In this three part series of blogs we’re going to be looking at the various elements you need to consider when buying a server. Starting with processors and RAM, then moving on to space and hard drive size and finally, how to future proof your server.
So what is a server, and why do you need one?
Well you might not. If you’re a small business with a handful of users, it’s not entirely necessary (depending on your line of business), but once you get to about five users and you need to work together, sharing data on a network, then you’ll need a server.
A server is a piece of hardware that a group of computers (or network) connects to and is used to store and process data, run software and act as a central location for users to share and manage company data.
Of course, you might opt for a cloud computing approach to running your business, in which case you might not need any servers, because all of your data is hosted on the servers of your cloud provider. Or you might decide to keep a small server/NAS (network attached storage device) on-premise to act as a file server.
What do you need to look for when it comes to processor and memory?
The better the processor, the more tasks your server can handle at any one time. So, say you ask your server to go and get x number of files out of the filing cabinet, it is the processors job to handle that request – thinking about where the files are located, finding them and bringing them to you. So the better the processor, the more of these requests your server can handle at any one time. It depends on your needs – number of active users, amount of data etc. A good Intel Core or AMD multi-core processor – 2.4Ghz or higher – should be perfectly adequate for most small business needs, or you could look at server grade processors such as the Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron if your needs are greater.
RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory, is your server’s memory. And the more it has, the better the performance. 4GB RAM should be your absolute minimum, and you need to make sure that you get the processor-RAM balance right. High-speed memory in a machine with a slow processor will probably result in burn out, as would low-speed RAM with a high-level processor. Your memory and your processor need to be synchronised in order to work properly. And remember, server RAM is different to PC RAM. Server RAM is selected during the manufacturing process for higher quality and greater reliability. This is because your server will be powering the software that runs your business, not to mention holding the business critical data that enables you to run your company. You don’t want it to fail. It also needs to be capable of running 24 hours a day, so server RAM is more expensive than desktop RAM, but with very good reason.
Look out for the next post in this series which will look at space and hard drive size, and if you have any questions about how to choose your server in the meantime, get in touch or check out our hardware services here.