When is it time to buy my first server?

- April 19, 2012 2 MIN READ


As your business grows you need to decide when to take the plunge and buy a server. Before you make that decision you need to ask yourself two important questions:

1. Do you really need a server?

A server is specifically designed to hold, manage, send and process data. The technology behind servers:

  • Makes them more reliable than PCs
  • Helps them process data faster and more efficiently
  • Can be easily backed up and secured from Internet threats compared to a PC
  • Reduces data bottlenecks so information flows more freely and quickly
  • Is designed to scale as your needs grow

If your office only has three or four staff members who share files across networked PCs, surf the web or send email, you may not need a server at all. However, once you have five or more employees working together on a network, a server can provide a central location for your important files, shared applications and other resources you regularly use, like email and databases.

In general, if you need to put a computer system in place that processes, shares or otherwise manages data, then you should consider a server.

2. What is the right server for your business?

Basic servers are not as expensive as you might think. You can pay less than $2,000 for a server and the accompanying Microsoft software (installation & service charges are extra).

The most important thing you can do to ensure that your server meets your needs and fits your budget is to devote a bit of time and energy to assessing those needs. Until you have a good understanding of exactly what you want to use your server for, you run the risk of not buying enough server power or spending too much of your valuable budget on features you simply don’t need. Here are some guidelines to follow to find the right server for your business:

Type of server – There are three types of servers – Tower (they look like a desktop computer), Rack (compact) and Blade (ultra-compact). If you’re just starting off we recommend a tower server.

Processor type – If you expect to have more than a few employees accessing files at any one time then consider the Intel® Xeon® range of processors.

Memory (RAM) – Memory is relatively cheap these days so you should consider at least 8GB RAM but possibly 16GB RAM.

Hard drive – SATA drives are cheaper and generally do the job for small offices, but if you are running programs such as email or a database on your server then you should consider SAS drives which are much faster but more expensive.

Operating System – If you’re just starting off and you want a simple experience then go with Microsoft® Small Business Server®.

Warranty – You should consider a minimum 3-year manufacturer warranty in case something goes wrong.


PowerBuy offers a service for Shoestring readers to help you find the best possible deal on a server, and to introduce you to reputable suppliers who can install and service your server equipment. Click here to contact PowerBuy and for the list of exclusive deals for Shoestring readers.


We thank HP for their contribution to this article. You can read the full HP article here