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At what point should I consider a dedicated server for my small business?

At what point should I consider a dedicated server for my small business?

Consider this.  Your business is growing, you are adding employees (and therefore computers).  How do I know when it’s necessary to add a server to my network?  The answer, well it depends on a number of factors.  At Milwaukee PC, the first two questions I usually ask a customer who is pondering this are:

  • What software are you running, or do you plan to be running?
  • How many computers do you have?


What software are you running, or do you plan to be running?

Every software package has a list of “system requirements”.  In many cases, the software will dictate that you have a dedicated file server of a certain specification to run that software.  If you want to run that software, you need a server, period.  This is not the case in all software packages.  Some allow you to run their software in a “peer to peer” network (where you don’t have a dedicated file server but instead you use one of your workstations as a pseudo server) and more and more commonly these days, some software will be cloud based (where the data is stored on the software provider’s servers in their datacenter rather than on a server in your office).

Network Server Map

How many computers do you have?

The general purpose of any server is centralization.  You’d use it to centralize not just things like data but also management of computers and network resources (printers for instance).  Say you have 15 computers and 3 printers.  You might have different types of employees that should only have access to certain information within the company.  Would you want every employee storing their own data on their own computer?  What if the computer crashes?  Do you really want to have to maintain 15 separate nightly backups?  Do you want to have to install those 3 printers on every computer individually?  How would those employees share their files?  Emailing attachments is neither secure nor practical.  With a server, you can store your data and assign permissions to folders, files and printers so that only the people you designate can access certain data.  You install the printers one time, on the server and tell the server to push (share) the printers out to all your computers.  You schedule ONE nightly backup on the server for all your data for all the employees.  If a computer fails, you can replace it, connect it to the server, install your software and you’re on your way.


You can see how this can streamline your network and simplify things like adding computers to the network, adding printers to the network, adjusting things for new or leaving employees and also, for making your computers expendable.

If you are in SE Wisconsin and you’re in the market for a server or network support for your small business, please contact me, Jake Kedinger, at Milwaukee PC.