Knowing When It’s the Right Time For a Server in a Small Business

Any small business that intends to grow beyond one or two computers will reach the point sooner or later where they need to implement a server for their computer network. This can be very expensive and there are plenty of options to choose from, so how does the small business owner or manager know when it’s the right time and what they should spend money on?

Usually when I suggest to a small business owner that they need a server they get a sort of distant look on their faces as they think about all the money and headache that they think they’ll be up for. It’s usually those businesses who’ve realised that they need a server before they come to me who end up spending the money. Does that mean that I’m not a salesman? Maybe.

The fact is that to put in a decent server with the hardware, the software and the labour can cost about the same as a small car, or a swimming pool, or a small overseas holiday, all of which are much more fun. However what these people haven’t yet come to understand is that this is capital equipment that will help them run their business more effectively and therefore help them to make more money and to grow the business.

So when is the right time to plunge in. That comes down to budget, however the sooner the better. I’d never suggest that a business buy a server if they just can’t afford it. So it’ll need to be planned for and I think that’s a better way for the very small business owner to look at it. By the time you’ve got five computers in your office, you’ll need to have some sort of server in place, even if it’s just an older PC, that no one works directly on, but where everyone saves their documents to.

Having that one single place to store data and to backup from is a whole lot more practical and manageable than having several PCs with their own data and none of it being backed up.

Then there are the more interesting and appealing features of a server that can get a small business intranet owner interested. Possibly the biggest feature set of interest to small business owners, is that of a centralised email server such as Microsoft Exchange. Exchange can be bought on its own, though more commonly for a small business it’s bought as part of Microsoft Small Business Server. Exchange will give you features like the ability to share calendars, send email on behalf of other staff and to get access to your entire inbox and sent items and calendar via the web from anywhere.

Another part of a Windows Small Business Server is Microsoft Sharepoint. Sharepoint can give you the ability to easily create an intranet in your office where you can put things like company procedures. It can also give you the ability to have version control for documents.

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