There are many moving parts in a business, especially in terms of technology and hardware. Whether you’re a new entrepreneur, a seasoned CEO, or an IT manager in a small business, you know how important technology is for long-term success. Many tech pieces require continuous monitoring, upgrading, or replacing.

One of the more significant pieces that all businesses will eventually need to install or replace is your servers. A server can perform many different functions and can vary in cost, size, and performance.

Most people don’t impulsively buy a new car or a new home. They’ll take the time to do some research and evaluate what they need. It’s wise to do the same practice before purchasing a server as well. In this post, we cover five important considerations to review before buying your next server. 

What Is an On-Site Server?

An on-site server is a piece of hardware that provides a “service” to one or more “clients,” which can include computers, laptops, and other mobile devices. One server can connect with one or multiple clients, while one client can connect to multiple servers. The key distinction with an on-site server is that it is a physical device that must be kept and maintained in your store, office, warehouse, or wherever your business is located. 

5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing Your Next Server

When you need to replace or purchase a new server, you should answer these five critical questions before making your decision.

1. What Do I Need the Server to Do?

Before you can research the best server for your needs, you must first determine what your needs are. What services do you need your server to provide? How much storage do you currently need? How much storage will you need two to five years from now? It may be difficult to know precisely how fast your business will grow, but it’s important to give yourself room to expand. Since a server lasts around five years on average, you’ll want to ensure you don’t need more capacity before the hardware runs out. 

When considering the type of server to buy, you’ll want to consider how you’ll use it. Some examples of servers are:

  • Application servers host web applications, serving any device with a web browser. 
  • Catalog servers maintain indexes that can be accessed across large, distributed networks. 
  • Communication servers connect communication endpoints.
  • Computing servers share computing resources, such as CPU and RAM, over a network.
  • Database servers maintain and share any form of a database. 
  • File servers share files and folders as well as storage space for files and folders. 
  • Mail servers host email communication.
  • Print servers share printer devices over a network. 
  • Web servers host web pages.

2. Do I Have the Right Infrastructure to Support My Server?

The next question to answer when replacing or investing in an on-site server is whether your business needs any upgrades or additional infrastructure. On-site servers require regular maintenance, so if your company is expanding, you might want to consider hiring additional IT employees or outsourcing to an IT management firm.

On-site servers mean back-ups and restorations can happen faster because they don’t require a connection to the internet, meaning you have full control over your data. However, having an on-site server also means you are responsible for protecting that sensitive data. Both physical and digital security are essential. You’ll also need to set up space and a cooling system to protect your device from overheating. 

3. What Is My Budget?

Another factor that will determine which server set-up you go with is your budget. A new server, including hardware and software, can cost several thousands of dollars depending on your business needs. The alternative to purchasing a server is renting one, which could help you meet your budget. In addition to those costs, you must also consider the expense of IT maintenance. Are you currently employing an IT team? Will you need to hire for another position? Or will you outsource the service? When you complete the research in advance, you won’t be shocked by the cost later on. 

4. What Security Does My Server Need?

On-site servers need several layers of security, both digitally and physically. You should keep your server in a secure location to protect it from the elements, physical damage, and theft. Once you have a plan for the location of your server, you’ll also need to create a strategy to protect your data from cyberattacks. This is the role of your IT team or employee.

If you don’t have your own IT expert on staff, you could hire a cybersecurity and IT management firm to monitor and secure your network. It’s common for small businesses to outsource IT support and network security. With virtual infrastructure, IT firms can monitor and serve your business from anywhere. But if you want to call someone in to check on your server or perform an on-site restoration, you’re better off hiring a local IT company.

5. Do I Want On-Site or Cloud Servers?

The last question to consider is whether you want to continue with on-site storage or switch to cloud storage. On-site servers allow you to have increased control and flexibility over the capacity of your network. You’ll also be able to run faster backups and restorations if you have an in-house IT team since you won’t have to rely on the speed or connectivity of the internet to run them.

If you have the budget, the personnel, and the infrastructure available to support on-site servers, then you are ready to start shopping for your next physical server. However, if you hesitated with your answer to any of the previous questions, you might want to consider cloud storage or a combination solution. 

Cyber Security and IT Management in Edmonton, Alberta

Alt-Tech Inc. can help you create IT infrastructure systems that fit your unique business needs. We’re happy to provide expert advice on servers, network security, cloud computing, storage management solutions, and more. Contact us today to get answers to all your most pressing IT questions!