Having a server in your office environment offers several advantages, including security, accountability and tracking of data access and usage. Many small businesses with which we talk ask if they need a server or if they can just use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device to share files within the office (and access them remotely). Although a NAS is a great device, installing and using a server correctly will pay for itself over time.
Here are three reasons to consider installing a modern server (and upgrading if you have an old server):
- Tracking data usage and data access
- Disaster recovery made simple with a server
- Remote access for field reps and vendors
Tracking data usage and data access
A business server acts as your “traffic cop” and regulates which files are being used or have been checked out by which users. It also keeps a log of who connects to the server and when they do it. Most problems with lost files, deleted data and apparent user error are not malicious, but still cause problems, slow-downs and even shutdowns for your business. Being able to identify who is doing what and at what time can help you isolate where data deletion, access and breach problems are happening (and by whom).
Many industries have compliance goals or requirements to meet. You can’t do that very well with stand-alone computers sharing files among each other. Many small businesses soon realize that if they put one program on one computer and another program on someone else’s computer, and then try to share files, problems of multiple copies of files and data corruption soon occur. A server can also provide unlimited permissions opportunities to give access to files and folders only to those authorized.
Disaster recovery made simple with a server
The best practices for any business is to have your desktop and laptop computers only holding the program you use. The files that you create and modify should only reside on the server. Figuratively, you should be able to throw one of your desktop computers in the desert and not worry about losing any data. You would just install a new computer, log into the server, and all your files will be waiting for you.
This also assists in making remote access to files easier and more secure — you would have one central access point for all files. By having all your files on the server instead of desktops and laptops, backup and recovery of your data becomes infinitely easier, which goes a long way to keeping your disaster recovery plan stable and on track. Don’t forget to use quality backup software and a multiple-disk (two is fine) NAS device to make sure your entire server is backed up several times each day. Having a server also allows simplified off-site data replication to provide a more robust disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
Remote access for field reps and vendors
As we are all more mobile, having access to your files and programs from outside the office is key to staying connected and productive. Having secure access to these resources is even better, and a dedicated server solves this problem. How much of a pain is it if you have files on a desktop computer in the office and that person turns off the computer when they left for the day? You really don’t want your outside access to be going to various office computers. It isn’t secure and you can’t track who is accessing what.
With a dedicated server, you can create an easy-to-remember remote access website (remote.yourcompany.com) to allow for quick access from any device (even your home and tablet). You can also setup permissions-based folders on the server for vendors and customers to look at invoices or upload files, etc. to create a better customer service experience. And, as telecommuting becomes more popular, you will want the power of a server to control access and be able to quickly cut off access for a terminated employee or vendor with whom you don’t want to work anymore.
Investing in a server to control the flow of information throughout your business will pay for itself over time. Your business continuity plan will become more stable with the addition of a modern server, along with having great backup software and an external, multiple-drive storage device (a NAS). With secure and trackable remote access functions and file management that creates an audit trial, a server will help you to function more smoothly and make it easier for your staff to access the digital resources they need.
About Accelera IT Solutions
Accelera IT Solutions is a Phoenix, Arizona-based provider of complete IT services and solutions including on-site support, remote support, data backup and replication (to our secure data center), consulting for HIPAA and PCI compliance, IT project management and cyber-security audits and planning. Accelera also specializes in hardware consulting and installation/setup of servers, workstation, laptops and desktops. Contact Accelera at 623-266-4190 or at www.acceleradata.com.