At some point, your business will be faced with the task of choosing a server. While a tiny startup might share files through Google Drive or other apps, a larger business needs a proper server.
What Exactly Is a Server and What Does It Do?
A server is a remote computer that’s always on and always connected to the internet through a fast (gigabit) ethernet connection.
Your business might use the server to:
–Share, store, and backup files
–Host your company’s website
–Host apps, such as a CRM tool, invoice management software, and more
Although servers look quite different from regular computers, they still have processors, RAM, and hard drives. The more powerful these are, the faster your server will be, and the more users it can handle at once.
There are several different types of servers to choose from:
Cloud File Servers vs Hardware File Servers
File servers are a great solution if you just want to share files across your team, and you’re not running applications such as a website, e-commerce store, or CRM.
Advantages of a Cloud File Server
Cloud file servers let your team access files from wherever they are: in the office, working remotely, or even on their mobile phone. You could check out Centrestack, for instance, if you want secure mobile file sharing from a mobile app or even a browser.
Using a cloud file server is also a great way to reduce costs and complexity. You don’t need to manage a physical server in-house, and users don’t need to connect through a VPN (which can be expensive and result in a lot of IT support time being needed).
Advantages of a Hardware File Server
A hardware (physical) file server resides in your offices. It can be a good solution in some situations. You’ll have full control over the server, and if you have a large company with a big IT team, you may already have the staff in place to maintain it.
Some people feel more comfortable with an in house server that’s physically present in the building, too, feeling that it’s a more secure option. Of course, with the dramatic rise in working from home in 2020, your employees will likely need to access your server remotely anyway.
Hybrid Server (Virtual Server) vs Dedicated Server
If you’re opting for a full off-site server, you will need to choose whether to pick a hybrid server (a server that you share with other companies, sometimes called a virtual server) or a dedicated server that only your company uses.
Advantages of a Hybrid Server
Hybrid servers are cheaper, as you’re sharing the resources of the server with other companies. Your data and applications are secure – those aren’t shared at all.
Hybrid servers are an affordable option for small companies that don’t need a particularly powerful server.
Advantages of a Dedicated Server
With a dedicated server, you may have more flexibility and control than with a hybrid server. It’s easier to scale up, too, if your company is growing fast.
A dedicated server is definitely the best option if you’re running something like an e-commerce store, a popular website, or any mission-critical app from your server.
Hardware: Tower vs Rack vs Blade Server
Physical servers come in three main types: tower, rack, and blade.
Tower servers are cheapest and don’t require specialist cooling. You can expand them and add new machines – but as your company grows, this could end up taking up a lot of space.
Rack servers take up less space than tower servers, but need special cooling equipment. Blade servers are even more space-efficient, but they also need more cooling.
If you’re using a cloud solution, you won’t need to worry about what type of server you have. The company you’re renting your server space from will sort that out for you, and upgrade when necessary.
If you’re unsure what type of server to pick, an off-site hybrid (virtual) server is the best option for most smaller companies. You won’t need to worry about security or maintenance – and you can normally upgrade your server resources easily as your company grows.