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Server Buyer’s Guide: Key Features to Consider Before You Buy

Server Buyer’s Guide: Key Features to Consider Before You Buy

Choosing a server for your small business is a big decision.

Servers support multiple users within your organization and are designed to run multi-user applications such as email, printers, shared files and databases. Your server acts as a central repository for all your company’s important files, making it easy for employees to share data and collaborate.

Through a virtual private network, users can access data on the server remotely while working from home or on the road. Your server also protects critical data by automatically storing and backing up data on desktops and laptops in your organization.

The goal is to choose a server that fits the needs of your small or mid-sized business today — as well as in the future — without overspending. But how do you know what kind of server, specifications and features you need? To help get you started, here are the key factors to consider.

1. Form Factor
The first thing to decide is what data and applications you want to share on your server, so you can determine what kind of capacity you need. How many employees and PCs are there in the business? How many will be added in the coming year? If you’re storing multimedia data such as video or audio files, you will need a lot of storage space.

Choose a server that allows you to expand its internal capacity down the road — or add external drives — as your business needs change.

Servers today typically house both large form factor (LFF) and small form factor (SFF) bays for installing hard disk drives. LFF bays accommodate 3.5-inch drives, while SFF bays accommodate 2.5-inch drives. Four LFF bays are generally considered the minimum, since they will give you the option to set up a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) to maximize capacity, redundancy and performance.

Servers are commonly sold in towers or rack. Tower servers are built in an upright cabinet that stands alone. Rack units typically range in size from one to four (1U–4U) or blade units, which house multiple server modules — or blades — in a single chassis. Both may be housed within dedicated server spaces featuring mesh-walled cages that are accessible via locking doors.

2. Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID)
To make the best use of servers with multiple drives, RAID is a must. With RAID, you can store the same data in different places on multiple hard disks to protect it in the event of a drive failure. You can also use RAID to increase speed and reliability after a crash.

RAID keeps data on multiple disks and allows input/output operations to overlap. To the operating system, a RAID array looks like a single hard disk. There are also multiple levels of RAID, ranging from 0 to 50, each option distinguished by how redundancy is used and how data is spread across the array.

3. Storage Interface and Type
The next thing to consider is the interface for connecting the hard drives to the motherboard. Many small businesses turn to the standard Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) hardware interface used in most computers, which works well for desktops, data storage and backup.

For higher-end performance, you might want to consider a Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drive, which is faster and more reliable. Typically, SAS drives are used in enterprise computing like online banking transactions and e-commerce sites, where high speed and availability are essential.

Most entry-level servers offer a SATA interface with the option to upgrade to SAS with an added PCI express card. Installing a solid-state drive (SSD) for added performance is another option in many servers. You can also have both. For example, as a compromise between performance and cost, you can choose a setup with an SSD for the operating system and standard hard disk drives for files.

Just remember to compare like with like when considering pricing.

4. Cloud Computing
Have you considered a virtual server?

Virtual servers are commonly used for remote backup, phone systems, email, websites and terminal services. There are no upfront costs, no datacenter or ISP costs and no software to purchase. Most virtual servers are also available with a reasonable one-year contract.

Another big benefit of virtual servers is that they come with reliable intrusion detection and prevention and 24-hour continuous security monitoring.

Aventis Systems offers virtual private servers that are fully managed in the cloud, and our in-house technical experts are on hand to help you develop a strategy and design, as well as help deploy your business applications in the cloud. There are no surprise bill increases and no extra charges for increased data in and data out transfers. Faster speeds are also available for customers with higher bandwidth needs.

Aventis Systems also provides automated backup and recovery with data security by encryption in route and at rest and secure file share and document management in the cloud for both internal and external users.

With Aventis Systems, you get full storage management, superior speed, enterprise-class storage, unlimited data transfer and offsite redundant data backup and automated data recovery — all for no extra charge.

Purchasing Your Server
Aventis Systems is proud to offer all our server solutions with a three-year comprehensive Aventis Essentials Warranty. We also provide the option to upgrade to express next-business-day parts replacement and an extended warranty, as well as onsite hardware support.

Want to learn more about the different server options and which one is right for your business? Shop our wide selection to power your media broadcasting, virtualization, application and file storage with a powerful plug-and-play server solution.

Contact our team of experts today at 1-855-AVENTIS.