small Business Server.

Backup software are also changing, we now have drive imaging software to backup servers, taking the place of old school file backup software. The desire for this type of backup of servers is strong because of fast emergency restoration, including bare metal restoration to new hardware or VMs. With this type of backup..complete images of the servers, differential backups aren't used as much..if at all. When you image a servers drive(s)/partition(s) you end up with a group of large files which comprise that images archive.

SMB setups are trying to introduce features seen in enterprise, such as using a NAS device to backup the servers to with these image backups. The problem for SMB, at an SMB budget, how do we combine this, with an internet based offsite backup. Image backups are complete backups, which usually consist of a bunch of 1GB files which comprise a single backup. Now there are plenty of basic internet based backups which do incrementals, but this will not work with image backups which are large and new each day. Enterprise setups have big enterprise budgets which can use products like Zenith/InfoTech. What can we do for the SMB here?


Mr. Easy
Staff member
Thanks for the problems, folks. All are pretty good ones! I'll post here when the site goes live, which should be in the next few days. Then we'll see what the "experts" come up with!
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