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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business




Setting up a server for your small business becomes a necessity when your business grows and you hire more people to manage it. However, with seemingly endless choices and decisions to be made, there is a lot to consider in this process.  A server set-up process includes building or buying the server, installing it, and configuring it.

A server is a powerful computer system that is used to serve various information and software to customers, employees, and other computers as well. For instance, if you have a certain number of people working in your office on different computers, then they must be granted access to use the same documents and software. This goal can be achieved by having a central computer where multiple files will be stored rather than having multiple files in multiple machines. Nevertheless, the process of setting up this central computer or server is quite daunting and requires in-depth knowledge that this article talks about. 

Keep on reading to know more details about how to set up a server for your small business, how you should choose a server among an array of choices available, how powerful servers you need depending upon your scale of operation and how much does it cost. 

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business

Speaking of setting up a server for your small business, you've to undergo four different stages. This includes the building stage or buying stage, installation phase, configuration, and completion stage. You must know how everything in a server fits together while buying or building it, especially when you're working without a dedicated IT team. 

Before even the initial building stage, you have to choose a powerful network that suits your business requirements. Before you start the set-up process, documenting the network is crucial. It means you have to record the user names, IP addresses, serial numbers, the hostname of the computers, and locations. After all, every server contains certain hardware that determines the resource capacity, CPU size, RAM, and hard disk storage.

The exact specification of a server depends on the type of things you're trying to accomplish through it. The installation phase also depends on the type of server you choose. If the server comes with a preinstalled operating system, you can easily connect it to your network and start the configuration phase. If not, then you've to insert the DVD, virtual media, or USD for setting up the operating system. 

Once the installation phase is done, you must set the server backup process and set up the remote access to your server. So, set it as the domain controller for allowing all your computers to join this centralized environment. Now, once this is done, you can add a local admin account and connect it to your server. This completes your server set-up process.

As businesses are rapidly adopting digital trends, the need to find a reliable server has become more important than ever. A powerful server, connected to the internet 24*7 via gigabit Ethernet can host various advanced and robust applications and services necessary for accomplishing business goals. However, it's pretty daunting to choose an ideal server for your business. 

 

How to Choose a Server for Your Small Business?

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business

Whether you own a small business that needs reliable cloud storage, secure email hosting, fast file sharing, or data backup, a server can help you with all these activities. A server also acts as the virtual desktop for your employees, allowing seamless storing, sharing, and collaborating opportunities. When much of your business activities are dependent on a server, it becomes essential to choose nothing but the best server. 

Unlike the early years, being a small business owner, you now have the option to choose an ideal server. Although if the various server types, models, and brand options overwhelm you, this information-packed guide will help you make an informed decision. 

To make the server selection process more manageable, you should always make the decision based on the following points: 

      1. Research Server Specs

Not all servers are created equal, so checking server specs becomes essential. Now, if you don't have much technical knowledge about processors, hard drive requirements, RAM, and other important aspects, there are two ways to determine the ideal server specs for your small business.

First, decide what business applications you want to run on the server. Once the list of applications is ready, you can either conduct the research yourself or take a professional's help by booking an expert server consultation. You should reach out to a reliable consultant with the ready list of applications that you want the server to host for better recommendations.

If you want to conduct the research yourself, you will have to ascertain how many users your hosted applications will serve currently and shortly. Once the approximate user base is assessed for each application, add a minimum of 20% buffer on account of spikes in resource usage. 

Now take the help of Google to find out how much server resources you may need. As tech experts and companies have already conducted various experiments and put up the results on the internet, finding data-backed resources won't be difficult. 

      2. Determine the Location

While setting a server, business owners can choose to either have a cloud server or a physical server installed in their office.  Small businesses usually prefer hosting a server in the cloud as they don't have to worry about hardware replacement costs, timely upgrades, substantial electricity bills to power and cool off the server, and redundant network and power connections. 

A cloud server takes away all the worries for maintenance and support against a monthly recurring charge. The only con of a cloud server is the inability to access the server physically.  This is why you may get inclined towards physical servers because of the single up-front hardware cost.

But what others don't consider in their purchase decision is the increased recurring expenses they'll have to put in for the server's maintenance. In addition, in the case of a physical server installed in your office, you will not have 24*7 support access. Plus, the increased electricity bills, hardware replacement cost, no quick fix in case of server failure, no redundant power or network may become a common problem in the future.

Therefore, if you only want to focus on your business, it is best to go ahead with a cloud server as it takes away the maintenance worry for a reasonable recurring cost.  

      3. Calculate the Budget

A server cost will always remain an important consideration point while making a server purchase decision. If you are looking for cheaper servers, it may cost you approximately $500 during purchase and $100/month or even lower for server renting.

However, while purchasing a server, cheap or expensive, always consider the maintenance costs you'll be liable to pay for smooth functioning. It will give you a clear and accurate picture of the server's cost, enabling you to make better decisions. If you're going ahead with cheaper servers, it should be always noted that they can go offline for some time, affecting your business operations and even online sales.

In addition, cheaper servers don't always have the latest hardware, so expect it to be less efficient while processing your daily tasks. Still, if you don't need dual-Ethernet, RAID, or other powerful features and are comfortable purchasing or migrating to a new server when the current server cannot handle the growing user base, you may go ahead with inexpensive servers.   

Alternatively, if you cannot afford your business to go offline for even a few minutes, you should consider getting a little expensive server as the premium price is justified by the premium service and features offered. Expensive servers can cost business owners approximately $1500-$2000 during purchase, and a little over $100/month in case of server renting. 

In exchange for your investment, you get rid of the worries of having to change or migrate to a new server because of increasing users. Expensive servers are way more stable and ensure your hosted applications and services remain available on the internet 24*7. The latest hardware, powerful features, and excellent support are some of the benefits that make paying a higher price worth the investment.  

     4. Select The Server Type

Most small businesses prefer to host their servers in a remote, secure data center. If you too want to stay away from the hassle of routine maintenance of physical servers, you have the option to choose from the following cloud servers:

  • Dedicated Servers

A dedicated server is ideal for small businesses whose websites receive substantial traffic, and they cannot afford to share the same server with other users of different organizations.  It is an entire physical server reserved for just one client. Dedicated servers are expensive, but the high cost is justified by the server's blazing-fast high-speed performance and efficiency in hosting critical applications.

  • Hybrid Servers

A hybrid server is a physical server that is shared by more than two users. These servers are usually less expensive and better suited to host less powerful applications. If your business experiences a sudden surge in the user base, a hybrid server may not be able to scale resources to handle the surge efficiently. 

So, if you don't have a huge user base currently, you may try out hybrid servers. But if you're confident of scaling up fast that would result in a sudden spike in the user base for all your hosted applications, spending a little extra for buying a dedicated server will make more sense. 

What types of servers are needed for a small business?

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business

The two most popular and widely used small business servers are cloud servers and physical servers. While each server type has its pros and cons, you should choose the ideal option based on your specific requirements. 

For example, a dedicated cloud server can be the best option for a business whose dynamic eCommerce site receives significant traffic. If your business has any customer-facing application that has to be readily available 24*7 to users, dedicated servers are usually the best. 

On the other hand, small businesses that want to host less powerful applications that won't affect the business if made unavailable for some time may go ahead with hybrid cloud servers. 

Cloud servers are often the best choice for small business owners, as it allows the owner and business employees to focus on the critical and core business tasks. So depending on your precise business requirements, you can choose between dedicated and hybrid servers, the two popular types of cloud servers. 

How Powerful of a Small Business Server Do I Need?

You should look for a server that is stable and capable of hosting all the applications you plan to host with maximum efficiency. Checking the server specs, as discussed elaborately in the first section above, can help you choose an ideal server for your business.

However, if still in doubt, consider these few points to make a better decision, 

  • Look for configurable hardware or software RAID options, multiple hot-swappable drive bays for sharing assets with the file server or NAS. 
  • If you want the server to provide authentication for a domain, look for a virtualization capable server. 
  • In case, providing database services to the other servers is a priority for your business, then a server with a hard drive rated for fast writes would suffice. 
  • If you plan to host a website with web servers, look for hardware redundancy. Also, an increase in the server RAM capacity will benefit the performance under load. 
  • If you're running shared software on the application servers, then look for ECC RAM and SAS hard drives. 

Therefore, how powerful the server needs to be will depend on the number of applications and users each application has.

Which Server is Most Used?

How to Set up a Server for a Small Business

Talking of small-scale businesses, they mostly prefer cloud servers as no one wants to indulge in tedious server maintenance tasks. When you buy a cloud server, the responsibility of timely upgrades, instant fixing of server issues, quick replacement of hardware, parts, and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to store and maintain it lies with the server provider. Thus, it saves you from unwanted hassles and responsibilities, allowing more time to focus on what's important. 

You should get dedicated cloud servers for your business if the hosted applications require a stable network wherein the applications are readily accessible to all 24*7. Also, hybrid cloud servers can be purchased if your business is not complicated or advanced applications that demand the entire resources of a single physical server. Hybrid cloud servers are comparatively affordable and are suitable for hosting basic to medium-level applications and services. So, choose the server that ticks all the right boxes for your business requirements.  

How Much Does It Usually Cost to Set Up a Small Business Network?

When it comes to setting up a small business network or server, you will have two main options to choose from, either rent the server for recurring monthly costs or purchase a server for a one-time upfront cost. Unfortunately, some business owners make a mistake while assessing physical server setup costs by ignoring the maintenance costs, which make up for a significant amount. 

Though the precise costing for setting up a server for a small business depends on the CPU, memory, disk space, and bandwidth required by the business, the average purchase cost of a server for your office will be around $1500-$3000. 
This is the single payment you'll make to acquire the hardware.

As physical servers will be installed in your office, you will be responsible for the additional costs related to the hardware part replacement, electricity to run and cool off the server, timely upgrade, manpower, skilled and accountable for its maintenance, and much more, making it a not-so-desirable option for most small business owners.  But, if you choose to set up your business server via server renting, it may cost you around $40/month or even more hybrid cloud servers.

This amount can increase, depending on the resources your hosted applications or services would need. If you're planning to host applications or services on a good dedicated server, you should be all set to spend anywhere between $100-$200/month.     
As good servers are responsible for the smooth functioning of business operations, buying a server offering the best features, support, and offerings is advised, and not the cheapest available server. 

Conclusion

Every business, irrespective of the size, type, and nature, is unique, and so is the different type of available servers. If you have a clear understanding of what your business demands, you will be able to choose the server best for your business needs. But if you want to avoid any confusion and ensure you don't make any wrong choices, you may want to consult a server expert once. 

The guide covers most of the things that go inside a business owner's mind while looking for a good business server. If you pay attention to all the above-discussed points and exercise the necessary caution, you will be able to choose the best server that covers the requirements.

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