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How To Choose The Best Server for A Small Business In 2020

small business server

I think you’ll agree with me that choosing the best server for a small business can be a difficult process. With so many server types, processors, hard drive, and other options to choose from, it’s almost impossible to know where to begin. If you want to know how to setup a server for a small business, you're in the right place.

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It doesn’t have to be this complicated. It turns out, there are just four things to really consider when choosing a small business server. In today’s article, I’m going to run down our top 3 small business server choices, and show you how you can choose the best small business server for your needs.

Updates for 2020

This article has been updated for 2020 to reflect new servers and processors available for small business servers, along with updated pricing and order information.

How can you use a small business server?

A server is a remote computer that is generally stored in a server data center. It is always on and connected to the internet via gigabit ethernet. It can be used to host a diverse variety of services and applications for accomplishing business goals.

Business servers can be used for:

  • Secure email hosting
  • File Sharing
  • Cloud Storage
  • Hosting a website or eCommerce store
  • Hosting SaaS apps such as customer relationship management, invoice management, employee management, or planning and collaboration software.
  • Supporting multiple virtual servers
  • Backing-up business data
  • Storing and collaborating on documents
  • Providing virtual desktops to employees

A small business server can power all of these services and more. A powerful server is capable of supporting all of them simultaneously, although there are benefits to splitting functionality between several smaller servers, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.

How to Choose A Small Business Server

Step 1: Research server specs based on the applications you plan to run.

There are two different ways to determine which processor, RAM, and hard drive requirements you should select when setting up a small business server:

  1. Conducting research yourself:
    • Make a list of all of the applications you plan to run on the server.
    • Consider how many users each application needs to serve, now and in the near future.
    • Take this list and head on over to Google to look for advice and tests conducted by others that show how much server resources this application may use.
    • Wash, rinse, and repeat this step for each application and add at least 20% buffer to account for spikes in resource usage.
  2. Book an expert server consultation:
    • Compile a list of applications you plan to run on the server.
    • Visit our website and book a free consultation
    • We’ll take our decades of experience and match you with the perfect server for your needs.

Just as you probably wouldn't perform your own root canal or sell a house without a realtor, some things are just better left to the pros.

After all, when you help thousands of people find the right server, you develop a keen sense on which hardware performs best in nearly any situation.

Step 2: Determine the Best Small Business Server Location

When setting up a server for small business, you have two main options on location:

  1. setting up a server that will sit in your office; or 
  2. hosting a server in the cloud.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to just pay a one time fee and buy a server, there are pros and cons to each approach.

Watch our video to help decide if you should buy a server for your office, or host one in the cloud:


Running small business servers in your own office:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Single up-front hardware cost

  • May end up being cheaper in the long-term

  • Electricity to power and cool the server can be expensive

  • Hardware replacement costs

  • No 24x7 support

  • No immediate hardware replacement in the event of component failure

  • Normally no on-site security or support team

  • Inadequate fire-suppression and cooling infrastructure

  • Hardware becomes outdated quickly

  • No redundant power or network

  • Normally no 1GBps or redundant network connections

Hosting a server in the cloud:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Latest hardware, upgrade anytime.

  • 24x7 expert support with on-site staff for hardware replacement

  • No additional costs for cooling or powering the server

  • Secure facility with 24x7 security

  • Redundant network and power connections

  • Fire suppression and early fire detection

  • Monthly recurring fees

  • No physical access to the server

Step 3: Calculate Your Business Servers Budget

An important consideration when setting up a server is the cost. While every business is unique, here are some factors that may steer you towards a cheaper or more expensive server. This advice applies equally to renting or owning a server.

A cheaper server may be under $100/month when renting, or under $500 when buying.

A more expensive server is typically over $100/month and over $1500-$2000 to buy.

Which comments sound more like your situation?

Buying A Cheaper Server

Buyer A More Expensive Server

  • My server can be offline for periods of time without any impact on my business

  • I don’t mind using older generation hardware that may be less efficient in processing tasks or with power consumption

  • I don’t mind migrating to or purchasing a new server if I outgrow my current server

  • I don’t need redundant features like dual-ethernet or RAID

  • My server workloads are relatively low power operations

  • My server won’t be used as a front-end for critical customer traffic such as e-commerce

  • My server needs to be stable and online, 24x7

  • I need redundancy features like RAID and dual-ethernet

  • My server will host e-commerce or other customer facing resources

  • I have complex workloads such as production databases or big data analytics

  • I don’t want to have to migrate to a new server for several years

  • I want the latest generation hardware that can perform tasks efficiently

Step 4: Select Your Server Type

If you’ve decided that you want to host your server in a data center, then you need to decide which kind of server to use. There are two main types: Hybrid and Dedicated Servers. We’ve broken them down below:

Types of Small Business Servers

Hybrid Servers

Dedicated Servers

What is it?

A dedicated server shared by a few users, each with their own isolated OS environment.

A single physical server dedicated to one client.

Best for?

Low volume, less powerful applications.

High performance, mission critical applications.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Perfect for development and less powerful applications

  • Entire resources of a server at your disposal

  • Environment not shared with any other users

Cons

  • Share a server with other users

  • Unable to scale resources

  • May be more expensive than other hosting options

Step 5: Order Your Server and Get Started

Now that you’ve determined your resource needs, budget, server type, and more, you’re ready to order your brand new small business server.

If you’ve decided to purchase a physical server, now is the time to order the server and all of the components such as hard drives and RAM.

If you’re going to choose a server hosted in a data center, you’ll simply visit our website and select a server that meets your needs. No need to wait for your server to arrive or mess around with installing the Operating System. Your server will be installed and ready within 24 hours.

Our Top Small Business Server Choices

Best Budget Server

For those lookest for the cheapest server that will perform adequately for non-mission critical workloads, look no further than our top choices for the best budget small business server.

Server Purchase

Server Rental

Server Specs:

Dell PowerEdge T30

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530

RAM: 4GB (up to 64GB)

Storage: Up to six SATA HDD (not included)

Server Specs:

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1270v3

RAM: 32GB RAM

Hard Drive: 500GB Solid State Drive

1GBps network connection with 10TB of bandwidth.

24x7 expert support included

Pros:

Very affordable, entry level server

Pros:

No hardware replacement or maintenance costs for more redundancy

Cons:

No hot-swapping of hard drives
No redundant network connections

Cons:

No RAID Support for those looking for more redundancy

Max 32GB RAM

Max 2 drives

Cost:

$430 + hard drive + RAM costs

Cost:

$80/month

Operating Expenses:

Estimated to be $22/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenance

Operating Expenses:

No additional costs for power, cooling, or maintenance.

Best Value / Performance Mix Server

We’ve selected our top choice for the best value small business server - a server that balances performance with price. These servers will handle most tasks that the average small business may throw at them with ease, and at a great price tag. 

Server Purchase

Server Rental

Server Specs:

HPE ProLiant ML110 G10 Tower 

CPU: Intel Xeon Scalable  

RAM: 16GB (up to 64GB)

Storage: Up to 40TB HDD

Connectivity: 8 x USB 3.0, serial, video, 2 x DisplayPort, audio, Gigabit Ethernet

Server Specs:

CPU: Dual Intel Xeon E5-2697v2, 48x2.7 GHz

RAM: 64GB (Up to 256GB)

Hard Drive: 2x 500GB SSD

1GBps network connection with 10TB of bandwidth.

24x7 expert support included

Pros:

Perfect balance of value and performance

Pros:

Incredibly powerful processor for the price


Support for up to 8 drives with full RAID

Cons:

No RAID Support

No network redundancy

Cons:

None

Cost:

$1225 + hard drive + additional RAM costs

Cost:

$219/month

Operating Expenses:

Estimated to be $20/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenance 

Operating Expenses:

No additional costs for power

Best Powerhouse Server

Just because you’re a small business, doesn’t mean your server has small requirements. For those of you that need to run mission critical applications which require greater server power, our top picks for Best Powerhouse Server are what you’re looking for.

Server Purchase

SERVER RENTAL

Server Specs:

Dell PowerEdge T630 5U Tower Server

CPU: 1 x Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4 Octa-core (8 Core) 2.10 GHz  

RAM: 16GB (we'd recommend upgrading here)

Storage: No drives included

Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet

Server Specs:

CPU: 2x Intel E5 2630 V4

RAM: 64GB (up to 512GB)

Hard drive: 2x 500GB SSD

1GBps network connection with 20TB of bandwidth.

24x7 expert support included

Pros:

Quality hardware selections

Pros:

Latest generation Xeon processor offering incredible value

Cons:

No included hard drives

Stock RAM would need to be upgraded

Cons:

None

Cost:

$3449 + hard drive and additional RAM costs

Cost:

$320/month

Operating Expenses:

Estimated to be $20/month for 290W @ 10 cents per KW/h + hardware maintenance 

Operating Expenses:

No additional costs for power

Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right small business server for your company. Don’t hesitate to book your complimentary expert server consultation to get started today.

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Mark Lahn

Mark is a Content Marketing Manager at ServerMania. He focuses on providing engaging and easy to follow content to help users navigate the hosting industry.

  • My business need is to send out a graphic every 15 seconds to my website. The software is proprietary beyond measure. I was thinking about having the server in my home but I wouldn’t know what to do with it. The president of my company is doing a good job for me in setting up the licensing and payment mechanisms. My job as owner and software author is to create a .png or some appropriate file structure that can send these files to my website . The idea is that about 80,000 customers would pay me about $195 a month to have the privilege to post the graphic on their screens.

  • Great work Andrew.

    It always becomes difficult when starting a new business. Mostly for beginners. You have explained each and every point in details starting from what is server? to which server is best for your business? Loved it!

    Very descriptive and informative post. Thanks.

  • Hi and thanks for such an informative article! Choice of hosting is quintessential and has controlling results as to how you can develop you software products, what technologies are compatible with the server software, and security implications and differences among the various server software! Thanks

  • Hello, thanks for sharing the blog about choosing the best server for small business in 2019. In this blog, you have explained different types of small server in details. Thank you and Keep sharing!!