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Do you need a server?

Do you need a server?
Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.


As your business grows, you move from having a single computer to sharing files on a few computers. At some point you face the decision to purchase a real server. Here are some suggestions to help you identify when you should consider making the leap.

Here are eight reasons to buy a server for your small business, rather than doing without or relying on peer-to-peer networking.

1.       You can create order from chaos. By centralizing data on a server, you can better manage business-critical information. Sharing files and other data across PCs becomes much easier, as does migrating data from one PC to another. (you can't always find what you need when you need it, or you find multiple version of the same files).

2.       You can protect your data by making backups easier. Two features of Windows Small Business Server 2003, for example, enable users to better protect their data assets by simplifying backups and the restoration of critical data. The features are the Backup Configuration Wizard and Volume Shadow Copy.

3.       You can collaborate better as a business.  By having a centralized place to put files, it is much easier to get everyone to work together.  Some database applications require that everyone share a single database file, which works much better on a dedicated server. It is also easier share hardware such as printers and fax machines for two or more PCs.  A server also makes it easier to share Calendars and have intra-office email and messaging.  If your computers connect, but not very well, a real network with a server can help.

4.       You can accommodate a mobile work force. Servers enable authorized out-of-office workers to have remote access to your network, enabling data sharing among those who travel, telecommute or work in off-site locations. Through Remote Web Workplace, users of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server can get access to server data via the Internet.

5.       You can share high-speed broadband access. Although a broadband connection does not depend on a server, it is often easier to manage with a server based firewall / proxy, which allows you to monitor and manage use of the internet.

6.       You can set up new computers, add users and deploy new applications more quickly and easily. Expect to grow? By managing your data from a central location, you can better coordinate the addition of new PCs, software licenses and software applications. You can also better manage firewalls and monitor threats to your data, and more easily deploy virus protection and intrusion detection. If your company's growing and plans to add new computers and employees, it will be easer with a server.

7.       You can run server based applications. A server can supercharge your network, storing large chunks of data, freeing up memory and enabling individual PCs to perform better. Small business today need that additional processing power to run Web services, manage Web sites, do e-mail newsletters, and use more sophisticated tools and applications. Accounting software or other line-of-business applications often require a server to run on more than one PC.  

8.       You can look more professional — and connect better with your customers. Server software such as Windows Small Business Server 2003 enables you to consolidate your e-mail accounts (AOL, Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.) into a single, company-hosted e-mail account, enhancing your image to customers and partners. A server can make a lot of businesses look bigger than they are. For example, you could have several aliases from one root e-mail address. 


Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networks for the past 18 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE, and Novell CNE.  He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, and custom software development. They can be reached at (559) 733-1940 or on the web at http://www.toriangroup.com


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