The server industry is expanding, reflecting the growing importance of servers in small business infrastructure and protecting sensitive data. In 2020, the server industry will have generated more than $91 billion.
Given the growing demand for data, that amount is anticipated to rise annually. Before making any significant purchase decisions, learning how to set up the best server for a small business is critical. Read on as we guide you through setting up a server for your small business.
What is a Server?
A server is a hardware component or software application that grants other computers, connected to a single network, access to data, software, services, or storage. The other computers on the network are referred to as “clients” and the server’s purpose is to relieve some of their duties.
Servers aid in resource prioritization and offer a more secure framework for data exchange and archiving than individual devices. Servers can host and provide services for various company needs, including business apps, data backup and archiving, database management, e-commerce, email routing, file management, website management, etc.
Due to the fact that they are focused on a single task, many small office servers are referred to as “dedicated servers“. For instance, the purpose of your email server is to receive, store, and distribute email data. Another example is a server that hosts and provides services for your company’s online store.
How to Setup a Server for your Small Business
Setting up a small business server can be achieved by following the steps below.
Step 1: Selecting the Server Hardware
Although business servers can carry out a wide range of functions, they are most effectively used when carrying out just one or a few particular jobs. Depending on your server’s functions, different hardware and functionality will be required.
Various server types are used in corporate settings, including file servers, database servers, web servers, mail servers, print servers, domain servers, and application servers. The server’s form factor, which comes in three varieties (Tower, Rackmount, and Blade), is another factor to consider while selecting the server hardware.
Some specific server applications will demand features, such as RAID support (redundant array of independent disks) and fast write-speed hard drives for databases, high RAM and hardware redundancy for web servers, and multiple hot-swappable drive bays for file servers.
The hardware and components of each server define that server’s functionality. Therefore, while selecting a physical server, you should pay close attention to the RAM, hard disk storage, and CPU size with the server’s intended use. All of these factors will affect the price of a small business server.
Step 2: Selecting the Server Operating System
Servers require customized operating systems that are more durable and made to accommodate several people at a time. The most popular specialized operating systems are Windows Server Essentials, Linux Ubuntu Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and CentOS.
A key factor that significantly influences the cost and functionality of your server is selecting the appropriate operating system. Before choosing a server operating system, take into account the following essential points:
- User-friendliness: When selecting a server operating system, simplicity of installation, configuration, and operation is important. This is extremely important for small enterprises where there might not be an IT department.
Windows server operating systems are frequently well-liked by regular Windows users because they resemble the Windows operating system for PCs in terms of appearance and usability. To install, use, and maintain Linux operating systems, you must first learn how to use them efficiently.
- Support: Since Linux is an open-source operating system, you’ll probably have to spend considerable time online looking up solutions anytime your server develops a problem. Microsoft, however, offers excellent multi-channel customer assistance.
The need and availability of support frequently impacts the decision to choose one operating system over another. Because most small businesses find it challenging to staff their Linux servers with a dedicated IT team, Windows Server is often the preferred choice.
- Customization: If you have the necessary technical know-how and experience, Linux operating systems are more adaptable and offer more customization than Windows.
- Cost: Linux is less expensive to operate than Windows server systems because it is open-source. However, you must also account for the total cost of IT operations, which includes the time and technical know-how needed for server maintenance and operations.
Step 3: Choosing a Server Location in your Office
Typically, your server should be housed in a separate room. It is beneficial to have a dedicated place for your server, even if you decide to go with a small tower server. From a noise-level standpoint, it is a good idea to isolate server hardware from common use areas. This is also true for added security. You can reduce several risks to data security by managing physical access to the server. For some regulatory compliances, this might even be necessary.
You should have a server room with no windows that can accommodate installing cooling systems and backup power. It’s important to have a cooling system that can run continually since high temperatures can harm your server hardware. You should be able to access both sides and the back of the server.
It is far more advantageous to buy a suitable rackmount even though you may easily set up the server on a table or desk. The racks maintain the security and organization of your server hardware, improving scalability.
Cable management is an important but frequently ignored component of server setup. Your wires will be much more manageable if they are neatly arranged and clearly labeled, making troubleshooting more straightforward for servicing, maintenance, and hardware.
Even a small workplace can accumulate a lot of cables, resulting in a mishmash of connections in your server room. Hence, purchasing a patch panel to help with cable organization is strongly advised.
Step 4: Server Configuration
Installing the operating system is a prerequisite for server configuration. This method is similar to installing software from a DVD, USB drive, or virtual media on your PCs or Macs.
The operating system may be preinstalled on the server in specific circumstances. In this situation, you can start configuring immediately. Here are some standard setups for office servers after the operating system has been installed:
- Create a strong administrator password for the server.
- Network configuration is required; however, the default network settings are often suitable.
- Connect each PC to the server after adding local admin accounts.
- Set up your server as a domain controller to authenticate user credentials and connect to the new centralized environment for all machines on your network.
- Set up options for sharing and remote access.
- Create a server backup using the data backup plan for your business.
- Set up the firewall to shield the server from attacks.
Depending on the purpose of the server, the processes mentioned above may change. Whether the server is intended to operate as a web server, database server, printing server, etc., will also affect how complex the procedures are.
Step 5: Server Security Implementation
The most crucial piece of equipment in your office may very well be your server. Providing customer services, exchanging data, managing databases, and many other company activities revolve around this hardware. Servers are a prime target for hackers since they are important to a company’s everyday operations, so it’s important to take server security seriously.
There are numerous ways to attack servers. Malware can target web and mail servers because of their direct Internet connectivity. Database servers, for example, may not have a direct connection to the Internet, but they are still susceptible to lateral infiltration from your internal network. Phishing emails, unprotected open ports, Trojans, DDoS, drive-by assaults, etc., are a few of the frequently used attack techniques.
You can strengthen your servers’ security in the following ways:
- Restrict access to the server by establishing physical and virtual access controls.
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software, and keep it updated.
- Configure and keep up a firewall.
- Initiate intrusion prevention and detection measures.
- Encrypt your data.
- Back up important data regularly.
- Check server health and unusual traffic patterns using software.
- Examine logs frequently.
- Periodically conduct network security assessments.
Even though setting up a server isn’t particularly difficult, choosing a server that meets your company’s demands can be pretty tricky due to the overwhelming number of available configuration options. Every business must invest in a server at some point, whether due to expansion, business needs, data security, or regulatory requirements. You can narrow down your selection by using the above instructions to find the best server for a small business.
Depending on whether you are renting, buying, or colocating your server, there are different prices for a small business server. Book a consultation with ServerMania today to help you customize a server solution based on your precise requirements and budget.