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Nas vs Server – Part 2: The Server

Last month, I posted an article about how some small businesses I work with are opting not to replace their aging servers with a current piece of equipment. For details, read “Nas vs Server – Part 1”. As I sat and watched a Windows Server 2012 Essentials be installed, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand on the server side of “Nas vs Server”.

SBS Install

This post outlines some of the benefits of replacing an older server with a new one, or adding a server to your small business environment.

If your company uses Line of Business applications, or requires specific shares or configurations for your applications, a server may be the only option. However, if most of your workflow is cloud-based and minimal in-house file storage is required, a NAS may be the better solution. When I refer to a server, I am referring to a computer with server-rated hardware and a proper server operating system, such as Small Business Server, Server 2008, etc. I am not referring to a Windows XP/7 computer, that is being used to share files to other users.

Today’s small businesses servers are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and provide many benefits to the small business. Here’s a list of just a few advantages of adding a server to your environment: (For a full list, please see the Microsoft Server 2012 Essentials website.)

  1. Security – Allows you to control who has access to what data, and how they access it from both outside and inside the organization.
  2. Line of Business Applications – Store shared application data in one central location, such as Sage, PC Law, or other 3rd party
    applications.
  3. Remote Web Access – Users can securely access their data and desktops from outside the office (there goes snow days).
  4. Automatic Desktop Backups – Users no longer have to think about backing up their desktops. The server takes care of this for them, ensuring that their data is always backed up.
  5. Patches and Other Security Actions – The server will push updates to the users, and from an easy to read Dashboard you can see what systems are lacking current security measures.

There are many options for small businesses. If your workflow is mostly cloud-based, a server may not be necessary, and your resources could be better utilized in other aspects of your business. But if you need more control, flexibility, and growth a server may be your best solution. Talk to your qualified IT professional to see if a small business server would be a good and necessary addition to your IT environment.

Nas vs Server – Part 1: The Nas

As I move more small businesses to the cloud, my clients’ dependence on an in-house server continues to decrease, and more of them are choosing not to replace outdated servers with another one, but instead, with a NAS.

I recently worked for a client who had a server that needed to be replaced.  After determining their current and future needs, we decided to replace the server with a NAS (Network Attached Storage).  This company has 8 employees, 5 of which who work on-site full-time, with 7 out of 8 employees using laptops.  95% of the businesses’s workflow is cloud-based;  and they keep very little data on-site.  The employees only need to share their documents with one another and have them available for future reference.  In this case, a server would have been overkill for their needs, but if the company’s line of business applications were on-premise, a NAS would not be suitable.

Every business is unique.  As a guideline, I have listed some of the benefits of a small business NAS:

NAS Benefits

  • Cost – for the most part, a NAS is much less expensive than a server and its licensing.
  • Hard Drive Redundancy – NAS manufacturers offer a choice of RAID options within the device.  For the small business, I recommend RAID 1; this means both hard drives contain the same data, therefore if one hard drive fails, the data is still available on the second drive.  Keep in mind, this configuration is not a replacement for off-site backups, and an off-site backup should always be part of your data recovery strategy.  For the “3-2-1 Backup Strategy,” click here.
  • Access Control – you can control and customize each users access (if any) to the data stored on the NAS.
  • Other Options – remote access, online backups, desktop backups, etc.

A NAS may be the perfect solution for your small business, but talk to your qualified IT professional before investing in this technology.  A NAS is a great solution for businesses that require basic file storage and limited functionality, but it is not a substitute for the advanced functionality and security of a server-based environment.

Stay tuned for NAS vs Server – Part 2: The Server

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