How a Server Can Benefit Your Small Business
Servers are essential to any small business that plans to grow, but choosing a dedicated on-premise server can be intimidating for business owners. Understanding how a server can provide a solution to your business needs will help you get started with choosing, purchasing, and setting up your first server.
Why Would I Need a Server?
A server can benefit small businesses in many ways:
Reliability. If your computers are interlinked, your whole system runs the risk of going down if one computer fails. With a server, you can keep information safe because the computers are linked to the server instead of each other.
Security. Servers allow business owners to set up permissions to limit access to sensitive information. The ability to control data and reduce unauthorized access can help mitigate any security threats.
Remote accessibility. Modern day businesses are no longer in one place, and many are adopting the mobile workforce movement. Servers allow users to access files wherever and whenever they need them.
Protect data. Data loss can occur for a variety of reasons. Servers make it easy to back up data and keep it in one safe location.
What Does a Server Do for a Small Business?
Servers perform a wide variety of services to help small businesses grow:
Host a website. A server creates better speed and efficiency for sites. A website that is fast and efficient will improve its rankings on search engines and encourage more sales.
Host applications. Servers provide the best environment for small businesses’ always on, multi-user, and business critical applications.
Host eCommerce. Servers help provide secure and efficient online transactions. They add an extra layer of security to protect customer information and prevent tampering.
Data backup. Data loss can be catastrophic for any business. Servers give owners peace of mind knowing they have a place to store and back up their valuable information.
Secure hosting email. Third party email providers such as Gmail may work well for a while, but domain-specific email hosts are often necessary once businesses grow to a certain size. Servers allow businesses to expand their users easily while maintaining the security and digital reputation of their email.
Store documents. A server will keep all of your information stored in one convenient, easily accessible and secure location.
How Do I Choose a Server?
While many business owners understand the importance of a server, choosing one is overwhelming. With so many options, how can you be sure which one is right for your business?
First, you need to figure out what you need the server to do. Some questions you need to answer include:
- What role do you need the server to play in your environment?
- Do you need a connection 24/7, or can you be offline for periods without it significantly affecting your business?
- Do you need the most efficient processing or power consumption?
- Will your server host eCommerce or customer-facing resources?
- Does it need to handle complex workloads, such as big data analytics?
- How often do you want to migrate to a new server?
If you need a server that is customer-facing or can handle complex tasks, and don't want to migrate in a couple of years, you might want to consider investing in a more recent model with ample processing power.
A better understanding of your needs can help you decide if a newer, higher-priced unit is needed or if starting with a lighter model will be sufficient.
How Much is a Server For a Small Business?
It depends on your needs and whether you plan to rent or own a unit. A cheaper model is usually under $100 a month to rent and below $500 to buy. A more expensive server will often run over $100 a month and $1,500-$2,000 to buy.
What is the Best Server for a Small Business?
There are a plethora of server options for small businesses to choose from. Two of the best include:
Dell Poweredge R430 Rackmount Servers are a superior entry-level system that can be used as a web server, dedicated backup system, or development server. It provides great capabilities and the ability to expand along with your business.
HP Proliant ML110 G9 Tower Servers are also cost-effective tower servers that were created to reduce noise, enhance performance, and expand over time.
How Can I Set Up My Own Server?
Setting up a server doesn’t have to be overly complicated. First, decide between rack-mounting equipment or towers. Hardware stacked on a desk or shelf leaves itself open to tampering and spills. Mounting can help keep it safe.
Next, consider isolating a server in a cool area or dedicated closet. While a couple of network switches and a five-bay NAS system won’t disrupt your business significantly, the more hardware that is added will ultimately result in more noise. In addition, the heat that the unit can put out is significant. This heat can damage equipment and lead to crashes or outages. Add a separate cooling unit outside of the central air to keep it running even when no one is in the building.
Once set up, manage all of the cables. An R145 patch panel can handle up to 24 ports, but it does require some work. It requires stripping each cable, punching it into the patch panel, and using a wire tester tool to verify connectivity. Also, keep a bag of cable ties handy to secure stray cables. Both standard and releasable cables are fairly inexpensive and can keep cables at bay.
Once your server is set up, label and document everything. Even if the set up is simple, make sure it is all labeled. What may seem obvious to you could be missed by a vendor or IT employee. Correct labeling reduces the chances of crucial mistakes, such as a mission-critical system getting unplugged. Servers and network appliances should be given unique descriptive names and IP addresses. The same goes for NAS appliances, mouse switches, routers, data backup devices, and redundant hardware.
The right server will help you expand your business, strengthen your security, and speed up your operations. The process of setting up a server doesn't have to be overwhelming. By understanding what you need, what the top servers are, and simple ways to set one up, you can soon be on your way to a better business.